The Prettiest Instagram-Worthy Restaurants in NYC

The color pink has undergone a re-invention. "Millennial Pink" first hit the media in 2016 as the color of the season, but it refuses to go away. More muted than a Barbie pink, the softness of the color makes it feel genderless and cool. Instagram has exploded with the shade in recent months with the color appearing on fingernails, furniture and clothing. Now restaurants are picking up on the trend. Any fashionista knows that a gorgeous background can make or break an Instagram photo and these restaurants in New York are creating the perfect setting for your stylish life to be documented. As well as their color-of-the-moment decor, these restaurants also offer some pretty delicious dining options to enjoy after your share your latest post. 

Carthage Must Be Destroyed

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To even reach the pink cafe is something of a treasure hunt. To find the Pinterest-worthy cafe one must walk up a long, abandoned-looking driveway and search for the spray painted numbers "222" on a Bogart Street pipe. From there, you keep walking until you see that pop of Millennial Pink. Hidden off the L train in Bushwick is an Australian organic breakfast and lunch eatery set within a beautifully adorned re-purposed warehouse. All the tableware is pink and the breakfast options include the "Summer on Toast" consisting of marinated goats feta, organic heirloom tomato torn basil chilli flakes & lime. Or for breakfast nosh, try the "Parmesan not-so-scrambled eggs."

222 Bogart Street, Brooklyn (917) 488-1844

Pietro Nolita

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The original Instagram hotspot. This restaurant has blown up our feeds in recent months with its pink exterior and interior. Based in Nolita, this charming cafe has been seen on the blogs of several influencers including Blair Eadie Bee and Michelle Song. Try the coffee waffle and enjoy a cappuccino - served in a pink cup of course! 

174 Elizabeth St, 646-998-4999 

Cafe Henrie

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This pretty breakfast place offers healthy and organic fare and all in a darling retro setting. The movie Pretty In Pink comes to mind in this vintage little gem on the Lower East Side. Try the chicken coconut bowl with turmeric broth to warm you up this fall, or go to town with the breakfast waffle served with "billionaire bacon."

116 Forsyth St

The Lucky Bee

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This family-style Asian restaurant is perfect for date night. Start with a Scorpion Bowl, a boozy sharing cocktail decorated with fresh edible flowers. Nibble on Shrimp Chips which are made to be the perfect pink to match the tables. If you're not feeling dinner, take a seat at the black and white striped bar and choose from their menu of pink drinks. 

252 Broome St, (844) 364-4286

Chacha Matcha

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Matcha seems to be the millennial pink of the drinks world. This super-cool beverage is everywhere right now. The bright green of the drink is a perfect counter-shade to millennial-pink and you'll see the pattern repeated everywhere in the busy cafe. Pink walls and neon-signs contrast with tropical green palm tree prints. Even the frozen pink yoghurt has a drizzle of matcha green on top. Delight your eyeballs and your tastebuds!

373 Broome St. New York, (646) 895-9484

Meeting Bill Cuningham

If you live in New York long enough, you are likely to find yourself having a perfect New York moment. Sitting in Central Park with a folded slice, as you watch the boats drift across the lake. Hearing someone say “cawfee” or walking across the Brooklyn Bridge at sunset. A moment that makes you stop and think “this is so New York.” A fleeting five minutes of your life that you’ll always remember.

 

I was in The New York Times Building to interview Art Director Richard Aloisio, whom I had met at a book launch earlier in the week. Richard, a style icon of menswear on Instagram, had agreed to be interviewed for my fashion blog. After we were done chatting he casually asked if I would like to meet Bill. Yes, just “Bill” — no last name was necessary. As a fashion blogger, the idea of being snapped by Bill Cunningham was the holy grail, the ultimate approval. As Anna Wintour has said, “We all dress for Bill.” The thought of meeting him and maybe even exchanging a word or two had me nodding enthusiastically, clapping my hands, and jumping up and down. Amused, Richard led me out of the meeting room and into the Art Department to search for Bill.

A cursory glance around the room—a sea of cubicles interrupted only by an elevator bank in their midst—proved fruitless, so we began running around the offices of the Art Department of The New York Times. We were searching for Bill Cunningham like “SVU”‘s Benson and Stabler tracking down a perp. The department is scattered over different floors, and given that the streets of New York also serve as his workspace, Bill could have literally been anywhere. I had begun to lose hope and I was headed for the elevator back down to the lobby when the doors opened and out he stepped. Iconic blue jacket, camera slung around his neck and photos in his hand — it was Bill Cunningham, looking exactly like Bill Cunningham.

“Hi there, Richard!”, he said before noticing me. “Oh hello, young lady!”

“Hello, lovely to meet you!” I replied, beaming.

“Wow, what a terrific bird’s nest hat!” he said, pointing to my head.

“You like it?” My smile grew from ecstatic to maniacal.

“Oh it’s terrific, yeah, I love it! Your dress and all, that’s lovely!”

Then Richard piped up: “It’s a coat, Bill.”

“A coat? Oh yes, it’s a coat!”

I gave him a twirl.

“Oh that’s beautiful, child. Is it warm enough for today?”

“I don’t care,” I replied. “It’s fabulous!”

“Ahh … vanity keeps you warm, right?”

“Absolutely.”

Pointing at my hat again, which was actually a turban I had fashioned out of a scarf, Cunningham said, “But the hair, the hat—”

At this point he was studying my homemade head adornment, looking at it from different angles. He was trying to figure it out. I explained, “Yeah, I just made it out of a scarf—”

“You did? Oh it’s lovely and the color, the solid background and the — it’s fun. You’re having fun with the stuff. That’s what it’s meant to do,” he said. “Today, everyone takes it so serious, like it’s some kind of gospel, instead of just having fun with it. It’s like when the kids go out to Governor’s Island, for the vintage dance, I mean there’s a little core group of maybe fifty that are really into the authentic dress, but the rest are just having fun. It’s lovely.”

He was right, of course. Fashion should just be fun, but somehow along the way it has become a loaded, stressful and corporate concept. The pressure put on men and women to look a certain way is perhaps more heightened now than it has ever been. Yet here was a man who was going against all of that and was only excited by an authentic expression of personal style. His self-created career as fashion anthropologist has turned the cameras away from the red carpet and around to those who stand behind the velvet rope.

Bill’s love of the eccentric was what first captured my imagination and drew me to his columns. When I first discovered “On The Street,” I was brand-new to New York, freshly arrived from London and very much aware that I knew no one and nothing of this strange new culture in which I found myself; I was an outsider looking for my way in. He was an outsider who was inclusive of everyone. He stood in the center, but was always looking out. To say that he was in the business of fashion is like saying Iris Apfel was in the business of dressing — his work was about so much more than that. This was the business of style. He showed little enthusiasm for celebrities preened by teams of experts, and was instead much more excited by the genuine self-styled fashionistas of the streets. He just wanted you to have fun with it. Fashion is a serious industry. Huge amounts of money and ego abound, but style—style can be fun. That can be expression. It’s art that is built on the canvas of a body in the morning, only to be discarded at night as the apartment door shuts behind you. Each day is a new chance to build a new version of yourself.

It occurs to me that without Bill Cunningham, I wouldn’t be a fashion blogger; indeed, there would be no fashion blogs. He brought fashion out of the couture houses and into the streets and in doing so created a career that did not exist before. His influence is vast, spanning at least 50 years, but still felt as contemporary as clashing prints. So-called “street style” fashion or even Humans of New York would not exist had Cunningham not begun documenting fashion on the streets way back in 1967.

His photos tell a story. The subjects in them are alive, as they jump across a puddle, hail a cab, or react to something they just heard. He captures a moment, not just a outfit. We are so inundated these days with airbrushed advertisements and photoshopped models, and it is unbearably dull. We want to know how people create their looks and develop their styles. There is a vulnerability and an openness in that. Think of how the no-make-up selfie went viral. People want to think, “hey, I could do that, too!” The journey is so much more interesting than the destination. Bill, as always, was way ahead of the curve.

Richard told me that before he met Bill, he assumed he just shot photos and ran them every week. But when he would run into Bill in the office, Bill would look at what he was wearing that day and would comment on the color and tell him the exact name and shade and which year the color had been introduced or when it was most popular. Once, Richard wore a Hawaiian shirt in the summertime and, as Richard put it, “Bill could tell me the name of the leaf that had been used in the printed fabric which made up the shirt.”

“He had an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion,” Aloisio continued. “He was around so long that he noticed the cycles that came around again. He said that in the 1950s there were fewer choices, but now everyone wears whatever they want and it’s chaos. Bill predicted that it will come around yet again and things will simplify.”

I wonder if that isn’t true? The pushback against fast fashion and the human rights violations occurring in the textile industry makes me think that we are headed back to a time where people buy more well-made and ethically sourced items, rather than stockpiling cheap, disposable fashions.

What struck me most in our very brief meeting was his sense of curiosity. Upon seeing my turban, he asked questions, noticed the pattern and colors, admired the way the outfit was put together, and there he was — the last word in fashion, a living landmark, and yet he was asking me how I created my look. I think curiosity is really the key to his entire outlook. He never stayed still, he always looked forward and kept an open mind. He never became stale or fell behind. He was always out there, looking and learning and capturing it all on his Nikon.

Back at the elevator, after examining my hat, he turned to Richard: “But your shirt is no shy violet, either. Wonderful!”

“Yes, you said the shade was marigold,” Richard replied.

Marigold. That’s what I thought this morning, yes. It’s beautiful, Richard. Ah, you have joy with it, young fella. It’s nice to see someone having a pleasure with it, you know, instead of taking it so serious.”

Then turning back to me: “But your coat child, is lovely.

“Thank you, Bill.” And once more he said, ”Lovely, child.”

With that, he turned and walked in the direction of his cubicle. “Goodnight kids!”  he called out turning back and waving at us, “Goodnight!” we rang out in unison, waving right back as his blue jacket disappeared around the wall. The perfect New York moment, gone but not forgotten — just like Bill.

NYFW 2017

Hello Darlings,

New York Fashion Week is in full swing and I have been running all over town in the freezing cold to attend the shows.  It is as glamourous as it sounds and also completely exhausting - there really is no comparable experience. As Bill Cunningham once said, "the best show is on the streets" and I have to say, I agree. I have witnessed some fabulous looks and fashion "moments" on the way into the shows. One memorable fashionista I found myself sitting opposite at the Georgine runway show was the latex-clad performance artist, Pandemonia. Check out her look here. In celebration of all things fashion week, here is my round up of a Ruthie Darling Fashion Week, including a streetstyle photo gallery by Denton Taylor.

And this is only part one! Today, I will be attending a Muslim couture runway show and then the LUST party at House Of Yes where I can finally (sort of) relax and eat quail off of naked men. More on that soon too, I think it demands an explanation.....

RD xoxox

First up is the Michael Costello show. Costello, once a contestant on Project Runway, created a ultra feminine collection which mainly consisted of white pieces without ever feeling bridal. Check it out below:

Second, this is Chromat. Chromat collaborated with Klymit to design inflatable garments that would help the wearer stay afloat and protected. The results were amazing. They took inspiration from life vests and floatation devices designed for extended survival in rough, open water. Perhaps, it was a nod to our current political climate—especially as models marched down the runway to a song which contained the lyrics "Fuck Donald Trump." In the show notes, Chromat wrote: "There is a feeling of paranoia, the end of truth and the dawning of a new era of persecution of the other." In defense of "the other," Chromat featured plus-sized models and a transgender model, with a rainbow of races represented. 

Here is the feminine and elegant Leanne Marshall show. Front row on all three shows - I am just living the life here! 

And finally some wintery streetstyle photos by Denton Taylor. Kudos to these fashionistas who still managed to look fab whilst battling the cold. I was rocking more of the belted-duvet look.

All photos by Ruthie Darling, street style by Denton Taylor.

More soon!

RD xoxo

Bushwick Vintage Part 1

Darlings,

If you read my articles on Bushwick Daily you'll know that Bushwick, Brooklyn is home to a fantastic array of vintage shops for the discerning (and broke) fashionista! Last week I discovered a new boutique called Chess and the Sphinx. I spent a small fortune in there, sure, but check out this amazing haul! Also, an oldie but goodie is the chain L Train Vintage which just opened up a new location a block from my apartment eek! I picked up the blue floral dress at the end of the post for $5, yes $5 - too good to pass up! Here it all is..... 

1. This gorgeous little dress is originally from Brooks Brothers!

This delightful handmade navy blue suit was on the mannequin in the window. It was what drew me into the store in the first place. When I tried it on, it fit perfectly - like it was made for me!  I loved it so much I had to immediately take photos in it despite the pouring rain! (I am a Brit after all, a little rain won't kill me).

The Kate Spade was a present. Fancy eh? 

Now what about this coat (for $85) beautiful red wool, just heaven and so bloody warm!

Finally the $5 dress paired with an H&M coat and some Dr Martens. Classic Brit chic.

More Bushwick vintage coming soon! Watch this space kiddos!

Ruthie Darling xoxo

Sail On Silver Girl

Hey Fashionistas,

Have you ever bought a vintage silver skirt and not had a clue how to wear it? Me too! It looked great as I was standing, topless in a dressing room in Utah, but when I brought it home and laid it out on the bed I found myself puzzled as to what I should do with it. I looked down at the skirt, the skirt looked back at me and then it whispered: "Black, just pair me with black....it's so easy..." Dammit skirt, I can do better than that! So after some musing and trying-on sessions, I came up with this #threewaystowear post.  Oh and spoiler alert, I did end up using black in one of the looks. Oh black, you're just so damn slimming.....

Enjoy!

#1 Keep within the colour palette and layer on different grey tones. Add a dramatic hat and bright pumps to keep yourself from fading into the background. 

(We definitely did not choose this location because of the cute firemen, that was pure coincidence.) 

#2 For a Sandy from Grease meets slutty Lolita look (not a style you come across too often), add a cropped sweater, vintage denim jacket, dominatrix boots and ankle socks. You'll be adorable and terrifying at the same time #goals

#3 Okay so finally I relented. Keep it simple with black and a leather jacket. It's fucking cool, don't fight it. 

Photos by my darling Denton Taylor

Thank you for stopping by. See you soon. Stay sexy!

Sting, The Last Ship, Salt Lake City and Vintage Fashion!

Hi Darlings,

It's been a while since I've posted on the blog, that's because I've been appearing in The Last Ship in Salt Lake City, UT vintage shopping and....you know....hanging out with Sting!!!!!

Photo: BW Productions. Left to right: Bryant Martin, Karen Azenberg, Sting, Ruthie Darling

Look at my mentiiiiile smile! Oh god, what an amazing moment. Sting wrote the music to The Last Ship and popped by to catch the performance and join us for a drink afterwards.  He really liked my performance and gushed to me about the last big note I held in my song. All I could muster in response was "Thanks.....Sting". Smooth Ruthie lol. 

It's been an amazing experience to be a part of this production. I'm not sure it will completely sink in until I leave Utah. Here is a video of Sting joining us up on stage. He touches my arm! #DEAD

Okay that's the big news out of the way, now onto the fash-un. 

Here in Salt Lake City there happens to be one of the best vintage stores I have ever visited in my life. The pieces are as amazing as the prices. I practically bought up the entire store! Expect many vintage outfits gracing the pages of this blog soon. Here is a sneak peak of a couple of gorgeous pieces I picked up. Huge thanks to my co-star Anne Tolpegin for taking these amazing shots around town. 

This perfect 1940's suit cost $30 - yes you read that right. Oh, it's so good to be out of New York sometimes! The shoes are also from Decades and the bag is Kate Spade - both gifts. 

Next up a duck egg blue dress, perfect for climbing on sculptures and posing for photos in!  

Ahh Salt Lake, you've been tremendous. Now to start putting all of these new purchases into some #threewaystowear shoots. Watch this space my darlings! 

Love,

RD xoxo

Maxi Skirt - Three Ways To Wear

Good Morning Darlings,

I am writing to you from Salt Lake City, Utah, where I am in rehearsals for The Last Ship at Pioneer Theatre. It's the musical written by my fellow countryman Sting (who is rumoured to be flying in for opening night - if I suddenly start wearing a lot of Dior and going on about tantric sex, you'll know what's happened....;)

On the blog today however, I am sharing some looks that I shot in my Mum's back garden in sunny England! She bought this blue maxi skirt from H&M for me (it was on sale of course) and here it is styled up three different ways. Enjoy!

RD xoxoxo

#1 Oh I do love to mix up some prints. Here it is with a floral "body" (remember them?) and some leopard-print boots.

#2 Another body (I'm telling you, they're making a come back), this time kept simple in black. Add some nude heels to look elegant AF.

Note the stickers on the bottom of my shoes - classy

#3 For a more "I've just been on holiday in Bali and I'm all enlightened" vibe, throw over a printed coat. Add Louboutins on your feet, so that people know you haven't completely turned your back on the capitalist system ;) Fashion is all about balance.

More soon, coming at you from Utah!

 

Primark Party - Three Ways To Wear

Hello Darlings,

Greetings from England! I'm currently in the sunny Midlands visiting my family, before I head south to London tomorrow. Although I am trying to relax (remember relaxing? yeah, me either), I couldn't resist a quick shoot with this cute little Primark aka Primarni dress that I picked up yesterday. I used the self-timer on the camera for these photos as, when I asked my mother to help, things went a little awry. I did try to explain to her that my camera lens does not have a zoom, therefore she would need to back up to get all of me in the frame, but to be careful because - but before I could finish the sentence she had gone arse over tit backwards into nextdoor's bush taking my Nikon with her! Classic Sal. Needless to say, I decided to try the self timer (after I extracted her from the laurel). Here it is #threewaystowear

#1 Wear with coloured wedges and geometric jewelry for a relaxed, but cool, daytime vibe. Love this iridescent mermaid backpack from Topshop!  

(These shoes are so old they are from the collaboration Giles Deacon did with New Look in 2010!)

#2 For a little land-girls-chic, I belted the dress with a wide waist-cincher and added a vintage headscarf and bag. The pop of colour works well with the muted tones of the dress dontcha think?

#3 And finally the Bushwick look. Open the dress and wear it over skinny jeans, neon sneakers for a oh-this?-I-just-threw-it-on look. Effortlessly cool. 

That's it for this week darlings. God knows what our neighbours must think we're up to, what with Sally falling into a bush and me posing on a garden chair all afternoon - they'll be gossip....!

Kisses,

RD xoxoxo

Richard Aloisio

I was at a party last week when I spotted this totally dapper looking gent talking to my friend Dale who runs the IG account ArtfulCityStyle. Dale introduced this impeccably dressed chap as Richard Aloisio, Art Director at The New York Times. I almost immediately asked Richard if he would consider being on my blog and he gave me his card. Now, I assumed that this fancy New York Times Art Director was merely being polite, but low and behold, not a week later I was standing in the lobby at The Times waiting to head on up to the Art Department. 

After a little tour (where I was trying to act as cool as possible and failing miserably - I WAS IN THE NEW YORK EFFING TIMES!) we settled into a meeting room to talk men's fashion and learn a little about Richard and his fascinating life.

Ruthie Darling: Did you always dress this wonderfully?

Richard Aloisio: “Well, not this wonderfully, no. I always dressed nicely, but I guess about three or four years ago I met somebody who makes bespoke suits, his name is Domenico “Mimmo” Spano - boy I’m nervous, mind if I take off my jacket?”

(I had to laugh at this. He was nervous? I was sitting in a private meeting room in the New York Times Building and HE was nervous?!)

RA: “A friend introduced us, Mimmo and I. I walked into his studio and I fell in love right away. He had the walls painted in these colors, a cheddar and a green and a purple. I walked in the room and I thought: I could stay here all day. I was wearing a suit that day, not bright like this, but you know a dark blue suit, like most guys wear. I always had funky ties and socks, but so much in the suits. He had books and books of fabrics that I could look at for days on end.”

RD: I’m curious, you say you’re shy and even nervous, but you wear clothes that are so flamboyant and make people look at you and want to talk to you-

RA: “But nobody does talk to me. Not one. I might get a shoutout from a guy saying nice suit, but that's it.”

RD: What about women?

RA: “Never. Well, the only people who might say anything; black people. It's always a black person, never a white person. One time I had a guy say “You are one fly dressing motherfucker” and I thought: that’s the best thing I’ve ever heard! I like it when I hear something from a black person because the white people, they don’t know color. They’re afraid of color. It might be me too. I try not to look around when I’m walking. I avoid people’s glances. I don’t want to see if they disapprove of my look. Maybe I come off as aloof."

RD: Are you a New Yorker?

RA: “I was born in Brooklyn. I went to Pratt for Art. I had a few jobs before I came to The Times and I’ve been here forever.”

RD: Forever?

RA: “Almost forever. Longer than you’re alive.”

RA: “I always loved color. It’s inside me. Once I moved to Manhattan everything exploded in me. Once I left home I realized, I can do anything I want now. This was very bad because anything I liked, I started buying and that’s when all my collections started happening. If I liked something, I was going to have hundreds of them.”

RD: What kind of collections?

RA: “Well everything I’ve collected has been through serendipity. I worked for a magazine (I won’t say which one) and for my birthday, the associate art director gave me a little pin. The kind of pin you wear on your tie and that was it. I went nuts with pins. I was just combing the city for pins. But  after a while, I started buying these kits where you could build a dinosaur out of little pieces, you know, like little ribs? Then I would hang them from the ceiling. I would fill my whole apartment with dinosaurs. I’d spray paint each one. So that was the beginning. 

RD: **Bemused face**

RA: “I have OCD. If I see something I like, I have to have more of it.”

RD: So, what is your current obsession?

RA: “Clothing. Suits.”

RD: From dinosaurs to suits?

RA: “Well, in between there has been lots of other obsessions. Like vintage quilts, I have a pretty large collection of those. I’ve got hundreds of cookie jars and vintage vases. Ah Ruthie, you don’t know what you’re in for now….."

RA: “You see something, and it’s lovely and it elevates your mood. But then it gets to a point where there is so much of it, you don’t see any of it. The cookie jar thing happened because I was on my way to put down a payment on one of my vintage quilts and we passed this store that sold cookie jars. It was closing down and the owner wanted to get rid of the contents. I think I bought forty cookie jars that day, my wife bought twelve.

RD: Forty!? Did you not leave the store and think: i just bought forty cookie jars?!

RA: Not really, no. 

RA: “For me, now, it’s just clothing. I always have a collection going on. I have a friend who always asked me “Richard, what are you collecting now?” He always encouraged me to do more art and I’ve always done something artistic, but recently he said that I’m the art now. That meant a great deal to me.

RD: Why do you think so many men will just pick a plain blue or a black suit and throw on a plain shirt?

RA: “I don’t think they care. And if they do care I think a lot of guys are afraid of color. They’re afraid of being ridiculed.”

RD: Ridiculed by other men?

RA: “By other men, yeah. I was at this family event once and I was wearing a Hawaiian shirt and my wife’s cousin said to me “Wow, I love that shirt, I wish I could wear a shirt like that” and I said “Well, why can’t you?’ and he said, “Oh I couldn’t wear a shirt like that” I said “Look! It buttons up just like a regular shirt!” They’re afraid of it. They’re afraid of the color. Maybe they’re afraid of being called gay. Granted, I’m a designer so I see color and it just delights me.”

RD: You’re very into the socks,

RA: "The socks were the first thing. Actually when I met my wife I was very proud of the outfit I was wearing. I was wearing a Benetton sweater - it was a cyan blue. She said, “Ooh I like that sweater” and the first thing I said was, “And look at my socks!” They were cyan blue too. She told me later that she thought that was rather pompous of me, so that was the joke for years - she would say “and look at my socks!” 

RA: “Socks were my entrance into color on the wardrobe.”

RD: Maybe that would be a good way to get other men into color?

RA: “Well yeah socks are a big thing now.”

RD: How did you get into Instagram?

RA: “It was a friend’s daughter. She’s about sixteen. She saw me playing with my phone and she said “Are you on Instagram?” and I said “Oh god no, I hate that stuff!” and she said “Oh c’mon, I’m on it, we could follow each other!” and I said “I don’t want to!” After a while I came around and said, “Oh, all right” and she showed me how to use it. I started taking pictures. Then I started to make a layout and I showed it to a few people and they liked it. I design stuff you know? I don’t just throw things out there. Bill Cunningham even took a few photos for me!”

RD: What do you think about young men’s fashion?

RA: “The young guys that work here. Oof! They look like they’ve rolled out of bed. Crumpled! Everything is crumpled! They look like crumpled lumberjacks.”

RD: Yep, that’s the Bushwick look! Perhaps men think they can opt out, but they can’t of course - people make judgments.

RA “Well absolutely. I think it was Edith Head who wrote: You can have anything you want if you dress for it.”

RD: Except perhaps if you’re Zuckerberg who actually just instagrammed his rows and rows of grey t-shirts.

RA: “Well when you’ve got all that money -“

RD: It’s a statement then, even: “I don’t need to wear a suit I have enough power not to”.

RA: “Exactly. it is a statement, yes.”

RD: Do you get your clothes ready the night before or do you do it on the fly?

RA: “I do it on the fly, but then I go to the gym and my head kinda clears and I see things differently.”

RD: Is it comforting to have all of this things around you? Does it make you feel in control?

RA: “Yes, you’re getting it because you think it’s comforting. OCD is about the compulsion to get something which soothes you. You get anxious, so you do something to make yourself feel better, but you’re going to get anxious about something again.”

RD: That sounds exhausting?

RA: “It is exhausting. I’m up all night doing this Instagram thing. I’m getting like three hours of sleep.”

RD: Have you met any followers?

RA: “Yeah, I met Judith aka Style Crone and Dale of Artfulcitystyle, but I get intimidated meeting new people. What you see on Instagram - I can do that in a room all by myself, but not in front of you.”

RD: This OCD, were you like this as a child?

RA: “Oh yes, but it gets worse as you get older. It’s very frustrating because it can be paralyzing. It’s an illness. I have shirts hanging from floor lamps. My stuff is everywhere."

RD: And your wife, she’s fine with this?

RA: “Ha, no. Neither of us are fine with this.”

RD: But she understands?

RA: “As much as you can understand somebody like me.”

RD: Yeah, because I would kill you.

RA: “Thank you for putting it so…so…tenderly.”

RD: That’s me!

RA: “I love to pick the craziest fabrics. Mimmo, will say “That will make a good sports jacket” and I say, “Why not a suit?” and he’ll say, “Oh, that’s a lot for a suit, that’s a lot of pattern” and I’ll say ‘No I want to get a suit!”

RD: You don’t mind “a lot” of, well, anything, do you?

RA: “Ha no! I guess I don’t. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.  I coined that expression here at work actually. When we first got computers here at The Times and you could really play with layouts, I went nuts. I’d put curves on type, shadows, color etc. My boss called me in and said “Richard it’s too much, just do one thing” and I said “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing”.

RD: And you still have a job.

RA:”Ha! Apparently.”

RD: Do you have a favorite color that you gravitate towards?

RA: It used to be red, but now it’s cheddar or, I like a chartreuse. I love a purple! I don’t like beige. I mean have you seen that store, Muji? It must be Japanese for “nondescript”. Everything in there is grey and beige, I get so fucking irate when I see that shit in there. This is what you’re pushing on people? Grey? Beige? Sue (Kreitzman) said it too, right?”

RD:  Yes, Sue's catchphrase is "Don't wear beige, it'll kill you."

RA:  Exactly.

RA: “So, did you get what you needed?”

RD: I don’t know, you’re so quiet and stoic ...

RA: “Ha, Yeah, I’m very shy!"

RD: So you keep telling me.

RA: “I guess once I get going…“

RD: If it’s worth doing it’s worth overdoing, right?

RA: Right.

As we were leaving the meeting room, Richard asked me if I wanted to meet Bill Cunningham. To quote my 90's teenage self: "Duh". Cue Aloisio and Darling, running around the offices of the Art Department of The New York Times, searching for Bill Cunningham like SVU's Benson and Stabler tracking down a perp. We eventually ran into Mr C. stepping out of the lift. Now, being the smart little reporter girl that I am I kept my tape player rolling (as if - it was a total accident, but hey.). A transcript is below. Fangirling does not even begin to cover it!

RA: "Bill! Bill!"

BC: "Oh hi there, oh hello, young lady".

RD: Hello, lovely to meet you!

BC: "Wow what a terrific bird's nest hat".

RD: You like it?

BC: "Oh it's terrific, yeah I love it! Your dress and all, that's lovely!"

RA: "It's a coat".

BC: "A coat? Oh a coat! Oh that's beautiful, child."

RD: Thank you! 

BC: "Is it warm enough for today?"

RD: Who cares? It's fabulous!

BC: "Vanity keeps you warm".

RD: Absolutely.

BC: "But the hair, the hat-"

RD: Yeah I just made it out of a scarf -

BC: "Oh it's lovely and the color, the solid background and the - it's fun. You're having fun with the stuff".

RD: Yes.

BC: "That's what it's meant to do".

RD: Absolutely.

BC: "Today everyone takes it so serious, like it's some kind of gospel, instead of just having fun with it. It's like when the kids go out to Governor's Island, for the vintage dance, I mean there's a little core group of maybe fifty that are really into the authentic dress, but the rest are just having fun. It's lovely.  But your shirt is no shy violet, Richard. Wonderful".

RA: "Yes, you said  it was marigold".

BC: "That's what I thought this morning".

RA: "That's what you said".

BC: "That's beautiful, Richard. Ah, you have joy with it, young fella. It's nice to see someone having a pleasure with it, you know, instead of taking it so serious. But your coat is lovely".

RD: Thank you.

BC: "Lovely child".

RD: Thank you Bill

BC: "Goodnight kids!"

RA & RD: "Goodnight!"

 

Yoga Download

Hello Fashionistas,

As you may or may not know, I have recently become a housebound freelance-writing hermit. Gone are my days of endless auditioning, running all over Manhattan to sing my best 16 bars for some apathetic casting director, young enough to be my own child. Instead I have, of late, become something of shut-in, frantically tapping away at my macbook like I'm data-entering for MI5. It's wonderful to be so busy with work, but it does mean that making it to yoga or aerial silks class has gone way down on my to-do list. In fact, often I stop writing to go and make lunch only realise it's 7pm. As my mother would say: "Oh Ruthie, your life is such a fiasco!" (Cheers Sal).

I guess it was serendipity then when I was contacted by Yoga Download in association with Blogger Babes asking if I would like to try out a free trial of their online classes to rate and review on my blog. A yoga class that I could do at home, whilst keeping one eye on my inbox? YES PLEASE. 

It's kind of like the Netflix of yoga. You can download or stream classes, browse by length, level and style. Of course the best thing is that it's totally portable. Why not download a Vinyasa class to take with you to the departures lounge? Sure, you'll look totally mental, but you'll be too zen to give a shit. Or maybe take one with you to work for your lunch break, you can feel all high and mighty as everyone else looks on, eating their sandwiches, drooling.

Having tried some of their classes at home, I invited some friends of mine; Vanessa, Deena and Jack to join in the fun. We snuck up onto a rooftop in Bushwick and had us a secret sunset yoga party on my birthday. (Don't worry, it was followed by a MASSIVE dinner - I'm not that virtuous).

For this post we took the Align and Flow - Stability and Freedom Class

This post was made possible by Blogger Babes and contains affiliate links. I received a complimentary subscription of the Yoga Download service in exchange for my honest review. Thoughts are 100% my own.

  • I'm just setting up the video here, not being totally lazy.....honest.....
  • Tree pose (right before we all fell over)
  • Vanessa is actually a qualified yoga instructor. Here she is giving us some adjustments.
  • Breathing - it's remarkably helpful.
  • What the actual eff Vanessa? 
  • Trikonasana on a beam. Impressive.
  • Deena in sukhanasana 
  • Dragonfly pose. Look how I'm smiling like it's totally easy ("take the photo.....take the photo!!!!)
  • Warrior One
  • Sunset rooftop yoga is the BEST!
  • There always one in every class......

Yep, you're amazing Vaness :)

  • My party trick: Elbow stand
  • And we are done!
  • Even our photographer Jack Allen couldn't resist a cheeky headstand.
  • Rooftop yoga with friends and Yoga Download. I highly, highly recommend it!
  • Oh and just in case you were thinking how poised we all seemed. Here I am falling flat on my face as my friends laughed at me. Nice.

This post was made possible by Blogger Babes and contains affiliate links. I received a complimentary subscription of the Yoga Download service in exchange for my honest review. Thoughts are 100% my own.
 

Kova by Sascha

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade - so the saying goes. In this case, life gave Sascha half a lemon and a shittone of Siberian snow and she made them into a Stoli-spiked lemonade cocktail that would be sold at a the hottest new bar in Williamsburg. 

Born and raised in Siberia, Russia, Sascha learnt from an early age the business of hat making and the business of, well, business. Raised by a single mother, Sascha would often be cared for by her Grandmother who ran her own fur hat making enterprise. "She would purchase rigid, untreated fur at the farm, soften it and make fur hats all by hand, and sell them at the local market in the freezing weather."  After a difficult start in life Sascha told me: "Enduring hardship early on in my life made me appreciate the little things so much more and be grateful for all the abundance, comfort, and prosperity that I’ve created for myself. When I immigrated to the States at 19 years old all by myself, I was unstoppable in achieving things others could only dream of. It felt like nothing could hamper my personal and emotional growth and success. Then, the recession hit, and it became extremely difficult to survive, and, without the support of my family, it was that much harder to make ends meet."

So she went back to school for her Masters Degree. After graduating and working as a marketing executive at a restaurant in the LES, she decided to create her own fashion line, but soon she realized that the fashion industry is run by (for the most part) "big egos, and fortunes that are made by child labour and overworked, underpaid people in third world countries; it’s the industry that completely disregards the environment and wastes precious resources of those countries while producing disposable clothes that do not disintegrate naturally and create enormous amounts of waste". 

After going back to the drawing board and then attending the Burning Man festival, something clicked: "I realized that all of these people (Burners) need headpieces, because it’s the hardest thing to make for a complete look. With the rise of 3D technology, I decided to give it a try and the very first piece we made was a complete success. It fit perfectly and was durable, lightweight and looked stunning. I was ecstatic because working with and making something special for Burners or any festival-goers is a dream come true. In addition, bypassing traditional fashion production made it so much more pleasant and fun adding peace of mind to the process".

From fur hats in Siberia to 3D printed headwear in New York City, this girl is on a journey and this is only the beginning!

Check out her work below and you can also see all of her incredible (and I mean incredible) designs on her website kovabysascha.com 

Photos by the great, the only, Denton Taylor.

Just for fun, here's a little behind the scenes video of the shoot. Please enjoy the car aggressively honking at me. Oops. 

Abby Hertz - LUST NYC

"It’s kind of like a potato print, but with the vulva".

A few weeks ago I attended a party like no other. The LUST NYC Event, held at The House of Yes, was billed as a party where "theater, fantasy and the erotic meet".  (You can read the article I collaborated on for The Bushwick Daily here.) The night was like a Roman Bacchanal with food eaten off of models, fetish perfomance-art and a rooftop hot tub. Just another Thursday night for Ms Darling....

A week or two after the party, I became curious about the enigmatic Ms Hertz - the curator/producer of the event, so I tracked her down for an interview. I have to admit, when she invited me over for a coffee, I was expecting a shirtless Adonis-type to answer the door and usher me into a dungeon, where she would be waiting on a throne eating a bunch of grapes. When I showed up however, it was only Abby, smiling sweetly, hair loosely placed over one shoulder, welcoming me into her cosy apartment in Bushwick.

Abby Hertz: I started performing when I was 18. I was more of a fetish performer/performance artist. Mainly the performances were about female sexuality, erotism and feminist pieces. When I went to grad school, I met my now ex-husband who was a fire performer. We started performing fire together. We created a fire entertainment company called Flambeaux Fire and I did that for eight years. We travelled the world doing fire shows. Then I started my own company called AHZ Concepts three years ago. This was more art based, more for art-collector-type clients that didn’t really fit into the Flambeaux Fire brand. They were more my people - I have a Bachelors in Art History - and the contracts were being done under Flambeaux Fire - so I realized I needed to start my own company.  

Ruthie Darling: How did you come up with the LUST concept?

AH: In my early 20's I had seen a video of Hunter Reynolds and Chrysanne Stathacos 1992 performance piece "The Banquet" that took place at Thread Waxing space in SoHo. The performance had a naked man eating food off of him and was an homage to Meret Oppenheim's 1959 "Cannibal Feast. So it does have an art background. I expanded upon that. I wanted to turn it into a giant event and feast. A little fetish based, but mostly erotic. 

RD: How did you get into the fetish scene?

AH: Just by being a freak. 

RD: Fair enough.

AH: Ha, I don’t really know how to answer that. I’d been practicing that in my private life, but I was at an art salon in Orlando, where I lived for five years, and there was a group of women who had just started a fetish performance troupe. I was 21. We started started doing fetish performances every Tuesday night at a club in downtown Orlando. 

RD: Are you from Florida?

AH: No, actually I was born in Muncie, Indiana. I moved to Minneapolis-St Paul when I was 8. 

RD: What brought you to New York?

AH: I always knew I wanted to live in New York, but when I finished undergrad I was given a grant to go to grad school based on the work I had done for my degree. I created a pop-up gallery on campus because we didn’t have an art gallery.

RD: So you’ve always been a bit of an entrepreneur?

AH: Yeah, I didn’t know how to finish undergrad because I had run out of money, so I had to think fast. I first applied to be the building manager at the Campus Centre and when I got the job I turned the centre into an art gallery. I then applied for a grant from the school to create monthly theme-shows and art openings with food, DJs and performances. Most of my work is based on art history or visual art. It is heavily curated. 

RD: How did you have the self-confidence to do this? I know LUST has been running for several years and you’ve no doubt honed your skills over time, but throwing up an entire art gallery as an undergrad - that takes guts no?

AH: Necessity. I was living out of my car. I was homeless. If I had been a rich kid, I probably would have been a lot more meek, but when you’re trying to survive you have to be pretty innovative.

RD: Yes. Although if I were trying to survive as a homeless woman, I think I would have just applied to the nearest minimum wage job, but you said, “I can do way better than that.” 

AH: It’s all I know how to do. I looked different. I had a bunch of facial piercings and pink hair. I wasn’t very hirable. One of my professors put me up for a Getty Award, which I won and that enabled me to go to grad school. I hadn’t planned on continuing my education - I was the first person in my family to even go to college. I thought grad school was for fancy-pants people. 

RD: Who comes to the LUST parties?

AH: It’s often a really wide audience. The first party was on Valentine’s day, so people were spending more money than they might normally, which meant we had some lower-income guests who were treating their partners to the event. It was fun for me to combine people from different socio-economic backgrounds and have them share in the experience together. I really get off on that. We had a sanitation worker and his wife from Staten Island, we had a Mexican busboy from Bushwick and his wife, we had high rollers from the fetish scene, we has a social worker from the Upper West Side. I could go on. It’s great because a lot of the fetish events that I’ve attended are usually filled with just one group of people from one particular background. Very white, very upper middle class usually.

RD: Why are your parties different, do you think?

AH: I think because it’s not a fetish party, it’s not a play party and it’s not a sex party. It’s more accessible to people. I know a couple of people did end up having sex at the last party, but they were thrown out. 

RD: That surprises me. Despite how sensual the environment was (and it really was hot), I didn’t see people making out/snogging that much. It was more inclusive than that - flirtatious glances and caresses at most. Not a free-for-all orgy.

AH: I try to create an intimate, sensual environment without it being overtly sexual. 

RD: So, we can’t ignore the fact that, at LUST, the food was not only gorgeous and delicious, but also served off of gorgeous and delicious people. Do you curate the entire experience from food to performer to venue etc?

AH: I do. It’s instinctual. You either have a curatorial mind or you don’t. LUST is a curated night and experience. It’s not a visual art show, its more a cross between performance-art and immersive theatre. I don’t over-organize the night, I want it to feel organic to people. 

RD: And it did. At times it felt like: I’m not sure what this is, but I feel that I'm in safe hands. There was a safety net of structure that felt very reassuring somehow.

AH: I’m glad.

RD: Fetish is kinda hot right now right?

AH: It’s very hot right now. I think that I’m more approachable as a producer than actual fetish producers because I know how to draw the lines. I think Fifty Shades has opened people up to the possibilities, but they are really seeking super light stuff like blindfolds, feathers etc. 

RD: You are a performer too. In fact I saw your fire show at LUST-

AH: Yes, I performed in three shows - I did the sex magic ritual, the fire show and then I did the pussy painting show.

RD: Ahh the pussy painting - I left before this happened, schoolgirl-error on my part. Can you explain what this is?

AH: Here let me show you…

RD: Errm.....

AH: The paintings I mean.

AH: It’s kind of like a potato print but with the vulva.

RD: Well that’s my headline sorted.

AH: You paint the vulva and then press it on paper. 

RD: Naturally.

AH: I came up with the idea at college. I was taking a print making class and I used my vulva to create prints. My teacher was like “What the fuck is that?” I never got good grades in her class…It’s funny you asked about the Pussy Painting because almost no one from the press saw that performance that night.

RD: Ahh. I may be able to offer you an explanation for that. All of us journalists were, at that point, naked in the rooftop hot tub. 

AH: The photographer I hired was also gone.

RD: Yeah. Think they might have been there too. Sorry about that. 

AH: Haha.

RD: You know, it took them about ten minutes to convince me to get naked to get in the hot tub in the first place and just as I was stepping in, an employee of The House Of Yes, told me it was policy to shower first. I said fine and asked where the shower was. He then pointed to the middle of the bar downstairs. So off I went, naked through a crowded bar to shower. 

AH: I like to create a safe environment for people to explore that side of themselves, in a gentle, easy way, rather than having you walk into a room full of people tied up and being flogged.

RD: What is coming up next that we can attend?

AH: November 17th at The House Of Yes, I am throwing an Alternative Thanksgiving Feast. 

RD: Will we be eating turkey off of tits?

AH: I mean, yes.

RD: Are you at a place now where you can pick and chose your clientele?

AH: Oh yes, I often pass on work to other producer friends of mine that run more traditional companies. If somebody just wants a face painter and a stilt walker to smile at a kid’s party, that’s probably not me. 

RD: You should put that on your business cards.

AH: Er Yeah.

RD: What kind of parties do you like to go to?

AH: Well, I’m an introvert, so I stay in quite a lot. I like having dinner parties. I like going to House Of Yes of course. I’m quiet. I like living here in Bushwick, because this is where the Brooklyn art scene is now based. Where the kids are. Even though I’m in my thirties, I like to be by the kids - they keep me young.

RD: They keep me up! 

AH: Yeah, they keep me up and they keep me young! 

RD: You are much more patient than I am.

AH: I try. 

RD: Do people have misconceptions about you?

AH: Yes, everything gets sexualized. I could say on Facebook; “I’m going out to dinner” and someone will comment “Oh yeah, can I watch?” If you’re involved in anything erotic, people fetishize you and treat you like a sex-doll. 

RD: That has to be tiresome?

AH: It is. I usually just ignore it. I’m a normal human being. I don’t wear five inch heels around the house. I’m usually in my boxer shorts reading Game of Thrones.

RD: That’s probably someone’s fetish.

AH: That’s true. Sigh.

 

As I was getting up to leave, I noticed some paintings in the corner. "Oh yeah, I paint too". 

RD: Tell me about your art?

AH: I rent a space through Chashama - an emerging artists studio. Everything I paint is to do with female reproduction. These patterns are a vivisection of the breast. You can always find little vulvas throughout my work too. Oh and I use my own blood to paint the red. 

RD: Wow! Talk about putting a piece of yourself into your art

AH: Yeah I have a vein that I open up and paint with. I’ve used this one since I was eighteen.

RD: Bloody hell. I used eggshell for my bathroom cabinets, I’ve got to up my game.

AH: I use menstrual fluids sometimes, but I’m on birth control right now so, as you know, you don’t bleed as much.

RD: Hate when that happens.

AH: Haha, I know right?

RD: They are really beautiful.

AH: Thank you!

And with that, off I swept back out into the Bushwick sunshine, feeling like I had encountered a local legend. Bookworm by day, Goddess by night, not to mention a savvy business owner. My kinda girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kiss Of The Spider Woman

Hi Darlings,

Sometimes you just gotta get sexy. When my friend Gina of the blog WhatTheDoost handed me this dress and said "It's sooo you!" I wasn't sure quite what to say. She was getting rid of some stuff so we met up at her apartment and she hooked me up with some of her cast-offs. It's the best way to shop, darlings! As I'm playing the Spider Woman later in the year, I figured this dress was a good introduction to my spidery ways. Here it is #threewaystowear

# 1 Dress it down with some converse sneakers. Add some neon laces for a little flair.

"And the moon grows dimmer
At the tide's low ebb,
And her black beads shimmer,
And you're aching to move
But you're caught in the web
Of the Spider Woman,
In her velvet cape,
You can scream
But you cannot escape"

#2 Go with the S&M feel and add some no-joke boots.

#3 Even Spider Woman needs to go out for coffee with her girlfriends. Throw over some black-and-white spotted culottes and pink shoes to soften the dress.

All photos by the wonderful Denton Taylor!

Until next time, darlings!

Kisses xoxo

Decolletage Delight

Darlings!

It's been a busy time here at Darling HQ. Here is the brief run down:

  • I booked a couple of acting jobs (info at the bottom of the page)
  • I wrote an article for Salon which you can read here
  • I became Fashion Editor at The Bushwick Daily you can read some articles here and here
  • I also just had a birthday - grateful to be alive!

Okay, so now that's out of the way, here is my latest #threewaystowear featuring this off-the-shoulder top I picked up in the Zara sale - bargain! Photos as usual by the man who never gives me a bloody inch Denton Taylor

#1 Wear with capri-style navy jeans and sky high heels to match. Very chic. Sitting by a lake deffo helps this vibe.

#2 For a super sexy look, add a skin tight pencil skirt and some bright pumps. Taking the hair up really highlights your decolletage (and that lovely rope-burn I have on my left should from last week's trapeze class - stay classy Ruthie)

#3 A more structured look can be achieved by adding oversized culottes. Fresh and cool for summer.

ruthiedarling

Just when you thought those shoes couldn't get any cooler, check out the glitter-sole. (Glitter Sole/Soul may end up being the name of my auto-biography....)

Thank you as always to Denton Taylor for putting up with me.

Theatre endeavors below.

Enjoy the weekend fashionistas!

Love,

Ms Darling

I will be playing Meg in The Last Ship at The Pioneer Theatre, UT info here

After that I head to Ohio to play The Spiderwoman in Kiss Of The Spiderwoman (on trapeze and silks!) info here

Debra Rapoport

“No, let them be artists”

Debra Rapoport: It’s all woven. I cut up rags and I weave it all. I sit at night and just weave rags.

Ruthie Darling: You have an amazing eye for colour. It’s hard to say why these colors work together, they just do.

DR: It’s an intuitive thing. You can’t really teach colour. I mean, I can tell you what I see, but I don’t actually know how I get there. It’s like a lot of things, after living a while, it just comes. 

DR: I was born on the Lower East Side in a place called Knickerbocker Village; it was one of the early housing projects. It was wonderful, the whole family lived there. My father had a grocery store during the war and so he was a popular guy because he had butter and sugar. Then in 1949 the first supermarket came in and he saw the writing on the wall, so he sold the store and we moved to Florida. We were there six months and my mother hated it, so we moved back to the Bronx. Then of course we moved to the suburbs like everyone did and my sister and I were miserable! In high school my sister and I were freaks. We moved to the suburbs and we wore black tights and black Italian shoes . Everyone else wore bobby socks and saddle shoes. They didn’t know what to make of us. 

RD Was your mother artistic?

DR: She was and she would have been more so, but being a child of the Depression she didn’t have opportunities and so she encouraged us. When my father wanted us to go and get degrees in education she said “No, let them be artists”. My father was a religious Jew from Eastern Europe; he wanted us to get married and have a family and my mother said “No, they’re gonna have careers, they’re gonna be independent women”. I’m living the life she would have lived. We had a cousin who was the Dean of Fine Arts at Boston University, very prestigious, and he did Judaic Art. So my father called him and said “What do you think about my daughters going to college to do art degrees?” and he said “There is no better education” so my father said okay and that was that.

DR: I went to graduate school in Berkeley and Berkeley changed my life. I had a professor who was the best in the field, he could just see the good in everything and it was always a positive critique, he was an amazing human being. In graduate school we would all meet and make dinner and look at each other’s work and discuss it. We are all still in touch, those of us who are alive. That class was special. Our teacher told us that at the time, but now I know we were. I stayed in the Berkeley area for 11 years. I got married and moved into an alternative community and everyone thought I had lost my mind.

RD What do you mean by "an alternative community"?

DR Well, it was 1970 and my first great friend was living in this place called Synanon. It was very famous, it started out as the most famous drug rehab place in the 1950’s. Chuck Dederich, who started it, was an alcoholic and he found sitting around with other friends telling the truth was the answer. So he started the first encounter group which was called the Synanon Game. In '69 they had a few facilities and they opened it up to non-addicts called Squares. Ha! We were called squares! I was too much into healthy living to try drugs. I said “If I do my art, why do I need to get high? I’m high already!” So I went down to see what this Synanon game was about and it was truth telling, you’d sit in a circle and encounter each other with truths.

RD It sounds very….evolved.

DR: Oh, yeah. And it worked with addicts. But we were a full fledged community too. We had gardens, we had farms, we had everything. I met my husband there, who was also a square and he pursued me. But I left and went to Europe one summer and then I came back and we got together properly after that. At that time Synanon was encouraging people to get married if you’d been in a relationship for any length of time so we did. We had this big 150-person wedding.  I still have the wedding dress I made, I wore it to a book signing two years ago. I hand-painted it and put it together. Then the rules got a little strict so we left. We stayed married for a while, but then I said “I need to go back to New York and I need to go without you.” So we split up, but remained friends. In fact we tried to get back together again in ’92.

RD: Oh, how interesting. what prompted that?

DR: I was living with a Portuguese man and we had just split up and Joel, my ex-husband, was always on the scene. He’d call if he came to New York and then heard that I was single again and he tried to pursue me again and I said okay. We travelled back and forth and then we took a trip to Europe and fought like crazy the whole time so I said “Same old shit I’ve had it!”

RD: Ha! Oh we’ve all been there...

DR: So I came back to New York as a single woman. I had been teaching in California previously. I was tenured at 35 and I was driving home from work with terrible headaches and I was pulling over and throwing up on the side of the road. So I thought, there’s something wrong with this picture. I said I can’t do this. I loved the teaching part, but I couldn’t relate to academia. So I called my parents and I said I was leaving. They suggested that I take a leave of absence so I ended working in collaboration with two other artists and we travelled Europe and did shows, we were doing performance art; a year later I came back and I gave up my tenured teaching job, everyone thought I was mad! I then told my husband I was leaving. 

DR: I started making found-metal jewelry because I didn’t have materials or a studio, so I found metal in the street and started putting it together. I had a few little teaching jobs and then I showed my work at a gallery and the husband of the woman who owned the gallery owned a very large textile company - he adored me so he offered me a job. I worked for him for a year. Nobody could understand why I was there, because I was miserable. I’d come dressed up, I’d make a pot of coffee and then I should have left because I made everybody happy coming in all dressed up and then I sat there crunching numbers. I remember it was the same time the hostages were being held in Iran and a co-worker said “Why are you here, you’re being held hostage” so when the hostages were released, I quit my job.

DR: Next, I went into the flower business with a friend. She was quite the horticulturalist and I said, “Flowers? I’m a city girl, I don’t know anything about flowers.” But the more I thought about it, I came to realize that it’s colour, texture, placement, so I figured what the heck I’ll figure it out! We had a great business for 16 years. We were the oldest people at the flower markets and we were texture and textile freaks so they would save us the weirdest stuff and say “here come the two old ladies, have I got something to show to them!”  Silk flowers became popular, so we figured that out and we loved vintage flowers - millinery flowers. We’d buy them and I’d spray paint them, edge them etc. We were very baroque. 

RD: So you went from knowing nothing to running a flower business for 16 years?

DR: Well, yeah. We made a living, but we didn’t make a fortune. It’s almost like it’s another body that did it - Ha! Did you meet my boyfriend Stan?

RD: Stan…

DR: He was at the party. Full head of hair. He never wears a hat unlike me, because of his hair. It’s his signature.

RD How long have you been with Stan?

DR: It’ll be….nine years since we met, but it took him three weeks after that to ask me out. After he met me through a mutual friend, he called my friend and said “that Debra, she’s very nice but she looks like a clown.”

RD: **Spit-take** - What!?

DR: Yep. Then five years later we met again and he’d never forgotten me. 

DR: He asked me “do you ever dress normal?” So I went out a bought a pair of jeans. It wasn’t me. I just did it to show him I could look normal. 

RD: You know my mother’s one piece of fashion advice has always been: "Never dress for a man."

DR: She's right! Very good advice. And these men who say: "don’t wear make up, I like you plain". Well I don’t care how gorgeous you are, plain can always be enhanced. 

RD: That’s you all over.

DR: Yeah. And yet these men stare at other women in make-up, they just don’t want their woman looked at. It’s such bullshit.

DR: I pulled that neck piece out of my archives -

RD: What would you call it? 

DR: That I called a rag leis, what I'm wearing today I call rag ribs.

RD: How do you make it? Is it wire?

DR: Yeah it’s just wire and you shape it - it’s easy!

RD: Well, it is to you -

DR: I just found the fabrics - they were originally dresses I had lying about. The fabric is smushed on and tied. I just build them as I go. The materials talk to me - people ask me, "How did you start making hats out of paper towels?" I said, "The roll of paper towels was sitting on the table and it said "do me"!  So I let things speak to me rather than force it. 

RD: How did you meet Ari Seth Cohen? (Ari Seth Cohen is the genius behind Advanced Style).

DR: He was working at the New Museum, in the bookstore and my friend and I went to the museum. He came over and said “I have a blog of women over 60, can I take your picture?” and I said “How do you know I’m over sixty!?” Anyway he’d forgotten his camera so I invited him over and said, “Come to my place I’ll dress up and I’ll even make you lunch”. He came over the next week and he spent the day together. Then he sent a filmmaker over the next week and we start filming videos.

If you haven’t seen the videos I have included my favourite one here:

DR: The feedback was incredible, so she upgraded her camera and we began making the documentary of “Advanced Style.” 

RD: What I loved most about your segments in the film was that you showed us your process. Most of the other women (who are all wonderful, don't misunderstand me) were already dressed and done. With you, we got to see you create and experiment with your looks.

DR: Well I used to say, it’s not worth buying something unless you can wear it inside out and backwards.

DR Ari has changed my life.

RD: Yes, you are a style icon now!

DR: Ha! I guess. Actually, I was with a friend yesterday - a very conservative friend - and she said “Can I ask you something, can you please explain to me the torn-jeans look?” I said, I wish I could because I don’t get it either AND that people pay $300 for them! I don’t get jeans. You sit down on the subway and nine out of ten people are wearing them.

RD: (At this point I am so glad I opted for some grey harem pants for this interview!)

DR: I mean FIT just did a denim show!

DR: I went back to teaching a design class in ’94 and the students would all show up in jeans and a Gap grey t-shirt and I said “if you’re in my class and this is about creativity, you will not show up in those clothes and if your goal is to work at The Gap and design another grey t-shirt, forget about it”. The following week was Halloween so I told them to come dressed to class - but not as a fairy or an angel or a witch - just creatively. Some of them outdid themselves.

RD: People like to be safe in their dress I guess. But why, I wonder?

DR: I think it makes them nervous to be outstanding or they don’t have enough confidence. Thats what the Advanced Style movement is trying to promote, you know? Confidence. You don’t have to dress like us, just find who you are and put it out there. So wear one more scarf. Mix up chartreuse and red, just don’t be safe in the jeans and the t-shirt.

RD: What I find interesting about Advanced Style is the real avant-garde dressing that I see. I mean, I expect that of the youth. In a way it’s the wrong way around, but the kids are all in sneakers and hoodies.

DR: It should be the opposite way 'round. The youth are rebellious, they’re creative. It must be about fitting in, being safe. But then I teach this class at Parsons and they were all in black. Most of them said that black is essentially the uniform of Parsons, but this one Asian girl said “black makes me feel empowered. I feel vulnerable in colour” and I thought: okay, but you gave it some thought, you know why. That’s all I'm asking. I don’t feel powerful in black. I feel powerful in colour. The universe is nothing but colour to me. and color is a vibration and color is healing.

RD: But Debra, the way you dress, it’s talent. It’s artistry. Surely not everyone could do it?

DR: Well one can experiment. It’s not surgery! There’s nothing to lose. I say, keep adding things, layering, look in the mirror see what you think. 

RD: So perhaps it is a skill that through that process you just mentioned, one could develop?

DR: Yes and then go out and see how the world responds. If you come back in and you think you look like a clown, take off the red nose! You’ve got nothing to lose, but everything to gain! And it’s fun, it’s about the fun and the joyfulness of it.

RD: Yes it’s like the garment I call my "stop and chat" coat (you can see it here) Whenever I wear this coat everyone wants to talk to me. I’ve never had a negative reaction from wearing something bold.

DR: I have to quote Ari, his three C’s as he calls them are; Creativity, Communication and Community. That’s what keeps us vital, whether we’re young or we’re old. So if the way you dress means that someone stops you and it creates a conversation, why not, especially when the world is at war? You can spread a little joy, and communicate and become friends, then build a community around it, what more could we ask for?

Southern Belle - Part Two Y'all

Happy Friday Darlings!

Here is part two to my 'raided the costume shop' post.

First up, a gorgeous 1940's dress:

Next up, an amazing taffeta and sequined gown.

A sweet lemon coloured 1950's dress is adorable with pink shoes

This hat and jacket were used in a kid's show, but I thought they were fabulous!

Thank you Jane and Cassandra for this super fun shoot!

Finally, my audition for SVU - take note Dick Wolf!

Southern Belle - Part One Y'All

Hi Darlings,

As you may or may not be aware, these last couple of weeks I have been immersed in a production of Hedwig And The Angry Inch in North Carolina. A musical about transgender people in the HB2 state - yep, what the hell was I thinking? You can read about my experiences with this show in an article I am writing for Curve Magazine, so watch this space theatre-luvvies!

Dressing as a man every night for this show, has somehow brought out my feminine side in my real life. After much pleading with Tom the artistic director of the theatre, I raided the costume shop and discovered these beautiful vintage dresses. 

I shot the looks at the majestic Fair Oaks house - a spectacular Greek revival home built in 1859 here in the same town as the theatre. I had cycled past the house a few times and called the owner, the lovely and generous Jane Stewart, who let me use the space and also ended up art directing the shoot! Talk about right place, right time! 

Check out my Southern Belle looks below, sigh, why I can't I live this way everyday....

Photos by Cassandra Vallery

Oh this late 40's dress is so gorgeous. The perfect spring ensemble!

Costume shops are always full of wedding dresses - lord knows the best musicals end on a wedding ;) I added a flower crown to this beauty and some converse sneaks to keep it real. (Also I now know why women used to swoon - it's bloody hot in this formal gown in The South!)

Doing my best Vivien Leigh.....

This jump suit was handmade by someone way back when. It may need to take a little trip up to Bushwick........

Part Two coming up on Friday! Have a beautiful, happy week kittens.

Love,

Ruthie Darling xoxo

Touch Me Vegan Skincare

"Over time my parents finally started accepting that this is who I am".

I met my friend Maheen Lemon, founder of Touch Me Vegan Skincare, at the Long Island Flea Market where she was selling her gorgeous wares in the pouring rain one Saturday in April. I had the unfortunate task of photographing the Flea Market for their website. Upon seeing this soaking wet, crotchety photographer, Maheen handed me a few sample products to brighten my day. I threw them in my bag and almost forgot about them. A few days later, whilst attempting to excavate a pen from the depths of my overstuffed handbag, I came across the sample, tried a little and was seriously hooked! 

The consistency of her Body Butters were amazingly rich. They just melted into my overworked New York City girl skin like a dream. Moreover, it was the fragrance that had me coming back for more. Using blends of essential oils, Maheen creates unique perfumes for each product. Favourites of mine included: Steamy Shower Sex (oh stop, that's the actual name - we're all grown-ups here), Dirty Cake, and Drunk On Absinthe in the Body Butters. Happy Ending Massage Oil (take your mind out of the gutter people, I was using it on my elbow scar) and the divine, and I mean divine, body spray Wild Forest. All products are 100% chemical and cruelty free, organic and totally natural. I've been using them all week and recently a friend commented suspiciously: Why does your face look so healthy? Not sure whether to be flattered or insulted, but either way I have to credit Touch Me.  

I caught up with Maheen at my apartment recently where we held a photoshoot for her products and she talked to me about how she began her business. 

MH: Well, it was about December and my husband didn’t know what to get me for Christmas, so he just surprised me with an organic basket that had all these natural products in it. I was using the products and I liked them, but then I was reading the labels and I thought, you know, I could probably make this stuff and I can do it the right way without all these chemicals. I thought: I could definitely start something here and after that I decided, okay, you know what, let me look into it.

RD: You told me that your father's recent death had also been a motivating factor in your decision?

MH: Yes it was, but not only that. My father had been sick when he was alive, but it was also because I wanted to set an example for the other people in my life, you know, I wanted them to realize that you could live a healthy lifestyle and still be able to enjoy certain things here and there. I didn't just want to say it, I wanted to live it too. My father, in his last year of living on this earth, he was trying. When I was cleaning out his house, I saw all this stuff in the kitchen, he had goji berries and all these superfruits.  Exactly the kind of things I would talk to him about when I first became vegan and he would just always tell me, “Aw, you’re crazy”, and this and that, but I discovered that he actually was listening to me, but it was too late for him.

ML: He died from diabetes and heart disease and it’s because he didn’t take care of his health properly. He didn’t exercise, he didn’t eat healthily, and anything that me or my Mother would tell him, well, he just wouldn’t listen. I think later on though, he had started to realize, “Okay, maybe they are right, maybe I should be incorporating some of these things”, but it was too late for him, and so he left this world and that’s when it really, really struck me: I really need to do something because this hits so close to home.

ML: I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but it was on my mind. I’m not very good at cooking so I couldn’t go into that field and I just figured, it’ll come to me eventually. That’s when my husband bought me the basket and I thought, you know, I have this education behind me - I went to school at the Aveda Institute and I have my Esthetics license - I know about skin care, maybe I could just learn to formulate certain products and educate people through my product. That’s when it all started to come together, and that’s how Touch Me got created.

RD: You mentioned you would like to educate people about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle, do you like to teach?

ML: I do enjoy teaching people - down the road, I do want to teach. Maybe children, or senior citizens, probably volunteer or charity work because I really don’t want to charge money for those things, because I do it for love.

RD: So, now, tell me, how did all the fun names, like Drunk On Absinthe, and Happy Ending Massage Oil, come about? Is that your sense of humour? 

ML: Yes, it’s totally my sense of humor! Something for a bit of perspective - when I worked at different spas and I worked for many different cosmetic companies, they all have their own philosophy and their own approach to presenting their product, and over time I started realizing that this is what sells. It’s the quality of the product, but it’s also you, you have to put your personality into it.

RD: Yep. Personal branding is very important!

ML: And, you know, I’m a funny person, I have a bit of a sense of humour, plus I’m kind of perverted! I think that it's a very good thing for women to be liberated from the sexual repression that patriarchy has forced upon us over the years. I wanted to just open that up. That’s why I came up with some sassy names. When people look at my products, I want them to laugh, I want them to feel good about what they’re holding, what they’re using.

RD: It certainly appealed to my sense of humour! 

ML: Perfect! I’m so happy!

RD: You were born in America-

ML: Yes, I was born and raised in New York.

RD: How was that, having Pakistani parents, and being an American kid, was there any tension with that?

ML: Oh, wow, that is a great question, Ruthie! You raised something that I had to deal with for a long time. I had to convince my parents of so many things, when I was a teenager, as a young adult. They were very Third World, you know, they had a Third World mentality, very traditional and very cultural, so coming from a Western point of view, it was very hard, we always had clashes. We would always argue about things, especially my Mother I, because she wanted me to be a certain way, she wanted me to be religious and incorporate our culture and our lifestyle, and I do incorporate some things, but I’m American. I was born and raised here, I really wanted to take advantage of everything that America had to offer -education, work, anything! I think my parents just wanted me to follow in the path of being a doctor or a lawyer.

ML: I think over time my parents finally started accepting that this is who I am, they’re just going to have to support it, or they’re probably going to end up not being in my life.  Slowly they became more accepting, especially my Father, no matter what, he was always very supportive of me, so my mom was the biggest hurdle. She finally came around, she even - like, I married an American guy, he’s White, and she’s very supportive of that, in fact she loves him, and things are a lot better than they used to be.

RD: Do you ever think about incorporating any Pakistani ingredients into the line? A nod to your heritage?

ML: Actually, I already do! Shea butter is used a lot in Pakistan and India and everywhere in the Middle East and Africa. Also coconut oil is a huge, huge ingredient that they all use and I use in many of my products. The reason is that it’s something that many cultures have been using for centuries. It’s from the earth. Now Western people are beginning to realize how versatile it is, it’s fit for cooking, you can eat it, you can use it for your skin, you can use it for your hair, there are so many different things that you can do with it.

RD: What do you want the future of your business to look like?

ML: I would like to grow, but I don’t want it to get to a commercial level, because, again - I don’t want to take away from the whole handmade aspect, the whole natural vegan cruelty-free and chemical-free aspect. I want it to be still very true to what I started out with, but I do want it to gain national, perhaps international momentum. I’m approaching small boutiques, and if I can get into small boutiques, that would be very good for me. I’m also looking into to being an educator in spas and cosmetology schools, because people need to learn that there are other ways, you don’t have to do the conventional way, there’s other ways of doing things. I want people to be educated, and that’s why I’m doing this, it’s not just for income, it’s not just for what I want to do with the rest of my life, it’s mainly because I want to educate people, and we need to change, we need to reconstruct the way we operate, our society is operating backwards, and it’s really bad, and it’s only gonna get worse so that’s why I want to be a contributor to changing things and starting a revolution!

RD: That’s fantastic! I remember when you came over and you went into my bathroom and you came out of my bathroom and you said “I’m so proud of you! You have, like, castile soap and rose oil?

ML: (laughing) Oh yes, it smells so lovely in there!

RD: I try. 

ML: Another thing I wanted to add is, I am doing boutiques and doing flea market stuff and I am going to be doing trade shows, because I want it to reach everybody, but I don’t want it to be commercialized, I don’t want people to think I’m going to mass produce this, it’s gotta be niche. But I want people to start their own businesses too.

RD: Like a franchise idea?

ML: Yes! I want people to get ideas from this, that they can start something with it too. Why not?

RD: You know, I have a blogger friend that I work with sometimes, Gina of WhatTheDoost, and when we first met she shared information with me all the time. I was very surprised by this at first as lots of fashion bloggers don't want to share their contacts or tips. I asked her about it one day and she told me: "We rise together! Never against each other". 

ML: Yes! Exactly! That’s exactly what I want to do, and I think that truly it is going to gain momentum.

ML: One other thing I wanted to add is that people need to also remember that commercial products are a lot different than natural products. The consistency is different. People are always so used to the store-bought products, for example: it’s going to last long, it’s got to feel smooth like this, but with natural products it’s not going to feel that way, the consistency is going to be different, and that’s because it has a shelf life. It doesn’t have chemicals in it, it’s all from the earth, its extracts, its essential oils, it’s all natural so of course it’s gonna break down a lot. You have to keep it in certain temperatures, these are things that people need to realize and I think they forget because they’re so used to their commercial products.

RD: That’s a really good point, like sometimes you’ll see sediment in Kombucha, you’ll see there’s natural separation because this is a natural product.

ML: Exactly! That’s why you have to shake Kombucha up!

RD: Now you said when you here that you were thinking – if this is too personal you can tell me – but you were thinking about having a baby,  I wondered if you were thinking about introducing some baby stuff to your product line?

ML: Actually, that’s a great question, and yes, down the road I really do want to incorporate things for pregnant women and for babies too. I am in the midst of formulating some things. I just finished making deodorant and some acne products, but for the baby products I want to do more testing and researching because I know that babies’ skins are a lot more absorbent, if they have anything absorbed in their skin that’s wrong or that’s not good for them it’s gonna affect them later on in life. Babies don’t really need a lot of products because they naturally cleanse on their own. It’s more the pregnant women that need products and there are formulas for pregnant women, so maybe next year I can unveil something like that. 

RD: Thanks Maheen, for the gifts and the time!

ML: My pleasure!

You can purchase products from Touch Me Vegan Skincare online at www.touchmeskincare.com and at Shag in Williamsburg. Maheen will also be selling at the very place we met The LIC Flea Market until the end of October. 

Below is a more detailed list of the products and their ingredients:

Body butters: All ingredients are sourced from organic farmers and overseas in Africa (raw shea butter) which is completely raw and 100% organic. The fragrance oil is a blend of essential oils to get a unique and beautiful scent. The purpose of body butter is to moisturize your skin whether you have normal skin or severely dry skin with eczema and psoriasis. These body butters will protect your skin from wrinkling prematurely and will keep the skins natural elasticity. Not to mention the coconut oil that is in the product will protect you from the sun since it is a natural SPF 15.

Body Spray: Since my products do not have chemicals for preserving, I use organic vodka to help maintain the longevity of the body sprays. It is an alternative to synthetic preservatives! These products are a replacement to the commercial chemically-infused perfumes. I blend many essential oils to get a unique scent for each one. All have sweet almond oil, organic vodka, essential oil blend, and filtered water!

Massage Oils: All of my massage oils are 100% organic with raw materials such as sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and essential oil blends. All three are unique in their own way but the 2 flavor oils have only 100% organic food grade coconut oil with a blend of food grade essential oils in order for it to be edible. These can be used for massage therapy, aromatherapy, and bedroom play (pleasure).

Breath Spray: An alternative way to freshen your breath minus the chemicals. Organic vodka, filtered water, cinnamon essential oil, mint extract. 

 

Luxury Travel Store Mosafar Grand Opening

Luxury travel department store Mosafer, located on 57th street between 5th and 6th avenues in Midtown Manhattan, celebrated its Grand Opening Celebration on May 5th. I was there snapping away and taking a look around. If you need some James Bond style travel goods, this is the place. Their suitcases practically foldout into entire apartments. You can charge your phone off of them, carry clothing wrinkle free, not to mention how chic everything is. A little out of my price range (my luggage was all purchased at Primark - go figure) but hey I'm always open to gifts! 

Photo: Ashley Anderson

There were some fabulous guests in attendance including: DJ Rich Medina, entrepreneur, investor and “Shark Tank" co-star Daymond John and Mosafer Chairman Mr. Ashraf Abu Issa.

Photo: Ashley Anderson

Here's Celebrity chef Roblé Ali and Beyoncé's stylist Ty Hunter.

Photo: Ashley Anderson

Props to Mosfer for hiring a totally random mime (Linwood Harcum) to spice things up. We need more of this at parties. Anna Wintour take note for your next Met Gala.....

Photo: Ashley Anderson

Here is celebrity hair stylist Ali Fares and tv host/producer Mira Elbaphe

Here's Manuela Fassbender, CEO of Tahaanga Menswear, sporting a gorgeous Issy Miyake coat.

This stunning chap is Martel Francois, a lifestyle consultant based in Manhattan. You need a life make-over? Martel is your man. Check out his website here.

Stepford Employees. Beautiful and terrifying. 

Party goers....

Here are a few suitcases that caught my eye (take note Sugar Mama and Daddies)....

 DJ Rich Medina spinning some tunes (is that what the kids say? God, I am so square)

And finally some FASH-UN

Thank you for the invite Mosafer! 

Love,

Ruthie Darling xoxo

Styling On Shoot

Hi Darlings,

Today on the blog I am wearing some outfits that I selected from the StylingOn showroom. StylingOn is a New York City based fashion showroom and styling agency representing emerging designers whilst providing styling services worldwide. You can rent clothing for events and have yourself styled by one of their fashion experts. For more information contact them here and tell them I sent you! 

Enjoy my lovelies,

Ruthie Darling xoxo

This suit and matching bomber jacket are from Pink Sheep Heiress

Here's a very easy to wear linen dress from Imaji Studio

Finally, another look from Pink Sheep Heiress. It's a little sheer (not for the faint of heart!)

See you next week darlings!