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Brooklyn Gal

Wish-ful Thinking

Santa, don't forget to shop net-a-porter's seasonal sale!

Sample sales? No thanks. The Brooklyn Gal always winds up frustrated by the throngs of fashionistas all waging battle for the same 20 items. We hate trying on clothes over our own, even if we come dressed in warrior-wear like leggings and thin T-shirts that allow us to easily slip in and out of the garments on offer. And, much, much worse, we oftentimes wind up buying items we may not need or even love because we get so caught up in sample-sale fever and, hello, it’s hard to pass up such bargains. Waste of time and money.

But don’t get us wrong – we do love a great sale – especially the online sale happening this moment at net-a-porter. True, our favorite e-commerce site sometimes prices select items a few bucks higher than its competitors, but damn, the selection can’t be beat.

What’s on the Brooklyn Gal’s wish-list radar right now? Well, if our pockets were deeper or Santa were richer, we would purchase these lover-ly wardrobe essentials in a nanosecond.

We heart all of the following net-a-porter finds, listed in no particular order:

Chloé leather boots. Oh how we love the tassels and the dark gray color. We could live without the logo (really, do we need to be walking brand billboards?) but we are enchanted by everything else about these beauties so we would gladly make an exception.

Isabel Marant slouchy wedge-ankle boots. One part leather, one part suede, all in awesome gray. We would strut around town in these babies all winter long.

Chinti and Parker elbow patch cashmere cardigan. Practical, yet luxurious. And we do have a thin for the au courant elbow-patch trend.

Miu Miu bell-sleeve belted wool-blend cardigan. Okay, we admit it: this sweater is what fashion dreams are made of. We are not usually oh-so-label-conscious but honestly, the Brooklyn Gal would sell our relatives for this gorgeous hunter-green cardi.

Paul & Joe Sister merino wool fair isle gilet. You say gilet, we say vest. Either way, it’s an adorable way to ward off the winter chill.

Stella McCartney double-breasted wool coat dark green. The price is totally out of our league but there is no debating the style appeal. Totally disarming!

Sonia Rykiel striped knit and velvet dress. Sonia can do no wrong. And we are always a sucker for a comfy knit sweater dress. Bonus points for holiday glam!

Yes, the Brooklyn Gal‘s list is long, but heck, don’t we deserve it all? We’ve been very, very good this year. And, what’s more, we’re really good at compromising. Just one little green sweater would satisfy the bargain-shopping itch!


What Grace, What Style

Bathing beauty Grace Kelly

We’re not usually huge fans of ladies’ fashions from the 1950s – too much pouf in the skirt, far too many poodles – and let’s not even get started on those cone-shaped breasts. But that was before the Brooklyn Gal experienced the 1956 gem High Society starring Grace Kelly, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra with a musical cameo from Louis Armstrong.

Truly a stellar cast, but in our book they played second fiddle to Miss Kelly’s wondrous wardrobe, dreamed up by MGM’s chief costume designer, Helen Rose. Obviously no style slouch, no matter the production, Grace Kelly was captivating in even the simplest ensembles like a khaki button-down shirt and pleated khaki trousers. Normally the Brooklyn Gal would have found such an outfit a big fat yawn – khaki-shmaki – who cares? But Kelly cinched the waist of her neutral slacks with a marvelous brown leather belt and finished the oh-so-casual sportswear look with burnt-orange espadrilles. Talk about style punch. Ka-pow! Pouting poolside, her gorgeous gams dangling in the water, Kelly sported a white bathing suit with gold buttons and a flirty little skirt – who knew that swimwear could be so very elegant?

And on her wedding day she truly dazzled, greeting Frank and Bing the morning after a pre-nuptials bender in a calf-grazing fairytale number that must have sent a million would-be brides straight to their dressmakers for a spot-on replica.

Actually, the Brooklyn Gal read in movie lore that one of the soigné gowns that Rose created for High Society turned out to be the launching pad for the design of Kelly’s real-life wedding gown. It seems that Kelly didn’t walk the aisle in Christian Dior or Cristóbal Balenciaga or any of the fashion heavyweights of the era. Instead, she married Prince Rainer of Monoco in a Helen Rose confection.

That’s what we call a Hollywood wedding.


Burn after Reading

Follow the Cire Trudon sign to the candle haven below...

Oui, there is such a thing as love at first sight. We were reminded of that today. And, as in all things romance-related, the dreamboat that made us weak in the knees took us unawares.

We fell, and we fell hard.

There we were, scoping out the goodies on Bond Street, first at avant-garde Oak, then at down-home Billy Reid, when we stumbled upon an intriguing sign that said ‘Cire Trudon c. 1643, 54 Bond Street, downstairs’ with an arrow pointing to a flight of ironwork stairs. How could the Brooklyn Gal resist? Down we went.

Ooh la, la, said the Brooklyn Gal as we entered the subterranean shop, a darling treasure with wood-plank floors, turquoise walls and irresistble displays of candles and candle sets, in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and scents.

We'll take Marie and Napoleon, too!

We immediately wanted everything in sight, from the lightly scented hefty pillars known as Le Cierges Camées in scrumptious color combinations like turquoise with brown and red with purple to the waxen busts of Marie Antoinette and Napoleon in marble grey, light water green, black and white, to the Nazareth votive, one of the perfumed Bougies Trudon, made of natural, pure, biodegradable wax scented with clove, cinnamon and orange.

The scents, we discover, are meant to depict a time and place in history. Our favorite: Empire,with the lingering aroma of Maquis en feu or burning bushes, a re-imagining of what Napoleon‘s post-battle camp smelled like.

The icing on the cake: wonderfully elegant old-world boxes to store your waxen lovelies in.

In short order we learned that Maison de Cire Trudon, founded by a Monsieur Claude Trudon in 1643, is renowned throughout France for its luxurious long-burning candles, each one crafted from the finest vegetal wax, with flawless cotton wicks to boot. The Trudon family’s candles were so perfect that they once illuminated Louis the XIV’s royal court as well as his cathedrals and churches.

They can light the Brooklyn Gal‘s humble abode anytime.

In the words of Mary Boland’s character the Countess DeLave, the middle-aged romantic in George Cukor’s The Women, ‘Oh, l’amour, l’amour.’

Cire Trudon, you make our hearts go pitter-pat. We’ll be back when our purses are fuller and we can part with princely sums.


Edible Brooklyn| Winter 2010 – Like Mom Used to Make

Virginia Dobles never regarded her mother, homemaker Patsy Roberts, as a professional role model. But after Dobles lost her job last year, she spent two weeks soul-searching, mostly under the bedcovers in her Park Slope apartment, and had a revelation.

With her 30-year advertising career kaput, Dobles, 53, wondered whether baking—always her mother’s passion—might hold the key to her happiness, too. “She was a real mom’s mom. Everyone in the neighborhood used to get a tin of her cookies for their birthday—everyone. That she became my inspiration sounds hokey, but it’s true.”

Dobles mixed up the butter cookies that had made Patsy, now 84, a local legend decades earlier in Rockaway Beach, Queens, and a nebulous plan took shape: Why not distribute bundles to 50 friends for Thanksgiving and let kismet take its course? Dobles’s husband, Cristian, a former ad agency creative director, whipped up retro-cute labels featuring Patsy in her prime with a fitting tagline—“Sweetness is the main ingredient”—and Patsy’s Cookies took flight.

Friends told friends about the Dobles’s prettily packaged cookies and they sold 500 boxes for Christmas. Soon they were selling three varieties—cookie-pressed butter cookies, dusted with sugar crystals; chocolate-chip butter; and walnut and maple syrup—to Union Market and Back to the Land in Park Slope and the Blue Bungalow in Rockaway Beach, even the Garden of Eden Gourmet Market in New Jersey.

Dobles believes the “sense memory” resonates with customers. At the couple’s in-store samplings, shoppers take a bite and wax nostalgic about their own mother or grandmother’s buttery renditions. She says some even well up.

These days the Dobles’s sprawling Slope apartment is “corporate headquarters,” while their cookies—along with brownies and walnut crumb cakes—are baked in a certified kitchen in Bedford- Stuyvesant. Dobles substitutes real vanilla for Patsy’s cheap stuff, chops nuts in a Cuisinart instead of, ahem, a meat grinder and mixes dough in a KitchenAid stand mixer. “My mother did it like this,” she says, stirringan imaginary bowl.

The resultant cookies are lighter, but Patsy Roberts wholeheartedly approves. “The first time I showed her the packaging with her face on it,” recalls Dobles, “she said ‘Now I feel like I have a legacy’ and it made me so proud.”




No Bull

Meet your matador at Despaña

The Brooklyn Gal doesn’t usually snoop and tell, but this snippet is too exciting not to share…Overheard at Despaña on Broome Street in NoLita the other afternoon: their highly anticipated wine bar next door may be opening in just a few short weeks.

We love Despaña mucho already, especially since this Spanish food favorite expanded its café area several months ago (we can actually order our bonito bocadillo – a humongous, oil-packed tuna sandwich on ciabatta bread stuffed with tomatoes and piquillo peppers – and enjoy it at communal tables in a little white-tiled room instead of scrunching at the tiny counter).

The grocery area, packed with all kinds of tempting vinegars, olive oils and chocolates, the specialty meat counter bursting with sausages, ham and 50 kinds of cheese (okay, not the Brooklyn Gal’s thing), even Pepe El Toro, the stuffed bull head from Malaga, surveying the scene from the back wall, all make us feel oh-so-European.

We didn’t think that our favorite weekend stop could get much better, but it looks like we were wrong. In no time at all we will be able to snack and sip red wine, all at the same time.



Earth to Closet

We heart Eviana Hartman's boiled wool motorcycle coat for Hessnatur

Okay, we confess: we here at the Brooklyn Gal are having a catalogue moment. Despite many requests to be removed from tons of lists, we still receive several catalogues a week, especially this time of year. And, lo and behold, we actually got one the other day that we welcomed with open arms: the latest from Hessnatur, a socially responsible company based out of Butzbach, Germany that makes lovely clothing from organic and sustainable fabrics. Not just one or two items but the whole lot!

We applaud the green effort. In fact, we’re racking our brains to think of an American counterpart, but we’re coming up short. Anyway, all of this eco-ness makes us daydream. Perhaps one day the Brooklyn Gal will be a total convert, shedding her toxic togs for a wonderful wardrobe stuffed earth-friendly attire.

But respect for our planet is just one of the many reasons why we’re intrigued by this visionary company. For one thing, Majorcan-born designer Miguel Adrover, who once ruled the New York fashion world, is the creative director. Some of his designs are sort of blah, but others, like the pure alpaca jacquard-patterned sweater coat, appear to be winter workhorses that we can see ourselves wearing all season long. Hessnatur also lassoed Bodkin designer Eviana Hartman to create her own line, an urbane capsule collection that’s all about modular dressing. Lots of pieces mix and match and most would most likely go with pretty much everything we own. One of our favorites: the boiled wool motorcycle coat.

Prices are very affordable, too, just another reason why any purchases we make will be totally guilt-free.

Score another point for the green team.


Where’s the Bean?

L.L.Bean's Adirondack Barn Coat is perfect for those hikes in the woods

If you were a venerable Goliath like L.L. Bean, wouldn’t you make sure that every last detail of your Christmas 2010 catalogue was 100% correct before sending it out to zillions of customers? The Brooklyn Gal most definitely would.

To be fair, perhaps the L.L. Bean folks were in a time crunch or the proofreader was on vacation or someone just forgot to spell check the whole kit and kaboodle. Or maybe they’ve become so reliant on online sales that the paper edition is a bit of an afterthought.

Whatever the reason, we were totally floored when we flipped through the new L.L. Bean catalogue the other day. (Yes, guilty as charged: we love perusing catalogues – and folding down pages for future reference. So what if that future almost never rolls around for the Brooklyn Gal.) Anyway, there it was, plain as day, on page 35, a quote from a happy customer extolling the virtues of the Trail Model Rainwear: “The workmanship is excellent, and the perfomance is top notch.” Hello, PERFOMANCE?

L.L. Bean, we have heard that your performance gear rocks. And what’s more, we’re mulling over the insulated Adirondack Barn Coat at the moment, in loden, but of course. The price can’t be beat!

But please, for your next catalogue performance, may we suggest that you look before shipping?

Humbly yours, the Brooklyn Gal.



The Wright: Even our Americano coffee was a work of art

This weekend’s leitmotif: art, art, and, oh, more art. Yup, the Brooklyn Gal got her fill Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Luck be a lady, indeed.

We kicked off the visual feast on Friday night with a Netflix rental of the comic satire (Untitled) (2009) starring one of our favorite bearded neurotics, Adam Goldberg, who plays Adrian Jacobs, an angry avant-garde musician, and Marley Shelton as Madeleine Gray, a sharp-cookie Manhattan gallerist, all blonde ambition wrapped up in sexpot stilettos and über-urbane, kick-ass outfits. Thumbs up from this here Brooklyn Gal.

On Saturday we headed to Soho to check out Park Slope painter Steven Skollar’s opening at Arcadia Fine Arts on Greene Street. Though we have little interest in sci-fi subjects or robots and the like we were totally knocked out by his remarkable talent. This dude is definitely the real deal.

After paella and vino at nearby Boqueria we forged on to an opening at the Invisible Dog art center in Carroll Gardens. Some of the work was impressive, most pedestrian, but heck, we are so in love with the philosophy, the local vibe and the ancient factory building where all of this coolness is housed that it really does not matter what the hey they hang on the walls. In the words of Arnold, we’ll be back.

Today was the pièce de résistance. As Guggenheim members, the Brooklyn Gal and her man got to view the Chaos and Classicism show before the museum’s opening hours. Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and new discovery, Dadaist Hannah Höch – all in Frank Lloyd Wright’s genius museum.

The capper: a pricey but lovely brunch at the Guggenheim’s on-site restaurant, The Wright

All in all, a weekend suitable for framing.


Vintage Magazine: On Haberdashers

Vintage Magazine: On Haberdashers


Vintage Magazine: Rise of the Wedge

Vintage Magazine: The Rise of the Wedge