I don’t get to see a lot of snow in the central coast region of California (in fact none), so I was kind of looking forward to seeing some of the white stuff –just a little of it to get a sense of the season. The reality of of this winter’s odd weather event’s production of snow was much more than a little. Actually, record snow falls blanketed the Eastern Seaboard and throughout the Midwest causing airport closures and flight cancellations all over the country. One such flight cancellation was mine. My flight was delayed a day and connecting flights changed from Dallas to Chicago. Then, upon arriving in Chicago, my flight was delayed another two hours. –Missed dinner scheduled for Thursday evening at Charlie Palmer’s Metrazur in Grand Central Station as my flight finally arrived at LaGuardia at 9:38pm. Damn.
Of course, I was not the only guest blogger who was delayed, so the fabulous and creative staff at Brizo reorganized our entire program so that we wouldn’t miss a thing –compressing everything they could into a single day. And boy, what a day it was!
Without further adieu I would like to say thank you to Brizo and MS&L (round of applause please) and to say what a privilege it was to be included among the fabulous group of design bloggers. Thanks also to designer and blogging fellow, Paul Anater, for including me in this stellar cast. (Think Wayne’s World and a lot of bowing up and down.) I’m so not worthy! Brizo (the luxury end of Delta Faucet and a subsidiary of Masco) made us all feel like rock stars. They put us up at the 70 Park Avenue Boutique Hotel (yes that Park Avenue).
The first half of our day included group meetings with the Brizo designers and marketing pros to discuss their influences expressed in the current models, prototypes and the name Brizo itself. There was a film telling about the making of Brizo’s ad campaign that was shot underwater to give it a dream like quality. The dresses featured are by designer Jason Wu. Brizo (Greek: Βριζώ; derived from ancient Greek word βρίζω meaning "to slumber") is an ancient Greek goddess who was known as the protector of mariners, sailors, and fishermen. She was worshipped primarily by the women of Delos, who set out food offerings in small boats. Brizo was also known as a prophet specializing in the interpretation of dreams. ~Wikipedia
Funny how the impressions left indelibly on my mind are also dreamlike as the events that unfolded this day were so out of the ordinary, in my life at least. Imagine having the opportunity to converse and socialize with designers and writers that are true icons in the world of kitchen and bath design and interior design blogging. People who grace the articles online and in glossy magazines but you never usually meet in person in the real world.
While embroiled in these discussions, my mind wandered and I thought of my own design processes and how my design abilities evolved through my college days to practical experience and are now realized in many homes (and a few languishing on my hard drive). I realized that, while the expressions of our impressions and life experiences might be very different, our processes were very similar. That the line of a certain detail, ripples in a pool or the shape of a leaf, translated from a squiggle on a napkin made in the wee hours of the morning after a few too many the night before, could result in the creation of a functional art piece like a faucet, a beautiful yet very wearable dress, or a living space that is as unique and organic as a snowflake made of mass-produced components.
I felt like a secret agent being privy to new designs and technologies yet sworn to secrecy. I saw ideas like the (sorry can’t tell you) that (!$@#@@%^) like this. (Ooops! Sorry can’t say exactly how just yet!) Like nothing you’ve probably seen before. OH YOU’RE GOING TO LOVE IT! “If you liked it on our _____ model, well you’re going to be blown away when you see it on the new….” Hmmmm. Pinky Swear. Crossed my heart, hoped to die… I won’t tell and you can’t make me.
After our early morning with Brizo (remember my internal clock is still set at Pacific Standard Time), I was whisked away by a long, black limo with invitation in hand, along with seven or eight of my companions to the Jason Wu’s presentation of his Fall/Winter 2010 Collection that was about 10 blocks away from our hotel. (There were actually 20 bloggers, a contingent of Brizo and MS&L staff of a dozen or so in three limos.) By some fluke, we ended up front row on the runway.
Left to right Kelly Morisseau (Kitchen Sync), Carmen Natschke (The Decorating Diva) , Ann Porter (KitchAnn Style) and me. I was surprised to see videos like these already on Youtube when I got home: (The one I originally posted was deleted –perhaps removed from YouTube or hacked from my blog –who knows. I figure if it’s posted on Youtube then it’s meant to be shared.)
It’s been a whole lot of years since I daydreamed of being on the runway of a fashion show for a famous designer. But somehow, as if by magic, here I was. “There’s no denying that all eyes are on Wu, who has unofficially become known as the younger generation’s Oscar de la Renta,” says Cathy Horn of Fashionology. I had thought of that too before while viewing his dresses in the underwater Brizo ad, Michelle Obama’s gown, and while paroozing videos and photos of his previous shows. His designs are very feminine with billowing clouds of tulle and fluttering masses of ostrich feathers with lines that pay homage to the female form. But the irony created by time has turned the tables –Oscar de la Renta was an old guy even when I was young. Now I’m an “old gal” and Jason Wu the young rock star designer. Wu’s detractors scoff at his creations because of his youth and (in my humble opinion) do not give credit where it is due.
Fashion is yet another medium for artistic expression. It is also subject to the confines (or liberators depending on how you look at it) of the elements and principles of design that we (all of us designers) are subject to be held accountable for whether we design dresses, faucets or kitchens. All trained designers study fine art. We study our market because we are also in business. While art is often done for art’s sake, the creation of design is not necessarily so. I found Wu’s design aesthetic to be like a net cast to encompass a larger-than-usual audience as I found the majority of his creations to be extremely wearable and adaptable. His models, while all lovely, were not emaciated caricatures but looked not unlike “the girl next door.” (Yeah I know… not many girls like that next door … but you catch my drift.) This tactic allowed me to really have a moment to view and evaluate Wu’s designs without being distracted by those wearing them. I was able to see them as the sum of their parts, examine some of the details of construction and marvel at some of the material choices. (I put myself through college teaching sewing at a fabric store so know a little something about this.) I often found myself wondering “How’d he do that?” or “What IS that made of?” In summary, I saw a collage of materials, textures, colors and forms marked by contrasts and set in an exquisite balance of proportions. Perhaps, I thought –not so different an aesthetic from my own. The delicate dance of form and function creating something unique and new out of materials and components that are not. I love contrast in materials and textures and the clever play of patterns and balance within the elements of a design. I also have a strong practical side that appreciates his thoughtful nod to his audience… So to me, this show of Jason Wu’s art was a rousing success.
After the runway show, we were once again piled into the limos and shuffled off to the after party that was held in a penthouse at the top of a building –the name of which escapes me. I have to say, this was a highlight! Imagine the top floor of a high-rise, encased in glass with balconies still frosted with melting snow and ice. Views in every direction of the city in the late afternoon with a clear blue sky and the golden sunset turning into a thousand sparkling lights as night approached. In the meantime, finally getting a chance to talk to those Twitter and Facebook friends I was so excited to meet and get to know at long last. The interior design of the penthouse was simply designed and devoid of any intricate detail with plain white surfaces and window walls of glass trimmed with steel. Even the furniture was simple and upholstered in white. All as if to showcase the elements within against a background of glittering city lights.
In that same way I enjoyed the craftsmanship and design aesthetic of Jason Wu, I marveled at Brizo’s designs —the ones I can’t tell you about just yet. You can bet they are evolving with the same attention to detail, blending of material, texture, pattern and color to culminate as the tangible art piece once imagined only in a dream as any display of haute couture to be found on a runway in New York, Paris or Milan. So please give a big round of applause to my wonderful hosts from Brizo: Brian Nobbe, Jai Masella, Amy Hillsman, Brian Jones, Mandy Ellington, Judd Lord, Seth Fritz, Marilyn Seright, and Paula Warner. I also want to recognize the media superstars of MS&L: Christiana Brenner, Charlie Kondek and Kimberly Bernhardt. And last, but certainly not least: Jason Wu. I doubt I’ll ever squeeze into a Jason Wu even if I could afford it (remember you’re talking to a woman who clips coupons and power shops the supermarkets), but I can certainly find inspiration from his work.
At last, our day with Brizo and Jason Wu had come to an end. Though the night had just begun as 15 of the original ‘blogger bunch’ had a date at Chez Josephine for dinner. This was due to the graciousness and forethought of Jamie Goldberg Gold Notes (now living in San Diego but a New Yorker originally) who had made reservations for us. We were on our own after the cocktail party to find our own way to dinner and back to the hotel. I’m here to tell you that California girls can be very resourceful when it comes to figuring out how to hail a cab in New York…
In the words of the matradee at Chez Josephine as I was leaving for the evening when he clutched me about my leopard-printed sweater and smooched me on my cheek, “Au revoir, pussycat! Until we meet again…”