11th Hour Gifts

The holidays are such a busy time around our studio that I always end up dashing out at the last minute to buy gifts, as the occasion arises. I haven’t even sent my holiday cards yet, and so they will probably end up becoming a New Year’s greeting by default. By the third week of December, I’m already so over Christmas anyway, and happily at work on my Valentine’s Day and Spring collections, so a New Year’s card makes perfect sense to me. Our Earth colored duotone Nest & Eggs cards will be a perfect way to greet 2010, and the set of 8 blank note cards tied with a satin ribbon also makes a wonderful last minute hostess gift.

Speaking of hostess gifts, we've had a full calendar this season, so I came up with a chic and easy gift idea that would be appropriate for any type of holiday gathering. I filled mini Kraft shopping totes with a bunch of goodies, including a packet of our Handmade On Peconic Bay cards, some yummy Li-Lac Chocolates and a decorative but not necessarily holiday themed ornament from Anthropologie, and topped it all off with some brown tissue and an iridescent peacock colored ribbon bow.

We celebrate Hanukkah as well as Christmas, and fortunately for us it’s a very forgiving holiday. My husband Matt and I love the fact that we have 8 days and nights to find last minute gifts for each other, and we shop right up until the 8th day, which happens to be today! Matt is always happy with the gift of chocolate, and Li-Lac specializes in cute holiday themed items. Golden chocolate coins are a tradition in our house, but this year my favorite choco-gifts were Li-Lac's dark chocolate Christmas Moose and Hanukkah themed chocolate pops tied with blue and white raffia.

Handmade On Peconic Bay Nest & Egg note cards, $18 for a set of 8 at Supermarket and Etsy.


My Stars!

The holiday season is in full swing, so it’s a good time to take a step back from the shopping madness and whirlwind of social events crammed into a few short weeks, and contemplate the universe for just a moment. But that’s literally impossible to do in New York City, where the grid is brightly lit 24/7, canceling out any perspective of the actual night sky. I do love a crisp starry night, and just once I’d like to spend the holidays in a true winter wonderland, dashing through the snow and taking lovely after dinner strolls along Main Street, gazing up at the stars.

I’ve always been fascinated by the night sky, so naturally stars are a favorite motif of mine, ever since I first saw this particular star illustration (top), by my first artist crush Peter Max. Not long ago, I found these ultra-pure blue lapis star shaped beads (above), and it was love at first sight! Not only did they remind me of my favorite Peter Max illustration, but the phrase “blue is celestial” just popped into my mind and I pictured a cascade of falling blue lapis stars jewels.

Stars are also favored by Kelsey Merritt, who incidentally IS a rising star in the pop music biz. Kelsey and the Chaos! has been ripping through stages and exciting fans all over the country, so be sure to preview their smoking hot new single “Life Goes On”, and buy it on iTunes December 15th, when you’ll also get Kelsey’s very cool cover of “Santa Baby” free with your purchase. Kelsey was a guest model for my Blue Is Collection, and here she is wearing her own star patterned top with my Blue Is Celestial lapis star earrings and necklace. Can one wear too many stars? I think not.

Cynthia Rybakoff Blue Is Celestial oxidized silver and lapis star earrings, $78 and necklace, $110 at Supermarket and Shopflick.


Holiday Blog A Day

Check out my Blue Is Earth pendants in this special holiday feature slash Coach handbag give away on Kitten Lounge today. There are only three of these one of a kind hand crocheted blue agate slice pendants, and they are available exclusively at Supermarket!

Kitten Lounge is one of 30 lifestyle blogs selected to team up with Coach for their Holiday Blog-A-Day online event. Kimmie Smith styled my pendants with this fabulous Coach Audrey bag, which Kitten Lounge is giving away on December 24th. J'adore the indie-urban grey and blue color story, and have already made a mental note of items from my own closet that would rock this look: long grey top and leggings, check; grey suede boots and leather bag, check; blue and silver jewels, absolutely!

Cynthia Rybakoff Blue Is Earth sterling silver and blue agate pendants, $128 on Supermarket.


White Christmas

One can't hope for a white Christmas in NYC these days. Maybe some holiday sleet or soggy gray ice. You can always count on copious amounts of rock salt to be sprinkled over the sidewalks if that happens, which is about as white as it gets. But, you can always create a festive holiday mood indoors. Some evergreen garlands and red berry branches in a vase make for a great low key forest recreation. Maybe some twinkle lights around the windows and a glass bowl of vintage ornaments on the table to complete your holiday theme.

Matt and I live/work in our conjoined "studios", and the apartment is just crammed with our stuff. There's not much room for elegant holiday tablescapes, so I prefer to watch them on TV. However, I'm currently collecting white ornaments, which work nicely with Matt's beloved white fiber optic techno-tree. I'm obsessed with white decor in general, and have amassed an eclectic array of ceramic and glass objets blancs, including a cute Jonathan Adler ceramic owl, some fabulous Tiffany art glass and a series of white terra cotta Japanese inspired table top pieces I designed for a restaurant in the 90's.

So when choosing the perfect frames for a new series of Matt's Cyanotypes, some of which would grace our walls, I struck white gold when I found a guy who had just scored some Wyoming snow fence. He claimed that brutal winds and raging snowstorms had weathered the wood in 10 years as much a barn that stood for 100 years in a gentler clime. Handmade on Peconic Bay is a green design studio, and the wood we use is reclaimed and upcycled by skilled artisans into our vintage inspired frames. The lick of white paint over the surface of the snow fence is new, allowing the wood to retain it's weather-beaten surface, and giving these frames a rustic wintery look.

Handmade On Peconic Bay whitewash framed Cyanotype prints by Matt Shapoff, $125 - $145 at Supermarket.


The Gifted One

Today kicks off my spectacular 12 Days of Christmas savings event. First up, there’s free shipping on my sterling silver and semi-precious stone jewelry gift items under $50, to any world wide destination. Then save 30% on select sterling silver and stone items. To top it off, I’m sending along a free Peace On Earth blank greeting card in Soil with any purchase. And it’s happening only at Supermarket through December 17th.

Also, check me out in the Holiday Guide on Kitten Lounge! The Kitten Lounge is a fabulous lifestyle blog that brings the best in entertainment, fashion, beauty and style together. Kitten Lounge happens to be one of only 30 blogs selected to team up with Coach for the Holiday Blog-A-Day online event, and will feature my jewelry styled with Coach handbags on December 9th, when they will be the lucky blog of the day!


Blue Muse

Blue Is Ocean Necklace

This holiday season, I’m channeling the color blue in different shapes and shades, and searching for meaning. Some get the holidays blues for sure, but blue also has incredibly positive color energy. For your home, blue is a soothing sea breeze or breath of fresh air. For wearing, it’s a calming and confident color. For giving, it’s universal. Blue is simply heaven sent.

Blue Is Versatile Wrap Bracelet/Necklace

Inspired by the sky, oceans, and the earth as seen from space, my Blue Is Holiday collection of sterling silver and semi-precious stone jewels, is a meditation on the powerful evocations and emotions of this globally favored color, which in many different cultures represents strength, trust, and serenity. My blue musings this holiday season were also inspired by the tiny illustrated book by Peter Max with the words of Swami Sivananda, simply called “Peace”, published in 1970. Substituting the word “blue” for “peace”, I created a series of designs that represent the many meanings of the color blue.

Blue Is Peace Pendant

Cynthia Rybakoff sterling silver and semi-precious stone Blue Is Holiday collection, $58 to $225 at Supermarket and Shopflick.


Save Face

Cynthia Rybakoff Facebook fans save 15% this holiday season in my Supermarket shop on any item, including unique holiday jewels, great gifts under $50 and my handmade holiday cards. First, if you aren't already, become a fan. Then message me when you place your Supermarket order: "Hi Cynthia, I’m a Facebook fan!". Be sure to include your full name and email address in the message, exactly as it appears on your PayPal payment and I’ll immediately refund you 15% of the purchase price, including the shipping, when I receive your order. It’s that simple! This special offer is good through December 15th.

Happy Holidaze,

P.S Shipping is free thru December 6th on holiday cards!



Blue Is Universal

Matt and I just launched our new mini-collection of Handmade On Peconic Bay Holiday art print cards, which was challenging because we don’t love the crass commercialization of the holiday season. Today is Black Friday, the late Autumn festival of competitive discount shopping, in case you missed the Christmas-crazed housewife in the Target television ads during your Thanksgiving reruns. And yet the Winter Solstice is inevitable in the northern hemisphere, so we participate in our own possibly pagan way.

For instance, when designing our holiday greeting cards, lengths were taken to avoid referencing candy canes and Christmas trees, and certain colors were immediately eliminated, including stocking red and forest green. Instead, we created a palette of subtle organic colors with names like Ocean, Earth, Marine, Grass, and Soil. In order to avoid images that seemed too kitsch, we axed the Christmas wreaths, angels, reindeer and Santa Claus caps in favor of botanicals, bird’s nests and dancing snowflakes (well, the snowflakes are kind of kitsch, but in a cool way). Then, in a perhaps misguided attempt to fit in and not completely alienate the folks who prefer that nostalgic holiday feeling, some traditional festive slogans were added in a vintage font.

One thing I think we can all agree on is that blue is perhaps a more universal color to represent the myriad of multicultural Winter festivals that take place this time of year. We happen to celebrate both Hanukkah and Christmas, so a few years ago Matt brought home a snow white fiber optic techno-tree with filament branches that twinkle with the cool blue glow of pre-programmed energy saving LED's. We’ll decorate it with a variety of white abstract ornaments and have ourselves a merry little Festivus.

Handmade On Peconic Bay Holiday Cards, $18.00 for a set of 8 cards with coordinating envelopes, are available online at Supermarket and Etsy, and Mascot Studio in NYC.


Harvest Home

My husband, Matt Shapoff loves to cook. He picked up the habit, a few years into our marriage, when I suggested he expand his cooking repertoire from deep fried potatoes into other food groups. I’m somewhat of an amateur chef myself, having sweated away a few thousand hours in professional kitchens as a low level chef de partie, including a mediocre Hamptons fish palace and a charmingly upscale Swedish bistro. I even spent a Summer season being abused by a grumpy chef at the old Amagansett Farmer’s Market, who disliked my dicing skills intensely but taught me how to make a wonderful cold ziti pasta salad marinated in roasted garlic oil and flecked with fresh dill.

Most nights Matt and I prefer to stay home and throw together tasty meals made with local seasonal ingredients readily available at NYC’s many farmers markets and specialty food shops. In late summer, and throughout the fall, we enjoy the bounty of the harvest, marveling at the sweetness of the corn and the abundance of good tomatoes after months of sensory deprivation. We also keep a good supply of fresh herbs on hand from Matt’s Southampton chef’s garden, which grows a little bigger each year. Herbs do better than vegetables in the sandy bay soil and salty air and we end up with copious amounts of parsley, basil, rosemary, sage, lavender and chives, most of which gets pressed and dried for Matt’s Cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown botanical prints.

This past summer, in between cooking experiments with Native American ingredients and the re-working of an old recipe for squash, corn and beans we named Pilgrim Stew in honor of the first Thanksgiving, Matt created a new Cyanotype series using only pressed herbs and edible flowers from his chef’s garden. We mounted the prints in one of a kind upcycled frames assembled from reclaimed wood paneling complete with original beadboard details and peeling paint. Choosing modern vintage frames made from weathered wood seemed a perfect compliment to the pale cyan botanicals, which give the appearance of being faded from the sun with age. A selection from Matt’s Chef’s Garden Series is now available at Mascot Studio in New York’s East Village.

Handmade On Peconic Bay Cyanotype Chef’s Garden Series by Matt Shapoff, on cream colored Rives paper in Antique White frames, $175-$250 at Mascot Studio.


Super Cute

Into The Woods charm bangles $38 each

I just can’t help myself. I love super cute furry or feathered creatures the way some might love a fat baby. I’m currently obsessed with the Sweet Million ad campaign, with it’s sleeping piglets quivering on miniature bunk beds and piles of snoozing kittens dressed in onesies for a long winter’s nap. I grew up in the mythical 70’s pop culture, when graphic representations of wise owls and spotted toadstools were plastered on much of the decorative ware found in my friend’s homes. I carefully stitched embroidered butterfly appliqués to every piece of denim my closet and painted tiny canvases of lush fields sprouting a first grader’s interpretation of those ubiquitous mushrooms and butterflies with my beginner’s set of acrylic paints. As an adult, I have scoured thrift shops, flea markets and even my mother’s cupboard for reminders of that idyllic time, scoring kitschy vintage Arabia Finland pieces, for my collection of pure unadulterated nostalgia.

Into The Woods charm pendant $68

I’m a fairly serious jewelry designer, not generally given to fits of whimsy or pretentious post-modern irony, but I do have a soft spot in my heart for 70’s retro cute. Come autumn in New York City, my creativity is jet fueled by woodland fantasies conducted in brisk weather, as the thermometer tops 70 degrees. Inspired by the changing autumn leaf outside my window and the comforting knowledge that screech owls do indeed nest in the Forest of Central Park, I am overcome by my outdoorsy leanings, shuttering myself from the warm Indian Summer sun in my apartment studio niche, dreaming up cute designs for my little cast of woodland characters.

Woodsy Owl charm earrings $38

Cynthia Rybakoff oxidized sterling silver Into The Woods charm collection $28 to $68, on Supermarket.


Art Of Nature

“Numbskull” Cyanotype and Van Dyke prints by Matt Shapoff

Our home is a museum of not necessarily rare and precious objects. Just stuff we’ve stumbled upon and really liked for one reason or another. We’re not talking exotic wood carvings or colorful woven baskets from far away places, although I once dragged home from Stockholm a suitcase full of mid century modern Swedish ceramics and glassware. We collect things: a pair of vintage Boy Scout bookends, an incomplete set of worn wood type, a polychrome bird’s nest made of tangled sewing thread, a vintage microphone and whatnot.

Cyanotype fragment from Kunstformen der Natur, by Matt Shapoff

Natural wonders play an important role in our curatorial efforts and in Matt’s art. Each oddly shaped piece of driftwood, slice of agate or spiral seashell is examined for it’s unique potential to join our little cabinet of curiosities or perhaps become the subject of a new Handmade On Peconic Bay print series. Found feathers are of particular interest, as are dead bumblebees, lovely banded snail shells and tiny intact crabs in a ready stance, frozen in time on our shelf.

Van Dyke Brown fragment from Kunstformen der Natur, by Matt Shapoff

Call us new antiquarians living in a sepia toned world. We are modern collectors with Renaissance style. The 16th century Wunderkammer movement, defined as an explosion of interest in snapping up natural curiosities throughout Europe and Asia, then hoarding them in dedicated rooms and obsessively recording them in lavish botanical encyclopedias, was the original cult of collecting. Back then it was strictly wealthy patrons who traveled far and wide in search of animal and mineral specimens for their extensive curio cabinets. But the specimens were also of great interest to Northern European artists who started the trend for realistic still life paintings of newly discovered insects, vegetables and flowers. It’s an entirely human fascination with the art of nature that has not diminished in the last 500 years.

Handmade On Peconic Bay Wunderkammer collection of modern vintage Cyanotype and Van Dyke Brown prints by Matt Shapoff, $12.50 to $48.00 on Supermarket and Etsy.



Isaac Mizrahi clothing with Cynthia Rybakoff Papier Mache Jewelry
by Irving Penn for Vogue, early 90's

Throughout his multifaceted career as an artist, graphic designer and photographer, Irving Penn challenged traditional ideas of beauty, treating fashion models, consumer products and urban detritus with equal dignity, perfect lighting and sumptuous color. There was also a remarkable consistency to his expression, whether he was shooting an allegorical still life, fashion spread or anthropological study. The quiet stasis of his compositions were as classic as a Greek frieze, yet delivered a modernist punch.

After Dinner Games, by Irving Penn, 1947

On two memorable occasions, Irving Penn photographed my jewelry for Vogue magazine, the fabulous Isaac Mizrahi clothing being the actual editorial subject matter. Later on, I briefly met Mr. Penn in his studio, when a good friend of mine landed a plum job as his personal assistant. Star struck by his noble presence, I was far too polite to do anything but whisper a very nice to meet you, and fade into the seamless backdrop.


Are You An Autumn?

Sundance Horizon Duster, $198

I’m obsessed with color, having started out as an artist long before I realized I was actually a designer, and could get paid for selecting a color palette. All I’d have to do was follow a few simple rules, when planning the next big color trend. First, I’d ask myself, does it make sense? Meaning does it already exists in the collective fashion unconscious of endlessly recycled seasonal color stories? Then I’d check if the fashion industry was on board with let’s say turquoise and coral (they are for Spring 2010).

Like A Prayer Collection, Fall 2009

But when it comes to my own wardrobe, trends need not apply. I’ll stick with colors that are best suited to my fair freckled complexion, thanks. After decades of wearing colors that looked simply hideous on me, I discovered there were a few basic rules, which when followed would bring lasting harmony to the contents of your closet. These rules were published in 1981, although I didn’t catch on right away. Color Me Beautiful is a personal color guide for dummies, using the seasons of nature to identify your unique coloring and which colors look best on you. Everything else just looks wrong. Like all my 80’s fashion choices: the Stephen Sprouse inspired day-glow chartreuse cap, which made my face look greenish grey, and the lipstick red high waited peg leg pants I paired with a jade green Ralph Lauren cavalry bib shirt that made me look like an anemic traffic light.

Like A Prayer Collection, Fall 2009

This fall, 80’s color palettes are hot again (think Nancy Reagan red) but they still make me shudder. Thankfully, as an independent designer, I don’t have to follow those rules anymore. I wasn’t convinced about Pantone’s top 10 fall ’09 colors, choosing instead a universally flattering palette that’s earthy and bright for my Like A Prayer collection, pictured here. For myself, I fell in love with a variegated striped sweater coat from the Sundance catalog, noting that the unexpected mix of earth tones with orchid pink was just what I was thinking! It’s finally starting to make sense. I’m an Autumn.

Cynthia Rybakoff sterling silver and Japanese waxed cord Like A Prayer necklaces, $88 and bracelets, $68, at Supermarket.


Pearl City

I heart pearls, those delectable organic gems from the sea. Classic, but never old fashioned, pearls are transcendent. At the dawn of civilization, pearls were considered by far the most valuable of gemstones, long before the diamond became your BFF. Cleopatra is famously said to have consumed one in a wager against Marc Antony, as the world’s most expensive meal. During the Renaissance, the original fashion queen Elizabeth I understood the power of pearls, wearing them not only as baroque jewels but liberally sprinkled on her ornate gowns and elaborate wigs. Today, no proper jewelry wardrobe is complete without a fine strand of lustrous pearls.

For Fall 2009, pearls have gotten a bit cheeky. Wear your pearl baubles dripping from tangled silver chains with a quilted black leather biker jacket like a rebellious Jackie O. Better yet, show off a single perfect strand in true aristo style, like the opera length 8.5 millimeter Mikimoto pearls that Carrie wore throughout the Sex and the City movie, paired with a black deconstructed dress and towering studded heels for an au courant girl in the city vibe. Or just wear them to bed!


Fierce Fashion

Fall/Winter 2009: a profusion of dangerous looking accessories embellished with weapons grade studs, spikes and chains are back with a vengeance, reminding me of another fashion era with paramilitary flair. I’m not referring to the gladiator chic aesthetic of ancient Rome, but rather the late 1980’s, when women sported linebacker shoulder pads and hubcap size earrings, seemingly for their own protection, while following an aggressive color and pattern protocol at all times.

The above Fashion Preview spread clearly demonstrates the pervasive mood during the pre-Gulf War years and the importance of fierce fashion. Although constructed from lightweight wood with a delicate gold leaf finish, my heavily studded finger and ear ornaments set with earthy semi-precious stones were meant to scare you just a bit. The magazine itself was an over-sized seasonal image catalog of runway trends that was the style.com of its day, covering important fashion news from New York, London, Paris, Milan and Barcelona.

From the archives: Cynthia Rybakoff Collection studded wood and gilt rings and earrings with assorted semi-precious stones.


Whale Story

The last few weeks of August in the Northeast are magical. Growing up, my family would spend the entire summer in Amagansett, and by late August you could already sense fall coming as the sun shifted overhead and the ocean breezes cooled. Monarch butterflies and enormous flocks of birds would pass through the dunes, on their southbound migratory paths.

Barack Obama and family chose Martha’s Vineyard as their late August vacation spot this year. It’s a wonderful choice for many reasons, including the fact that summer is peak season for whale watching in Cape Cod, as they swim up to 4,000 miles to their winter home. America’s ancient whaling history is centered in Cape Cod, and one of my favorite summer looks is scrimshaw jewelry made with vintage charms from the region.

I am fascinated by this technique, originally the handiwork of whalers, who etched patterns and stories into the bones and teeth of the marine mammals they hunted, rubbing in pigment to highlight the carving. Recently, I designed a vermeil lariot dripping with white coral branches and scrimshaw charms. Perfect with my Christopher Deane knot patterned maxi for a Cape Cod getaway, should the need arise!

Cynthia Rybakoff oxidized sterling silver Whale Story Charm Bracelet with angel skin coral and vintage scrimshaw, $655; vermeil Sailors Not Lariot with white coral and vintage scrimshaw charms $550, both to order at cynthiarybakoff.com.


Do You Upcycle?

If you haven't been living under a rock, you are probably making an effort to recycle, which will reduce your waste into lesser quality, but highly usable component materials and maybe even save the environment! It's also known as downcycling. As a designer, I tend to think a lot about the upcycle as well, that is to create great looking new products from used stuff. To upcycle is to take salvaged parts and create a new object of greater value. It's nothing new, but using reclaimed or vintage components inbues designs with the spirit of their unique history. Not only is mixing things up more interesting aesthetically, it's also good for us. With our fragile biosphere increasingly in peril, supporting artisans who make upcycled goods is a socially conscious way to share our global commitment to good planetary housekeeping.

"Whoops-A-Daisy" by Matt Shapoff for Handmade On Peconic Bay, one-of-a-kind Cyanotype print in upcycled barnwood frame, $68 at Supermarket.


Blue Is The New Green

Images from "Modern Vintage: Cyanotypes by Matt Shapoff"

In our brave new world of green living, Matt Shapoff is a natural. He’s been practicing eco-friendly photography for two decades, harnessing the sun's energy to expose biodegradable paper sensitized with non-silver based photochemistry, right in his own backyard. Even his subjects are organic: a visual Wunderkammer of the botanical and marine species of Peconic Bay, a tidal estuary between Long Island's North and South Forks. In 2007, Matt and his wife Cynthia Rybakoff started Handmade On Peconic Bay, a collection of Cyanotype paper goods and fine art prints in reclaimed vintage wood frames.

Peconic Bay, Southampton

Combining 19th century printmaking with 21st century digital photography, Matt spends his weekends at his Southampton, NY studio collecting “curiosities”: the wild flowers, herbs, shells, feathers and creatures that will become his distinctive Prussian blue Cyanotype images, printed en plein air just as it was done over 150 years ago. The natural subject matter and hand crafted technique imparts an overall vintage look and feel to his work, an aesthetic the New York Times has dubbed the New Antiquarians.

Cold Spring Pond, Southampton

On August 22nd, Matt will unveil his latest endeavors at his first solo show entitled "Modern Vintage: Cyanotypes by Matt Shapoff", hosted by Dr. Gerry Curatola at The Gallery at East Hampton Dental Associates. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the new Wellness Institute of Southampton Hospital. As the only hospital-based Integrative Medicine on Long Island’s East End, Southampton Hospital’s Wellness Institute brings together clinical excellence and a holistic approach to wellness.

You can find Handmade On Peconic Bay Cyanotype paper goods and prints at the Parrish Art Museum Shop, Southampton and Mascot Studio, NYC, as well as online at Supermarket.


The Happening

What really happened at a happening? Here’s a great shot my father took back in 1966 of a beach happening in Montauk. The dust and scratches from the slide add to the arcane element of this composition. Balloons at the beach! What a party!

The term happening was first used in the late 50’s, to mean a performance or event that was considered art. And they were interactive! Like all good trends, the culture of happenings hit the mainstream by the late 60’s, when my parents first started trekking from Manhattan to the distant shores of the Hamptons. Many of my father’s slides from this time period are simply labeled “Happening”.


The Wee Feather

Every feather has a story. Or at least a previous owner. Our striped feathers came from the wings of an unfortunate creature that found it’s final resting place on the quiet pebbled shores of Peconic Bay. Thank you little bird.

Tiny little feathers were carefully washed and dried to be used in a series of Cyanotype print gift cards for Spruce, a fab little shop in Memphis I recently visited and wrote about. If you’re in the area, be sure to check out the rest of our Handmade On Peconic Bay gift cards, plus all the other wonderful goodies Selena McAdams has carefully curated.

Spruce, 5040 Sanderlin Avenue, Memphis, TN 901-682-5513, www.spruceshop.com


Vintage Mags

Isaac Mizrahi in Vogue, March 1989

Here's a hot flash back to an item from my Summer 1989 fashion jewelry collection. The primitive textured beads on knotted leather cord were designed for Isaac Mizrahi, to accessorize his flowing silhouettes that season, along with Moroccan style shoes by Manolo Blahnik. The photograph, above, from the March 1989 edition of Vogue, by Irving Penn, with it's striking harem dancer legs and feet, captured the exotic mood of Isaac's bright palette of chrome yellow silk with colbalt blue and emerald green suede mismatched slippers, and a tribal twist of gilt beads wrapped around the model's ankle.

Isaac Mizrahi in WWD, January 1989

The necklace was carried by Barneys New York and Body Sculpture in Boston, a fabulous jewelry gallery that represented most of the designers from the Robert Lee Morris gallery Artwear in Soho. Made from polymer clay, the beads were hand formed, baked in a convection oven, and then given a gold leaf finish.

Working with Isaac was always a blast; ideas moved quickly and spontaneously from his pencil to the runway. Isaac's early shows were a dazzling riot of color, fluid forms and over-sized hand crafty "jewels". In 1989 he was by far the most popular designer on Seventh Avenue and a pioneer in his downtown Soho studio, just two short years into his stellar career.


I Don’t Remember 1969

From my copy of "Peace" by Peter Max

1969 was an amazing year for creativity, the arts and science. In music there was Woodstock, David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” and Yoko Ono and John Lennon’s “Give Peace A Chance”. In film “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid”, “Easy Rider” and “Midnight Cowboy” were released, and the novels “Slaughterhouse–Five” and “The Godfather” were published. Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh-In”, “The Brady Bunch” and “Monty Python’s Flying Circus" premiered on TV. 40 years ago today Apollo 11 landed on the moon. I don’t remember any of it. I was six.

Portrait of the artist, 1971

While 1969 for me was more about play dates, TV dinners and Saturday morning cartoons, the counter culture finally hit me in 1971, when I bought my first book, a breathtakingly colorful explosion of 5 ¾” square format design entitled “Peace” by Peter Max. As I soaked in New York City in the early 70’s, I began digging the groovy vibe. I drew peace signs and smiley faces and begged my mother for a zip front mini and a suede fringed vest. I knew every lyric from "Hair" by heart, and saw it in 1972. By the late 70’s I had reached the pinnacle of retro-hippie style, drew psychedelic art, made beaded jewelry, worshipped Jefferson Airplane and had some mind expanding experiences.

James and Cynthia Rybakoff, East Hampton, 1970

I often look back to the post-1969 era with fond memories of that great incubator of a time, which shaped me as the artist and designer I am today. I have probably not yet seen all the avant garde art, heard every influential song, seen every important film or read every seminal novel from back then, but I definitely intend to.
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