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FUN STUFF: Hats, Caps and More Incredible Toppers at the Peabody!

Stephen Jones hat from Peabody Essex Museum/Photo: ©Christopher Moore/Catwalking

Stephen Jones for Christian Dior Haute Couture, 2007-8/Photo: ©Christopher Moore/Catwalking

By Pamela Burke/October 23, 2012

If you’ve followed TWE’S FUN STUFF, you know we love shoes and the more exotic the better.  And you also know that we have a fascination with handbags like Chanel’s gigantic hula hoop purse.  But it may not be clear yet how we adore hats!

We are happy to report that the Peabody Essex Museum is currently featuring an exhibit of more than 250 glorious chapeaux organized by milliner extraordinaire Stephen Jones.

Jo Gordon Kiss of Death hat from Peabody Essex Museum Exhibit/© Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Jo Gordon’s “Kiss of Death” hat, 1994
©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

They are wild; they are beautiful.  They are bold and they are brilliant.  This “anthology” or garden of hats, as Jones calls it, is a combination of items from the historical hat collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London (they have nearly 5,000!) and his own designs. 

Stephen Jones "Pas de daux" 1982 hat at the Essex Peabody Museum, ©Victoria and Albert Museum

Stephen Jones “Pas de deux” hat/©Victoria and Albert Museum,London

Celebrities love Jones’ creations with the likes of Madonna, Diana Ross, Boy George, Grace Jones and Barbra Streisand wearing his artistic concoctions  since he began his business in the early 80’s.

Who wouldn’t love to wear ballet shoes perched on a hat in Jones’ “Pass de deux” design of 1982!

Stephen Jones "Honey" hat, spring/summer 2008, © Peter Ashworth, www.ashworth-photos.com

“Honey” by Stephen Jones, 2008
Photo: ©Peter Ashworth





And if you’re in the mood for something tiny, how about his “Honey” hat.

This petite wonder is rather “Peter Panesque” in its pixieness.

To get back to shoes for a moment, where would you ever see a surrealistic inverted shoe hat the likes of this Elsa Schiaparelli design?  It’s one she created with Salvador Dali and is highly unlikely to be worn on a foot.

Elsa Schiaparelli Shoe Hat/©Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Shoe Hat, 1938/©Victoria and Albert Museum, London


If you’re more interested in a blue and red feather and cube combination, you will love Noel Stewart’s imaginative “Stacked Feather Cube” piéce de resistance.



Noel Stewart's "Stacked Feather Cube" hat/2009--©Morgan O'Donovan

“Stacked Feather Cube” hat, 2009/Photo: ©Morgan O’Donovan

Regardless of which hat you prefer or if you prefer something much simpler, you can’t help but applaud the creativity of these hat designers.  We thank Stephen Jones for putting together this amazing “anthology” and hope to see it in person one day.

Stephen Jones, milliner/Photo: ©www.justinephotography.com

Stephen Jones,2008/Photo: ©www.justinephotography.com

As he told Christopher Muther at the Boston Globe, “Women may throw their clothes away after a few seasons, but they don’t throw away their hats…they’re like their security blankets.  I want to create a security blanket they’ll always feel good about.”  These are surely some amazing security blankets!

This exhibit will be on view at the Peabody Essex Museum from Sept. 8, 2012-Feb. 3, 2012.   There’s a neat book on their website, Stephen Jones & the Accent of Fashion, on his life and work….and many more hats to see!

FUN STUFF: A Handbag, Hula Hoops and a Beach Drying Rack?

OK.  We’ve been stuck on writing about fancy shoes for FUN STUFF and can’t get enough of them.

Every day they become more outrageous, more pricey, and at times, more wondrous.

But the image we saw this week in The New York Daily News managed to take our Women’s Eyes off footwear (for the moment) and to a hoopy handbag that spread like wildfire on the internet.

It debuted at the 2013 Spring/Summer Paris Fashion Week causing quite a stir.

The News described this gigantic white quilted purse by Chanel as “balanced artfully between two black hula hoops.”  Yes, it was created by that French house of haute design, Chanel.

Business Insider called it “bizarre,” and hoped in a subversive way that it would smash into someone in a subway.  An article in the International Business Times asked whether “it was ludicrous or inspirational.”   The Stir deemed it “hilarious,” and “big enough to carry the whole family.”

Coco Chanel Book, Chanel and the WorldKarl Lagerfeld, Chanel’s veteran designer and maverick, defined his clever concoction in a video on The Telegraph, as a beach bag for towels that could be placed in the sand to hang things on.  That cleared up the various questions brewing as to its purpose.

There doesn’t seem to be a price tag hanging on these hoops and there may never be.

It may just be a way to draw attention to the Chanel design that Lagerfeld describes as easy and approachable without being boring.

We wonder what Coco Chanel might think of the latest incarnation of her famous bag.  It’s been reported that it was she, back in the 20’s, who decided to put straps on handbags because she was tired of carrying her bag in her arm.  The straps were fashioned after those found on soldier’s bags.

Would she have ever dreamed they would turn into big black hula hoops?


By Pamela Burke/October 4, 2012


FUN STUFF — Attention Dog Lovers! Come see Fetch!

Dog Metal Sculpture "Fetch" by Sue Cretarolo | Photo: Pamela Burke

As I was walking through the exhibits at the Sausalito Art Festival, I came upon a pup so beguiling that he stopped me in my tracks. He wasn’t jumping up and down, nor begging for food, but standing at complete attention.

I learned his name was “Fetch” and instead of hair or fur, he was covered in wrappings of metal artistically placed all over his body.   

His creator, Sue Cretarolo, helped me understand this wondrous piece of art made from metal and found objects. She explained that she covered her husband Jon’s specially designed plywood base with a multitude of layers carefully shaped and bathed in beautiful patinas. Pieces of copper, brass and foil became Fetch’s coat.

Dog Art "Fetch's" Head by Sue Cretarolo | Photo: Pamela Burke

Sue at Cretarolo Design lives in Washington and concentrates on painting and metalwork. Deep patinas characterize her style as you can see on Fetch’s “fur.”  Here’s how she describes her artist’s Eye:

“I am drawn by the way most humble objects and common images–a weathered chair, a rustic piece of metal, the layer of paint on an old wall–can create connections between past and present.” 

Thanks for sharing Fetch, Sue. By the way, he is for sale to the right owner. You can find out more about the pup and take a look at Sue’s art here.

Story and Photo by Pamela Burke/September 3, 2012


FUN STUFF — Stunning, Stilt-like and Swarovski

Christian Louboutin Black Decorapumps

Yes, we’re back to featuring fancy shoes. 

We left the subject for awhile, but we are always drawn to them when we see a pair of striking stilts that we find phenomenal.

Such a duo emerged recently.  They are Christian Louboutin Black Strass Decorapumps. 

You might have seen them as we did on Serena Williams feet during her appearance this week at The Late Show with David Letterman.

Serena Williams in Christian Louboutin Decorapump Shoes

Serena Williams/Photo: Zimbio

I guess 6.3 inch heels with internal platforms are nothing new these days, but what about the price tag of $3,895!

It’s not every day one runs across shoes pricing this high.  Twelve pair might pay for freshman year at an Ivy League college.  What could possibly be included in two shoes that singularly cost $1,947 and $1,948?

The answer seems to be the individually placed Swarovski crystals, described as having the highest quality in the industry.  That’s one difference between these and Louboutin’s “Daffodile” shoes that look similar to this sparkly pair. And that duo sans jewels sells for $1,075.

Be sure to note the signature red leather soles in both pairs.  Without them, they are not the real deal.

One online description for the Decorapumps reads: “The crystalized print on this high style pump is mesmerizing.”

You be the judge.  Mesmerizing or not?  If you had the money and you could pick any shoe in the world, would you pick this one?  By the way, if you don’t like black, they come in purple.

By Pamela Burke/August 25, 2012


Steals and Deals at the Montsweag Flea

Montsweag Field

By Pamela Burke/August 6,2012

During these 2012 Olympic Games you may have been hearing a lot about flea markets in London, popular places like Portobello and Camden, where trinkets of all kinds abound. One TODAY show story showed precious pottery, clothes along the style of what you might see on Kate (it said), and deals of a lifetime to be made for splendid objects.

Chandelier at Montsweag Flea Market for TWE Fun Stuff

Selection of flea items

If you, like me, haven’t had the opportunity to get to the Games, there’s a market in Maine you must try that is unto its own in the variety of fascinating items and well-weathered wares it offers. If you can’t get a bargain here, you can’t get it anywhere. It’s the Montsweag Flea Market in Woolwich.

You’d better be up and at ’em by 6 AM on Sundays and Wednesdays to experience the magnificence of the selection. There’s something about looking for great buys in outdoor flea spaces that has always attracted me and several of my friends. I guess it’s the thrill of the hunt and the possibility of finding an object so beguiling that we might expire if we don’t take possession of it.

Author finding unique dog porcelain

Author finding unique dog porcelain

Armed with $20 and a friend who knows the dealing ropes, we were on the hunt early last week. There’s nothing fancy about the set-up, simply plywood table after table snaking through a field laden with who knows what; where it’s come from; and what secrets it may hold. And if you spot something you like, you’d better grab it early…it goes fast.

Catching my eye immediately was a “gold” charm bracelet for $5. I love these relics from yesterday so who could pass on this one. Just because it was marked Avon and not 24 carat didn’t make a difference. And to get it for $4, how could I resist?

Clown Mold at the Montsweag Flea Market for TWE Fun Stuff

My friend (above, who didn’t want to be identified as the seasoned picker that she is) was almost ready to go for this clown-shaped cake mold but decided to use it as a mask instead. She’s not a big baker anyway.

Sheepdog at Montsweag Flea Market for TWE Fun Stuff

Unique OES pottery

As a big fan of the Old English Sheepdog, an irresistible piece of English pottery in the shape of an OES caught my eye immediately. Where could I possibly find another if I passed on it? But it was just too pricey (almost $300) and special to hassle over so I had to move on to another table quickly.

Nearby I saw a treasure that wasn’t so easy to walk away from. I love vintage oil paintings, especially ones of flowers that look like they have inhabited many summer seaside cottages. I found just the perfect one hidden under a table that I knew I should have even though I didn’t need it; had to get it to a house 3,000 miles away; and was large and would be difficult to pack. So I told myself  I’d just offer something the seller would never take and forget it.

Negative! I said $20. He said $40. I said I couldn’t pay that and then have to ship it to the west coast and was going to pass. He said $30. I said I just can’t pack anything that big. I stayed with $20. He said he’d take $22, then finally $20 and said he knew that it was meant for me. That’s the way it goes. And it’s mine now.

Like New Tiddly Winks game with a porcelain bowl found at the Montsweag Flea Market

A Tiddledy Winks game with a porcelain bowl in a like new box ($8), a delightful child’s book (who could resist for $4), and a ballerina pin ($2—a steal that recently fell apart) were all part of a day’s work of wheeling and dealing.

So I didn’t meet my $20 budget…$38 was not too bad…but who can put a price on this kind of fun. And who needs Portobello when a market like Montsweag lurks right down the street. So if you can’t make across the Pond, find a flea and see how good your bargaining skills really are. The folks are friendly and the price recommends.

Montsweag ptg

Now how am I going to get this lovely old, somewhat tattered treasure home???

You can get these steals and deals every Sunday and Wednesday right off Route 1 in Woolwich. Go early and bring cash!




Flatforms, Platforms and Flare

Urban Outfitters--Shoe and Book/Photo: Pam Burke

A quick trip to Urban Outfitters provided a fun way to spot all kinds of new trends, tomes and toe-huggers.

Above you see a Deena & Ozzy Knotted-Up Wood wonder that gives sandal a new meaning.  This shoe would include a 5.5 inch heel with, of course, a back zipper.

Sneakers from Urban Outfitters/Photo: P. Burke

Just look at the incredible variety of sneakers available on the market.  From the grey lace-up High-Top Wedge by Deena & Ozzie to the BDG High-Top Flatform in black and white to the brown Superga x UO Platform Sneaker, there is something for everyone.

Urban Outfitter outfit: Photo by Pamela Burke (7/11/12)And if you’re interested in shorts, shirts, and suspenders, there are many varieties to mix and match that will shake up your wardrobe.

100 Years of Fashion by teacher and lecturer Cally Blackman was on display featuring 400 smashing photographs of threads from 1900 to today, everything from corsets to sportswear to couture.

100 Years of Fashion boookThe recently released Stylists: New Fashion Visionaries by Katie Baron (shown in the lead photo) is a showcase for the many unsung heroes of the fashion industry who are now coming into their own.  You can read about everyone from Lady Gaga’s stylist to Marc Jacobs’ collaborator.

It was a fun excursion into a world of trendy fashion and the latest style.   

Do you have a favorite place you go to find inspiration and eye candy?

By Pamela Burke/July 15, 2012

A quick trip to Urban Outfitters provided a fun way to spot all kinds of new trends, tomes and toe-huggers…More

A Stars and Stripes Shoe Salute to the Holiday

Jeffrey Campbell's Lita Stars and Stripes ShoeThe Edgy,
High Heel
Platform in Red, White and Blue





As you know, we always have our Women’s Eyes out for fabulous design, something that takes your breath away, or that makes you sit up and take notice.  Shoes are a favorite of ours.

So when we knew the Fourth of July was upon us, we wondered what a truly creative designer would come up with to celebrate this patriotic day.

Look no further than to Jeffrey Campbell’s Lita Stars and Stripes retro extravaganza. 

Its wood or synthetic heel rises to five inches with a two inch hidden sole.  If you like the style but the color or fabric doesn’t fit your taste, you can find it in almost every shade and fabric imaginable from suede to velvet and beyond.  It even laces up to the ankle.

You will be amazed at the variety of styles and heights of Jeffrey Campbell’s Collection.  We spotted his flashy footwear on solestruck.com.  This holiday shoe comes with a price tag of $159.95.  It may or may not be your fancy, but it certainly is a conversation piece.

Happy Fourth!


Betsey Johnson’s Sandal on a Stilt

Betsey Johnson's Tricksy Sandal


We’re always on the search for the latest dazzling and different shoe…

one that might not be “oh, so comfortable” but that will defy the latest standards of design.

We think we’ve found one in Betsey Johnson’s new “Tricksy” shoe.  It’s described as a sandal perched on a slim heel.

That heel is 5 and 1/4 inches tall with a 1 and 1/4 inch platform. 

Made from leather with a satin lining, it even features a zipper up the back for easy slip-on ability.

If you’re wondering about the price, the tag on it says $149.95 at Nordstrom’s.

It may not be your cup of tea, but it’s certainly is a show-stopper.