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And the winner is…

Evelyn Cunningham

Evelyn Cunningham, civil rights reporter, special advisor to Nelson Rockefeller, women’s rights advocate and incredible dresser.

So I recently set out in search of my own personal style icon. Mostly, I just find myself inspired by my friends, but I knew there much be some more public figures out there for me to look up to, even at my ripe old age.

And then I found her. Or rather, I re-found her. I’ve been an admirer for years without ever knowing much beyond the photos in the Style section of the New York Times. My search is over.

In terms of personal style, Evelyn Cunningham is the woman that I most want to be when I grow up. She covered hard news about civil rights in the 60′s for the Pittsburgh Currier, a nationally distributed African American paper, she was a special adviser to Governor and then VP Nelson Rockefeller, she fought for women’s rights her entire life, and she looked incredible the entire time.

What I most love about her is that while she was out there in the world, fighting the good fight and clearly making a difference by helping to make the world a better place for so many people, she still had the energy and the sense of fun to dress with true flair. In a sea of black tuxedos, she rocked a hot pink floor length gown like nobody’s business.

The ability to see and understand all of the complexities and difficulties in the political and social universe, while also being able to acknowledge some of the beauty and fun that can be found through dressing up is the mark of a truly well rounded individual. We can all be forces for good whilst wearing bold prints and big earrings, damn it.

Shortly after Evelyn Cunningham died, in 2010, the iconic photographer Bill Cunningham made a little video tribute which is lovely to watch. A little inspiration for a spring weekend.

Bird at 15

mayle and Cornejo for Bird

Two pieces, designed by Jane Mayle and Maria Cornejo from the Bird 15th anniversary capsule collection.

Ok first of all, hats off to Jennifer Mankins for opening a little boutique in Brooklyn called Bird and sticking it out for 15 years. And she didn’t just stick it out, she thrived. She has built (with some help from her family and friends) a tiny but powerful empire of three stores, each one a jewel filled with colorful and life enhancing treats in the form of clothes, accessories and a bunch of other stuff like wallets and stationary and art by her friends.

It is a joy to visit, though very difficult to leave empty handed.

But, and here’s the kicker, she also had the foresight to cajole four of her favorite designers into creating special pieces just to celebrate her being around for so long. So there is now a special Bird 15th anniversary capsule collection with pieces by Maria Cornejo, Jane Mayle, Rachel Comey and Tsumori Chisato. The clothes are all amazing, which sucks for me because I want them all, which is totally unrealistic.

I also find this whole situation particularly exciting because not only have I admired Jane Mayle and Maria Cornejo’s work for, like, ever… but I have been lucky enough to count them amongst my friends for a good little while as well. I was heartbroken when the Mayle store shut down (and forced to drown my sorrows at the Zero Maria Cornejo sample sale) But now everybody is back, and right in my neighborhood in special limited edition glory. Beautiful colors and patterns and fabrics that are perfect for what looks to be the better-late-than-never arrival of spring we are experiencing today.

I suggest you all drop everything and go check out the goods if you are anywhere near a Bird store. Or, as it’s 2014 and who goes to brick and mortar stores anyway, you can always take a look online.

I myself am planning on doing both.

Monday, Monday – or more links about potential style icons

I have been searching for a new “fashion icon” (or to be more honest, trying to search through my jumbled brain to remember whose style I most admire) and thought I might share a few of my contenders with you all:

This video of Iris Apfel on One Kings Lane (she did a sale with them recently) reminded me of how amazing she is.

Anna Piaggi, the late great Italian Vogue editor took the concept of haute dressing to a whole new level. And Vogue.com UK has a great timeline of Piaggi-related articles for us all to peruse.

Isabella Blow was Alexander McQueen’s BFF and had an incredibly singular and architectural sense of style, but it seems the world was just a bit too much for her…

Bjork could be good, and not just because her name rhymes with jerk.

Is it weird to put one of your own friends on this list? I don’t dress anything like Sarah Sophie Flicker, but the way she puts herself together always makes me happy.

Then again, so do the outfits of my friend Jennifer Mankins

Or maybe I should just stick with the classics and go with Lena Horne…

So many choices, so little time…

Time for some new kicks


The classic tretorn, but in lime green suede. And really worn in.

My friend Wendy gave me these Tretorns about 10 years ago and I have worn them to death. Literally. And now it’s time for a new pair.

But instead of being exited, I am all sad and overwhelmed by the choices out there. I think I’ll just stick to my guns (traditionalist that I am) and go with the same brand…I mean, I’ve been wearing some version of these sneakers since I was in junior high school. But even then, there are lots of decisions looming.

Nylite florence

Nylite Florence… one of my many choices of Tretorn sneakers.

Do I go with the new Florance Broadhurst line and have crazy patterns on my feet wherever I go?

Club Monaco for tretorn

These collaborations with Club Monaco appeared in Esquire Magazine (which is where I got this photo) are more along the lines of the classic shoe.

Or do I just stick to the basic version? And even in that case, what color might I want? And do I stick with suede or branch out to canvas?

Oh who knows. I think I still have a little while before my current pair falls completely to pieces. Until then, I’ll just drive myself crazy trying to decide. And please don’t anyone suggest going with a different brand…

Summer is coming!! (Or so they say…)

a detacher

A Detacher Spring/Summer 2014. Photo from fashionsings.com

Ok maybe I’m going a bit fast, but the sun is out again today and I feel like I can imagine things like hot sandy beaches and cool ocean breezes for the first time in months and months.

So in honor of those fantasies, I give you something else to dream about: this beautiful bathing suit by the otherworldly line A Détacher. If, for some reason, the bathing suits I already own become lost in some kind of terrible accident, the silver lining will be that I will rush out and get myself this one as a replacement. Not that I am wishing disaster upon myself, but at least now I have a solid back up plan.

This is all assuming we get to put our winter coats away at some point, which is not a 100% sure thing at this point…

The real fashion show

Yesterday I live streamed the Michael Kors show. Which means, in English, that I sat at home, all comfortable at my own desk, and saw all that there was to see as far as that particular fashion show goes. More, probably, than I would have seen had I actually been there, as my certain standing room status would have most likely had me staring at the back of someone else’s well coiffed head.

And yet I got all caught up in it for a minute, craning to catch a glimpse of celebrities (how much Michael Kors does Michael Douglass really wear?) checking out the models, remembering somewhat wistfully a distant past when I walked the catwalks, wondering what it takes to be a DJ at one of these things (because I would of course have better transitions between songs, or so I tell myself) etc etc.

And then I start to hate myself for allowing the inevitable descent into the world of the fashion show scenesters and all it entails. Why do I care about any of this at all? It’s just a bunch of silly (albeit quite attractive) people prancing around (not even to the beat!) in costumes in front of a bunch of slightly older but equally well put together folks with digital cameras and notebooks.

Fashion is totally inconsequential, right?

And then I watch a video like the (short) documentary above, about a group of men who have taken the whole concept of dress-up, made it their own, made it political, made it into a uplifting expression of joy that flaunts all of the hardships they face in their everyday lives. And I see fashion for what it can be: a vehicle for the expression of our higher selves.

These men are living the most authentic fashion show there is. They are the captains of their own souls.

May we all take a bit of their spirit with us when we get dressed up, too.

Yesterday, at some point…

Tess Giberson down jacket

The brilliant and cozy 3/4 length down jacket from Tess Giberson’s FW 2014 show this past week.

This image is part of a new series in which I am posting single photographs that describe some moment I had during the previous day. Kind of like a not-quite-instant Instagram. Needless to say (and yet I feel compelled to say it) all photos in this series were taken by me, and as such, are © Brooke Williams 2014.

Ok so I actually took this photo last Friday, but it was yesterday at some point when I remembered that I wanted to post it. So there you have it. Baby steps. I’ll eventually become the timely blog post-er this crazy internet world has come to expect.

In the meantime, enjoy this lovely and somewhat quiet feeling moment of contemporary fashion. And then check out the whole Tess Giberson show for more things you’re going to wish you could have right now to wear during this insanely cold winter…

Just a little something

Ten underwear

My new favorite underwear. Super soft cotton. Bright color. Subtle detailing.

Style wise, I am the kind of person who finds something I like and then sticks to it. Until it really starts to let me down, like Levis, which has seemingly forgotten how to make a quality pair of jeans. Or they go out of business, like Daryl K has. Multiple times. To wit, I have been wearing the same brand of essentially perfect underwear (araks, if you must know) for around a decade.

But I may be forced to branch out.

While I was browsing through Beautiful Dreamers, one of my favorite shops in the ‘hood, trying to decide if I could stomach paying $80 for the most incredible hair/body oil I have ever encountered (by Dr Alkalitis, and I’m still on the fence but leaning towards yes) I saw them laying there, all perfect and “boy” cut (though do any of you know any boys who actually wear underwear shaped like this?) and really soft cotton with just the tiniest bit of stretch and bright red.

The line is called Ten, and they are designed by an equally captivating woman named Daphne Javitch. After checking out her website and her amazing apartment (which has piles, but the attractive well-edited kind… Granted, she doesn’t have kids, but I digress…) and her blog, I want to be best friends with her.

Needless to say, a pair of these beauties somehow jumped into my bag as I left the store and, I must say, I am not bummed. Maybe it’s the airmail-envelope-cum-packaging that takes it over the top…

Ten underwear packaging

Here’s the little ‘bag’ that they come in. Just another thing I want to save. Thanks a lot, Daphne.

I think I may now have two BFF’s in the lingerie dept…

Tie em up

hair ties made from cute elastics

Cutest hair ties I’ve seen this summer.

The hair accessories fall fully under the category of things-I-could-totally-do-myself-but-lets-be-honest-I’m-never-actually-going-to-get-around-to-it-so-I-may-as-well-just-buy-it, but there you have it.

I was wandering though a store in San Francisco with my daughter who clocked these immediately and insisted that we buy them. And while I had the above mentioned feeling of why don’t I just make this myself-ness, I came to my senses and bought them. And my kid’s ponytails have been looking festive all summer, as a result.

The ones we bought out west are actually by a company called Calliope, but they don’t seem to have a website (only a facebook page– but then again, I’ve also just been trying to get my daughter to sleep for 3 hours, so I’m not the best web researcher right now)

The ties pictured above are by Mane Message and you can buy them direct from your laptop, which is a good thing for those of us who only have time to shop between 10:15 and 10:45 pm…

Speaking of which… time to order some more multivitamins from Amazon…

Adeline Michèle is the new high priestess of disco

Adeline Michele

Here’s Adeline, casually hanging out in the window of her (brilliant) stylist Irini Arakas’ midtown studio.

And I got to shoot her, the day before yesterday, for the online celebration of NY culture/magazine: The Aesthete.

Born in France but now living in Brooklyn, Adeline fronts a 17 piece band called Escort and they will be taking over the stage at the Music Hall of Williamsburg on Friday night.

It is a show that should not be missed.

But if you have other plans, just go buy the record (one of Rolling Stone’s 50 top records this year) put it on, wrap yourself in sequins and dance till the sun comes up.

Cause that’s what I’m going to be doing.