Even while hailing the return of patent leather, leopard prints, black nails, difficult silhouettes, outrageous platform heels even strippers wouldn’t wear–everything that appeals to a girl’s sinful side–I’m bracing myself for the inevitable backlash. Soon prim, pastel, beribboned innocence will be hot again. And when that day comes, probably the only designer capable of making me wish I were a good girl will be Danielle Weingarten, proprietor of the French-inspired label Siahou.
She showed her simple but luxurious spring 2007 collection at Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in Fashion show a couple weeks ago. The audience hooted and hollered at Shanel Regier’s Jane Austen-meets-film-noir keyhole jackets but quieted down when Weingarten’s models came onstage wearing loose, sailoresque blouses with easygoing bows, long shorts, and skinny tunics.
Weingarten’s designs are subtle, delicate, classy–and unlikely to last longer than 20 minutes on me. I ruin even sturdy items like blue jeans with dumb high jinks like hopping a fence to go jump on someone’s backyard trampoline, which is how my last favorite pair recently expired. In fact, while it wasn’t the only reason, a major motivation for my trip to New York last weekend was acquiring a pair of jeans.
Cheap Mondays, made by a Swedish chap named Orjan Andersson, are cut superskinny and with a higher rise–for those of us who are sick of showing the top inch of our underwear to the general public. Best of all, they cost 65 bucks, about a third of the cost of the last jeans I bought.
I tracked some down at the Soho boutique Opening Ceremony. In the dressing room I had to stretch the leg hole with both hands just to get a foot in, and dance on one leg and then the other to pull them up. I considered yelling for help when trying to button them. They were so tight my panty lines showed through the pockets. Perfect.
I broke them in the next day walking with a Chicago expat around Chelsea, looking at cluttered, morose art that fucked with notions of perspective and dimension. On 25th Street kavi gupta rulez was scrawled in Sharpie on a Dumpster, a nod to the Chicago gallerist. Down the street a bit, I saw pasted up on a brick building a dopey-cute-faced red heart by street artist turned fine artist Chris Uphues, who recently moved from Chicago to Brooklyn. It was an afternoon of warm, fuzzy Chicago-New York synchronicity.
Later I met up with my two traveling companions, Martha and Lindsey, at the office of a seriously fancy dealer in 20th-century Italian furniture, where Martha’s chiseled, slightly affected, but mostly sweet friend named Hans works. While the two ladies pored over a collection of Holocaust books stored in a back room, I listened to Hans and his friend Frank, a model, chatter on (and on) about the ultraexpensive avant-garde sweatpants Frank had bought the last time he was in Paris. “They said LA over here,” Frank said, pointing to his left hip, “and Dodgers here. They were totally gangsta.”
That night we went to a dance party at Royal Oak, a not-shitty, not-overcrowded bar in Williamsburg with gorgeous dark wallpaper and red leather booths. My Cheap Mondays showed no sign of sagging all night; they even snagged me an offer to go “drink water and talk about books” with a pouty-mouthed guy who claimed he produced the last Kanye West video. (No, I didn’t.)
As we left I spotted a tiny bag of white powder on the sidewalk and snatched it up. “Look what I found!” I announced with glee, though we all stopped sniffing drugs quite a while ago. It was so gross and sleazy that two of us couldn’t resist; the third sucked on the bag just for a taste. Next thing we knew we were closing out some dark little bar in Bushwick with lots of Led Zeppelin and Metallica on the jukebox.
Out on the street Martha started doing a maniacal dance routine to Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight,” which only she could hear because she was jamming to her iPod. When she did the splits–which I’ve never seen her do sober–I crumpled to the ground in laughter and peed a little in my new jeans.
Back at the large Bushwick apartment where we were staying, we woke up our host and demanded clear floor space, more booze, and Van Halen on the turntable. “Fuck Van Halen,” he said, and cranked some Bon Jovi instead. It was 5 AM.
The sweetly mysterious strains of “Living on a Prayer” filled our ears, and Martha continued her performance. She slinked into our host’s bedroom like a sexy panther, dressed in black tights, an oversize top with orange animal prints, a blue cummerbund, a mink pelt, and a pair of giant Cazal-inspired sunglasses she’d snatched out of Lindsey’s purse. She slid along and rolled around on the floor, scratching at the air. When she tried to do a complicated move involving a leap up with her chin tucked down, she kneed herself in the face and broke a lens against her orbital bone. The bleeding was minimal. After we tended to her, Lindsey and I joined her, rocking asinine moves until the sun’s first rays peeked out over the Porta-Johns parked outside the front door.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photos/Andrea Bauer.