Friday, April 27, 2012

Post Post-Modern Par-tay

On Wednesday night SFMOMA turned itself into a pumping, pulsating nightclub. At the Post Modern Party Matt and I danced to Canadian electrofunk duo Chromeo, ate delicious bites from a number of SF restaurants and food purveyors and drank cocktails until the pumpkin hour. But the best part of the Post Modern party was the people watching. Everyone was dressed UP. So fun to see the women and the men dressed in their sparkly best. Lots of short cocktail dresses, leggy legs and strappy heels. Here are a few:

This couple looked so fun and happy. When I asked if I could take their photo, he replied,
"Why, because we're the oldest people here?" I said "No, because you look great."

The VIP dining area with the theme "Picasso's Blue Period," with a model of his guitar as the centerpiece. Photo taken by my friend Shio-ying. 

The "Supper Club" area, more food, more drinks and places to relax.
(Photo taken by my friend Shio-ying.)

The food was either meats or sweets.  Tables served grass-fed beef sliders, lamb pops, sliced roast and one table actually had an electric meat slicer and served slivers of smoked pastrami. (Matt asked if I needed to even out my heels al la Elaine on Seinfeld.) And then tables of delicious chocolates and treats. But the above was the best. Beautifully packaged two-bites worth of delicious Italian gelato covered in great chocolate. "Bacetti". I highly recommend!

Matt is enjoying himself!
(Even though he complained that the art was hidden away.) 

Beautiful embroidery. 

Yo quiero mucho!

Whew! We stayed till the end and headed home after midnight. 
I'm happy after a bounty of glamour and fun on a Wednesday night. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Devil and the Blue Dress

I just had a wrestle with the dress devil and I won. Sometimes I fall in love with a dress and that can be a pricey thing. Last September when Matt and I were in Germany, my friend Judith took me to Fryda*s, her favorite boutique in Weisbaden. I wrote about the thrill of trying on several Balenciaga dresses that all fit perfectly. Luckily enough, one was on sale at a great price, which I giddily bought and have worn several times. There was also this metallic blue dress. It wasn't on sale so I prudently did not bring it home with me. But this dress has stayed in my mind and imagination ever since.

Mr. Matt and I were just given two tickets to the San Francisco MOMA Post-Modern Party this Wednesday. My first question, what to wear? It's a hip, late night event, so I thought dressy but fun. This blue dress from Fryda*s came to mind. Would it still be there? How much would it be now? How would it get here? Should I even try to find out? I had to, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I emailed the shop's owner, Herr Mueller. He quickly replied that yes, he still had the dress and the price had been 2295, but now it was 700. I was thrilled that the dress was still there. But I did a quick euro to dollar conversion and that's $920 US! Plus goodness knows how much the shipping would be.

I took a day to respond to Herr Mueller. Just pretending to myself that this purchase was actually something I could consider. I even did a quick run through Neiman Marcus. Information gathering, I told myself. All the Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney and Marni dresses were over $2200. So the blue dress was a bargain! And I rationalized that in addition to the Post-Modern party, I could think of two more events to wear the dress, bringing the CPW (cost per wear) down to $300! I floated down the escalator imagining myself looking dazzling in the metallic blue (Balenciaga!) dress.

As soon as Neiman's revolving door landed me on the sidewalk with a blast of chilly SF wind, I realized I didn't want to part with that many scoots for one dress. I could buy three or more dresses at that price. But they wouldn't be Balenciaga! But before I could torture myself with any more back-and-forth thinking, I emailed Herr Mueller and said danke, but the dress would have to remain a dream.

I've decided to wear something I already have, an arty body-con Isabel de Pedro dress with my "I'm the boss of me" thigh-high Versace boots that Matt gave me several years ago.

Stay tuned for full reportage after Wednesday!

P.S. I was gratified to find an interesting scientific study related to my experience. In The Decisive Moment by Jonah Lehrer he writes, "But then came the price tag. When the experimental subject was exposed to the cost of the product, the insula and prefrontal cortex were activated. The insula produces aversive feelings and is triggered by things like nicotine withdrawal and pictures of people in pain. In general, we try to avoid anything that makes our insulas excited. This includes spending money. The prefrontal cortex was activated, scientists speculated, because this rational area was computing the numbers, trying to figure out if the product was actually a good deal. The prefrontal cortex got most excited during the experiment when the cost of the item on display was significantly lower than normal."

That's the problem with designer dresses, even on sale the price is painful!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Naked Nails No More

OPI nail polish, starting at the pinkie: Break a Leg-Warmer,
Frankly I Don't Give a Damn, Caught With My Khaki's Down,
 Illamasqua's DWS, then on my thumb, OPI's Metro Chic.

When I notice a woman's beautifully manicured nails and then I look down at my often unkempt ones, I feel a pang of envy. Silly, because I know it's within my abilities to do something about it. My nails are usually short, naked of polish, carelessly filed and with cuticles that could be neater. My excuse is that I use my hands a lot cooking and gardening, but truthfully there's some laziness and disinterest. 

To get a professional manicure takes time, effort and another appointment to make. And some of my cheapness; it's hard to part with 50 smackers for something that I'll probably chip or ding in a couple days. San Francisco is rife with cheap nail salons, which hubby Matt calls chop shops. On Cortland Street, our closest neighborhood shopping area, there are three chop shops within a block and a half of each other. Occasionally, I go to one where it's 18 bucks for a mani-pedi. My nails come out looking better than when they went in, but for me the experience is tedious and less than satisfying.  There's the intense smell of acetone, the fluorescent lighting and the annoying distraction of an overhead TV constantly flickering and flashing. 

Jules wearing OPI's Suzi Takes the Wheel.

But lately, some new nail polish shades have caught my eye. I like the new greys; they're trendy and neutral at the same time. I first noticed the new grey on my well-manicured colleague, Jules. And yes, I felt a twinge of envy. I've learned to pay attention to that twinge. Envy is a call-to-action for me. So, I started a personal nail campaign, giving myself a home manicure and dutifully moisturizing my cuticles before I went to bed. After a week or so, my hands and nails looked good enough that I could experiment with color. Sephora is the best place for that. The staff was indulgent and helpful one lunch hour at the Powell Street store as I applied five different shades to my left hand. When I got back to work, no one said a word about my multi-colored left hand, but I was entertained!

Teal is big too. From the April issue of "W", starting at the top, OPI's Fly,
Estee Lauder's Teal Topaz, Julep's Diane, and Essie's Mesmerize. 

Another colleague, Jessie, always shows up Monday morning with beautifully manicured nails. I asked her about it and this is what she said:

"Getting a manicure and pedicure is my weekly therapy. It's all about me for the next hour and being in that moment; reading People magazine, enjoying the massage chair, closing my eyes and relishing in a hand and foot massage. Any outfit no matter how gorgeous can be ruined with unslightly hands. I think having nicely groomed nails is a quiet statement of caring for yourself... it's like taking the tip of your finger and straightening the picture ever so slightly. Aaaah, perfect." 

It's Sunday, and I think I have some picture straightening to do.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Beauty Reveals Everything

Frederic Leighton, Pavonia, 1858-1859, oil on canvas,
from The Cult of Beauty at The Legion of Honor.

This last weekend went by so fast. As they always seem to do. Saturday was filled with catching up with myself and home; doing laundry, sorting and cleaning the veggies from our CSA box (with this much mud they have to be organic!) and planning menus for the coming week, putting away clothes and shoes that I'd worn during the week, filing papers and replying to languishing emails. Oh, you know, the list goes on and on. These things seem important at the time, but they're mostly just life maintenance and not so much life advancement. As my friend Debra says, don't always focus on the little "a'' agenda (your to-do list). You also need to know and do the things for your BIG "A" Agenda (your life values).

Sunday evening, before I got a case of the end-of-the-weekend blues,  I asked myself what I had accomplished for my big "A" Agenda this weekend. My answer: an appreciation of beauty. In spite of the rain and chores, the theme last weekend was beauty.

Saturday night Mr. Matt and I saw Ute Lemper at the Herbst Theater, performing "Paris Days and Berlin Nights" with the Vogler Quartet.  She was beautifully theatrical and sexy to watch wearing an elegant silvery pleated halter gown, with a sparkly camellia (as above) pinned at the plunging neckline.  And flawlessly striking to listen to as she performed chansons of Kurt Weill, Astor Piazolla, Edith Piaff and Jacques Brel, among others. (Click on the Ute Lemper link to hear her passionate and dramatic version of "Mack the Knife"). The show was transportive, as beauty should be.

Edward Burne-Jones, Laus Veneris (In Praise of Venus), 1873-1878,
oil with gold paint on canvas.

Sunday afternoon, Matt and I met our friends Hilary and John at the Legion of Honor for The Cult of Beauty: The Victorian Avant-Garde, 1860-1900. In the museum we were surrounded by the lusciously-colored paintings of loosely-gowned voluptuous women, richly patterned wall designs, furniture that was beginning to look modern and ornate metal work.

These passionate followers of the Aesthetic Movement -- as a reaction to the stuffy Victorians -- ate, slept, lived in, dressed in, painted, photographed, wrote and talked about nothing else but beauty. In 1835, Theophile Gautier published a book using the expression L'art pour l'art for the first time. It was a shocking proposal that perhaps the purpose of art could be just an expression of beauty and not a moral or religious tale. The Aesthetes devoted themselves to art for art's sake with passion.

Oscar Wilde was the movement's PR guy lecturing in the US proclaiming: "Beauty has as many meanings as man has moods. Beauty is the symbol of symbols. Beauty reveals everything, because it expresses nothing. When it shows itself, it shows us the whole fiery-coloured world."

We ended our museum visit having an impromptu picnic overlooking the Bay with crystal flutes of prosecco and orange juice (oranges that I plucked from the tree and squeezed) and nibbles.

The Aesthetes had a credo: Ars Longa, Vita Brevis (Life is brief, art endures). My Sunday credo: Vita Brevis, Bibere Champagne (Life is short, drink champagne). There's beauty in that.