Thursday, December 19, 2013

Glove love on Madison Avenue

Gloves can be sexy, practical and comfortable. There aren't too many accessories that can claim all that. When I was little, I remember seeing the women in my life -  my mother, grandmother and aunt -  wearing gloves and it seemed like a very elegant and grown-up thing to do. My grandmother, Bootsie, wore white gloves with her suits when we went shopping in downtown New Orleans; my mother wore elbow-length black leather gloves when going out to a party with my father (I still have them and wear them on special occasions); my cool California-casual aunt had an air of sophistication when she wore black leather gloves to ward off the Pacific Coast wind. 

I'm always on the lookout for the perfect pair for me. Often, when I see a pair of beautiful gloves worn in a fashion shot in Vogue, W, Elle or just about any other fashion magazine, it seems they are usually from Sermoneta.  Their shops are in Europe, Chicago and on the East Coast. I recently had an opportunity to visit the NYC shop located on Madison at East 58th when hubby Matt and I were there in November. 

We were there on a chilly, grey day and the small shop was busy. General Manager Kara Lee Kelly, the blonde woman in the middle, helped me find the perfect everyday gloves. She asked me to hold up my hand and in a second proclaimed my size as six-and-a-half. The gloves are organized by style and strapped together in bundles. 

Driving gloves, evening gloves, quilted, woven, suede, lambskin, wild boar (which is so strong the gloves will last a lifetime or three), Sermoneta has a huge variety. Kara says if you have something specific in mind, just give them a call. 

Founded in the early 60's by husband and wife Giorgio and Manuela Sermoneta, it is still a family business and everything is made in Italy. For the quality and style, the prices are very reasonable. I selected a classic pair: mid-length cashmere-lined black leather for under a hundred dollars. I've seen gloves at the department stores for that price and more and not nearly the same quality. 

Not much fur is worn on the West Coast, but I can imagine some Manhattan or European women wearing these. Warmth, elegance, style (and even protection against urban germs)...beautiful Italian-made gloves do it all.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Stivali da pioggia a Venezia*

*Rain boots in Venice. I've never seen so many people wearing rain boots and hip boots 
with as much elegance and style as the Venetians. 

We were just in Venice to catch the last week of the Biennale 2013. It was a huge, rich sensory experience of art, beauty, delicious food, warm people and truly fabulous shopping. We did our best to soak it up. We also soaked up some of the Adriatic Sea. On the first morning, as we were leaving our hotel, the desk clerk informed us that high tide would be at 11 am that day and that we would need rain boots. He asked what our shoe sizes were and handed us our boots, each pair folded into a flat plastic pouch. We took the boots with us but we were a little skeptical that we would really need them.

Our first stop was Pasticceria E. Rosa Salva for cappucino and morning treats. We were there for about an hour and as we tried to leave, we stepped out onto what just a little earlier a dry walkway. Now the cobblestone were under several inches of water and rising. Back we went into the pasticceria for another espresso and to put on the boots from our hotel.

As we sat there, struggling to lace, tie and strap our "boots" on, the locals came in and were all wearing hip boots. They looked so dashing, I had to take photos.

My friends Christof and Judith are modeling the two types of boots worn by tourists. The blue ones are sold by street vendors. The clear plastic version is what the hotel gave us. They both did the job, but certainly not as stylishly as what the Venetians wore.

Judith and I noticed a shoe store just a few doors down from the pasticerria. The charming owner, Dittura Gianni, fitted us for real rain boots. Judith opted for the classic dark green waders.

And I traded my clear plastic freebie boots for these actually-made-in-Italy shiny black rubber ones. Only 45 euros and I felt much more stylish and that I could splash through the Venetian streets with confidence.

And just so you can see just why boots are needed, 
here's Christof and hubby Matt at high noon at high tide. 

Even newlyweds wear them.

High tide bride and groom. 

And I learned that a small glass or two of Vecchia Romagna also helps at high tide.