Thursday, December 4, 2014
I showed a real vintage dress in my last post. But I also love homegrown vintage. I wore this outfit early last month to visit Bergdorf Goodman, one of my favorite stores in the world. This was a very warm day; I went without a coat!
Top: Anne Fontaine (2007?)
Skirt: Dolce & Gabbana (from suit purchased between 2000 and 2004)
Shoes: Miu Miu (2010)
I’ve worn this exact same combination before — here it is in 2012. In that post, I identified the Anne Fontaine vest as being from 2007, but now that I think about it, I believe that I got it in 2008 on this trip to France. No photographic evidence has shown up to prove either theory. At least I know it’s older than the shoes. I like it when I can say the newest item in my outfit is four years old!
Wednesday, December 3, 2014
The Committee to Protect Journalists gave out its International Press Freedom Awards at the Waldorf Astoria last Tuesday, November 25. I wrote about CPJ’s importance in that day’s post on the movie Rosewater, which tells the story of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. When Bahari was arrested in Iran in 2009 — and held and tortured for 118 days — CPJ was one of the many organizations and individuals that petitioned for his release. As a result, Bahari was on hand last week to present a Press Freedom award to Iranian freelance journalist Siamak Ghaderi, who was released this July after spending four years in prison in Iran.
Other awardees were Aung Zaw of Burma, founder and editor-in-chief of The Irrawaddy, a Burma-focused news organization that operates from exile; Mikhail Zygar, the editor-in-chief of the independent Russian TV channel Dozhd, which the Russian government has been trying to drive off the air; and Ferial Haffajee, the editor-in-chief of the local privately owned weekly City Press in South Africa. (Click their names to see the videos ABC News produced describing what kind of government pressure these journalists face while trying to do their jobs.) Jorge Ramos, the Emmy-award-winning anchor of Univision News, received the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award. In his acceptance speech, he argued that journalists shouldn’t be afraid to take a stand. Ramos quoted Nobel Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel:
“We must take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.”
Think about it. It’s the truth, isn’t it?
The black-tie dinner raised a record total of $2.7 million, including a special commitment from the Knight Foundation and pledges made during dinner by attendees who were egged on by host Christiane Amanpour of CNN.
I wore the same dress I wore to the CPJ dinner in 2004: my blog-famous Sex-ay Pilgrim dress. For some reason, I can’t find a full-length photo from that year, just this one.
This Donald Brooks Couture dress is one of my favorite eBay purchases. I got it for only $60 and the workmanship is impeccable, from the tailoring, to the pockets, to the tight sleeves that snap and zip at the wrists.
I was so into the top hat that I borrowed from my designing friend Stacy Lomman for Halloween that I decided to accessorize the pilgrim dress that way for the CPJ dinner this year. Here’s the full look.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Vintage Donald Brooks Couture (possibly purchased from eBay in 2003/2004)
Shoes: Prada (2010)
Top hat: JJ Hat Center (2014)
Earrings: My own Cleves design
Makeup: Josie Torres
Hair: Julie Matos of Warren-Tricomi
To break up all the black, gorgeous hairstylist Julie Matos used a hairpiece to give me a purple bun.
Stacy wore a strapless gold bouclé gown she designed herself.
MrB looked dashing in his tux, as always.
Style photographer Bill Cunningham of the New York Times stopped by briefly before the event got started to take pictures of the awardees. It’s too bad he missed my top hat; I think he would have liked it. He always appreciates a vintage gown too.
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
This weekend, Run the Jewels performed in New York and I got to see them up close and personal thanks to my gorgeous rapper friend Gangsta Boo. Run the Jewels is a duo consisting of rappers El-P and Killer Mike, and Boo did a verse for the song “Love Again” on their critically acclaimed new album, Run the Jewels 2.
I made it back from Thanksgiving with the family just in time to catch the show at Stage 48 Sunday night. First we all hung out backstage.
From left to right: Boots (who I recently saw open for FKA twigs); Trackstar; me; Boo; Emily Panic; Shay Bigga; El-P; Ms. I-don’t-remember-her-name-probably-because-I-was-hypnotized-by-her-Jim-Morrison-t-shirt; and Killer Mike.
Boo was wearing Wendy Brandes jewelry designs, of course.
Then it was showtime, and the sold-out audience was insane! I had brought along my new concert friend, Jessie, who watched from the upstairs VIP area, while I watched from the side of the stage. At one point, I texted her, “Do you think we would survive this front row?” and she replied “Helllll no,” though she added “But it looks like so much fun.” Two people who came close to passing out were given water from the peeps onstage and backstage, and one of them was actually pulled up ON to the stage because he was in such bad shape. This general-admission concert stuff is a serious workout. Don’t try it unless you’ve gotten yourself into shape first, for God’s sake!
Here’s “Love Again.”
And here’s a shorter clip of Boo’s performance taken by Jessie — you can actually see Boo more clearly from this angle.
The New York Observer called the show “nearly air-tight” and a “live powerhouse.” It also quoted El-P’s sarcastic remark: “You’re probably wondering how two 18-year-old men can get up here and do what they do.” He’s 39, as is Killer Mike. I literally laughed out loud at what Mike had to say about age in a recent interview for The L Magazine.
“… I used to sit around and wonder, who’s gonna finally say, ‘Fuck it. I’m an adult, I still love rap,’ and keep rapping and not have an end date. Who were gonna be those rappers? We fucked around, and we’re those guys. I’m not ashamed of my age, I don’t feel unhip that I’m older. I feel like, ‘Motherfucker, I’m gonna get in here and rap the fucking shit like a Christmas present! What are you going to do about me?’
I go to my 17-year-old daughter’s high school, little boys throw up Run the Jewels logos, and yell out ‘Killer Mike!’ and embarrass her. We’re dope at this shit, there’s no end date on this motherfucker.”
The interviewer noted, “Embarrassing your kids has to be an underrated adult pleasure,” and Mike replied:
“As a parent of four children, I love it! I love fucking their shit up. [laughs] No greater pleasure, man.”
BWAH! That gives me life, especially because I’ve noticed a lot of the criticism of Eminem’s new album is focused on his age and the fact that he has daughters in college. I understand how people get angry at lots of lyrics or believe an artist should evolve in a certain way — I don’t always disagree — but I’m not sure how relevant an artist’s age and the educational status of his or her children are. It’s like some of the criticism of Kim Kardashian’s Paper Magazine nudes: “You’re someone’s mother!” Are you only allowed to express your crazy self before you have children? But that doesn’t even help because they can find out what you did before they came on the scene. And what does “acting your age” mean anyway? When I hear or read that phrase I wonder how many things I’m doing that are “my age” and how many aren’t, and if I’m in big trouble with the thought/behavior police for the unapproved shit. But, like Killer Mike said, “What are you going to do about me?”
I feel that as long as the kids aren’t taking out restraining orders against their parents (I draw the line there!), we strangers with no knowledge of what goes on behind closed doors don’t have to get all in loco parentis on someone’s ass because of what mom or dad does to entertain people. Just hate the words because you hate the words, y’all!
Speaking of words, Killer Mike had some intriguing ones printed in USA Today yesterday about the Elonis v. U.S. case being heard by the Supreme Court. Anthony Elonis of Pennsylvania was convicted for making threats on Facebook against his ex-wife and an FBI agent. The attorney challenging his conviction says that Elonis was venting in an artistic way, comparing his words to Eminem‘s. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald says it’s all about context, pointing out that most of the posts occurred after Elonis’ wife had gotten a protective order, and that Elonis “reasonably foresaw what the reaction would be.” NPR quoted Fitzgerald as rejecting the comparison to rap music:
“The wife would read this and think, this is not an artistic statement, this is not a political statement about a larger cause … This is trying to get inside her head and make her think there could be someone doing violence to her.”
“… the latest — and highest level — in a disturbingly long line of cases in which rap lyrics have been used as evidence in criminal trials.”
Nielson and Mike continue:
“Ignoring many of the elements that signal rap as form of artistic expression, such as rappers’ use of stage names or their frequent use of metaphor and hyperbole, prosecutors will present rap as literal autobiography. In effect, they ask jurors to suspend the distinction between author and narrator, reality and fiction, to secure guilty verdicts.”
The piece argues:
“No other fictional form — musical, literary or cinematic — is used this way in the courts, a concerning double standard that research suggests is rooted, at least in part, in stereotypes about the people of color primarily associated with rap music, as well as the misconception that hip-hop and the artists behind it are dangerous.”
I’m always bringing up the point about other forms of fiction when people get hyped about song lyrics. As someone with a strange addiction to Criminal Minds and Law & Order SVU, I’ve been floored by the perversity that graces broadcast television’s primetime hours with the input of dozens of showrunners, writers, actors, crew, plus the financial support of advertisers. Very recently, I thought to myself, “I have to stop watching this crap,” after becoming nauseated by a Criminal Minds rerun in which a guy kills and cooks a woman who rejected him and then forces other women to dine on her. When a tooth from the first woman was fished out of another victim’s stomach during an autopsy, I had to go lie down and brood over the welfare of the writers’ children. How could they hold their heads up in school knowing mommy or daddy came up with that plot line?! Okay, I actually didn’t worry about the welfare of the kids but I did lie down and reconsider my viewing habits and marvel about the kind of people who dreamed up and acted out that scenario for my amusement. I’ve always avoided torture-porn movies like Hostel, Saw, and The Human Centipede, but are those really so much worse than what I was seeing for free on CBS? (I respect actor Mandy Patinkin for quitting Criminal Minds — I couldn’t take that kind of storyline all day every workday either — but his former colleague Jeanne Tripplehorn makes some good points too.)
Maybe one day I’ll come to my senses and stop watching this particular show — or maybe I will always watch it because I love to be horrified — but I don’t foresee purging all my entertainment options of everything but the G-rated, and I’m not going to cut off my law-abiding friends who love playing Grand Theft Auto. At the same time, I’m not going to give my two-year-old niece a Criminal Minds box set or buy my six-year-old nephew Grand Theft Auto V. (I’m sure when he’s older, there will be something much more violent that he’ll happily buy for himself.) But would I run to the radio to flip away from the 60s on 6 station if “Run for Your Life” — a Beatles song cited by Elonis’s side — came on while the kids were in the room? Nah! But here are the lyrics:
“Well I’d rather see you dead, little girl
Than to be with another man
You better keep your head, little girl
Or I won’t know where I am.”
It’s a catchy little tune, and I’ve never paid much attention to the lyrics or taken them seriously even as I’ve sung along with them, but they sure look scary out of context, don’t they? (Complicating matters is the fact that the first two lines of that quoted section originated in the Arthur Gunter-written song “Baby Let’s Play House,” covered by Elvis in 1955.) Alas! I’m never going to be politically correct enough for my beloved Gloria Steinem!
Sunday, November 30, 2014
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week.
- Monday: Happy #ShadyXV day to all you Eminem fans! (I like that Kxng Crooked of Shady Records’ Slaughterhouse group reposted my boobacious necklace photo on Instagram.)
- Tuesday: Wearing Ossie Clark to see Rosewater.
- Thursday: Twenty years and one day ago, I was dancing up a storm for charity.
- Friday: Love limited-edition jewelry? Check out my Black Friday sale.
Friday, November 28, 2014
I’ve started my Black Friday sale on the website with some fabulous 18K gold and silver designs that are at least half-off their original prices. As a plus, nearly all of the pieces are limited edition. For instance, only two of these giant silver “SmacEnroe” tennis racket necklaces were ever made. You’re not going to have to worry about bumping into lots of other tennis fans wearing your necklace next time you’re at the U.S. Open!
This Nuit ring in silver with a 33-carat blue topaz is also technically two of a kind, though the only other ring like it is in 18K gold. This was handmade in New York City by a great goldsmith whose diamond-heavy custom work normally goes for $100,000 and up. Yep, you read that right. One hundred thousand. He did this more moderately priced ring as a favor for me.
I’m always happy to make any of my non-sale rings in any size, but I only keep sample size 6 in stock. That means that when people order another size, it can take from two to six weeks to fill the order, depending on the complexity of the ring. Right now, I have a very rare larger size in stock and available for immediate delivery. It happens to be my popular sterling-silver vampire heart ring, so if you’re a Twilight or True Blood or Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan, this is your lucky day. It fits size 9 or 9.25.
Looking for a real bargain? I’ve got a few of my silver squirrel necklaces left.
I’ve got something for the guys too: chunky silver emoticon heart cufflinks. Wouldn’t these be a romantic gift for the French-cuff-wearing gentleman in your life?
I’m going to have more designs on sale on Cyber Monday, but if you really like any of the jewelry I have on sale now, don’t wait to see what else is coming, because the majority of these won’t be produced again. Don’t miss out on your favorite piece!
P.S. There’s free U.S. shipping for all orders totaling $70 and above.
Thursday, November 27, 2014
Exactly twenty years and one day ago today, I was at the five-hour-long GMHC AIDS Dance-a-Thon at the Javits Center in New York.
It was my second year at the Dance-a-Thon and I was extremely serious about my fundraising. I was one of those people who went around the office terrorizing people till they donated. I would take a dollar per hour of dancing if that’s all I could get out of someone.
The ’94 event took place two weeks after activist Pedro Zamora died of AIDS at the age of 22. Handsome, charming and openly gay, Pedro had appeared on MTV’s The Real World: San Francisco and was credited with humanizing people living with HIV for a wide audience.
My new friend Bill Clinton was a big fan of Pedro’s, saying he lived a life of “compassion and fearlessness.” Pedro was groundbreaking in another way: His commitment ceremony with partner Sean Sasser was the first ever broadcast on U.S. television. (I’m sad to see that Sasser died last year at age 44, after being HIV positive for 25 years.)
Pedro was memorialized at the dance-a-thon.
I dug up this story on the event from Vassar’s newspaper’s archives, and I’m amused to see that while I remembered Martha Wash singing, “It’s Raining Men” that night, I’d completely forgotten that big acts Salt-N-Pepa and Queen Latifah performed too. Shout-out to those ladies for supporting a good cause! Also making an appearance that night: Jon Stewart, who back then was, as described by the Vassar writer, “Jon Stewart, of MTV fame.”
Last night, I lounged around in the sweatshirt with the Keith Haring design that I got at the dance-a-thon on Nov. 26, 1994. This sweatshirt and its 1993 sibling are my favorite sweatshirts. I’ll never get rid of them.
The sweatshirts were produced by the Gap. Props to that company for contributing. It’s interesting to see who made the effort back then, isn’t it?
Have a happy Thanksgiving! Oh! And if you haven’t seen Salt-N-Pepa’s adorable Geico commercial, featuring their breakout song, “Push It,” here it is.
Their DJ has the best stage name ever. I always wish I could be called “Spinderella”!
Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Tonight, the Committee to Protect Journalists presents its International Press Freedom Awards. The annual black-tie dinner, held at the Waldorf-Astoria, honors journalists from around the world who risk their lives to report from war zones and in defiance of brutal regimes. It also raises money for CPJ’s important activities, which include denouncing anti-press violations, providing assistance to targeted journalists, and advocating for press freedom worldwide.
In 2009, CPJ petitioned the Iranian government for the release of Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari, who was arrested while covering Iran’s disputed presidential elections for Newsweek magazine. Bahari was locked in Evin Prison for 118 days, during which time he was tortured until he agreed to falsely confess to spying. (His Iranian interrogators told him they knew he was spying for four different intelligence agencies: the CIA, Mossad, MI6 … and Newsweek.) After escalating international pressure led to his release, Bahari wrote a book about his ordeal called Then They Came for Me. The book also reflects on his family’s difficult history in Iran: Bahari’s late father had been a political prisoner of the shah in the 1950s, while his late sister was locked up in the 1980s under the Ayatollah Khomeini’s regime.
This year, The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart made his directorial debut with Rosewater, the movie adaptation of Bahari’s book. (Bahari, who was blindfolded during interrogations, recognized his interrogator by the rosewater scent the man wore.) Stewart had a personal connection to Bahari and his story: During the 2009 elections, Bahari did an interview with The Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones, who did a hammy impression of a spy. Bahari’s jailers would later use that clip against him, unpersuaded that Jones was really a comedian. After all, why would the man say he was a spy if he wasn’t a spy, Bahari was asked. With the sense of humor that helped him survive solitary confinement, Bahari shot back, “Why would a spy have a television show?”
My designing friend Stacy Lomman and I went to a screening of the movie on November 12. I never got a good look at the movie’s star, Gael Garcia Bernal, but we shared an elevator with Bahari himself on the way to the after-party. During the party, I eyeballed Jon Stewart as he posed for photos with fans but I was too timid to approach him myself — and that was BEFORE my embarrassing Bill Clinton photo op. (I might be too traumatized by that to ever ask anyone for a photo again.) Instead, Stacy took an outfit picture of me standing next to a random car-related Burberry display we passed on our way out of the Stone Rose Lounge at the Time Warner Center. I’m holding a copy of the book, which has been republished as Rosewater.
What Wendy Wore
Dress: Vintage Ossie Clark (probably acquired in 2006)
Boots: Prada (2008)
I just realized that the first photo I have of this dress is from November 29, 2006 — eight years ago minus a couple of weeks — and that it was taken after another movie screening.
That 2006 movie was The Holiday, starring Cameron Diaz, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Jack Black. Oddly, even though I didn’t remember the name of the movie, I was thinking of it recently after seeing Jack Black on television. Jack played the love interest for Kate Winslet in The Holiday and whenever I see him, I remember the horrible things people said about his suitability for a romantic role, because he doesn’t have the physique of the typical Hollywood heartthrob. So rude!
Here’s another photo of the dress taken by Jennine Jacobs of The Coveted in 2009.
I’ve gotten a lot of wear out of this Ossie. I still have to ask my friend Al Radley, the Ossie Clark expert, what year it was made.
Anyway, Rosewater the movie and the book have really stuck with me, particularly coming so close to the CPJ dinner. It’s always good to have a reminder that no matter how shiteous things can be in the U.S., we’re not going to be dragged out of our beds by police officers and locked up for complaining about it. The right to complain is priceless!
UPDATED TO ADD: I’d already finished and scheduled this post before the disappointing — but unsurprising — announcement that a grand jury declined to indict Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown in August (and this news comes less than a week after a New York City police officer shot Akai Gurley, an unarmed black man, in a housing project stairwell). Since Michael Brown’s death, my Twitter timeline has provided more meaningful coverage of the situation in Ferguson than any of the mainstream media outlets. Thank you to all the people who are using their freedom of speech to make sure injustice isn’t covered up by the authorities. The situation brings to mind the videotaped shooting death of Neda Agha-Soltan during the same 2009 Iranian election protests for which Maziar Bahari was present. The Iranian government tried to say it never happened, but we all saw it. The writer Tom Junod used the phrase “essential acts of witness” to describe the importance of journalists’ photos of the Nazi death camps, John F. Kennedy’s assassination, napalm in Vietnam and 9/11. Junod wrote in 2003, before the launch of Facebook, Twitter and other social media. Those are the tools of essentials acts of witness now. Use them.
Monday, November 24, 2014
One of the good things about being a jewelry designer is that I always have the appropriate accessories for any occasion, such as today’s official release of Shady XV, the double album celebrating 15 years of Eminem’s Shady Records label. Let me take a selfie ….
As Boo said to i-D magazine this summer:
“I’ve had to go through certain things where I’ve had to push a titty up or two to get things done, whereas a man doesn’t. He can just scratch his balls and shake hands with a CEO to get his deal signed.”
In those two sentences, Boo summed up my 16 years of work experience in the corporate world, except I had to do a lot more nodding and smiling than boob flashing.
Despite my track record of hiring, training and promoting women during those shitty corporate years, I’m probably a bad feminist, according to some standards. After all, I’m buying Eminem’s latest album mere months after irritating the great Gloria Steinem! But, fuck it, I’ve got to be un-PC me. My attitude is spelled out on the t-shirt I got at the National Portrait Gallery in London a couple of years ago.
Elizabeth I and Shady XV. I like ‘em both. (But I’d like that souvenir t-shirt better if it had a plunging neckline!)
Sunday, November 23, 2014
In case you missed it, here’s what was on the blog this week.
- Tuesday: My latest emoji earrings are the lips and the smiling poo. Did you know a pile of poo is a lucky symbol in Japan? Also, a few more memories of the recording of Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged, 21 years later.
- Wednesday: Oh, Oxford Dictionaries, I think “bae” is the word of the year. Do you see me making a “vape” necklace? Do you?
- Thursday: There’s video of me being embarrassed in front of Bill Clinton.
Thank you, Louise Hornor, for sending me this photo of the sign Bae Systems. Who else is on Bae Watch? Send me your Bae photos and I’ll post ‘em.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
The New Republic magazine celebrated its 100th birthday with a big dinner in Washington, D.C., last night and MrB and I were invited. Bill Clinton was the keynote speaker and, during the cocktail hour, Bill popped up a few feet away from us. He was immediately besieged by hand-shakers and photo-takers.
As the party organizers ushered everyone to their tables at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium, Bill lingered with a crowd around him. MrB and I lingered as well, as I began to wonder aloud whether I should ask for a photo too. MrB said, “Do it!” and I said, “I’m way too shy! I’ll feel silly!” Chris Hughes, the 30-year-old owner of the magazine, stopped to chat for a moment and was like, “Huh? Go for it!” Chris was one of the first employees of Facebook, which is how he became worth hundreds of millions of dollars and bought a magazine while still in his 20s. I figured if Chris tells you to go for something, it might be worth going for, so after the crowd thinned even more, I sidled up to Bill.
Now, I’ve mentioned before that MrB is an absolutely terrible photographer. Everyone has to have one flaw — obviously, MrB is perfect in all other ways — and this is his. No matter how many years I’ve used one camera, for instance, MrB never catches on to basics like which button to push in order to take a picture. It’s quite stressful, which is why I think I look a bit manic in many of my outfit photos. Last night, MrB was all cocky about my taking a photo with Bill until the moment he realized he had to wield the camera, at which point he got very nervous. I hissed, “Just push this big button here like you always do!!!” and made my move on Bill. The former president and I waited for about 15 painful seconds while MrB repeatedly pushed the button and no flash went off in the dark room. I figured I’d lost my chance and released Bill back into the wild.
When I snatched the camera back from MrB, I found he’d somehow hit the record button a full minute before trying to take the still pictures. As a result, I have this priceless video.
I need some time to recover before I can accurately rate this moment on my scale of celebrity embarrassment. Is this worse than mentioning Family Guy to Tom Brokaw … twice? I’m not sure anything can be as bad as antagonizing my feminist idol Gloria Steinem. Imagine if I had that on tape!
By the way, the “I love her” that Bill says as I’m desperately shaking his hand refers to my gorgeous friend Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel. Barbaralee is a big Democratic supporter. Her husband Carl Spielvogel was appointed ambassador to the Slovak Republic by Clinton in 2000, so I name-dropped her as I introduced myself.
The dress that will be forever linked in my mind to this mortifying moment was the purple Zang Toi trench gown that I wore to the Vanity Fair Oscar party earlier this year. It has a little train, which I used to sweep the floors all night.
Here’s the look from the front.
I thought I’d already worn this gown to the Committee to Protect Journalists International Freedom Awards last November, but I remembered incorrectly: It was another purple Zang Toi gown. That means, technically, I could wear this dress to this year’s CPJ dinner, which takes place next week, but I might have to wait another year for this dress’s association with awkwardness fades. Oh, did I mention that I spilled everything out of my purse on the way into the venue last night, right at the feet of some stern-looking police officers? It could have been worse, I guess; at least I wasn’t accidentally carrying anything illicit. But still!
As for what MrB wore, the important things were the cufflinks made by me, of course, and his fabulous Pucci bow tie. Here we are standing in front of a green screen that put us on a New Republic cover.
If you follow the journalism field at all, this story on the notorious fabricator Stephen Glass, published in the New Republic’s anniversary issue, is worthwhile reading.