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LJ Runway Monday: Takin' It to the Street (PR 7:9)

March 22nd, 2010 (03:21 am)

current mood: accomplished

On the most recent episode of Lifetime's Project Runway, the designers were put into teams of two to visit distinct areas of Manhattan to get inspiration for two designs: a look for day and a look for night. The areas they could select from were Chinatown, East Village, Upper East Side, and Harlem.

Rather than follow them through Manhattan, I decided to pick from one of the areas I've been in that weren't included in PR's selections. There are several, but settle back and I'll tell you a story.

My first visit to Manhattan was in February of 1998. The weather was unseasonably mild--lucky me!--and during my first day and night in the city, I was accompanied by my friend James, who used to live in NYC. That made him a great tour guide and person to teach me how to do those things I'd never done before--like hail a cab, figure out the subway, who and how much to tip, etc. Timmy and Tim were both still living in the city, and between the three of them and Tim's then-boyfriend, I enjoyed exploring Hell's Kitchen, SoHo, Washington Square Park, Central Park, Columbus Circle, Fifth and Madison Avenues, Chelsea, the Lincoln Center, Times Square, Herald Square, Union Square, Macy's, the Empire State Building, and all kinds of shops, restaurants, and galleries.

It was AMAZING, better than I'd ever anticipated. And it was exhausting! On the next-to-last day of my visit, I was on my own for the full day. Tim and Mr. Man had gone out of town, James was with his sister, and Timmy planned to come to my hotel that evening so we could go to dinner.

I woke up that morning and realized that I'd lost the camera that had most of my photos on it. After moping about that for a while, I was determined to take my other camera out and create my own adventure. When I'd been on top of the Empire State Building late one night with Tim and Mr. Man, they'd turned me in a circle and pointed out recognizable landmarks in each area of the city. Of course, there was nothing like looking downtown and seeing those majestic Twin Towers, and the little light in the harbor that was the Statue of Liberty. Since I hadn't seen Lower Manhattan by daylight, and I had a huge crush on Battery Park thanks to the movies (including Desperately Seeking Susan), that's where I decided to go.

I had to negotiate the subway all by myself, and I screwed up. But I also corrected my mistake, which gave me confidence. When I was standing in the sunlight again, there were so many things to look at that...I forgot to take more than a few photos. My senses were drunk on: the ferries on the river, the birds on the posts, Liberty in the distance (could NOT stop thinking of young Vito in Godfather II), the park, the towering skyscrapers of the Financial District, the grandness of the World Trade Center, the hotdog vendors, the old men playing checkers, the Rollerbladers and skateboarders, the families with children, the couples sitting close on benches, THOSE benches, that I'd seen so many times in movies. The people truly lived up to the concept of NYC as a melting pot--they were diverse in race, gender, age, language, attire, income--I stayed there for hours watching them, eating one of those hotdogs, and writing down my thoughts and impressions (some of which would later become poems).

Twelve years later, I still remember that as one of the best days of my life--and I've had way more good days than bad, so that's a tribute to the architecture, people, beauty, and vibe of New York. To capture that in fashion, I wanted to share a few photos--not mine--that helped inspire this week's designs.

Sidewalk drawing in Battery Park © Kimber.

Flowers in Battery Park © lifeandyarn.

Night view of the Financial District © travistips.

When I envisioned my daytime look, I thought of a young woman grabbing her sketchbook on a spring morning and going to Battery Park. A light drizzle or mist off the Hudson wouldn't daunt her. She'd just put on rainboots and other proper attire, load up her backpack with her art supplies and a bottle of water, and be out the door. I thought Summer was the ideal model for this daytime look. However, security photos show her being blindfolded and dollnapped in the dead of night by mysterious, unnamed ninjas with intact ankle ligaments.

Gorgeous Emily looking quirky, adorable, and as arrayed in riotous color as any garden.

The backpack and stockings are from Mattel. I modified Mattel's boots to match her raincoat.

Emily's outfit is two pieces--a tank top and A-line skirt.

The wavy tulle ruffle is meant to evoke both the waters of the Hudson and the grass of the park. The bubbly fabric reminded me of the park flowers and the chalk drawing.

There's something young and sporty about slim legs in clunky boots.
They keep her feet dry and firmly planted on the ground.

The belt and peridot jewelry are also by Mattel.
The green jewels and Emily's full ponytail balance the colors and volume of her boots and hemline.

Unlike some of the PR designers, I really wanted my looks to be as different as night and day. So I chose the lights and architecture of the Financial District for my second look.

Natalie arrayed in diamonds and shimmering gray organza.

I wanted to make the most of her height, giving her a statuesque look every bit as majestic as the beautiful lady who watches over the harbor.

The layers of pleated organza have a simple black sheath as their foundation.

The dress fastens in the back and is held up by the slimmest of silver spaghetti straps.

Fun and flirty by day; elegant and glittery by night. The perfect team to represent Lower Manhattan.

See you all next time on the runway!

For my previous looks:

PR 7:8--The Elements of Fashion
PR 7:7--Hard Wear
PR 7:6--A Little Bit of Fashion
PR 7:5--Run for Cover
PR 7:4--Design Your Heart Out
PR 7:3--The Highs and Lows of Fashion
PR 7:2--The Fashion Farm
PR 7:1--Back to New York

The fabric for Emily's coat and boots was a gift from Marika. Natalie's glittered organza was a gift from Lynne.


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