MAMIYA – I decided, it was time this bad boy came out, for the summer!
Billie and Ella were the women whose music my parents played constantly on their stereo and I still listen to them this very day. When I was a young teenager, Billie Holiday’s voice, was like nothing I’d ever heard before, and the lady, when in top form, was incomparable. I remember seeing her picture for the first time on the LP jacket of Lady Sings The Blues and how smitten a 13-year-old I was. Billie had the most striking face with a gorgeous set of round eyes and soft cheekbones that made me melt.
Inside Billie, stired profound sensitivity and pain, and beneath the pain, she showed a toughness that made her so unbelievably attractive. Even as a teenager I somehow understood the magnitude of the pain this brave women’s heart felt, as her music expressed an incredible depth of emotion that spoke of hard times and injustice as well as triumph. Billie’s career cooled somewhat in the later 1940s due in to personal problems including her mother’s death, alcohol abuse and a heroin addiction, that saw her loose her cabaret license to perform in New York.
With no licenses to perform in New York City nightclubs or on stage, for the majority of the 1950s, Billie traveled to other states throughout the U.S. performing. As a result, her audience and popularity grew even larger than before and she became a hit with the critics. Year after year, they crowned her the greatest vocalist in America. After the death of her dear friend, legendary saxophonist Lester Young in 1959, feeling as though she had nothing to live for, Billie died at the young age of forty-four.
Though her career was relatively short and often erratic, Billie Holiday bestowed upon this world a body of music as great as any vocalist before or since.
by Nitoo Das
Kaga sab tan khaiyo
chun chun khaiyo maas
Do naina mat khaiyo
mohe piya milan ki aas.
Yes, let the crow eat me whole, peck out
the finest bits. Everything
except my eyes. I will need them
to witness your love, my love.
I will not remind you of my parents:
my wild mother and my sad
slouching father. I will not tell you about
my teacher who slapped me and made me sleep
in the rain and worshipped me too. I will not tell
you about Sayeeda who swayed away.
I will not tell you about those nights either. Those nights
as agile as fishes in air.
I will clutch winds and feathers. A twitching shape
calling out unsure names. Like songs
thrown in and fastened
by verbs, I will pull a semicircle
of muscle toward me.
Go away. I have nothing,
nothing to confess. .
See the not-quite born sons,
the groaning daughters. They have
their own walls. I stand subtracted
from fire and walk between trees.
Twenty years, thirty, twenty more
soar until all I can think of is you.
Sayeeda, where are you?
THE NATURAL – Screen legend Robert Montgomery was a damn good actor, who possessed a natural chicness, when it came to his dressing. The man was one of a handful of the most debonair men, on and off-screen, who dressed as elegantly, as diversely, as richly, and with such self-confidence-as anyone I have every seen, and will probably ever see. Yet, for some reason, he never seems to make many of the best dressed lists, of icons!
The New York native’s suaveness in the way he savvily introduces patterns into his ensemble, simply creates a whole new level of sophistication. I-mean, look at this top photograph and how he’s using this navy or black cravat (with white pattern) to give depth to his tennis whites-striking an immediate visual chord between admirer and his face. Or even the last photograph with him and Joan Crawford, and the way he anchors this flashy off-white 6 X 2 DB, with busy argyle socks, a most dandy pair of eye-catching spectators and that lovely hand-woven, silk/linen blend neck-tie. Meanwhile in all the visual splendor, our man isn’t even showing one iota of sleeve cuff! Some nerve!!!!
RALPH LAUREN – The genius of Ralph Lauren has always been his boundless imagination-an imagination that inspired his creative vision, to artfully blend his passion and spirit for design, with the passion and spirit of culture
I remember when the doors opened to Ralph Lauren’s first retail store in downtown Manhattan. It was my first job with Polo Ralph Lauren and the face of retail downtown, was about to get a lift. Our store was a cozy concept store full of props and product-in a building on West Broadway, in the Soho district-the orbit of inherent artiness. The store’s setting was transformed to articulate the design room, melting Ralph’s iconic brands, brining the customer even closer to the designer’s process of vision, inspiration, experience. To the store’s immediate, right, was Ok cigar, a cozy cigar shop own by our friend Lenny, who is always friendly and helpful. Next to Ok cigar, was a spacious sunny loft space, where we held all of our fashion shows, creating a scene up and down West Broadway, as the creative industry (locally and globally) descended in droves. Everyone wanted to get their hands on the product and a little inspiration from the store’s decor-it was simply the place to be. I even remember that one time, when Vanity Fair held one of their epic parties in the store for a book launch, and Tom and Penelope Cruz showed up. What an awesome time it was to be working for Ralph Lauren, especially in Soho.
Downtown, events and parties were chic and the scene friendly-everwhere in the air was the aroma of fresh perfume, as the sidewalk came alive with stylish people. On Friday nights, there was a jam session at a sweet little spot called 357 Magnum, where drummers performed with the DJ, and where bumping into Lenny Kravitz, Lou Diamond Phillips, or even the energetic Mick Jagger, was the norm. Oh, and who could forget Boom?! Right around the corner, on a dimly lit Spring St, there was an Italian spot called Boom Cafe. It was charmingly designed with Tuscan style brick walls, from front to back, and had a great vibe and energy to it. On Sunday nights, when Maximilian managed Boom, he drew the coolest crowds and always had a DJ set up at the back, spinning exotic tunes. It was the late 90s and here we were, an entirely new staff assembled, during a booming economy, basking in the glow of the new arrival of an old iconic brand. Conveniently across the street from our store, was Cipriani downtown, where our crew after work, frequently rounded off the evening, with the most delicious Bellinis, mouth watering calamari, and freshly baked bread sticks. Of course those were the days Cipriani flew quietly under the radar and away from the static.
Now that Ralph Lauren turns 74 today, I recall one of my fondest memories during those days, while working for Polo Ralph Lauren. It was during one of Ralph’s earlier birthdays, and our then-store manager, though it was a great idea, to collectively find Ralph the perfect birthday present. As you can only imagine, this was a tall challenge. I mean, hello?! What do you get a man of many tastes, for his birthday, a radiant being, who seemingly has everything?! Well after meandering around ideas for several blissful days, many hours and conversations, our Then-head of vintage and curator Bob Melet, came to the rescue with the perfect gift. He found an American flag, made entirely of Vintage denim, dating all the way back to the early 1900s. And since Ralph loves denim so much, and is very passionate about the American flag-it was a match made in heaven! Several days later, addressed to the store’s entire crew, was a hand written, thank you note from Ralph Lauren himself, telling us how much he loved his present!
Happy Birthday, Mr Lauren.
What I do is about living. It’s about living the best life you can and enjoying the fullness of the life around you-from what you wear, to the way you live, to the way you love.