NYC in Ivey Abitz and Memories of a Fashionable Great-Grandmother

by Deborah in Rhode Island

Travels with my new Solomon Skirt: My VW Bug and I made it to Brooklyn by early evening on Saturday. A 9 p.m. dinner at Luz with friends and I’m still wearing my lovely Solomon Skirt. I feel luxurious in it – designed by Cynthia Ivey Abitz and made perfectly for me by extraordinary hands. Not a wrinkle from sitting in a car for four hours. A sip of my minty Mojiito and I feel positively glamorous.

It was exciting news when Ivey Abitz moved to New York City. NYC is one of my favorite places to visit and I imagine that it’s such a wonderful opportunity for a designer. Much of Cynthia’s “look” reminds me of my great-grandmother, Emma. She was born in the late 1800’s and went to Pratt Institute to study Fashion Design. My mother remembers her well – very tall, very slim, very elegant, and very fashionable.

Apparently she missed NYC after she left Pratt so she often took her daughter (my grandmother) with her to NY for weekend trips. Emma continued this tradition with my mother who remembers walking around NYC for hours and hours hoping that Emma would get tired of walking, shopping, etc. My grandmother and mother kept up the tradition and showed me around NYC as a young girl, and those are some of my best memories. I think that I was fascinated by remarkable clothing early on – my great-grandmother’s legacy. I still have a beautiful and very heavy crocheted lace skirt and jacket that belonged to her – it is amazing how small waists were! And how tall she was! When I heard of Ivey Abitz’s move to NYC, the memories of my fashionable great-grandmother, Emma, came immediately to mind. She would have looked spectacular in Ivey Abitz.

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Discovering Ivey Abitz

Words, like clothing, can mean so much and so little at the same time. I have no desire to be fashionable but i like to know what’s in fashion. I would never describe myself as stylish but i have a certain style. The word eclectic comes to mind. i like that word.

I first found Ivey Abitz while doing a search online. I am also pretty sure it took about an hour on a Tuesday afternoon whilst at work. Some people have cigarette breaks – I go shopping. A lot. My point is that with all of the different designers I like to wear I was able to add another to my list. I like that Ivey Abitz designs fit in with everything I have without looking like anything I have.

I also like that my long suffering husband can’t figure out what is new and what isn’t. Trust me, it takes years of steady practice to keep a straight face and assure my dearest that yes indeed he has seen the dress before. In fact, I wore it to that dinner. You remember, don’t you? I don’t know why I bother to look nice if you don’t pay attention. Never mind. Where are the twins? It’s too quiet…Distraction is a key element in my marriage.

Staying Cool in the Florida Heat – in Ivey Abitz

it is getting to be that time of year in florida that i dread. 

i know this makes no sense at all except maybe to someone who has grown up and lived in this state year in and year out, because it is quite beautiful at the moment. the sun is out and the air is coolish, or at least it isn’t humid yet. the orange blossoms are blooming as are all the citrus trees. so is the jasmine. so why do i dread this time of year? 

because i know in a month it’s going to get hot.  then it will be scorching. then….right around july and august, just when you think it can’t get any hotter – and this gets me every year – it does get just that much hotter. yes, you can fry an egg on the sidewalk. you could burn one on the highway, if there wasn’t so much traffic on u.s. 19, a major highway thru this state. it’s like a highway going right down the middle of shopping centers and strip malls for hundreds of miles. 

so what does this have to do with clothes and design, you might ask? 

you will see quite an array of hot weather fashion here. from polyester with elastic waist pants to loud flower print moo moo’s. i could go on, but you get the picture. i remember the days of straw handbags with shells stuck to them, or woven wood purses with decoupage city scapes painted on them. eek. in some ways, though, i must say i do get a bit nostalgic for the kitschy 50’s and 60’s florida style. even the 40’s. i wasn’t around for most of those decades (maybe one), but it survived here for a long time. i mean, who doesn’t miss the alligator ashtrays and pink flamingo drinking glasses? now it’s just sad, in my opinion. overbuilt, cheap sadness. i even miss the neon and the dinosaurs.  i digress. 

the point about clothing? 

well, it is also the time of year that i start thinking about what i can possibly wear to stay cool enough that i don’t pass out when i walk out of my house (the heat sometimes literally takes my breath away – it’s like walking into a furnace) but stylish enough that i can still live with myself. this is where Ivey Abitz comes in. sometimes it is difficult to plan a wardrobe under these hot conditions, but not with Ivey Abitz. the process is simple. i know that i will get a fabric book and a look book (i have a special place for all of mine) and the website with all of the new ensembles and separates. 

believe it or not, i can wear (with a heat absorbing tank) the ivey abitz silk spun taffeta in floridian heat. i can wear a bartholdi overlay like a top with nothing underneath-except the tank, otherwise it may be a bit x-rated for me.  back in the day a bathing suit top would have worked….oh to be young again (ewwww i sound like my grandmother-yikes!). but even if 40’s are the new 30’s (that’s plural because i’m over 40) i still can’t bring myself to do it. i never thought it would happen to me (i don’t think anyone ever sees this coming), but it did.  i hate to admit it but there are things that i think might be too young for me. 

god forbid that my father-in-law, who is english, calls me or even thinksmutton dressed as lamb,” in regard to me. it doesn’t really matter because i can’t think of a design in the pack that would make me feel that way (minus the bartholdi overlay w/out a tank under it). Ivey Abitz designs are ageless. 

i can dress (or loan for a very short time) my 15 year old niece (in) something of mine that i would wear and we would both look good. they are neither too old or too young….ageless.  i love it. i like to think of myself that way so there you go. again, i’m off the subject.  i was writing about fabrics and the heat…..so…..let me get back to it.  i am sure everyone reading this knows that natural fabrics are best. they breathe in the heat and are warm in the cold weather.  they look…well, natural.  it doesn’t matter what synthetics are invented – and there even are some good new ones – natural fabrics have that certain quality that is classic in every way. 

in this floridian heat, i can and have worn linen hemstitch jacquard, a silk linen doubleweave, and the ribbed silk linen – all from 2007’s autum 2 collection.  at that time of year, florida is still quite warm, but i can wear them in comfort. i can wear any linen because they are light enough for summer. when it does (finally) get a little cold here, i can layer linen with any of the fabrics – i look for texture because i don’t have to really worry about “warmth fabrics,” they are perfect for our climate in winter.  i do wish i could wear the Ivey Abitz velvets and the wools here, but i can’t remember a winter in recent history where i could wear those fabrics more than once. maybe next year, if they are offered. on the other hand, there is so much in fabric to choose from that i can’t see not being able to find something to work in any climate, in any season, for myself.

Beverly Hills Fashion Primer

When I lived in L.A., I always took it for granted that just about any article of clothing from every major designer was locally available and would probably be showing up on either a classmate or one of their mothers (I grew up in Beverly Hills). It was always fun to see how people interpreted fashion and what they would do to individualize it for themselves. But I noticed that what made the quirky vintage and more unusual pieces exciting to me and my outsider group of friends, just didn’t seem to exist in the high-fashion crowd. The established designer pieces that they wore as a trophy for purposes of exhibition, just didn’t require any personality or creativity. The goal was to look like the runway model or magazine ad. The only thing that was broadcast was the amount of money paid for the item, and the whole process was very outside-in and not inside-out. The hallways at school were miniature runways where most people looked exactly the same and were, for the most part, indistinguishable. A lot of the girls carefully maintained a perpetual state of bulimia in order to properly resemble the models in these clothes, and it was understood by everyone that it was just a normal part of that exclusive subculture, regardless of how screwed up it was in real life. 

to be continued in the next entry…