Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Miss Manhattan?

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Nadia Pinder

Nadia Pinder realized she had a thing for tie-dye about a year and a half ago, when her roommates brought home dyeing supplies and…she just never stopped using them. Now she has StuyDYED, a her own tie-dye brand for which she makes all manner of dyed sweatshirts, bandannas, crop tops, wall hangings, and so much more. For a long time dyeing was something she did for fun, she tells me as we sip tea, but after realizing there was a demand for hand-dyed pieces, she started to think about its possibilities as a real business venture.

In her room is a treasure trove of creations, a shelving unit filled with clothes swirled with lilac, powder blue, magenta, lemon, and sage tones. On the walls are also paintings she’s made, an expanse of eucalyptus, and drawings she’s done for her summertime comedy series called “Comedians in a Blanket,” for which she invites comedians to perform in a picnic-like setting under a tree in Prospect Park.

After we finish our teas, she soaks some white clothing in a mixture of water and soda ash for a later activity: ice dyeing and tie-dyeing. But while the garments soak, it’s time to vote! Nadia is from Washington, D.C. originally, and she voted in New York for the first time last November. She found the voting process encouraging, being hugged by local ladies volunteering after walking into her public library to cast her ballot. The same thing happens today, when a woman with long braids gives her a big hug and kiss on the cheek and a “Welcome, baby!” as if she were home for the holidays. Nadia beams as she checks in and then makes her selections. Upon leaving, she’s given another big hug and an official “I Voted” sticker. Her smile somehow gets even bigger, the voting process now infused with a sweetness and warmth that carries her back home.

Garments thoroughly soaked, it’s time to dye. Nadia sits a grated plastic basket inside a plastic washbin and places a shirt inside. She either twists or folds or scrunches it into some shape that will uniquely absorb the dye, then covers the shirt in ice. She then gently taps a series of dye powders over the ice—antique gold, brilliant orange, cobalt blue—so as the ice melts the dye will find its way into the fabric in an unusual way. I get to do my own as well, with hot pink, raspberry, and violet. Her hands are constantly stained with dye, she laughs. I’ve joined the club, too.

While the ice dye runs its course, Nadia and I climb the slim ladder up to her roof to do some tie-dye. She gets almost all the way set up when it starts to rain, so we decide to have lunch instead at Saraghina, a gourmet pizza place not far away. In between delicious, chewy bites of squash, ricotta, caramelized shallot, and sage pizza, we talk about our favorite meals, our hands still stained with dye.

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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Miss Manhattan Hangs Out...with Andrew Werner

I love the smell of leather in the morning, I think to myself as Andrew Werner and I walk into Global Leathers in the Garment District. This is the place where Andrew selects some materials that make the floral lapel pins in his accessories collection, Fleur’d. 

Andrew started as, and is still, a celebrity and product photographer whose work includes all manner of prestigious clients, from GQ to Bon Appetit, The New York Times to BVLGARI. After attending and photographing galas around the city, he was curious to figure out a way to make a typical suit or tuxedo stand out, to have more style and flair than is usually designated to menswear. He started Fleur’d in 2014 to do this, creating leather and canvas and even tennis ball-material floral lapel pins. Since then, his pins have been worn by people like legendary fashion designer Bob Mackie, featured on NY1, and soon will be available in one of the most recognizable luxury department stores in the world. The pins are all made in New York, and Andrew is essentially a one-man band, marketing, shooting, designing, and selling the product through his website and to potential buyers. 

In the just two hours I spend with Andrew, I am blown away by how much he accomplishes. We take a look at the brightly colored and boldly patterned leathers at Global Leathers—he shows me a shiny black python he recently used to make a camellia pin, and runs his hands over the colorful possibilities presented by lipstick-red perforated leather, a crayon box of pony hair, and so much more. There are several styles of Fleur’d pins, from the aforementioned camellia to dahlias, morning glories, cabbage roses, magnolias, or what have you. There’s always one in his lapel—“Blazers are kind of my thing,” he tells me with a smile—that matches his outfit. Today it’s a brown snakeskin pin tucked into a navy blazer, paired with khakis rolled at the ankle, a grey t-shirt, and brown suede driving moccasins: flawless. 

Shortly we’re off to Starbucks for a quick iced coffee, then we make our way over to the Accessories Council offices, where Fleur’d Pins is now a member along with the likes of brands like Bloomingdale’s, Bulova, Kate Spade New York, and Henri Bendel. In a meeting with Leena Gurevich, Director of Marketing & Events at the Accessories Council, Andrew goes over plans for the future and a sale to the council of his pins, his red dahlia pin and handmade label resting on the table next to him as he speaks. 

Next it’s off to UPS, to send off a package of Fleur’d pins of various shapes, colors, and sizes to that department store of note. How exciting to think that something you’ve built from the ground up will soon be sold by one of the world’s finest luxury department stores? But given Andrew’s work ethic and dedication to his company, his career, and producing a quality product, it really comes as no surprise. 

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Monday, October 30, 2017

A Walk in the Woods

Waterfalls, snakes, and endless colorful leafy vistas: a few sights from the wildernesses of just outside of Troy, New York, near Albany.