I was staying with friends in Astoria when I came to New York City to search for my apartment. After a boozy brunch, we wandered to PS1, the MoMA extension in Queens for art too modern for the Midtown Manhattan museum. The gallery was in transition and only two exhibitions were open, so we spent some time browsing the gift shop. It was there I discovered Worn Stories by Emily Spivack.
Worn Stories epitomizes the intimate relationship we have with our clothing that is so difficult to articulate. Instead of composing a novel or stating it outright, Spivack prompted individuals – from personal friends to fashion industry veterans – to simply select an article of clothing they couldn’t part with and tell the story behind it. The collection of sartorial memoirs could easily serve as a character study of diverse, fascinating individuals. However, the focus of the highly personal tales and recollections remains on the clothes.
“… when one of the sleeves ripped off, it reached a point where I felt like I couldn’t wear it anymore. I had a friend named Guy who was a painter in Tel Aviv. He’d been doing a series of paintings of everyday objects, so I commissioned him to make a painting of the shirt… When he was working on it, I’d get emails like, ‘Karuna, this shirt, it’s killing me. So simple and yet so complicated!’” – Karuna Scheinfeld, VP of design at Woolrich
The role of clothing in the stories and in these individuals’ lives emphasizes the significance of our apparel to our core being. Our clothing is not just what we wear, it’s who we are. Not in the sense that wearing a particular label makes you better or more elite – in fact most of the articles of clothing selected for Worn Stories are quite mundane and ordinary – but in the sense that our clothing is an extension of ourselves.
Emily Spivack is the creator of Threaded, the Smithsonian’s fashion history blog. She is also a public speaker, teacher, creative spirit, and the author of Worn Stories (which can be purchased here.) For more worn stories, visit the ongoing project here.
This project – a project very near and dear to my heart – my last ode to Mad Men – is now yesterday’s (or rather a week and a half ago’s) news. The buzz about the series finale has quieted to a whisper among die-hard fans or those behind on their DVRs. Everything I know about the Internet and blogging and Google and the immediacy and timeliness of it all tells me I need to let this project go and write it off as a series of unfortunate mishaps, time and money and energy I’ll never get back. But I refuse to let this project die in the depths of my external hard drive. So, without further ado, I present my final tribute to Mad Men: Marie in Manhattan, a short story of a woman whose life ran parallel to Peggy and Joan.
MARIE IN MANHATTAN
Marie moved to Manhattan in the fall of 1965, just a few weeks before her twenty-second birthday. She came to New York City with the hope of becoming a writer. To pay the bills, Marie took a job as a secretary. Although typing company memos and contracts wasn’t the best use of Marie’s written skills, she was a capable typist no matter what the content. Her personal record was 48 words per minute.
After nearly two years in New York, Marie hadn’t made much progress with her career, but she had made new friends and met a man, Paul Miller. Paul was an associate editor at The New Yorker, and he was certain he could make Marie a star. He told her she was the next Pauline Kael.
By the summer of 1968, Marie had her foot in the door at The New Yorker. They had published one of her short stories titled “The Dandy Game,” which was a witty anecdote about the life of a secretary in New York City. Before the piece was published, Paul pulled some strings, and Marie came into the office to meet with the Editor-in-Chief. “You’ve got a spark,” he said, “don’t lose it.”
On a warm Sunday in the spring of 1969, Paul proposed, and Marie said yes. Planning a wedding would be a welcome distraction from her career. Monday morning Marie returned to work. It didn’t take long for her co-workers to learn of her engagement. “Congratulations!” exclaimed Anna, whose desk was adjacent to Marie’s, “You don’t have to worry about being a writer anymore, you’ve got a ring!”
Shot on location in the Garment District of Manhattan courtesy of Breather.
To mothers, for giving us life, love, and tradition. Happy Mother’s Day.
Saturday mornings are not for sleeping in. The early bird catches the worm or at least gets the best pick of produce and pastries.
The drive south down 85 is rarely serene, except at sunrise on Saturday mornings. The fog of humid, summer days is clearing, and the city of Atlanta waits quietly.
We arrive as they ring the bell. The Morningside Farmer’s Market is open for business.
Mom and I make our way ’round clockwise: chocolate babka from La Calavera Bakery, fresh flowers from Crystal Organic Farm, colorful crop from Elm Street Gardens.
Once our bags overflow with the makings of the week’s dinners, we return to the car to place perishables in coolers. But it’s not time to head home yet.
We enjoy a well-deserved breakfast at Alon’s Bakery. Our reward for waking in the wee-hours.
Sufficiently fueled by iced-Americanos and breakfast paninis, we end our mother-daughter ritual with a stroll down North Highland Avenue.
Photography by Angie Webb of Angie Webb Creative on location at Morningside Farmer’s Market and Alon’s bakery in Atlanta, GA.