It feels weird to say this because for so many years we didn’t, but we’ve been traveling. Last weekend we were in Colorado to visit the kids and this past week we were in New York for three days. The New York trip was unexpected, and when John announced that he was going in place of his colleague, I decided why not? It would not cost much, as the lodging would be paid for and I could fly free on John’s Companion Pass.
In Colorado, I caught the Christian Dior exhibit, which was fabulous, although some of the dresses were displayed much farther away than I would have liked.
Still, it was a treat to see such amazingly beautiful, well-made clothing up close (LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the details) and compare Dior’s creations with those of his successors. This one, called Miss Dior from the spring-summer 1949 collection, took my breath away:
In New York, we had a jam-packed schedule, starting with the first day when we arrived early enough to catch a matinee of the Rockettes’ Christmas show at Radio City Music Hall.
This bigger-than-life singing and dancing extravaganza, complete with 3-D glasses, was a lot of fun, but probably just a do-once-check-it-off-your-bucket-list kind of thing for us. We were surprised at how large the theater was, including the stage, which at one point held a double decker bus big enough for 36 dancers.
John estimated that the length of the stage was 4 times that of the bus; the depth, 3 times. Also impressive was watching the orchestra move to different locations throughout the performance, starting with being in front of the stage, then under the stage, then above the stage, then behind the stage and returning to in front of the stage. Maybe this is normal in theater world, but we still marveled at it.
John was especially impressed with the twin Wurlitzer theater organs (circa 1932), each containing 4,178 pipes.
On the walk back to the hotel after the show, we wandered over to Rockefeller Center.
On Friday, we had a couple of hours to wander through the Museum of Modern Art and grab some lunch before our early evening flight, but the highlight of this trip for me was a visit to the Garment District (W 34th to W 42nd between 6th and 9th Avenues) on Thursday while John was working.
We were staying at a hotel on 54th between Park and Madison, and my boss kept encouraging me to take the subway, even handing me his Metro Card. But I wanted to walk, and really, I was up for it after being confined for 4-5 hours the day before in airports, airplanes and taxis.
Just past Bryant Park on W 42nd and 6th, I spotted dress forms in the third-floor window of this building.
To save time and footsteps, I had made a list of shops to visit on each street, with a heavier preference for those with trims and buttons than fabric, although one shop on W 38th had some bolts of cotton marked down to $3.99 a yard and I scored these two homespuns:
A couple of fabric stores were located on the second floor of a building like this one on 7th.
One shop was dedicated exclusively to linen, so I popped inside to check out all the beautiful colors and different textures of linens offered.
I lingered at Beckenstein Men’s Fabrics on W 39th (far left in photo).
After seeing hundreds of bolts of beautiful shirt fabrics, I realized that designers and manufacturers of ready-to-wear shirts over the past 10 – 15 years are unaware of or have chosen to ignore shirt fabrics that do not contain the girly colors of pink, lavender and lime green. My sense is that they’re ignoring the older professional male since John hasn’t purchased work shirts from traditional retailers in more than a decade.
I saw a gorgeous stripe fabric and debated whether to rebel against the market and buy a couple yards to splurge on a custom shirt for John for Christmas, but I didn’t because he wasn’t there to pass judgment on the fabric and I wasn’t sure exactly how much to buy.
By far, my favorite shops were those with trims and buttons. Check this out – floor to ceiling compartmentalized boxes of buttons in any style, shape, color and size. If you can’t find it here, it doesn’t exist!
This was only one of the walls with buttons!
More choices than you could ever dream!
This shop on 6th
had a button shop inside its trim shop.
Here’s a peek:
One must-see shop that kept cropping up in all my online reading about the Garment District was Mokuba, and it did not disappoint. Definitely high end, their trims and ribbons were gorgeous, luxurious, elegant; not a single dud in the entire store – one of each PLEASE! Check out a few of these:
I’d never seen pleated, striped grosgrain ribbon before.
One trim shop had rolls of zipper tape in dozens of colors, allowing them to cut any length you wanted, after which they would add the pull and the stops to complete the zipper. This same shop also offered grommet setting.
Wandering through the garment district was fun for a lot of reasons, but one big reason for me is an appreciation for small businesses and the uniqueness that they offer. I’m numbed by big box retailers and the monotony of their selection, and seldom go to one for anything other than basics such as rotary cutter blades and sewing machine needles.
If you’re ever inspired to check out New York’s Garment District, I would recommend starting early (most shops open at 9:00), taking a water bottle and wearing comfortable shoes. You may also want to carry a little cash, as some stores, even if they sell to the public, may not take your credit card for purchases less than $20.00.
Thanks for checking in. Merry Christmas, everyone!