Rural Intelligence: The Online Magazine for Eastern New York, Western Connecticut and the Southern Berkshires
Sunday, November 19, 2017
 
Search Archives:
Newsletters Signup
Close it
Get The New App!


Newsletters Signup
Close it

RI Archives: Style

View past Shopping articles.

View all past Style articles.


RI on Facebook    RI on Instagram       

vlada

STAIR GALLERIES

One Mercantile

East Camp Goods: Alchemy And Art By Husband And Wife

By Jamie Larson

NASA announced recently that its scientists had observed, for the first time, the collision of two neutron stars. One of the many fascinating discoveries made was that the event ejected 200 Earth masses worth of gold into the universe. It’s speculated that these fantastic events are likely the origin of the gold on our planet.

In the hands of Jenna Fennell, of East Camp Goods in Germantown, New York, the elemental elegance of responsibly sourced, high-purity gold and silver, diamonds and gemstones is tooled into jewelry that impresses through artful and thoughtful designs. These designs elevate the raw natural energy of such heavenly materials while remaining decidedly down to earth.

The Fennell family. Photo by Jersey Walz.

“I think it’s important for people that these are things they can wear every day,” Jenna says. “I like to imagine East Camp clients wear their jewelry through everything. I sleep in my jewelry. I garden in it. I find as a mother of small children you don’t always put on your best clothes but I can always slip on a gold ring and have a token of glamour.”

Andy Fennell usually works on a larger scale than his wife, with wood and iron. A sculptor currently working for artist Dan Colen, he adds rustic, finely finished elements to East Camp’s collection. The couple’s collaborations, like the brass-banded driftwood tap handles they made for the Suarez Family Brewery are a clear example of the synergy of their artistic abilities.

The busy couple and parents of two girls, Juniper Coyote, 2, and Fiona Kestrel, 6 weeks, run East Camp online out of their home, but you can see a few pieces in person at Alder East in Germantown and at the seasonal flea markets held at Basilica Hudson. They also do a good deal of commission work. Jenna says that she wants to help people make their own statement with her jewelry, not impose hers on them. 

A 22k gold chain made with ancient goldsmithing techniques particular to high karat gold. “Chains are a particular interest of mine,” Jenna says. “I don’t sell jewelry with prefab chains, I make every link of every chain we sell and I love the meditative process of it.”

“You don’t want someone else wearing your shouting statement, unless it’s their shouting statement,” she says.

It’s some of Jenna’s smaller pieces that are the most captivating. Delicate rings, made, as always, from exclusively 18-karat gold or higher, may be inlaid with precious gems and a black or salt and pepper diamond. Mountings are minimally embellished and the shape and scale is perfectly balanced. Many of the pieces purposefully retain light tooling marks, adding an earthy texture as well as more surfaces to catch and reflect light.

These Suarez Family Brewery tap handles, pictured here during creation, were a collaboration between Jenna and Andy.

After college at Brown, Jenna parlayed an internship into a 13-year career as a brass mount maker at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The job afforded her a lot of technical experience, forging perfectly fitted cradles for art objects of international cultural importance. It also, she says, affected her artistry, surrounded as she was, every day, by some of the greatest art in the world. She allows that her work has been directly and in some ways subconsciously influenced by design elements of African art and the Oceana exhibit at the museum, which she worked on extensively. She’s currently working on a new design based on a traditional stacked Byzantine ring.

A ring Jenna is currently crafting, inspired by a Byzantine design, will feature a large salt and pepper diamond.

The Fennells met at a metalsmithing class at the Haystack Mountain School in Maine.

“It’s a fabulous program and a beautiful setting. It was an easy place to fall in love,” she says.

Andy soon also got a job at the Met, building custom shipping crates for traveling art pieces, which was kind of a scaled up version of Jenna’s job with different materials.

Not long after, however, they began spending more and more weekends in Rhinebeck and then bought a 900-square-foot farmhouse fixer-upper in Germantown. They left their jobs in the city and built a fabulous addition off the back to accommodate the East Camp studio (which, unlike Jenna’s subterranean office at the Met, is bathed in natural light) and their growing family.

“The process of making is so relaxing to me,” Jenna says from her studio. “I always want to come down here.”

East Camp offers pieces that become a part of you, whether you’re attending a fancy event, or gardening, cooking or playing with the kids. Although the earth may have only received a pittance of the gold rocketing through space, East Camp Goods is making it count.

East Camp Goods
ECG on Instagram & ECG on Facebook

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 10/30/17 at 09:30 AM • Permalink

Kea Carpets and Kilims: A Woven Mix Of Art And History

By Jamie Larson

Upon entering the humble Hudson shop of Kea Carpets and Kilims, you may not know a thing about the history or plight of the Middle Eastern or Asian tribes that crafted the textiles on display, but the language of form and shape woven therein is universal, and masterfully beautiful. Bringing a rug from Kea into your home feels like more than just decor. It feels like a connection between your life and that of the people who so skillfully crafted it — and the rich culture it represents.

After university, in the late ‘70s and ‘80s, Susan Gomersall left England for the small Greek island of Kea. For a time, she and a group of friends reveled in traveling over land in a VW bus from the Mediterranean into the Middle East and India. They funded their “ramblings” at first by buying ethnic jewelry they could sell back in Europe, but the industry soon crowded them out.

“Through a teacher, I was introduced to textiles in Turkey,” Gomersall said from her large Brooklyn flagship. “But you couldn’t really get involved with moving rugs without having a business structure. At the time, it was very dicey to set up a business in Greece. It was chaos.”

Susan Gomersall

She had no interest in repatriating, so a friend in New York helped her set up an experimental shipment to the U.S. in 1986. It was a success and she named her new company for the Greek island she missed dearly. 

Gomersall’s knowledge and understanding of regional ethnic design grew quickly. She worked directly with dealers in cities who could take her safely to tribal areas to find designs that were both beautiful for her clients and meaningful artifacts of cultural study.

“In those early years, I’d meet up with some pickers and we’d go into tribal areas as a team. As a woman, you had to be very smart,” she recalled. “Every time I encountered a different kind of rug it was like discovering a genuine article. I’d ask questions like why a rug was such a large size and they would say, ‘it’s for sleeping on and wrapping yourself in.’ It was like being an anthropologist and all the rug dealers shared information. We still do.”

A photo by Gomersall during her travels.

The differences in uses, sizes and designs of rugs from tribe to tribe, and even weaver to weaver, became significant to Gomersall. Over the years, she’s written many papers and a book, Kilim Rugs: Tribal Tales in Wool. “Birth certificates” are kept on most pieces. The journey to bring these stunning rugs to Hudson and the importance of compensating the regional suppliers and artisan means the rugs at Kea are not inexpensive. The lower prices range around $900 while others, like a large 1920’s kilim from Dagestan, are $3,500.

“At first, the countries I worked in were really stable,” she recalled. “The first upheaval was in Iran, and the Russians invaded Afghanistan. So we had to get our act together. I still traveled to Turkey and Pakistan, and pieces would be brought over the border.”

As the region destabilized through the ‘90s, Gomersall grew uneasy, not just for her business structure but for the communities she had built relationships with.

“They became reluctant to bring me in,” she said. “I was concerned. I had been working with some of these families for 20 years and there was just no reaching them.”

As one might imagine, things didn’t improve after 2001. But the ensuing war without end brought an unexpected change to the industry that still allowed Gomersall to work, and it provided a lifeline to the tribal economies that needed to sell their masterful rugs.

“A lot of the guys we were working with fled to New York and became wholesalers,” she said. “I still had access but it was like the bazaar came to me.”

Five years ago Gomersall and her partners, who had been coming up to the RI region for years, were convinced by a visiting friend from Italy that they would be fools not to open a store in Hudson. They agreed.

The Hudson shop is run by the charming Richard Starna, who has a long history in American folk textiles as well as tribal rugs, and is given a big portion of the credit for the store’s unique esthetic. There’s no counter, computer or cash register visible in the space. There are a couple of small tables, a vase and one chair that’s draped with a shaggy carpet. Other than that it’s just rugs, hanging on the wall and folded in neatly stacked piles on the floor. While these are some of the highest-end rugs you will find, there is something gratifying about experiencing these rugs as you might if you were shopping for them in their native land, not just as handsome art but as functional purpose-made furnishings.

Kea’s home base in Brooklyn is run by Gomersall and contemporary rug designer Azy Schecter, who works with architects and design clients on custom commissions and creates new designs for Kea’s contemporary line.

Kea also recently began showcasing the contemporary rugs of Ptolemy Mann, who has family in the RI region. Her pieces, which she makes with traditional techniques, bridge the gap between modern Western art figures and tribal elegance. Her boldly colored pieces at once echo minimalist paintings, digital elements and a deep understanding of tribal patterns, stripes and color work.

“I’ve resisted selling new rugs,” said Gomersall. “But I was just blown away by her work.”

It’s also enlightening in a general sense to see Mann’s modern pieces hanging beside tribal examples. One draws attention to details in the other that might not seem as vivid when viewed alone. It’s a bit of visual magic you shouldn’t miss. You shouldn’t miss Kea at all, frankly. It is as much an art gallery or anthropological history exhibit as it is a store. There’s nothing else quite like it.

Kea Carpets and Kilims
238 Warren St., Hudson, NY
(917) 952-1654
Open Wednesday – Monday, noon – 6 p.m., or by appointment.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 10/16/17 at 09:34 AM • Permalink

Tea and Textiles: Casana Fuels Hillsdale Renaissance

By Nichole Dupont

The Hillsdale renaissance has a new patron. Like Kevin Draves and Ken Davis, who gave the town center a beautiful boost when they opened the Passiflora “lifestyle boutique” and the Village Scoop ice cream shop, Carrie Chen delivers a double shot of retail and victuals. She recently opened Casana T House, an airy tea and coffee shop, as well as Casana Designs, an arty space for baby-fine cashmere items. Chen, a designer who hails from New York City, has cultivated a mini empire just a stone’s throw (actually a two-second walk) from the town center, next door to the Home Chef, where Chen has already taught a sold-out cooking class on dumpling making.

“Food is one of my passions,” Chen says, holding a scarf the color of orange sherbet. She is showing me and my mother — an interior designer and a self-proclaimed “fabric snob” — around the shop, draping the hand-dyed scarves ($300-$500 each) over our shoulders, pointing out the fine details in a painstaking Ikat weave, describing, with a sweep of her hand down her throat, the fine hair that is used from mountain goats (who dwell at 20,000 feet or higher in Nepal) to be able to make the scarves, socks, hats, and other wearable luxuries.

“We have a new sweater line coming in shortly,” Chen says. “I think it will be very popular. You just have to feel it to know…”
   
She’s right. The store is a feast for textilephile eyes. I was loathe to remove a moss green wrap ($500) that she handed to me, wondering if I would wear it for an elegant night out, or a rainy Sunday nap. Chen’s enthusiasm is quiet, and incredibly magnetic. She is as passionate about the handpicked tea — “one bud at a time” — served at the cafe as she is about the kitty-fur soft scarves, hats, gloves and other textiles that grace the store. Her style sense is woven into both of the Casana spaces. There is a bright precision to the cleanly displayed wares — tea service sets, books, coffee from around the world — that still manages to be inviting.

Patrons to the tea shop are treated to a swath of bright morning light against lightly stained wood. Visitors there can enjoy gluten-free (or not) baked goods (scones and muffins, $3.50; sandwiches and quiches, about $9) with their individual tea service ($5) and/or a cup of specialty coffee (espresso, macchiato, Americano, about $3). The teas are fragrant and abundant, with more than 20 varieties, including Pu-Erh, Matcha, Rose Flower, and Buckwheat. My mum orders the chamomile, which comes to her with a variety of ceramic accessories for a perfect, sunny-yellow cup. I stick with my mainstay, Americano, and am treated to a strong, balanced and bitter brew which, in this environment, does not require the frivolity of cream. The entire experience is ceremonial. And it’s no surprise that Casana T House offers up tea ceremonies — “The Japanese ceremony is very solitary, while the Chinese is very social,” says Chen — as well as other events, including book readings and author discussions. All in an effort to engage a community that has long thirsted for a vibrant town center.

“I could just take a nap here,” my mother says, smoothing the cushion of the long window bench in the tea house.

“I don’t think anyone would mind,” I say.

Casana T House and Casana Designs
2633 State Route 23, Hillsdale, NY
Friday through Tuesday, 8 a.m. -4 p.m.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Nichole on 10/02/17 at 12:06 PM • Permalink

Flourish Market: Old, New, Restored Decor, Delightfully Priced

By Lisa Green

“You shouldn’t have to mortgage your house to buy fun things,” says Jennifer Knopf, who opened Flourish Market in West Stockbridge, Mass. in December of 2015. The store, which offers a mixture of vintage, antique and new furniture and décor, is one of those shops where you don’t know where to look first. It takes a few moments to calm the flitting of your eyes from walls to shelves to floor until you can properly concentrate on the treasure in front of you. But you wouldn’t want to rush it, anyway.

It’s a curious mix, but that’s part of the fun. You can’t be exactly sure what’s vintage, what’s been reworked, repainted or rewired by Knopf and her team, or what’s a reproduction. Tea towels with spritely designs (new) lay on an old farmhouse table (repainted); a child’s diminutive sewing machine (old, and works) sits in front of a bas relief frame (your guess is as good as mine). Upcycled bookmarks from clip-on earrings (old and new). Figurines, paintings, lamps — who knows? If you’re looking for bona fide antiques, the kind that’ll cost you, you won’t find them here.

“I keep prices low, because if I can’t sell the merchandise, I can’t buy more,” Knopf says. “I like to mix a little old, a little new, things that remind me of growing up in Texas, stuff that’s rustic, not slick.”

Knopf has hung onto her Texas roots despite a move to Los Angeles, where she wasn’t making much use of her art major. Working at Jaeger Sportswear had its perks, however — her manager introduced Knopf to her now-husband. In 2000, he was courted by Berkshire Life Insurance (now Guardian); the video included in the employment package sold them on the Berkshires. They now live in Stockbridge.

“I’m a Martha Stewart wannabe,” Knopf admits (and indeed, she does bear a slight resemblance to the Maven of All Things). “And I thought, well, the Berkshires are close to Connecticut, so…”

A stay-at-home mom when her kids were small, she was involved in event planning for the PTA, which led to a job running fundraising events for the Lenox Library.

“But I realized that event planning really is sitting in front of the computer most of the time. The show is just two hours and then it’s done. I wanted to create an environment that’s not wrapped up in two hours.”

Now, she puts on a show for her customers, one that changes all the time. Influenced by stores such as Anthropologie and Z Gallerie (“places that you won’t find in the Berkshires”), she combs estate sales for merchandise, attends trade shows every now and then, and takes items that customers bring in. Whether it’s a rug, a faux succulent (an extremely popular item) or a necklace from found items, it’s all very cheerful, and who can’t use that?

The store sits in a low-slung building along Route 41 that’s been everything from a stovepipe shop and a glassblowing studio, to an ice cream parlor and bakery, but feels as though it was created just for Flourish, with its sunny picture windows and wide-board floors. Not far off I-90, it’s an easy spot for shoppers from Springfield and Albany, as well as locals.

“West Stockbridge is really coming alive,” Knopf says, mentioning Six Depot Roastery and the town’s newest attraction, Turn Park, as beacons to visitors. Flourish is a part of that rejuvenation — a sweet embellishment on an already engaging town.

Flourish Market
2 Albany Rd., West Stockbridge, MA
Wednesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sunday, Noon – 4 p.m.
Closed Monday & Tuesday
(413) 232-8501

Labor Day Sale: 1st Annual Flourish Flea Market Tent Sale
Sat., Sept. 2, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sun., Sept. 3, Noon – 4 p.m.
Everything 25-50 percent off.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 08/28/17 at 01:20 PM • Permalink

Get What You Want At The Keith and Patti Richards Auction

By Jamie Larson

Ever wonder what a Rolling Stone does gather? The answer, it turns out, is a whole lot of fine, high-style, Victorian antiques. Legendary Stones guitarist Keith Richards and wife Patti Hansen are auctioning off a huge collection of elegant antiques at Hudson’s own Stair Galleries on Saturday, June 24, and all the pieces are now on display for perusal.

“As all of us grew up listening to The Rolling Stones,” said the Stair in Stair Galleries, Colin Stair. “We are thrilled to have Keith and Patti Richards’ personal property here in the gallery. The entire music community in Hudson is abuzz.”

Best of all, you can feel especially vindicated about how much you drop at this auction because the proceeds will be donated to SPHERE and Prospector Theater in Ridgefield, Conn. Hansen’s 24-year-old nephew has autism and both organizations help adults with developmental disabilities actualize their dreams.

Hansen’s eye is responsible for the classic aesthetic of the items at auction, which adorned the pair’s Manhattan apartment for many years. With well over 500 items of surprisingly traditional historical European furniture, art, ceramics, dinnerware and more on display, the auction is about much more than the Richards’ name… although it certainly doesn’t hurt when it’s time to brag about where your beautiful new chairs came from. Many of the items’ estimated prices, and therefore starting bids, are set in a manageable price range, making them more attainable than one might expect. We’re highlighting a few of our favorites here, but the whole catalog is available online.

Lot 464: MELODY ROSE HAND-PAINTED NORITAKE PORCELAIN TEA SERVICE
Supremely British but with an undeniably wry, rock-and-roll edge, this tea set — actual Japanese porcelain — was hand painted by artist Melody Rose. It’s hard not to see the appeal here and we wouldn’t be surprised if this piece in particular goes for much more than its estimated price, not just because of its punk elegance but its provenance as being previously owned by the fourth greatest guitarist of all time (according to Rolling Stone). This is a perfect example of how the magical power of touch adds value to an item. It’s great on its own, but knowing this was Richards’ tea set adds another ethereal layer of enamel to the set, which includes a teapot, a pair of cups and saucers, a dessert plate, a creamer, two butter plates, an ashtray, and a pair of cordials.
Estimate: $600-$800

Lot 554: ENGLISH TUFTED LEATHER UPHOLSTERED CHESTERFIELD SOFA
Richards’ favorite piece in the auction is this sofa, which sat prominently in their Manhattan living room. Hansen designed the space to feel like a box of treasures and one certainly gets that feel from the items in this collection. While not many of the items scream rock and roll, there is a theatrical feel to the offerings. And there’s certainly something enjoyable about picturing Richards, with his debauched public persona, lounging on this lush sofa.
Estimate: $2,000-$3,000

Lot 8: HIPPOLYTE DELAROCHE (1797-1856): THE GUILLOTINE
There are many exquisite paintings in the collection but none are more arresting than this depiction of a nun before the guillotine, acquired from the Nashville Museum of Art. It may not be to everyone’s taste, or the most valuable piece at auction (it’s unsigned), but it vividly depicts the 1794 guillotine deaths of the Martyrs of Compiegne, the 16 Carmelite nuns who were sentenced to death during the Reign of Terror. During the anti-clericalism of the French Revolution, the nuns refused to obey the mandate that suppressed their monastery. They were arrested, imprisoned and brought to Paris where they were condemned as traitors and sentenced to death. On July 17, 1794, all 16 nuns were guillotined. The novice, Sister Constance, was the first to die, followed by the lay sisters and ending with the prioress, Mother Teresa of St. Augustine.
Estimate: $1,500-$2,500

Lot 81: VICTORIAN STAINED FRUITWOOD RETRACTABLE LEATHER ARMCHAIR
This piece, which dates back to the 19th century, has more going on than one might think at first glance. This still-functional Literary Machine was an early mechanical recliner invented by John Carter of London (not to be confused with “of Mars” c.1911). This recliner was meant to be used in consort with a book and candle stand so that when the seat was fully reclined and the stand was swiveled in front, you could comfortably read hands free. While a number of the handsome stands are still available online, you would be hard pressed to find another chair like this, especially in this condition and working order.
Estimate: $1,000-$1,500

Lot 431A: CHINESE SILK AND METALLIC THREAD EMBROIDERED ROBE, POSSIBLY QIANLONG
Richards acquired this robe in trade for one of his own leather jackets. The Quianlong Emperor reigned from 1711 to 1799 and this elegant ceremonial robe is an example of the highest luxury of that time. Interestingly, it’s hard to say what’s worth more, this beautiful one-of-a-kind historic artifact or a leather jacket worn by Keith Richards. In 2008, a leather jacket gifted to Richards by Mick Jagger was sold at auction and, while we couldn’t find the sale price, the pre-auction estimate was $6,000-$8,000. So who knows which is more valuable — but it’s hard to imagine Richards didn’t walk around that fabulous apartment, at least once, draped in some Quianlong noble’s ceremonial robe.
Estimate: $5,000-$10,000

The full auction catalog is well worth flipping through and further enhanced by a visit in person. Whether you’re there for the style or there for the provenance, this auction is a can’t-miss.

Auction of the Keith and Patti Richards Collection
Saturday, June 24 at 3 p.m (approx.). Doors open at 9 a.m.
Stair Galleries
549 Warren St., Hudson, NY
(518) 751-1000
Open for preview: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
Also currently open for weekend previews until auction.
Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. & Sundays, noon-5 p.m.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 06/10/17 at 02:58 PM • Permalink

It’s Annie Selke’s World. And You Can Live In It.

By Lisa Green

When we last caught up with Annie Selke, just a few months ago, the founder and creative force behind the Annie Selke Company was busy putting the final touches on her first consumer catalog. Like everything she envisions, that venture has been a great success; now proven, the catalogs will continue to roll out each season. Which means it’s time for the indefatigable doyenne of textiles and home goods to embark on another project (or two). And, in fact, a pair of new ventures are in the works, and we love that the Berkshires native is keeping them both — a pop-up shop and an inn — local.

First up, the Annie Selke pop-up store at 36 Main Street in Lenox, Mass. The diminutive space will be a showcase of the bedding; rugs; jewelry; art; tabletop, storage and decorative items; and other objets found in the catalog. Displays of product lines will change monthly; television monitors will feature the breadth of products and iPads will allow customers to shop the full Annie Selke inventory.

Top: Annie Selke pop-up shop; Bottom: 33 Main.

With space at a premium, the shop will be “an exercise in good editing and merchandising,” Selke says. “It’ll be helpful to have the big monitor so people can experience the depth of the brand.”

The pop-up store is scheduled to open in early June and will run for six months as a test. But we’re betting on Selke’s golden touch that the doors will stay open long after that.

Part of its success will likely be a by-product of the second project, 33 Main, an inn billed as an Annie Selke luxury lodging experience. If you’ve ever strolled the aisles at The Outlet at Pine Cone Hill in Pittsfield, you know that Selke’s entering the hospitality industry seems like a natural brand extension. Too, Selke’s peripatetic life gives her insight as to how to pull off a luxury inn.

“I spend 175 nights on the road in some form of hospitality,” she says. “I feel battle worn, and uniquely qualified to say what a comforting and comfortable lodging experience is.”

The real estate god must have known this, because it placed in her line of sight a handsome 1836 property for sale. She passed by and admired it every day on her way to work, and after a while of drive-bys, Selke felt like she needed to look at it. She asked her real estate friend, Kelley Vickery, to arrange a showing.

Annie Selke and COO Bob White.

“We kept looking at each other, saying, ‘it’s great, right?’ I brought in an architect friend and Bob White, our COO, and they all thought it was great, too.” And thus Selke added “inn owner” to her title.

Selke was in the process of finalizing the artwork for the inn when we spoke. She’s personally choosing all the furnishings, right down to the glazes and colors of the custom ceramics that will match the rugs and artwork.

The building, which has the perquisite “great bones,” is getting all-new bathrooms and plumbing, new tile and floors. Each of the eight rooms (two of which will be pet friendly) will be unique, offering changing showcases of fabrics and patterns from Pine Cone Hill, Dash & Albert and all the other lines. Mattresses are coming from uber-luxury brand Hastens (the bed of choice for the likes of Madonna, Leonardo DiCaprio and Bono); tiles are from The Tile Shop and wallpaper from Ralph Lauren Home.

“We’re getting down to the granular level on details,” Selke says. They’ve developed their own bath and body products with Farmaesthetics, and are even testing the toilet paper. Ironically, the sheets for each room have yet to be chosen.

It hardly needs to be said that the furnishings at the inn will be available for sale; that’s where the pop-up shop, conveniently located right across the street, comes in. 33 Main, slated to open in August, will be a living Selke lab that guests can try out and take home with them, if they choose. And who wouldn’t choose to take home a Pine Cone Hill bathrobe?

33 Main is slated to open in August.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 05/29/17 at 11:27 AM • Permalink

At Kasuri, Avant-Garde Fashion Has Moved Upstate

By Jamie Larson

Compared to other luxury clothing stores, walking into Kasuri, in Hudson, New York, feels different. It’s as if you’re witnessing a living, breathing extension of the art form that is Fashion. Owner Layla Kalin stocks her salon exclusively from personal trips to the four yearly fashion weeks in Paris, with an eye for trend setting and offering items by some of the most famous designers in the world.

“I thought it would be low key at first, but I did want to bring luxury fashion upstate,” says Kalin, who moved to, and fell in love with the region with ex-husband and Etsy founder Rob Kalin. “There just wasn’t anyone doing this up here. In Hudson you could buy a $5,000 coffee table but there was nowhere to get a really nice jacket. I needed a place to get my style fix.”

Kalin, Emmett and Osofsky

One might think a clothing store that is, in certain respects, a modern art gallery that boasts some jaw-dropping price tags, might feel inaccessible to the layman. But through their earnest excitement for sharing the styles they love, Kalin and Kasuri director Jonathan Osofsky have cultivated a surprisingly warm and welcoming atmosphere, whether you’re someone looking to buy a show-stopping piece or a neighborhood kid with an eye for fashion who just wants to ask questions.

Kalin describes the apparel in store as “dark established avant-garde.” A lot of it is inspired as much by street wear as high fashion, while some of the more artistic experimental pieces, often pulled straight from the Paris runway, could be considered “anti-fashion.” There is a men’s or women’s section but Kalin says she’s drawn to androgynous garments that may have masculine or feminine characteristics but aren’t defined by them.

“I would personally wear anything in the store,” Kalin says. “I like to push the envelope but I also buy things that are likely to sell — and definitely things for the cult following.”

Kasuri showcases designers on and often ahead of the bleeding edge of fashion but also well-known designers at the top of the industry. It’s stuff you just can’t find anywhere nearby. Kalin had to build relationships with the brands to be allowed to buy from them. Some of the items on display may not seem in fashion today, but in a year, or maybe five, you’ll see their influence.

The collections are shaped in large part by signature brands from Japan and some from Europe. Japanese designers like Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto define the environment in Kasuri (the shop shares its name with a type of Japanese fabric).

“These Japanese designers are all a part of the same avant-garde royalty who are super influential in fashion right now,” says Osofsky. “We only carry designers with a strong vision. They’re not as trend driven. It’s innovative but wearable. We also do have some things that have been walked down a runway that are more structural and inspirational.”

Everyone has an intrinsically personal relationship with clothing; it hides the parts of ourselves we don’t want others to see and makes us beautiful in our own eyes. So when a piece of clothing is inaccessible — because of price or because it looks so outside our understanding of what we thought we knew clothes could be — it can invoke a visceral, negative emotional response. For those not versed in the language of style, challenging that response at Kasuri can be a meaningful experience. Consider: do you stop appreciating the artistry or acknowledging the legitimacy of a painting at Stair Galleries after noting its price tag?

“It’s fascinating to see into the process,” Osofsky says. “There’s a lot going on. It’s about investigating what clothing is. In some ways it’s about more than clothes. For some of these designers it’s about the deconstruction of fashion.”

That said, not everything at Kasuri is out of reach for the average shopper. Sure, there are some big ticket items, like a $16,000 Rick Owens bomber jacket, but there are many things within the few hundred dollar range that are worth the splurge when you consider the quality of its construction (and how great you’ll feel wearing it). For instance, there is an elegantly funky collection of jewelry by Vivienne Westwood on display with many pieces for under $300.

Osofsky says he wants the store to feel inspirational as much as aspirational, quoting Westwood, “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”

If you can’t make it to the physical store, Kasuri is preparing to launch its own online marketplace in the near future. Until then, items can be purchased online at the shop’s page on Farfetch.

Kasuri
1 Warren St., Hudson, NY
(518) 249-4786
Open Wednesday–Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, noon – 4 p.m.

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Jamie Larson on 04/10/17 at 11:31 AM • Permalink

Bring Home A Piece of The Famous Twin Oaks

By Lisa Green

Once upon a time, in Sharon, Conn., the Twin Oaks Preserve was home to a pair of iconic white oak trees that stood in the field for over 250 years. Wisely, in 1998, with the help of the residents and the Salisbury Land Trust, the town decided to purchase the 70-acre property before development took over. Thus was born the Sharon Land Trust. Sadly, the twin oaks fell within a year of each other, but all was not lost: local artists took up the cause and created artwork from the wood of the majestic trees.

Frank Grusauskas was one of the woodwork artisans who snared some of that historic wood. No one else seemed to want the flat piles, but he immediately envisioned creating platters, shallow bowls and spoons. His work has been for sale at Somethin’s Gotta Give in Chatham, New York for several years, but proprietor James Knight will put the spotlight on some of the pieces and offer special sale prices on Saturday, April 8.

He likes the fact that Grusauskas took odd shapes from the trees. “We’ve got his small bowls, plates, and things that are more organic and sculptural,” he says. “You can use them, or put them out as decorative pieces.”

The artist will be on hand to talk about the pieces. He can also expound on the fated Twin Oaks themselves. “They were six feet in diameter, with 250-foot limbs,” he says. “The best wood is generally in the center, but both of the trees were hollow, so I went for the burls and chunks.”

Somethin’s Gotta Give, which moved last year from Lakeville, Connecticut to Chatham, has evolved into a store celebrating and representing local artists. Stop by, have a glass of Prosecco and immerse yourself in the warmth and magic of the Twin Oaks. 

Photo by Jenny Hansell

Somethin’s Gotta Give
Sale on select Frank Grusauskas pieces from the Twin Oaks
Saturday, April 8
Artist reception from 2-4 p.m.
5 Main Str., Chatham, NY
(917) 450-7072

From our archive: A Lot of Giving at Somethin’s Gotta Give in Lakeville

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 04/03/17 at 02:51 PM • Permalink

Louisa Ellis: Shopping From Head To Toe

By Nichole Dupont

Two days before my 40th birthday I walk into Louisa Ellis (its new home is a larger space at 294 Main Street in Great Barrington) thinking I was going to have a brief sit-down interview with the store’s owner/innovator/maven Melissa Bigarel. I’m wearing an orange sweater. This is an important detail. But about five minutes into our interview, as I inquired about women and their beauty hangups, Bigarel, who is dressed in a flouncy blouse and tapered jeans, stops me.

“Do you want to just try it?” she asks.

“You mean… everything?” I eyed the softly lit shelves of the Beauty Bar, full of pastel packaged products — Klorane chamomile conditioner, Mario Badescu collagen moisturizer, Avene sunscreen — and the glamorous corridor of mirrors and red leather chairs meant solely for makeup artistry. “Why the hell not. I’m going to be 40 in two days.”

Bigarel perks up and looks over at Brielle, the store’s makeup genius.

“We’re going to do an anti-40 look,” she says decisively.

And suddenly, I am whisked over to one of those fancy red chairs.

The experience that is Louisa Ellis begins with a light floral fragrance that hangs magically in the space, lingering on the clothing, which runs the spectrum from Sundry loungewear (the softest I have ever laid hands on) to Diane Von Furstenberg dresses. Bigarel is not afraid of color, and that becomes apparent with the racks of jewel-toned blouses by Three Eighty Two and Milly, raw-edged blazers (Amour Vert), and bling-y Atelier necklaces.

Not long ago, the store expanded into its new space, this time with new product. Bigarel partnered with Jane Iredale (president and founder of Iredale Mineral Cosmetics, and unofficial mayor of Great Barrington) to create an elegant retail experience that provides not only apparel, but also everything in the Iredale line. And someone to put it all together for you. Bigarel and her associates offer head-to-toe stylizing.

“This is a place where women can shop holistically,” she says. “Our goal is to provide pieces that help women feel feminine, lively and confident — to help women look and feel their best. The inclusion of the Jane Iredale Makeup Studio has further helped us deliver that experience.”

I was definitely starting to look my best as Brielle put the finishing touch on my “wingtip” eyeliner, then let me take a full look at my “new” face, which was surprisingly recognizable, but brighter.

“We’ll wait on the lipstick until after you pick out what you’re going to wear,” Bigarel says.

She has already selected a few things for me to try on, but I am somewhat pressed for time. She points to a deep burgundy pink dress and says, “Try that one on first.” And then hands me a pair of delicate, nude heels.

Bigarel is a true master of her craft. And that comes from years of working with clients with different tastes and varying levels of comfort in their own skin. My utilitarian doubts about the feminine dress melt away. Suddenly my wide shoulders are an asset. When I ask her how she’s able to make her clients feel so at ease with thinking outside the box, she says, “We just talk to them. We listen to what they are telling (and not telling) us.”

“Louisa Ellis is more than a store, we are a community of women that love, and love to share, style. When you spend time in our store, you are not just buying a new top or picking up a new lipstick, you are spending time with women that are as invested in your personal style as you are. We want your time with us to be educational, tailored to you and enjoyable.”

Bigarel’s own style is seemingly effortless, relaxed and confident. Her hair is not coiffed, nor is she caked with makeup. She has a few go-to essentials to achieve her style, but nothing too fancy.

“I am not a fan of the ‘Top Ten Things Every Woman Must Own’ type lists, but I do believe every woman should have a series of tops in her best color (mine is navy); complete looks in her favorite silhouette; and a couple of pieces that are constants that she can wear every day,” she says. “Jewelry that has personal meaning is a great way to do this. My essentials are a navy silk Daniela Corte tie-front blouse because it works with everything — jeans, nude shoes and a watch my husband gave me. My makeup bag always includes Jane Iredale PurePressed Base — I’ve been using it for 17 years — eye cream (I’m partial to Avene’s Physiolift Eye Cream) and a lip pencil.”

I get back into my civilian garb — jeans, platform boots — but hesitate with the orange sweater. Its relevancy, especially sporting the bright berry-stained lips, is dwindling. Bigarel senses my hesitancy and suggests something in navy, which she says should be the base color for my wardrobe. Then she hands me a soft, boxy T-shirt in that shade. I put it on. She shows me how to do a little tuck in the front to give me “some shape” and it works. It works wonderfully.

“I’m wearing this out,” I say, dropping the sweater into its casket — a pink bag from the store.

Louisa Ellis
294 Main St., Great Barrington, MA
(413) 717-1897

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Nichole on 03/13/17 at 09:38 AM • Permalink

The RuraList: The Search For Mud Boots

Global warming or not, mud season seems to be hitting the ground early this year. If you haven’t yet outfitted yourself with the proper footwear for traipsing through the squelchy muck that signals spring in the Northeast, we’ve sought out four retailers across the region where you can make a beeline for quality boots that will hold up their end of the bargain through whatever the weather gods throw our way.

Berkshire County
The Family Footwear Center in Lenox, Mass. is aptly named: it carries a large selection of Bogs for men, women and kids. You can choose the classic black, or go for the newest ones with camo and plaid prints. They range from about $50 for the kids’ styles (which have handles so they’re easy for the little ones to pull on) to $120, but they’re currently on sale so now’s the time to pick up a pair.

Family Footwear Center
444 Pittsfield /Lenox Rd., Lenox, MA
(413) 442-6330

Columbia County
Tractor Supply Company stocks boots from the trademarked Muck Boot Company. This mid boot is suitable as an everyday shoe (“rain or shine,” it says), and cute enough for it, too, but there are of course the tall “wetland” boots. Women’s boots range from $74.99-$154.99). There are many more styles for men (but sorry, guys, the men’s boots only come in black) priced from $99-$184. Some are available only online.

Tractor Supply Company
350 Fairview Ave., Hudson, NY
(518) 828-5710

Dutchess County
Horse Leap in Amenia, New York is an English tack shop that sells high-end equestrian merchandise – everything from saddles and Barbour jackets to plates and glasses with fox-hunting scenes. But, says owner Barbara Wadsworth, although much of it is consignment, the store also carries brand-new boots from Noble Outfitters, which offers a line called MUDS in short, mid and high styles for men and women, ranging from around $80-$119. “Every product they make is great,” Wadsworth says.

Horse Leap
3314 Rt. 343, Amenia, NY
(845) 789-1177

Litchfield County
The ladies’ shop of R. Derwin Clothiers recommends the Ilse Jacobsen rubber boots, which look so smart that even if you never set foot in a puddle, you might want these in your wardrobe. They’ve got heat-insulating lightweight soles that keep you warm in cold weather, but you can wear then all year-round, says Linda Calabrese, the shop’s manager. There are short, mid, tall and slip-ons, and besides the basic black, the spring line is bringing forth a palette that includes peach whip and flamingo, arriving any day. Prices range from $175-$199. The men’s store carries Dubarry of Ireland waterproof leather “country” boots and Gumleaf neoprene boots.

R. Derwin Clothiers
The Ladies’ Store: 48 West St., (860) 567-4095
The Men’s Store: 38 West St., (860) 567-0100
Litchfield, CT

Enjoy this post? Share it with others.

Posted by Lisa Green on 02/27/17 at 08:29 PM • Permalink