We at Dizon Inc. are well acquainted with the Park Avenue Armory, producing shows for Proenza Schouler as well as G-Star in the amazing space. The history of the building is something few people who rush in and out for a fashion show or two probably have time to ponder. However, it is a fascinating building boasting important 19th-century Aesthetic Movement interiors that are in the process of being restored to their original glory.

On a recent tour, the architectural preservationist in charge of leading the crusade to restoration gave a background of the building and some of the rooms. The Armory occupies an entire block between Park Avenue and Lexington Avenue, 66th and 67th Streets on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. It was built to serve the Seventh Regiment National Guard, a volunteer militia whose members included elites of society like the Roosevelts and Vanderbilts. In the 19th century, the “Silk Stocking Regiment” was had a social club located on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. During this time, the area was becoming a neighborhood thickly populated with immigrants, largely German and Irish. The Regiment requested funds from the government to build a new location uptown, a ritzier neighborhood where many of the members already lived. When their proposal was denied, many of the members realized that they could fund the project themselves. Although additional money had to be raised partway through the project, by 1881 the Armory was completed.

The 55,000 square foot Drill Hall is the largest space and was used for training exercises. The structure is a barrel-vaulted “balloon shed”, the oldest in the United States. This system of iron arches allows the huge soaring ceiling and vast floor space to be uninterrupted by load-bearing columns. The effect is reminiscent of European train depots like the Gare du Nord in Paris, or London’s Crystal Palace of 1851.

Proenza Schouler showed their Spring 2009 Collection with a X-shaped runway in the Drill Hall, while G-Star built a comprehensive stadium seating with raised runway in the same season. The lighting on the worn green painted floor reflected beautifully to an silver gilded effect.

The first floor hallways and staircase were designed in a Renaissance Revival style by George C. Flint & Co. in 1880. The most striking feature still intact today are the chandeliers and wall sconces which were installed in 1897 with electricity. Proenza Schouler showed their Spring 2008 show in the Armory Hallway; the military influenced collection was accentuated by the vaguely menacing wrought lighting fixtures.

This room is probably one of the most ornate and intact interiors of the Armory. Elements of the decoration were designed by a young Stanford White just as he started his first firm, as well as a virtually unknown Louis Comfort Tiffany. The scheme includes ornately painted silver patterns on the ceiling and columns in a chainmail pattern, as well as a painted frieze depicting the history of warfare. Stained glass windows and glass artwork embellishing the fireplace were executed by Tiffany. The dense program of motifs include an eclectic blend of infuences: Greek, Moresque, Celtic, Egyptian, Persian, and Japanese. G-Star guests fill the room during the after party of the Spring 2009 show at the bottom right. Knowing the illustrious history and the state of restoration makes one a bit nervous to see so many drinks!

This room with extensive woodwork and mounted game heads was originally designed by Pottier & Stymus in a Renaissance Revival style. It will soon undergo extensive work to restore the stenciled floral and geometric wall patterns, which have been revealed under a layer of yellow paint.

The Library, which has been reappropriated to display some of the Armory’s collection of silver, boasts a beautiful basketweave barrel vaulted ceiling designed by Tiffany, White, and Associated Artists in a subtle salmon color with silver disks scattered over the surface. Crosshatch metalwork on the balcony screen will be cleaned and restored to its original luster.

This Ladies Reception Room was done by the Herter Brothers. The fireplace is decorated with Minton art tiles that show scenes from Arthurian legend. The painted ceiling and woodwork has been remarkably preserved, even as the walls have been painted over.

Another Herter Brothers interior. The wall pattern is the original design but has been overpainted several times. Several different but complementary patterns adorn the walls and ceiling of this room.


Fat Tuesday

The season is approaching when New Yorkers who prayed for summer all winter remember its much too hot in the summer and flee. Barcelona– no, not the city in Spain– is a great destination a short train ride away from the city. Barcelona Restaurant has expanded to several locations in Connecticut, but the original tapas bar is in South Norwalk, CT. The SoNo downtown neighborhood is right off the Metro-North New Haven line stop, and its brick buildings have been restored to house cool restaurants and bars right on the Norwalk Harbor. Or you can make this little dish at home.

Serves 4-6

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 pounds smoked Spanish chorizo, cut on the diagonal into slices about 1/4 inch thick
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried white Turkish figs, stemmed and quartered
1 1/4 cups sherry vinegar
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cloves

1. In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat for about 1 minute. Working in batches, sear the chorizo and garlic for 2-3 minutes, turning the sausage once during cooking. Set sausage aside.

2. Put the figs in a medium saucepan with the vinegars, brown sugar, water, cinnamon cloves. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes, adjusting the heat up or down to maintain the simmer.

3. Divide the chorizo among 6 bowls. Pour the figs and the pan sauce over the chorizo and serve piping hot.

The Barcelona Cookbook. Sasa Mahr-Batuz and Andy Pforzheimer with Mary Goodbody. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel publishing, LLC. 2009. pg. 86.

Barcelona SoNo
63.65 N. Main St.
S. Norwalk, CT 06854
Tel: 203.899.0088



Happy Earth Day! On this green day, we are sharing these stunning photos taken by Phyllis Galembo. Galembo started traveling to Nigeria in 1985, and has since developed a rich body of work documenting the tradition of the Masquerade throughout Africa and Haiti. Masquerade in these countries is used to represent the spirit world during rituals, special events, and funerals, and is sometimes deeply elusive to outsiders.

The specificity and intention with which these costumes have been created lay beyond the world of fashion, and for this very reason they are all the more appealing. See below the fashion spread in this week’s T Magazine, photographed by Richard Burbridge and styled by Robbie Spencer.




As other New Yorkers head to theaters for the TriBeCa Film Festival, I am mining my Netflix Watch Instantly arsenal to create my own very small-screen film festival. Westerns are on my brain right now for quite a few reasons: the spellbinding creativity of Rango, wanderlust for a road trip through Monument Valley, and the lingering obsession with Proenza Schouler’s southwest influenced Spring 2011 show. The selection on Netflix Instant spans a range from classic to contemporary revisionist, and these are my picks for the best.

Stagecoach, 1939
Director: John Ford
Starring: John Wayne

Seminal work with genre giants John Ford and John Wayne, Stagecoach has all of the qualities that define Westerns: the outlaw gunslinger hero, a hooker with a heart of gold, Apache raids, and a theme of revenge.

High Noon, 1952
Fred Zinnemann, with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly

A heroic Marshall defends his town from a band of criminals, who are arriving on the noon train.

River of No Return, 1954
Otto Preminger, with Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe

There Western stock character- a sultry saloon singer with a secretly pure heart- who is the equivalent of Marilyn Monroe’s screen persona. So in this film, Monroe is playing her own Western stereotype, and it works.

Giant, 1956
George Stevens, with Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson, James Dean

This epic is an epic time commitment, but worth it.

Hud, 1963
Martin Ritt, with Paul Newman

Paul Newman stars in this atypical Western as an unlikeable anti-hero, but SO easy on the eyes.

Cheyenne Autumn, 1964
John Ford, with Ricardo Montalbon and Jimmy Stewart

A reversal of the stereotypical villainous Indian in Westerns, this film reveals the abuse by the United States government of the Cheyenne Indians as they attempt to move their tribe from Oklahoma to Wyoming to avoid starvation in 1878.

Blazing Saddles, 1974
Mel Brooks, with Gene Wilder

Mel Brooks is at his absolute best in this hilarious send-up of the genre.

Dances with Wolves, 1990
Kevin Costner, directing and starring

Love Costner or hate him, this movie is beautifully shot and a moving revisionist Western.

The Good the Bad and the Weird, 2008
Ji-Woon Kim

A South Korean interpretation of Sergio Leone’s influential Spaghetti Western starring Clint Eastwood, 1966 The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.


Fat Tuesday

Aren’t there some days you just CAN’T decide what you want to eat? That’s what paella is for. It’s rice, it’s seafood, chicken, sausage, butter and spice. It’s Perfect.

6-8 servings

1 cup fresh or frozen peas
1 pound chorizo sausage
2 1 1/4 pound lobsters
1/2 cup olive oil
1 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 10 pieces
salt and freshly ground black pepper
18 medium-size shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/2 pound boneless lean pork loin, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
2 cups crushed canned Italian tomatoes
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon saffron threads
2 cups converted rice
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 cups bottled clam juice
18 large mussels, well scrubbed and with beards removed
12 littleneck clams, rinsed
2 lemons, cut into wedges

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
2. Blanch the peas in lightly salted water, drain, and set them aside. Prick the sausages in several places with a fork and blanch the sausages in boiling water for 5 minutes; then drain. When the sausages are cool, cut them into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
3. Kill the lobsters instantly by plunging the tip of a large chef’s knife between the eyes. Cut off the claws and remove the tail. Using the large knife, cut the body and tail, crosswise, into 1-inch-thick pieces and place them in a dish to reserve any liquids. Remove and discard the small sac inside the lobster near the eyes.
4. Heat 1/4 cup of the oil in a paella pan. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt and pepper and sauté them, moving the pieces around the pan until thoroughly browned, for about 5 minutes. Remove to a large platter.
5. Sprinkle the lobster pieces with salt and pepper and place them in the hot oil. Reserve the accumulated liquids in the dish for later. Sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, or until the shells turn deep red. Remove the lobster pieces to a platter.
6. Sprinkle the shrimp with salt and pepper and sauté in the paella pan very quickly, about 1 minute. Remove them to the platter with the lobster.
7. Sauté the sausage pieces in the same pan for 2 or 3 minutes. Remove to the platter with the chicken. Discard the oil in the paella pan.
8. Heat the remaining oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the pork with salt and pepper and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, or until lightly browned all over.
9. Add the onions, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste to the pan. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and saffron. Cook, stirring, for about 5 minutes, or until the moisture from the vegetables has evaporated.
10. Add the rice and mix thoroughly. Pour in the reserved lobster juices and the fish broth. Add the hot pepper flakes and bring everything to a boil. Add the chicken, lobsters, sausages, and shrimp. Add the clams and mussels and stir well. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until the rice and chicken are tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. Remove from the oven and toss lightly to distribute all ingredients throughout the dish.

Pierre Franey and Bryan Miller. The Seafood Cookbook. New York: Random House Times Books, 1986.


Fashion History

There is a month left of the His & Hers exhibit at the Museum of FIT, a costume show that compares examples men’s and women’s clothes from 1760-2010. It is a small, quiet show that presents the way gender differences were expressed in clothing through several centuries. 18th and 19th century fashions display stark differences, though as the exhibit moves closer to the present, designers begin to subvert conventions. Although there are earlier examples of women appropriating traditional male styling, the designs of Yves Saint Laurent in the 1970s and 80s emerge as a major leap towards the type of androgynous dressing that is accepted in contemporary fashion. His Le Smoking ensemble, first introduced in the mid-1970s, remains an icon of transgressive sexual ambiguity.

Above: 1920s

Left: Bonnie Cashin Hostess Apron and Necktie
Far Right: Sportsmaker (Tom Brigance) playsuit

Yves Saint Laurent
Center: Le smoking ensemble: jacket, blouse, cummerbund, trousers
Black wool, black silk satin, ivory silk satin
Circa 1982, France
Right: Suit
Black and white checkered wool, silk charmeuse.
Fall 1983


Contemporary, including:
John Bartlett Mens and Womens Fall 2010
Right picture, pair on left
Burberry Prorsum Mens and Womens Fall 2010
Right picture, pair on right

Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology
Seventh Avenue at 27 Street
New York City 10001-5992

Fat Tuesday

Am I allowed to write a blog post about Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking if my name isn’t Julie? Oh well, here goes. A classic from a classic.

Moules à la Marinière
For 6-8 people

Here is the simplest version of this most typical of French methods for cooking mussels. They are steamed open in a big pot with wine and flavorings, and it only takes only about 5 minutes. Then the mussels, shells and all, are dipped out into soup plates, and the cooking liquor is poured over them. Each guest removes the mussels one by one from their shells with fingers or a fork and discards the shells into a side dish. In addition to shell dish and fork, provide your guests with a soup spoon for drinking up the mussel juices, a big napkin, and a finger bowl. long with the mussels serve French bread, butter, and a chilled, light, dry white wine such as a Muscadet, dry Graves, or one of the Pouillys.

2 cups of light, dry white wine or 1 cup dry white vermouth
An 8- to 10-quart enameled kettle with cover
1/2 cup minced shallots, or green onions, or very finely minced onions
8 parsley sprigs
1/2 bay leaf
1/4 tsp thyme
1/8 tsp pepper
6 TB butter

Bring the wine to a boil in the kettle with the rest of the ingredients listed. Boil for 2 to 3 minutes to evaporate its alcohol and the reduce its volume slightly.

6 quarts scrubbed, soaked mussels

After scrubbing each mussel clean with a brush, set the mussels in a basin of fresh water for an hour or two so they will disgorge their sand and also lose a bit of their saltiness. Drain and rinse mussels, then add them to the kettle. Cover tightly and boil quickly over high heat. Frequently grasp the kettle with both hands, your thumbs clamped to the cover, and toss the mussels in the kettle with an up and down slightly jerky motion so the mussels with change levels and cook evenly. In about 5 minutes the shells will swing open and the mussels are done.

1/2 cup roughly chopped parsley

With a big skimmer, dip the mussels into wide soup plates. Allow the cooking liquid to settle for a moment so any sand will sink to the bottom. Then ladle the liquid over the mussels, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Julia Child. Mastering the Art of French Cooking.


Inspiration, NYC Culture


The concept of Jugaad, roughly translated from Hindi, means to “make do”. To be a Jugaadu is to be resourceful, clever, and the ultimate creative problem solver.

This concept is presented at The Center for Architecture’s current exhibit “Jugaad Urbanism: Resourceful Strategies for Indian Cities” focusing on patch-worked communities in Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Pune, that improvise energy solutions with jerry-rigged cars, homemade stoves, and do-it-yourself water filtration systems. The show illustrates how these innovations born of necessity provide important lessons to city planning agencies, NGOs, and designers alike.

The show is organized into “resource” categories: Land, Water, Energy and Transportation. Juxtaposed with the images of DIY solutions are examples of proposed design solutions. Highlights include an energy-generating spinning machine that charges a transistor radio and a lamp with a decorative shade. A home water filtration system is composed of two buckets and an affordable filter that can last up to 14 years.

While most architecture exhibits focus on high design and cutting-edge technology, this exhibit offers a way to approach the economic, environmental and design challenges facing the world’s rapidly growing cities from an alternative, sustainable perspective.

The Center for Architecture
536 LaGuardia Place
NY, NY 10012

Gallery Hours
Mon-Fri: 9am to 8pm
Sat: 11am to 5pm


Film, Inspiration

April showers indeed. Another gloomy, gray, 40-something degree day in New York. Sigh. With no chance of the weather taking a miraculous turn for the better anytime soon, what choice is there but to take a cinematic vacation? The Endless Summer, one of the favorite 60’s films, is no cheesy Beach Party . Part surf documentary, part travelogue, Bruce Brown circumnavigates the globe filming two surfers chasing the perfect wave.

Brown, along with Mike Hynson and Robert August, travel from their native California to West Africa, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti and Hawaii. The boys take the waves in places no one had ever surfed before, meeting local people who had never seen a surfboard. It is charming to watch the two California surfers interact, strap their surfboards to whatever vehicle they could find, and catch any wave that came along.

I love when the Brown lingers on the gorgeous beaches, which vary widely around the world. In Tahiti waves run into black sandy coves, while in New Zealand, huge cliffs hang over the shore. More than just a surf film, the movie inspires travel and wanderlust.

However lost you get in the beautiful landscapes and fascinating cultures, there is still plenty of exciting surfing. I’m living vicariously through the surfers, imagining diving in warm oceans…

…and wiping out. After a winter of doughy hibernation, I would welcome a good ocean thrashing!

As the sun sets after each day of surfing around the world, I hope this summer is as endless as the winter has been.

The Endless Summer. Bruce Brown. 1966.