By Karen Rempel | Fashion Editor
A year ago in this column I told you about a stop-you-in-your-tracks dress by Engineered by Andrea T, based on a painting called Dominion Day by James Kerr. Recently when Andrea told me she was making couture face masks, I immediately asked her if she could make me one with the Dominion Day fabric. The golden, orange, and red tones of the fabric have been warming the memory chambers of my brain for the past year. The chance to own a scrap of art and garment history was a delight that almost masked the horrible reality covered by the need to wear masks everywhere we go.
Andrea’s mask designs are based on the same architectural principles as her dresses. She is a true artist, and brings her passion for creating beauty to the humble face mask, transforming a utilitarian necessity into a must-have wardrobe accessory. I think you’ll agree that this mask adds mysterious allure to the look, actually amping up the high fashion quotient of the art-as-dress. When I slipped on the mask, the silken lining lightly caressed my face with sensory pleasure.
A dress this exquisite demands an extraordinary setting, so I asked the NoHo photographer Philip Maier to come with me to the historic Garment District—while the Phase One streets of New York were fairly deserted—to do a shoot at Judith Weller’s famous bronze sculpture of a yarmulke-clad tailor. The accompanying 31-foot-long needle-and-button sculpture was under repair, with the Garment District Alliance’s information booth all boarded up, but the famous man at the sewing machine was still hard at work.
I felt a humbling mixture of wonder and sorrow, modeling these beautiful creations by an innovative New York designer, embraced by the influential history of New York’s Garment District. An impossible precious moment of fantasy as the city trembles with hope on the brink of political reform and recovery from the pandemic.
The ills of our day run deep, but the human spirit is complex and resilient. On my way to the shoot, I was standing on Sixth Avenue, waiting to hail a cab. A scruffy man wearing a backpack asked me for something to eat. I said no, and he asked me again for money. Again I said no, and he said “You can spend thousands of dollars on a dress but you won’t help me?” Ah, New York. Even the beggars appreciate a beautiful gown.
For more details and brilliant Philip Meier photos, see karensquirkystyle.com.
Orange-gold Dominion Day dress based on abstract painting by James Kerr, wool-silk blend. Engineered by Andrea T, 147 West 35th Street (by appointment only).
Donna Karan Collection gold satin and red crocodile slides with ’60s-mod sculptured heels. Once-in-a-lifetime Donna Karan storage sale, next to Urban Zen on Greenwich Street.
’60s-style Dolce Vita orange ball drop earrings, gift from a friend.
“Lightest Auburn” hair color by L’Oréal Paris Superior Preference, self-applied. From a box! Still doing DIY. Next month the hair salons in NYC are open!
Karen Rempel is a photojournalist, technical writer, model, and artist. She has published words and pictures in BC Woman, Intercom, Room, TV Week Magazine, Vancouver Sun, and many others. Her artwork was recently on exhibit at the Revelation Gallery in the West Village. Visit her blog at loveaffair.nyc and her YouTube channel.