By Karen Rempel
I don’t know about you, but I’ve felt like flying since we got the news on November 7 that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been elected the leaders of our country. The cheers, honks, and bells ringing through the streets of the Village made New York seem like herself again—electric and alive. And now it seems we can breathe around strangers again because a vaccine for the coronavirus is near. On a vibrant autumn day, I put on my best party dress and went to Gramercy Park to celebrate the joy of life.
I bought this unique ice blue lurex dress for a black-tie gala at the United Nations honoring our President-Elect, Joe Biden, together with Mr. Youngsuk Chi, Chairman of Elsevier, in November 2017. Mr. Biden received an award for Humanitarian of the Year for his leadership of the White House Cancer Moonshot Initiative, which was instrumental in increasing public and private resources to fight cancer, providing nearly $2 billion of funding for cancer research and precision medicine. Elsevier was co-honored for facilitating international collaborations to further enhance global efforts in cancer control.
I was too shy to approach Mr. Biden for a photograph at the gala, as many others did. But I felt thrilled to be in the same room as the Vice President, and to wear my first long dress on this occasion of attending my first gala! This was my New York coming out party.
Shopping for a dress for this momentous occasion was exciting, even as my impulse for glamor fought with my pecunious nature. I tiptoed into the evening gown department at Bergdorf’s and the first thing I saw was a billowing $60,000 Oscar de la Renta yellow and pink floral satin gown that had been featured in Vogue. Thoroughly intimidated, I tried on a selection of dresses in the under $10,000 range, but none of them felt quite like me. Though I had a blast pretending to walk the runway, train trailing behind me on the red carpet in the chichi mirrored dressing room! Next I went to Lord & Taylor (sad sigh at the closing of their Fifth Avenue store) and found similar dresses for similar prices.
I have an inner intuition about what feels like the right item at the right price, and I wasn’t getting the green light. I had left this pivotal purchase until the last minute and was feeling despair, but I decided to try one more place, a couture shop in Chelsea called New York Vintage. Et voila! I found this unique Bowie-esque Lady Stardust ’80s gown in a dark corner in the back of the shop. They were about to close for the day, but the clerks patiently helped zip me in and waited while I twirled and hemmed and hawed and glided around the store and twirled some more. Green lights were flashing all over the place.
This gown enveloped me in fairy dust, inviting a new, more spacious self, and the possibilities for my life in New York seemed endless. The next night, when I stepped out of the taxi and onto the grand plaza of the United Nations, city lights sparkling on the East River, I knew that I was truly a small part of this big city. This single step in an ice blue ballgown led to meeting an architect, writing my second article for WestView, a dreamy Christmas date, and my first trip to London. But that’s a story for another day.
Diana Broussard pink satin sneakers with Lucite cube barbells. Diana Broussard. 19 Christopher Street.
1940s sterling bracelet with aquamarine drop. Pippin Vintage Jewelry. 112 W 17th Street.
Vintage aquamarine ring. Pippin Vintage Jewelry. 112 W 17th Street.
Silver and turquoise drop earrings from Mexico. Gift from my father.