West Village model Karen Rempel clowns with her new boyfriend at Gato on Lafayette Street. Artwork by Frank Ape, aka Sines. Photo by Philip Maier.

By Karen Rempel 

An early casualty of the pandemic, Gato at 324 Lafayette Street closed in March 2020. Owner Bobby Flay said, “As of March 16th, I am closing my restaurant Gato because of the obvious and unprecedented circumstances threatening our world. I wish everyone well.” As businesses boarded their windows, artist Sino began painting murals of his mythical Frank Ape art concept around the city, from the West Village to Brooklyn. The mural at Gato features five of my boyfriends using a firehose to water a flower, with the banner “Better Together.”

As soon as I saw the mural I knew it would be perfect with this amazing ’80s Flintstones-patterned blouse. I first slipped into the top for a lark during a lull at Krystyna’s Place on Cornelia Street. I worked in Krystyna’s vintage store for three months in 2017, the first summer after I moved to NYC. One muggy July afternoon on my way to the store I noticed a quartet of stunning, willowy black-gowned violinists playing in front of St. Joseph’s Church on Sixth Avenue.

A gaggle of photographers snapped the scene as guests in fancy clothes pulled up in various black town cars and yellow taxis and scurried up the steps. One or two hairdos were ruined by the rain, and umbrellas marred the elegance of the women’s dress lines. I asked the Town and Country photographer what was happening, and he said Rudy Giuliani’s son Andrew was getting married. I watched the grand entrances for a while. The bridesmaids tumbled out of a giant Mercedes-Benz limousine, wearing a variety of dresses in an odd shade of ketchup red. Then the bride (Zivile Rezgyte) arrived, with her father on her arm and her sister, the maid of honor, hurrying behind carrying the bunched up train.

I had to get to the store to open up, so I continued on my way, but I called a regular customer from the store, David—a writer and farmer from Kentucky who was writing his memoirs at Doma Café—and asked him if he’d stop by the church about an hour later and let me know when the guests were coming out. 

David called me just as I was trying on this outrageous vintage top, so I hurriedly locked up and ran over to the church, wondering what the hell I was doing. The couple had finished their photo session on the church steps just before I arrived, and were pulling away from the curb in a vintage yellow taxi. Garbed in this outlandish getup, I ran after them to film their departure, and people who had stopped to watch the spectacle said, “That’s New York, baby! That’s awesome!” I thought so too. I loved the feeling that I was home in NYC, part of the endless parade of the city.

This video captures that moment!

Please forgive the grainy quality of the iPhone 5 video footage from 2017! Of course, the Philip Maier photos at the end are crystal sharp!

This issue marks the second anniversary of Karen’s Quirky Style. Thanks to all my readers for two glorious years chronicling clothes and the city!

For more fun Philip Maier photos and an archival photo of me with ’80s big hair, see karensquirkystyle.com

Style Notes

  • Vintage ’80s Julie Duroché for After Five Flintstones-patterned blouse with huge shoulders and peplum flare. Krystyna’s Place. 12 Cornelia Street (now closed).
  • Kimora Lee Simmons purple lace dress with ketchup red lining. Housing Works. 143 West 17th Street.
  • Jimmy Choo zebra stripe and red patent leather peep-toe platform sandals. Jimmy Choo sample sale, 123 West 18th Street, invitation only.
  • Lucite hoop earrings filled with multi-colored sparkle flakes. Gift shop at the Met. 1000 Fifth Avenue.
  • Multi-colored square bead coil bracelet. Design store at MOMA. 44 West 53rd Street.

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