Friday, November 18

A Must Have for Holiday Gift-Giving: John Tiffany's Story About Style and Design Icon Eleanor Lambert!

Autumn in New York City
is the perfect season for fashion. 
So, bundle up and pick up this chunky coffee table book by
John A. Tiffany,
Still Here
--  just in time for the Holidays!
Charles James

“I love clothes… particularly in red, I pick myself up after a hard day by wearing red.” Eleanor Lambert“

Pierre Cardin
  Ever since I was a young, bright-eyed college student donning my winter wellies in Vermont, I wanted to live in New York City.  I vividly remember sipping chamomile tea in my dorm room and tuning into watch Elsa Klensch's House of Style and swooning over the fashion and beautiful homes.  If you didn't know House of Style, it was a CNN television show that covered the design world of fashion and decorating.  It was heavenly!  While reading this book written by John Tiffany,  I am reminded exactly why I wanted to move to New York and this story celebrates the life of one of the most important icons in fashion -- Eleanor Lambert.   Everybody needs a little historical reference to truly understand something they love, and New York City was the epicenter of fashion during the years surrounding the Great Depression.  If it wasn't for forward thinking Miss Lambert who was ahead of her time, and who had a burning passion to bring American designers to the forefront, we may not be celebrating fashion with such gusto today...
I suggest all of you fashionistas run out and pick up this book that chronicles the history of fashion through the life of Eleanor Lambert during many important decades in New York City.

It all started with fun cocktails at one of my very favorite furniture showrooms in Soho.  I received this lovely invitation from the New Traditionalist (if you've ever been privy to their famous soirees you know the spirits and festivities are creative and flowing -- Jason Embry is the cocktail maestro) to attend a roundtable discussion about this newly released book that chronicles Eleanor Lambert and her rise in the fashion world.  Her former assistant John A. Tiffany wrote the story and he gives us an insider's glimpse of this fascinating world and the many designers who surrounded Miss Lambert.  He brings us an intimate portrayal, as well as a valuable historical archive of her place in fashion.  Still Here graces my coffee table now in my emerald green living room in the same neighborhood that Miss Lambert lived, and illuminates the space with beautiful photography and stories taking the reader through decades of fashion and New York history -- bravo to John Tiffany for capturing it altogether in one place for us to cherish, as if a historical document of New York City style/fashion and society.  I was immediately smitten when during the roundtable her dearest friends shared personal moments with us.  Good friend decorator,  The Prince of Chintz himself, Mario Buatta told many funny, melancholy stories about his affection for Miss Lambert.  

Order your book direct from the publisher Pointed Leaf

Let's start with a lovely shot of lady Miss Lambert's bedroom in Manhattan...
photograph sent to Nest by Tamara
 from Eleanor Lambert: Still Here, Pointed Leaf Press
© William Abranowicz/Art + Commerce.

Miss Lambert's apartment on the Upper East Side and overlooking Central Park had a timeless appeal and was clearly decorated with style yet with that very chic undecorated vibe so many emulate today.  The two dichotomies create a warm, yet sophisticated environment.  
photograph sent to Nest by Tamara from Eleanor Lambert: Still Here, Pointed Leaf Press
© Patrick McMullan, John A. Tiffany private collection.

John A. Tiffany with Miss Lambert above.  She lived a long and prosperous life:
here she is wearing a turban, a fashion style she made popular.

images below published in Still Here:  credits below

Mainbocher: a fashion label founded by the
American couturier Main Rousseau Bocher

About the Author:
John A. Tiffany is a fashion historian and lecturer with over 20 years of experience in public relations, event production, and marketing projects.  In 2002, he founded consulting business, John Tiffany + Associates in New York, and before that he held the dual positions of Director of Fashion Shows/Events and Director of Operations at LaForce & Stevens in New York. Early on in his career, Tiffany learned the fashion industry from top to bottom as the assistant to the now legendary Eleanor Lambert which accounts for the stories heartfelt moments and behind the scenes appeal.
It is evident that Miss Lambert was a trend setter, forward thinking, a classy lady who had great manners, yet took New York City by storm and understood before her time the importance of fashion in our society. She represented many fashion icons and important figures in fashion today and laid a foundation that many are still enjoying.


please read my interview with John:

Miss Lambert had many accomplishments in her long career; of which do you think was she most proud?
I think she was most proud that she was able to bring fashion designers out of the back room and into the spotlight! Before Miss Lambert started her business American fashion designers were nameless and faceless, she worked very hard to put a face to the designers at manufacturers! She considered the Versailles Exhibition of 1973 – the fashion show -- which was really a contest between American and French designers — where the French audience went crazy for the American’s work as the highlight of her career! That event was a game changer for American fashion and the industry in general, paving the way for the acceptance of “The American Look.” She felt very proud of her role.

What special skill or qualities did you adopt from working as Miss Lambert's assistant?I learned that you have to be well informed — read the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, New York Post, Daily News, Women’s Wear Daily every single day! I learned that manners are a must, and although I already knew it Miss Lambert re-inforced the idea to me.  She taught me to never give up.  She was also a wonderful example of believing in talent, and she was very confident, and believed passionately in her ideas!

While your story showcases this talented lady it also captures important timelines in fashion's history. One important contribution to fashion Eleanor brought was helping to bring black models to fashion. What motivated her to take this on?I asked Miss Lambert’s son Bill Berkson this same question, and he said he felt she did it because it was the right thing to do. I also think she thought that these women were very beautiful and interesting! The pictures in the books really show this – it was revolutionary to take a black model to Moscow in 1959 – which was sponsored by the US State Department of Commerce. Half of the models at the Versailles Exhibition in 1973 were black. She encouraged her clients Yves Saint Laurent and Christian Dior to use black models in the 1960s! She used black models in high-profile fashion shows as far back as the 1940s!

Eleanor was a fashion trend setter as well as possessed the rare ability to spot talent on the horizon. Who was she fascinated with later in her life and who do you think she would be enamored with now? She was fascinated with Ruben and Isabel Toledo.  She also loved Rick Owens at the end of her life, in fact, she wrote about their talent around the time of her 100th birthday. I think she would love the crop of young designers at the CFDA fashion incubator! I have a feeling she would be very intrigued by the intricate and beautiful work of Bibhu Mohapatra, she’d love his talent of course, but she would also be encouraged by his temperament, his steady determination and how he hones his craft and how he shows his clothes

As a fabulous host what special skills did Eleanor emphasize when planning her events? Manners! She always thought about her guests, she wanted to make sure everyone was having a good time, that they had enough to drink, that they had tasty food and that they were meeting each other — she wanted people to know each other, so she was constantly making introductions! She had the most wonderful way of introducing people... She would say “You know John Tiffany don’t you...” well even if they didn’t before... they did now!

What was her favorite color? Miss Lambert’s favorite color was red — she had a red library in her apartment, and and she looked stunning in red! In her book People Places, Resources (see above).

Thank You John for bringing us in on your journey
  the designs of talented Geoffrey Beene 
all fashion photography on Nest by Tamara is published in Still Here and  provided by Eleanor Lambert: Still Here © 2011 Pointed Leaf Press
Courtesy: Fashion Institute of Technology/SUNY, FIT Library Dept. of Special Collections and FIT Archives
Stop back next week
for another book recommendation
in time for the Holidays! 
A second book written by sister design-team and architecture
firm Hariri & Hariri