Saturday, December 11, 2010

Harry Raupp, Dad Icon

I recently lost a dear family friend. Harry Raupp was a poet, an engineer, a gifted musician, a Beatles interpreter, a sing-along purveyor, wonderful dad to Aimee and Harry Jr. and devoted husband to his high school sweetheart, Kathy. He was also a great friend to me, even though I was about 30 years his junior. A huge supporter of this blog (and anything I ever wrote) he put up with countless frantic emails I'd send him asking for hi-res scans of his gorgeous wife for the book.
Today, I discovered an email from Harry I'd never opened. He'd sent it to me two months before he died after a visit to New York, where I was lucky enough to spend the day with him and show him around my neighborhood. Attached were three pictures of himself through the years. The photos show a strong, handsome, old-school-type virile man. The kind that's pretty rare these days. But the email he sent with the pictures reminded me of another side of Harry, and a quality he possessed that's even rarer. No matter what, he was always the first to say I love you.

From: Harry Raupp
Date: Tue, Sep 7, 2010 at 2:35 PM
Subject: Da shots

Hey Pipe

Your dad suggested the picture of me and my buddy, someday to become brother-in-law, in front of a 1938 Cadillac with Weehawken High in background. Easter Sunday 1965 . I am holding a pink spaldeen.

The other shot is with my weight lifting buddy Alex Suvino. We lifted together in the basement of my parents house. Looking good me thinks.
Last one I call "psycho dad". We are living in one bedroom lakefront apt at Sullivan's marina. Easter Sunday, Kathy trying to get dad ready to go to Hoboken to visit her granny - me being the kid.
Love you
P.S. Had a blast with you in Brooklyn

We miss you, Harry.

Cocoon Caftan: where are you?

Sydette Brown's gorgeous mother was ahead of her time: "My mother, Glorya B. Hartley is my fashion inspiration. Everything that I know about fashion, I owe to her. Being a curvy woman, her size was never an issue for her and she passed that self loving comfort on to me. She was a "Plus Sized Model" before it became mainstream. She taught me about fabric selection and wearing what works for my body type many years ago."

She was also a designer: "My mom was a great seamstress with an eye for all things fabulous. She would see an outfit on TV or in a magazine and make it for herself, or for me. She taught me not to be afraid of fashion, but to embrace it."

And a giver: "In the photograph, taken sometime in the very early 80's, she was asked to be a model in a fashion show , in it she is wearing one of her "creations"... a beautiful Cocoon Caftan made from a sheer graphic print fabric. I wish that she still had that piece, I'd love to wear it today! However, soon after the fashion show a random woman admired it and longed to have one just like it, and being the loving, generous person that she is, my mom gave it to her. Right there on the spot."

Oh to have a Glorya original. If that lucky beneficiary is out there and still has the dress, please take a photo in it and share with us!

Debra in the '70s

Caroline Barth writes:"My mom Debra, is the most beautiful woman in the world to me. I find it to be quite the compliment when people say, 'You've grown up to look just like your mom.'"

No joke. This is the kind of photo that makes you fall instantly in love. Beyond the fact that she's grilling up a fine herd of chickens barefoot in my #1 favorite type of plaid, her dewy, dreamy-eyed beauty bleeds romance. Also, someone must have climbed a tree to take her picture. Now that's devotion.

Here's the likely tree-climber with his bride.

Sometimes, she did local fashion shows, no doubt collecting a steady stream of admirers.

And you know what that means? She was a prime candidate for a NOT YOUR FATHER photo.
Writes Caroline: "This dashing fellow pictured alongside my mom, is not my dad, but actually my dad's dearest friend. I'm not sure of this picture's actual date, but I would say circa 1978. My mom stays true to her classic self. I love her white shawl and black clutch and belted blouse. Perfection mom, like always."

The first flash of marriage

Wafa Musitief sent me this photo of her parents on their wedding day after finding out about the site in Lucky Magazine.
Unlike the coaxed expressions in most wedding photos, Rebecca Hamid and her husband make the first moment of marriage look as complicated as it really is. The realization of what was just done, and what it will mean in their future is smoked onto their faces. I love how he looks in shock, gripping her shoulder as if he were steadying himself. And I love how steady she seems, even though she's only 19.

Here's what Wafa sees when she looks at her parent's wedding photo:
"Every woman wants to look beautiful on her wedding day. But in my mother, Rebecca's case, she not only achieved that; she also was able somehow to create a timeless elegant look that still takes my breath away every time I look at this photo. I recall vivid memories of her over the years, and the innovative fashion statements she always made whether on the street or at a parent -teacher conference. This is the marvelous woman who taught me the importance of tailored clothes; the woman who always chose the perfect sleek winter boot. My mother insitinctively knew how to dress in shapes and colors that highlighted her natural beauty, and grace. This picture is the perfect example of this, and one of the very first fashion statements she would make in her life. Every day I get up to dress, I remember I am carrying her legacy on with me."

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Blonds have more fun with orange

Sara Branley writes: "Meet my amazing mom, Karen. The youngest of four, she didn't grow up in the wealthiest family. But her innate creativity and resourcefulness didn't let that stop her love of style. Like my grandmother before her, my mom has great talent with sewing and making clothes. She made almost all of her outfits like this awesome one here. Inspired by a mix of styles, she took the simplest patterns and made them amazing and fashionable."

I am one LUCKY cat

That's pretty much me, but cartoonified. Lucky Magazine has made My Mom the Style Icon the back page of every issue starting this Decemeber. The first, on newstands now , features me own mums MARILYN in Cannes in the 60s. The magazine's genius editors even round up a few genius ways to get the look.

If you want your mom to be featured in a Lucky back page, you can submit your photos to Lucky or to me and I'll pass along. Also check out the rest of the magazine. Brilliant new editor in chief Brandon Holley gave the glossy an extra shot of adrenaline. You end up feeling like you shopped without actually spending any money. And lets be honest, it's all about the dopamine (AAD, yo)

Monday, November 15, 2010

Mommy and me: an 80's odyssey

Suleman Anaya writes:
"This is my beautiful mom, Lucy (short for Maria de la Luz), born 60 years ago in Mexico City. She was in law school when she met my dad, a physics student from Pakistan. They fell in love, married and settled near Frankfurt, Germany. These photos, taken mostly in the early 80's, show my mother's incredible sense of style, a modern mix of simplicity and class that came completely natural to her. She did not shy away from making a fashion statement, either: whether it was a pair of shock-pink trousers, dramatic Jackie O shades, a big fruity brooch on a pinstriped tailored suit, or just looking fierce in mad sleeveless nylon overalls, she always added an extra touch that took her from being merely chic to being truly in vogue. 30 years later, my mother is still gorgeous, fit and full of energy... a real model of elegance."

Monday, November 8, 2010

This is pretty

Lauren Naimola writes: "Here's my awesome mom in the 70s in a mid-western field rocking a very nice menswear jacket and cute strawberry blond hair."

When women rode bikes and everything was wonderful

Leili Ratti writes: "I would like to submit my beautiful mom's picture. I have this framed in my living room and people always ask if that was me with black hair. I look just like her except I have blond hair. Since the clothing always goes back in style, no one even questioned her clothing. They thought it was me. My dad took this picture of her on his motorcycle as he was cruising around with her in his hometown in Italy."

I've received a lot of photos of the early 70s of moms on bikes. They're some of my favorites. And a total excuse to complain about how my generation got the Ed Hardy end of the stick. Why don't they make bikes and the women who ride them like they used to? Now all that comes to mind is Gretchen from the Real Housewives of OC. It's not even that I want to ride a bike, I'd just really like to see a woman who looks like this on one.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Is your mom's Facebook page awesome?

I've been writing for Yahoo! Shine for a few months. (don't believe me? here's proof)

Recently I posted an article inspired by one of my favorite blogs, Advanced Style, which features absolutely gorgeous senior style icons of today. It got me thinking, if our mothers can dress brilliantly, they can probably Facebook like geniuses too.

Does your mom have a killer profile photos? Does she write on walls like Mark Twain? Does she introduce you to groups you didn't even think could exist? Is her all-around profile savvy a revelation? If so, send me screen grabs and tell me why you love her Facbook page. Email me at and I'll post in homage to your sweet ma on Shine.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Patchwork sweaters of the 70s!

It's Fall in New York. People have been saying that for weeks, but today, I took down all my sweaters from the unreachable shelf in the closet and put them pack in the drawer. It's like groundhog day for me and the cats.
Only, I didn't see my shadow, I saw an empty space in the drawer where new sweaters vintage sweaters should be.
And first pick in the lottery is the 70s patchwork sweater-- modeled exquisitely by Andrea Bell's gorgeous mom, Virginia. As the era of free love waned, the period of creative knits dawned.
Here are couple awesome ones I might buy for Fall. Mental note: wear with middle part like the beautiful Virginia. Mental note P.S.: Must color my gray roots first. Ugh.

This one on etsy has suede patches over the boobs. Hello new favorite pickup line: "Ever felt suede before?"

This one has little leathery leaves on it for crying out load. Gimme.

Look at these sweaters. I'm pretty sure I'd seen the one on the left at a found art museum. Only schizophrenic geniuses confined to 15 hours of arts and crafts at a mental institution could create that. If I was another type of human I'd buy this book to attempt to make these sweaters. But I'll probably by the book to look at the photos on ye olde porcelain throne and fantasize about the bizarre Sister Wife relationship between the three models. Why are you judging me?

Origins of vintage

Meet the women behind the woman behind Mystique Vintage, a dreamy antique clothing site with blazers, dresses and textiles from the 40's through the 80s. (There's even vintage paper!)
Genevieve, above, circa 1944, serves as muse for daughter Karen Broshears' site. And it's no wonder: look at those coke-can curls, and over the shoulder "charmed I'm sure" pose. If I was wearing a hat, I'd take it off.

Karen writes:
"I remember finding these snaps and a ton of others of her, her sisters, friends & even some old beaus in an old shoebox in the attic when I was a teenager myself. I couldn't believe my eyes. She brushed them off as "that old stuff". Somehow even though she was a proud but poor daughter of immigrants and hadn't a pot to pee in or a window to throw it out of she and her sisters and pals all managed to look like glamour dolls most of the time. What I'd give to have her '40s "factory girl" wardrobe today."

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Shoebox Photos

Painter Jenny Belin found a stack of old photos of her mother in a shoebox, three years after her death. The photo album rejects, as Belin calls them, shined a flashlight onto a private part of her mother's mind.

"In so many ways my mother was and is still a mystery to me. August 20th was the 13th anniversary of her death. I still miss her a lot. I know that I always will. Missing her is a process and also a puzzle.

10 years ago I made 58 paintings, all about my mother, inspired by photographs that I found in a shoebox she kept in her closet. Unloved rejects that never made it to her albums, the photos that intrigued me most were from when I was very young.

I wasn't even three years old the first time she had cancer. It wasn't that my mom was ever secretive with me about her illness. She was protective. I understand it better now, what drew me to those images. I was confused by them because they didn't accurately represent my memories. At the same time I found an honesty that I didn't see in the pictures that were my mother's favorites.

3 years ago, I felt that smiley happy family photos were completely phony. I feel so different now. For one thing, I absolutely love to see photos of my mother smiling."

See some of Jenny Belin's portraits here.

I heart mom

Forget the original skin homage to mom, Joshua Conkel took his mother loving to the next level. He sent in this photo of his brand new tattoo. It's inspired by this incredible picture of his own iconic mother, Theresa, at 13.

"This picture was taken sometime around the mid 60's. A few years later she'd become a radical feminist, I'm sure, but when this was taken she was still as fresh as the driven snow and adorable as can be. I should also mention that she hates this photo and will probably be angry when she sees I've tattooed it on my body. Angry and touched, I hope."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Nuh-uh Award: In the category of hair

Guess who just won a Nuh-Uh award? Jane Glaus's Swiss mother in law Clara. "This photo was taken in 1970," says Jane. "She's 75 now, but she still dies her hair jet black and backcombs it. She has green eyes and hardly any wrinkles, even today."

Parents in love

Maaike Penris' parents have been together for over 30 years. So to Maaike, they just look like, well, parents. But this is what they look like to each other.

Writes Maake: "This is my mom Anne Penris-van Amerongen with my dad, Ap Penris. I think it's taken around 1977/1978 in Spain. We are actually from Holland, but my parents used to go to Spain in the summer. I love my mom's dress and flipflops, the bag I think must be somewhere in her closet, I must look for it!"

That hippie dress and the choker gold chain is where it's at. But dad's style regimen is far more complex.

"He liked to roll up his jean cuffs and is hair was curled by my aunt who was in hairdressing school."

You're Looking at the Dutch Gloria Steinem

What makes someone cool? If I knew I'd be cool. But off the bat, I'd guess it's taking something accessible to everyone and making it your own, and as a result wholly original. That's what Merel Rolf's mom did with mod sweater dress and goggle glasses. Go ahead and purchase them, you won't look as good. It's something about her smile and posture and her shag of hair, like she got dressed to kill and then totally forgot what she was wearing because her mind was on bigger things. And they were. AnneMarie was a founding member of the Dutch activist group Dolle Mina. (a documentary was made abut them recently)

Founded in 1969, Dolle Mina, were a gang arch feminists with a brilliant sense of humor. To say they were ahead of their time is an understatement. Their cause centered around equal rights in healthcare. Their tactics played the Dutch media like a string guitar. Vying for medical coverage for women smokers, they protested with clever signage that said "women had the right to get lung cancer too." Which is funny. But what? Insurance didn't cover women with lung cancer? A sub group fought for the legalization of abortion, "Boss of our own Bellies" was their slogan. In a time and place when women really didn't have rights, they tackled major issues with innovation. They occupied a business school that refused women students and held a public bra-burning, they tied pink ribbons all around the city in protest of the fact that only men could use public toilets.

Public toilets, people. AnneMarie is not perplexed. Instead standing in a square in the Hague, she looks like she knows a really good secret: Things are about to change. I like your style, AnneMarie.

Finding Pucci: An epic journey

Natalia Wein's may have mom, hailed from Mexico, but her style was 100 percent moon. In the 1960's she wore a psychedelic dress by the designer Pucci, who was also busy designing outerwear for NASA astronauts. Laura Wein was equipped for mission to chardonnay buzz. My personal favorite challenge.
The story, which has already been a roller-coaster, gets sad when we find out what happened to the dress. See Jimmy Hoffa's body for more information.
"My grandmother gave all her stuff away," says Natalia. "So I have no ‘vintage’ clothes in my closet."
She inspired me to change that, with a mission to the internet. (Formally known as Apollo 2.0).

This original Pucci mini-dress from the same era as Mrs. Wein's is up for bid at RubyLane.

This signed mod mini may actually be Natalia's moms' but now it's $450 at (sorry, girl)

Sunday, August 1, 2010

PSA: Dangers of Wearing a Playsuit

Kids, when you where a leg-baring jumpsuit to a business function, you could end up attracting the wrong kind of attention: a mariachi band.

In 1977, gorgeous Sharon K. Huys, of Mishawaka, Indiana, went to an annual convention with her husband in Switzerland and ended up fending off three besotted serenaders. It's one thing to look adorable in a fluer de lis collared onesie. It's another thing to pair it with white go-go boots. When you see someone who looks that awesome (at a convention for Movers no less) you just want to grab your squeezebox and play a fast-paced Spanish rendition of "She's Hot Legs" while making intense eye-contact. I hope Sharon recovered from the incident and it didn't deter her from wearing the look again.

Secrets of a Seamstress

Mary Cotter submitted this photo of her lovely mom in the Bronx Botanical Garden: "Sometime in the mid-1940s posing for my Dad in a dress she most likely made. She was a seamstress and did piece work when she met my dad. She refused to sew again after she stopped working (long before I was born) but, after much begging and horrified by my botched job she did alter my wide-leg pants into punk rock ones with zippers in the 1980s. She was a serious fashionista and when she died my sister and I found 10+ pair of grey pants, organized by shade, most with the tags still on. We also got to go through her wig closet. Yes, a wig closet."

FASHION TIMELINE: Gillian's Journey

Jane Fairhurst writes: "Oh the early 60's were such a fabulous time for fashion! And my English mother Gillian was a gorgeous young thing. This picture was taken in the summer of 1963 on a vacation to Tossa Del Mar in Spain. My mum is 21 and holidaying with her handsome fiance Kenneth, the young doctor she met as a nurse in the operating room. They later got married and immigrated to Toronto, where to her horror things were not as swinging as 60s Britain.

With her are her parents Margaret and Harold. They are 39 and 45 respectively (everyone looked much older back then somehow). They had just returned to Britain after a 5 year stint in Nigeria, and would soon move to Uganda (just in time for Idi Amin!) and then South Africa (Apartheid riots!) and then back to retirement in Britain, where they longed for Africa for the rest of their days. My grandfather drove a tank throughout WW2, and spent most of his time on the front. They called him lucky Harry. Lucky because he survived...

"This is a classic picture of my Mum taken in Manchester in September 1963, 2 months before she immigrated to Canada. What a gorgeous coat! And I still have that purse. And the hair.....she owned a special extension to make that beehive so high. Even today, she still backcombs her hair in a high short style reminiscent of those early days."

"Fast forward 1971, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I am the happy child in the grass. I can remember how dry it was and how it pricked one's bare feet. I think my mum looks fabulous here. Everyone is happy. Mandy the Corgi and even I have the same expressions on our faces!"

Sows Ears and other lessons from mom

When Jill Love transferred her family's old slides into photos recently, she got to know her mother all over again.

"I've learned a lot about my mother since getting all of the family slides and scanning them. She was really into hats and sunglasses… and her friends.

She is now 80 and every bit as beautiful. She has taught my sister and I so much about class, style, grace. It's always been healthy, positive, and fun to learn about beauty from her. She taught us early on to wash our makeup off before bed, no sunning, use sunglasses and lipstick no matter where you go, the value of a girlfriend, and so much more. We let a few of her beauty secrets go, however, such as wrapping our beehive in toilet paper before bed to keep it from being mussed up."

"My parents raised us in a small community where my mother was definitely a glamor icon; cocktail parties, dance club, etc. She used to say the funniest things like "You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear… even if you sew beads on it." I guess that meant you either had class or you didn't."

Fashion Fuel

Meet: Susan McKeever's mother Claire. She's a babe.

"The picture above is from 1959 when she was 16 years old and working in a petrol station as an attendant. She was a rocker girl, and a big fan of James Dean and Elvis Presley."

"This pic was taken 1967, looking very Mary Quant meets Vidal Sassoon, and here she is standing outside a typical irish cottage. We were on holiday deep in rural Ireland and I am grubby little kid walking towards the camera. I had been chasing chickens around the yard and she had just called out to me to come up and get ready for going to mass. This was taken on a Sunday morning."

Wedding of Last Century

This weekend saw the "Wedding of the Century" with glowing bride Chelsea Clinton walking down the aisle wearing Vera Wang and a former U.S. President.

But this month, 42 years ago another, equally memorable wedding took place.
Chantelle Macune writes: "These are pics of my parents' wedding in July 1968. Mom still looks the same. Their names are Ed and Edie Jones and they've been married for 42 years....quite a track record nowadays."

Despite going with Vera Wang, speculation was abound that Chelsea would choose a design by Oscar De La Renta. If she did, it may have looked a little like Edie's delicate lace, high-necked gown. The elegant Grace Kelly confection may be from '68 but it looks like it's right off the 2011 Oscar de la Renta Bridal Runway Collection.