Sunday, May 31, 2009

And then there's Sunday

Today was spent largely outdoors and involved way too much eating. Evan's mother and stepfather came in from Long Island to take us to dinner. We went to La Flor in Woodside where I had this amazing salmon, various vegetables, guacamole dish. It was basically like a Mexican bibim bop, laid over mashed potatoes rather than rice and served hot. I'm still full--I also had a huge slice of flan even though I didn't need more food. I wore Leda and the prefall cardigan with Africana flats and felt like this was my first real summers outfit, even if the weather was inconsistent (hot, rain, warm, breezy).

Before that, I met my friend and colleague Christine who was visiting at NYU this spring and is headed back to England next Sunday. I will miss her going away party as I'll be in Boston for Rebecca's Bat Mitzvah Friday night services/dinner/reception (the big day is on Saturday). We sat outside in the sun in Washington Square Village gardens, admired the squirrels, talked about work and life and ate pastries from Bruno bakery. Then we walked around the revamped Washington Square Park, before the rain started and I headed out to Queens.

Now I have to continue prepping classes and book a ticket to England for July. I'm hoping my food coma will abate so I can start thinking again. I really did eat too much today--especially if you include the French toast and smoothies we had for breakfast. No wonder the size 8 Clothilde is a little tight!

I'm thinking I may really have to try to lose 5 lbs this summer...

My Strange Saturday

This was an odd weekend, with some strange ups and downs, as well as some odd Mayle sightings.

I had a baby shower to attend on Saturday, which was an event I was dreading. If I hadn't liked my friend as much, I would have sent a gift but not attended. It was as difficult as expected, but I'm not going to belabor the point. Matters of greater interest to most of us followed.

To get to these, I need to backtrack less than 24 hours. Class at NYU finished on Friday at 4.30. I briefly checked my email then headed first to the News sample sale to look at the Lyell pieces (according to, 8 and 10s were in plentiful supply the day before) and then Babies R Us to get my friend's gifts.

The News was bad. I should have realized when a group of teens crowded into the elevator to head up for the sale. I have a fear of being trapped in elevators and generally don't like to be in one alone or with large groups who can cause the mechanisms to fail. I've been caught in three broken down elevators (all within a span of months in 2004) so this anxiety is born out of circumstance not suspicion. Anyway, the sale was filled with Cheap Monday, odd Clu pieces and only small sized Lyell items (mainly 2 and 4--and this is a brand that runs very small). They had the smocked shirt I liked from the holiday collection, in 2 and 4 only of course, but the rest were pieces I'd seen at the sample sale and either bought (the Moon print dress) or passed on (camisoles, pencil skirts and light wash jeans).

This is only relevant because when I got home, I found an email from Marti passing on a tip--Clothilde in cassis was at Tokio 7, in size 8 no less. With minutes before the store closed, I got on the phone and described the top. The Japanese man on the end of the phone tried to help but explained they actually had closed. He didn't seem to understand what I said (maybe he can't understand English accents?) and told me to call back tomorrow (Saturday). Meanwhile, it was Evan's birthday and he was both curious and a little bit amused by the way I ran into the bedroom to make this call. I was, of course, racked with guilt.

I called T7 the next morning, got the same guy who had noticeably less tolerance for my obsession with that dark pink blouse with the ruffled three-quarter length sleeves in size 8, label MAYLE not male... He told me to come in now, I explained I couldn't. He finally passed me onto an American girl who took down the description and told me to call back at 5.

Well, I was determined to do more than that. I couldn't really leave the shower early but I kept thinking it would be fitting if this caused me to miss out on one of my most desired Mayle tops. Not only did I have to deal with all my horrible emotions about not being pregnant, not having a child, but I'd have been on the wrong side of the consignment fates.

As the shower was in Williamsburg, it wasn't long before I was in T7--by 5.15. I searched the store several times. Nothing vaguely like Clothilde. My friend Lisa texted me, I called her back. As I ruffled for the fourth and last time through the pink/red/burgandy shirts (about 5 of them), I told her about Clothilde. Within seconds, a girl came out with the very same top on a hanger. It was the woman I spoke to. I bade Lisa a brief and interim farewell, tried it on, tried it on again, looked at my reflection, took it off, inspected the seam allowances, and put it back on. It was in perfect condition, a tiny bit tight in the back/shoulders, but nothing that a seam adjustment (or the loss of 5 lbs) couldn't fix. There was no size 10. This would be it.

And with that, it was mine. $150 plus tax for a piece I never thought I'd own. Lesson one here--don't give up--on finding Mayle, no matter how rare or coveted. Or, I could extrapolate, on the baby/job/book projects.

This is not where the story ends. I was walking down 2nd Avenue on my way to meet Evan at Whole Foods when I saw that distinctive sight--Federica in Amalfi. It was another friend wearing Mayle! (And, no, it was not for sale). After we chatted and I shared my find, I headed off thinking yet again, how nice the people are that I've met through Mayle, this blog, the store, etc.

From Whole Foods, where I prepped a class, we headed off to meet friends for dinner at the Madras Cafe, then headed over to the Sunshine to see the new Soderberg digital film, The Girlfriend Experience. It stars Sasha Gray, a 21 year old real life porn star, as a high class escort and connects prostitution/consumerism/the economic collapse (not in the same ways as Jean Luc Godard's 1960s work but it's a good film even if it isn't as original as some might claim--but what is originality today?). I was impressed--the film draws you in and is pretty powerful and funny. Gray is really beautiful so you do wonder why she's doing what she does for a living, especially as she has no implants or any of the cosmetic work associated with the porn industry. She's also affectless in the way of a jaded teen which Soderberg uses to its best effect. The movie is shot around Manhattan and even references watching a film at the Sunshine at the start, so there was a strange sense of it being very close to home as well as quite distant (the extreme wealth it showcases). It also featured a critic quoting Jamie Gillis, the porn star who is friends of friends who I had dinner with in December at his wife's restaurant. So an odd connection there, especially as porn is not part of my orbit or academic life (sexploitation, yes, especially Doris Wishman/Randy Metzger and dear Joe Sarno).

The theater was packed but not so much that I didn't notice a girl arrive in front of me carrying a Tati bag (I had my Agnes with me). About 2/3 of the way in, there's a shopping montage where Gray goes to Costume National and then, bizarrely, to EMC2, the boring boutique next to Mayle (not a place you'd associate with the kind of European designers Gray's character wears and namechecks throughout). So, I point at the screen, nudge Evan (and maybe squeak just a little). The fourth Mayle sighting of the day--Clothilde, Federica, the Tati, and now the exterior of 242 Elizabeth, shot back in October-November 08, before the first discounts on Fall, when we hadn't seen holiday or resort 08, didn't know about the re-editions, hadn't entered the store for the last time. Here it was, up and running, the windows not covered in paper. Of course, Mayle wasn't the star--it was just in the shot, part of that NYC time capsule the film created, giving it a little extra resonance for me--and maybe that girl who pulled her water bottle out of Tati just a few seats ahead of me.

Mayle for Sale, Part XV

This is without doubt the rarest item that Marti is selling--and will likely be the rarest item to appear on this blog.

Marti is selling her Sylvana top from the Ten Little Indians re-editions collection, one of only three made. Even though Marti says it runs small, I think it could work for an 8 as I was able to fit into this one and seriously considered purchasing it.

Marti writes:

Sylvana re-edition blouse for sale. It's in the same black lace as the Pina dress. Only three were made in this fabric. Size 6 (but cut small- would work better for a 4). The retail was $495. If you're interested, please send me an offer at mzimlin(at)gmail(dot) com


Mayle for Sale, Part XIV

Marti is also selling her unworn Athena top from Holiday 08. This probably needs no introduction as it was one of the most popular pieces from one of the last Mayle collections.

Marti's description follows:

Athena top in black size 6, never worn. Original retail was $545. Send offers to

Mayle for Sale, Part XIII

Marti is parting with a few of her beautiful pieces. First up is the Isha top, an item I'd intercept and buy if it was in my size. It is one of the pieces from Holiday 07, with beautiful detailing, pleated ruffles and inimitable Mayle pleating. The details may not show up so well in this picture but Marti is taking more. Trust me, if this was an 8 not a 2, it would already be sold!

Here's Marti's description:

Isha top- Holiday 2007 size 2 in black(the Isha top photo is terrible, I can try to take another one). Send offers to mzimlin[AT]gmail[DOT]com


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mayle for Sale, Part XII

Monica is also selling with the much coveted Xandra sweater in Marigold.

She writes:

I am also selling the Xandra sweater from SS 07 in Marigold size small in excellent condition as I have worn it only a couple of times. Rare and very hard to find. It also comes with the beaded chain sweater clip recently featured in Lucky Magazine - I will try to find out what issue it was in. I will email additional pictures. Please contact me at mpmcgin[at]yahoo(dot)com, if you are interested.


Mayle for Sale, Part XI

Monica is parting with one of her recent finds, the coveted Marius re-edition. She writes:

I have decided to sell my marius suede jacket in leopardo re-edition sz 6. It is BRAND NEW, NEVER WORN. It is currently selling at Metier for $530, but you can get it for less as I will entertain all reasonable offers. As a side note, I personally saw Kazu of Blonde Redhead wearing this jacket. My email is mpmcgin[at]yahoo(dot)com. Thanks!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Favorite Clothes

While the recession has forced many people to shop their closets, Mayle's closing has put many of us in a similar situation. With the sun coming out this weekend--and the humidity remaining moderate--I was able to wear several recent Mayle finds--my black silk Josie romper, Mirabelle, Jemeen and Cecilia. With the cooler spell today, I got to wear Fedosia. While it is a little scratchier than perhaps I'd like, I am really pleased I got it, even though it was pretty expensive at $399. It certainly fills a gap in my wardrobe as I have few short jackets (Fedosia is about it).

So, I'm going to showcase a few of my favorites here in the next week or so--summer teaching notwithstanding--and also think about ways to accessorize and vary the looks I can get out of the Mayle I already have. The Tati belt is great with my Nieves dress, which also works as a great canvas for many looks (with cardigans and tights, with Africana flats and bare legs.

I'm also going to photograph a few other favorite items. I was cleaning out my closet this weekend as Evan and I did a bit of spring cleaning. Besides realizing what a total waste of money cheap clothes can be--witness the bags stacked with H and M, Gap, etc. waiting to be donated to the Salvation Army--all that could have been a couple of Mayle dresses, I recognized how beautiful some of my other clothes are. My Lyell Bonnie and Clyde dress from Fall 05 and my beautiful beaded velvet Jill Stuart flapper dress from Holiday 04? are definitely worthy of sharing the spotlight with Mayle, as are my Lyell peacoats, blue cashmere dress coat and Sara W. dress.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Finals and other reflections

For the last week or so, I've been bogged down in finals. Most people know the experience as students, but it is no less crazy for faculty. Other than writing assignments and tests (multiple choice questions take forever to write), there's the onslaught of student emails, requests for office hours (after they are over for the semester), late papers, incompletes from previous semesters, etc. Meanwhile, there's the distinct feeling that you are working way too hard and that you should be spending the time on your own research (the only thing that you get credit for in academia--teaching counts for nothing when it comes to job evaluations, promotions and most hiring). So, Mayle definitely has not had first place in my life recently.

Still, I did get the Tati belt (for $100 from Shopbop although I am going to contact them for a price adjustment as two days later, it went down to $75). Right now, I am so broke--read, so in credit card debt--from the Mayle sample sale, so I really can't be spending. But the belt is lovely--along with Braque, one of my favorite Mayle belts ever. Unlike Braque, it fits more than just S waists (I'm small there, but I am not a size 2-4) and the leather is so lovely that it looks like it will last for years and wear well. It will also add some versatility to some of my other Mayle pieces. Looking back on the old lookbooks, belts are a huge part of Mayle's styling, sometimes to toughen up a pretty dress, which Tati will do well. So, in the absence of new items, I can play around with what I already have. Financially, that's probably wise too as I have overstretched myself recently.

In what little free time I had the last week, I became obsessed with checking out ebay. Not for items for me--nobody was selling much above a size 4--again, probably just as well for my poor credit card. But I did notice that older items were being flushed out, probably due to the perception now is the time to sell high and cash out before people either move on to other designers, forget Mayle or realize they overspent at the sample sale and the numerous sales/re-editions/auctions that preceded it. I've seen items I covet appear--the Clothilde in Cassis for one--but only in sizes that won't work for me. I've also seen ludicrous prices asked--and not received--for more mundane, dated or unremarkable items--so there does seem to be some sanity there.

As it is that time of year to reflect, I can say how proud I am of some of my students. I am also proud that my teaching helped them--it may not count for anything in my profession but I can't perform my job if I don't think students matter.

It's the end of another academic year. I look back upon this one as another dud: I did not get the tenure track job I was searching for (although this is not something that was my fault--the market, the bizarre trends in my field and pure bad luck all played a part and I don't think there was anything else I could have done).

I am also bitterly disappointed/devastated that another year has passed and I did not get pregnant. A year ago, just as finals were ending, a dear friend announced her accidental pregnancy. I am not proud of my response--it was anger and deep sadness--I felt she had stolen my dream (she had deep ambivalence about becoming a mother and it was never something on her agenda). To console myself, I told myself I would be a mother within a year. Well that year has passed. I currently have 8 pregnant friends and acquaintances and am supposed to go to yet another shower next Saturday but one of my best friends has advised me to protect myself and not go. It's just so hard to keep buying baby items for other people, smile, give my gift and celebrate when it looks like my turn will never come.

I'm beginning to wonder why I torture myself by continuing to try, especially as many people--including the doctors at Columbia-are cold, negative and uncaring. Trying to have a baby seems like an expensive but academic exercise--take temperature every morning, chart, wear OV watch, test, test, test, rearrange schedules, wait, hope, cry. It's so tough to go along this route and anybody who asks for help from the medical establishment is dismissed with cold statistics from doctors who only care about their liability insurance, being sued and their IVF success rates.

I used to think the big divides in this culture were class (race in many ways is submerged and embedded in class stratification which then perpetuates so much racial difference), age (as we know, the vital years are short and older people, especially women, become invisible and unwanted in the workforce), and disability. All are unspoken and unrepresented. But I'd now add fertility. Having seen the inside of a fertility clinic, I saw all demographics, races and classes of women, none of them making eye contact with each other. Some pretended to be absorbed in work, blackberries or magazine articles, others stared into space. But the sense of a shared bond that nobody could admit to permeated the air, along with a profound sadness that comes with facing fears in an institution that won't give you any hope, lest it be false and they get sued. I wanted these women to be bonding, to hear a note of conversation, confession, even to acknowledge each other. But the atmosphere was so off-putting that I prayed I'd never have to return and face the cold receptionists and the distanced doctors (the nurses were the only ones there to retain their humanity and humor).

I can accept the legal and professional dictats that turn doctors into these cold ciphers of humanity. I've become immune to many students' desperate pleas for grade changes or to be admitted into classes that are so full that there are no more seats left. I understand their pain, the consequences but can't do anything and turn off. Obviously, the stakes are bigger for doctors and I know that they are trained to be distant. But with something like fertility (as with so many illnesses), there is a mind-body equation to consider, so the coldness I faced seems to make things worse, not better. I only wonder how horrible the medical establishment is for those with terminal diseases. I hope I never have to find out. But I now understand why people opt for alternative medicine--it may not necessarily cure you, but you are treated with hope, by people who seem to value you and your dreams. Even if it is a scam, people who are scared, lonely and in despair need to be treated with compassion, not clinically. What I have seen of the medical establishment here makes me very angry.

I've also found out that friends with children cannot believe you are really struggling to conceive--after a point, it just becomes boring to them and they blame you--it has to be your fault, after all. It was so easy for them. Also, you can't participate in the same way--no babysitting to share, the conversation isn't around children (or, rather, it's around their child's milestones and rituals, but your issues--whether to do with fertility or not--are dismissed). Not all my friends are like this--some are deeply compassionate and rounded individuals who welcome a break to discuss politics, academe, fashion, pop culture, art, history and science--but others have started to make it clear that this is clearly my fault and they don't care to hear any more about it.

So, I guess I made up for my lack of posts with this one. With summer school about to start, I have to make some choices as to how to change my life. I'm going to jump back into the Columbia clinic and try for a baby, but my reservations about the atmosphere of the place remain. If I had the opportunity to go elsewhere, I certainly would. I wish I was rich enough to go somewhere where they would treat me--and the others in my situation--with more compassion than sterility--after all, that's an experience we all know far too well. And if anybody can be tough on me, it's me. I don't need to pay somebody else to do that job.

Friday, May 15, 2009

A Few Pieces of Mayle Still Left, On Sale

I thought once the sample sale was over, and I'd spent myself out, that would be it. No more Mayle to buy, end of obsessing, back to work. Some of this happened--I got back to work and I couldn't buy any Mayle, but it seems I'm not alone in still wondering if there is anything left--and, if so, what and where?

Judging from the crazy prices some ebayed items are receiving (albeit not all), others feel the same way. Granted, I am not the type to bid insane amounts in the dying minutes of an auction, but I don't even have a chance as most of what's on ebay these days is in the smaller sizes. So, I'm waiting for the insanity to end, forcing myself to finish the book, and watching from the sidelines.

I did, however, find out that there were a few items left at Odessa in Portland. Susan has great prices and always has been so nice to me. This is what she has left--all at 70% off (and her prices were always less than at Mayle or on the East Coast). I have some of this, and what I don't have generally isn't stuff in my size, alas:

Jeanne knit dress in ivory, XS, S
Jeanne bag in denim
Quintana knit in ivory, XS
Quartina Jacket in ivory, size 6
Vera Coat, size 10
Kasia knit dress in brown, M

Contact Susan at odessa[AT]qwest[DOT]net

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


So, nearly seven weeks ago I interviewed for a job. A friend of a friend was on the search committee and told my friend that (and I quote) "Moya kicked butt from beginning to end." She raved about my diverse interests, energy, suitability for the post, etc. My friend said it was clear that I appeared to be the favored candidate. I got my hopes up and waited. Spring break came and I began to realize this was about the time they'd contact the successful candidate with an offer. But then my phone didn't ring so I'd check to make sure that it was working, which it was, and that the ringer was on--of course it was. Along with a couple of other events--the health insurance fiasco and having to pay over $2,000 in federal taxes, waiting to hear from the job ruined my break. I couldn't concentrate on my work and didn't feel like having fun. By the time it was over, I realized it was all but inevitable that they had offered the position to someone else and that person had accepted. I was angry that they had wasted my time, that the loose-tongued member of the search committee had spoken out, knowing her words would find their way back to me, and furious that yet again, I'd likely come a close second for a job. In a different, less tight job market, things may have been different. Asking around, my friends confirmed the difference between first and second is luck. Mine has clearly not been so good.

So, then the waiting game became surreal. People would ask if I'd heard yet, I'd say no. At this point, it was more a question of how rude could the college be? How thoughtless were these people who'd seemed so nice a few weeks earlier? What would the letter say when they finally rejected me?

Conventionally, most academic jobs in the humanities get 100-350 applications. Half or more can be dismissed as they come from candidates without the necessary qualifications (people who haven't yet finished Ph.D.s, people in the wrong discipline or specialty, even people who are too senior for that hire). But usually that still leaves 50-150 perfectly credentialed scholars, many of them better qualified than people working in the hiring departments. Perhaps 10 can be shortlisted and 2-3 interviewed so (speaking from my experience on the other side of the table), the situation looks a lot like American Idol where people are dismissed for all manner of reasons that have little to do with talent or performance (wrong song choice? read wrong dissertation choice, buried too deep in a show where 13 perform, read so early in the search we think an ideal candidate will come along).

Most places don't even bother to reject the people who don't make it to a shortlist (or even a long list of 40). Some will, but this comes very late--often seemingly an afterthought months after the hire was completed. For these, it seems email notes are acceptable.

Those who make the short list--supplying extra materials, getting a phone interview--usually get a letter. Often this is standardized but a little nicer. It doesn't say much more than we liked meeting you and it was tough to make a decision but we went in a different direction. Plus there will usually be a line about how the application pool was so highly qualified that even getting this far was an achievement. Getting these, most people squirm, maybe yell out something to the effect that if I was so great, why didn't you hire me? Then the letter is summarily torn, dropped into the recycling bin/bag/box and the reader briefly fumes, getting on with life and thinking about how annoying it is to have to go through all this again next year.

If you make it to the final 2 or 3 and get an on campus interview, things are different. The stakes are higher and this should be reflected in the post-interview communications. Usually, the lucky candidate gets a phone call. Some places also make a habit of calling the unfortunate runners up, a task chairs clearly hate but one that shows some respect for the person who just missed getting a job by a hair's breadth and goes home empty handed. Some places opt for a more customized (again) yet still somewhat standardized form letters. Generally, these include lines about how much the committee enjoyed meeting you, how very tough indeed the decision was, and how ultimately, much as they respected your scholarship, they chose to go elsewhere because of department needs.

Usually, these letters/calls are made within a month of the final interview, often far closer. Of course, the first and second runners up are kept waiting until everything is signed and cleared with the winning candidate in case there are problems and they need to go back to a fall back option (the only exception here is when the committee agree that somebody isn't suitable for some reason and they get a mercifully early rejection).

So, finally today I heard from the college. I received a form email rejection of the kind you send in a mass mailing to the candidates you didn't consider. This was after keeping me hanging for six weeks and five days in which I have gone through all manner of emotions, obsessing, calls to friends, and various stresses. I knew if I got this position, I would have had to resign from my full time but temporary line after all my classes had been filled. I didn't want to make things difficult for my current employer, but I needed to make sure I had a job, so I couldn't mention anything. This added to my guilt, but obviously I am pleased I didn't speak out. I am so angry with this school that rejected me right now and angrier still with the rudeness, obliviousness, selfishness and, yes, inability to communicate properly or act professionally that pervades so many academic search committees. Sure, I'd have been slumming had I been given that offer and accepted the post. But slumming is better than itinerant employment, especially when, as usual, higher education in the humanities is the first item cut in every state budget and faculty hiring freezes pervade private universities who still protect their often bloated higher administration.

Sorry about the rant. But getting this down makes me feel a little better.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Shoe Purge

This weekend, I was feeling sufficiently better to do some fun things. I met up with Leanne to check out the Steven Alan Outpost's pre-sample sale offerings. I was not impressed by prices (they seemed higher than usual--shirts around $79-129) or variety of stock. One gray linen shift appealed but given my recent Mayle binges and the size of my credit card bill, I decided that the $139 plus tax should be added to my payment. Besides, if any fabulous Mayle item happened to drift my way on ebay, via a consignment store find or even through an email from the store, I'd want to prioritize that over any other item.

It was great to see Leanne, albeit briefly, looking amazing in her Haverhill dress and Rachel Comey belt. But my footwear spoiled my fun. I was wearing a pair of great Chie Mihara sandals from last summer--their first outing. I like the brand for their comfort and style--not many heels (other than Mayle, alas) work for walking around NYC. This pair were pretty but too narrow for my very wide feet. As a result, I cut a groove into one of my toes. The shoes are barely worn, but I think I'll be posting them on the General Economy blog. I had to call Evan to ask him to bring me some other shoes (a comfy pair of Chie Mihara heels from the same season) so I could make it to dinner and then back home.

As I put my shoes away later, I realized I have a stash of barely worn or totally unworn shoes that cripple me for the same reason--all too narrow. So I'll be trying to sell these as soon as the semester finishes. No Mayle, I'm afraid, but all pretty and will work for a size 40-41 who doesn't have such insanely wide feet as me...

Mayle for Sale, Part XI

Marti is parting with another piece from her collection. This is a never worn Ilaria in the white/yellow esperanza fabric, size 4 but will fit a 6 or an 8, as pictured. Perfect for spring/summer. Has lovely details, including button detailing at the neckline and ruffled collar.

Price open. Make an offer to Marti at mzimlin[AT]gmail[DOT]com

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Rainy Day

I caught a cold from some of my students (this is one of the downsides of teaching). Thankfully, the student whose sister has swine flu didn't come to school for a week, so I know it's just a cold and it will pass. My mother, the nurse, always says colds are underrated and this comes from a woman who taught us to be strong in the face of minor illnesses (one reason why I never missed a day of school). So I didn't feel up to doing much today anyway, except grooming the cats (Peeps is in dire need of a comb out as her long shedding fur was getting matted) and cleaning house. My friend Jane was coming in for the weekend and I was excited to have her stay. I say "was" because she first called me today to plan our weekend--she wanted to go to the Lafayette 145 sample sale today (she's quite a bit older than me). Then she called to say her flight was slightly delayed. Five hours later, she had boarded and deplaned without leaving Pittsburgh, and by 4.30, she'd got her money back and was on her way back home.

So, I have a clean house and a nicely combed out Peeps but otherwise I have done nothing much other than drink Green and Blacks hot chocolate (expensive but lovely), talk on the phone and cough a lot. Maybe it's just as well given I didn't feel that great and my brain is so fried that any writing I did today would hardly be stunning.

I did, however, belatedly order Mum some plants for Mother's Day. She loves her garden the way I love Mayle so ordinary plants don't do it for her. She likes plants that are at the unusual designer end of things, which I respect, including old varietals and traditional old English flowers. Fortunately, England has a couple of great online plant retailers, like that sell plants that are a little bit special. I got her a lilac colored delphinium, a deep red peony and a plant that appealed to me called a mullein in a peach color with pinky-lilac centers. I've never even heard of mulleins so I imagine it is different and pretty enough for Mum, but hope that it works with her soil. I just wish I could be there with her, even though England's mother's day is in March. I have the best Mum in the world, you see, even though she'll never understand my obsession with clothing. That was one quality I didn't inherit from her--instead, both grandmothers can take credit for that.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Lipstick stain removal

I was just checking my sample sale finds as I was photographing some items to put up on flickr and I noticed a red lipstick stain on the bow of my ivory Jemeen (I have no idea why I didn't see this at the sale--chalk it up to being in a rush to buy and leave). Does anybody have suggestions about how to get this removed? Is it even possible? I'm wondering if the bow will have to be taken off if I can't get a cleaner to get the stain out. I am, of course, a little upset about this. But I guess the light in the showroom wasn't that great.

Mayle for Sale, Part X


Sunday, May 3, 2009


I just noticed somebody has put a brown Billie Douce up on ebay--starting bid $2,699.00, buy it now, $2,859.00! The greed starts now. Clearly, this is one item that won't go for anything like this price--especially as there is another one up for $399 with no bids. If people are going to be greedy, they should at least be smart enough to check out the other listings to make sure they aren't charging ten times more than other sellers. This bag is not rare. No Mayle item could possibly go for that kind of sum--not even the rarest and most desired gown/bag/coat. From what I've seen, even at $399 this bag may not sell.

Trying to focus

I thought Mayle's closing would free me to write, but I didn't take into account my continuing desires (the clogs, a Billie bag, numerous dresses/jackets/coats that may one day appear on ebay). There's also the continued frustrations of the hunt--never before have I tried to buy items from a defunct business.

Moreover, there's the end of the semester malaise. My students are tired and I see it in their eyes and in their papers. Like Evan, I have spent a fair amount of the weekend grading. As I can only stomach so much decaf Sumatran, I've been treating myself to Green and Black's hot chocolate--it is so yummy but so much more expensive here than in the UK. But it seems to work--it gets me through my stash of papers. One more to go and I'm set for another week.

At this time of year, I realize that semesters are too long--students seem to be able to concentrate for about 10-11 weeks at a time and that's it. Today's technologies may even be eroding this as they encourage ever-shorter attention spans. So I'm fighting several battles here to get them to learn when even I feel that these last few weeks are best spent working on papers and reviewing material. Of course, that's not how survey classes operate so I am presenting new material to three classes of tired students (many of whom aren't coming to class) for the next two weeks. As their finals aren't cumulative, I stress that classes now are no less important than they were five weeks ago, but I think I'm losing that battle.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking about my new projects. Finishing the intro is going to be tough--it's the worst part of any book and I have to condense 50 pages into 15-20 while adding breakdowns for two new chapters (one on early feature films, the other on celebrity in Progressive era cinema) and summarizing a couple of relevant anthologies that were published since I wrote the original. Going back to this material is daunting and I've got to get beyond my mental block. Hopefully this week, I can dive back in.

In the meantime, I'm excited about a couple of new projects. The first is an essay on the female nude in 1910s cinema and its links to art, allegory, nation and uplift in a context of censorship, regulation and mass culture. The second is my book proposal on Femininity and Popular Film and TV (working title--one that needs to be made snappier, for want of a better word)--right now, this is the Hotel for Dogs of book titles--a description of the project, not its name. The proposal is written and now I need to work on one of the sample chapters, either the one on collective female protagonists or one on objects, consumerism and agency. Given my Mayle collections, the latter may triumph.

Of course, summer teaching looms. I'm teaching Celebrity and Public Speaking (two classes, not one) for most of June. Those will pay off some of my Mayle debts, I hope.

Meanwhile, I'm still looking out for those clogs.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Mayle Clogs

I wish I'd got the black star clogs in size 10 last Friday. Does anybody know if they had any left? I thought Jane had a bag full the other day and I am kicking myself now for not seeing if there were any in my size. Does anybody know how I could contact Mayle--or what is left of it? I'm going to email but I know it is unlikely that anybody will see it for a while.

Why do these desires suddenly come upon us? Is it because this closing took so long or because we can't let go?

Sorry this is an unorthodox post.

Final Mayle

First of all, I'm sorry for the lack of posts this week. Mayle's closing was exhausting both emotionally and physically, and it happened to coincide with the last few weeks of the semester where things wind up (or down) to a frenzy. So, I've been remiss in posting and I apologize for that.

Perhaps it wasn't any surprise that Mayle's closing had one last, very brief coda. As some of you know, there were items at the sale that had to be pre-ordered, largely because they didn't get delivered in time for the first day(s) of the sample sale (mainly Fedosia coats, an item that unfortunately did not come in the size 10 I needed--it ran small so the 8 wouldn't work for me). Consequently, customers had to pick these items up from the store on Wednesday and Thursday before 1 p.m. when the lease expired and all remaining fixtures and stock were removed from 242 Elizabeth Street. In the meantime, it leaked that some stock was still available, leftovers from the sale. Minimal styles and sizes were left, but it turned out some black Rosamelias were available for $95. Without the ruffle, I figured it could work, so Elise put one aside for me. I had also wanted a Billie bag in dark leather, but these won't be in until May. Evidently when they get them in, somebody will call and we'll basically get what we get. I think I'm on a wait list. Fingers crossed I'll get one.

So, it was fitting that on Thursday morning, Monica, Cindy, Julie and I found ourselves at Mayle for the final time. I picked up a bag of items Kim had ordered and snagged that black Rosamelia for myself and a cotton Ilaria for Leanne (with an extra 30% discount). Monica, Julie and Cindy picked up a few final items. By this point, there were only 2 racks of clothing left (in the back area where the sale was held) and a few small boxes of accessories--brown suede Carribea bags, elasticated belts, madcap slippers, etc. No clutches or satin pouches were left, nor were there any Yves scarves.

The best parts were getting to see Elise one more time (as lovely, upbeat and kind as ever) and meeting Jane. They were both extremely gracious--when I got there at noon, they were just one hour away from walking away forever. Movers were about to come, boxes and files of paperwork, remaining clothing and other items were being packed up, yet they were happy for Monica and I to try on a few last items (even advising that we use the changing rooms for the final time). It was strangely normal--as though the store would suddenly be restocked with another collection of beautiful and inspired clothing.

I thanked Jane for all the pleasure her beautiful work has given me over the years. She was so nice--gentle, graceful, elegant and thoughtful. I was also struck by how beautiful she is--I've seen her before and I think she was stressed out because she was pretty but looked tired. This time (and, indeed, at the sample sale), she was glowing and looked so young and beautiful. I'm always cautious about meeting people whose work I love--my friend Sean always said, "Never meet the band." This maxim seemed wise and I followed it--no point having your pleasure in someone's work ruined if they don't come across as a nice person. Meeting Jane left a nice taste in my mouth--she seemed so wonderful and so thoughtful. As with my meeting with Laetitia Sadier from Stereolab last year, I left thinking how great it was that such amazing work was produced by somebody so amazing and so beautiful, not that looks matter, but both are breathtaking women. Given that Jane was coming out of what must have been a very tiring time (wrapping up the business, the sample sale and the store closing), I couldn't believe how radiant and stylish she looked in her jeans and checked rose cotton top (not one of her own designs).

So, my Rosamelia is now at Splendid Cleaners, per Marti's recommendation, having the ruffle removed. I will pick it up on Tuesday. It should be much more wearable that way and I hope it will be $30 well spent.

So I wonder where I'll find my next Mayle pieces? Consignment, ebay? I'll keep you posted for sure.