bill blass – the clothes, the mordant wit, the genius for life (and decor)

good morning, darlings

did you sleep well?

was it warm enough? did you see the other continental quilt/soft_blanket/textiles-inspired-by-Sissinghurst in the wardrobe/closet/receptacle?

coffee?

milk, sugar, cream – a side of salted caramels?

chef is making pancakes – do you do syrup or are we strictly half-a-grapefruit today, love?

we’d be the Loveliest host if you were visiting.

once we had a house (actually a 4 bedroom apartment in the airy upper floors of a Very Tall building in London – my, how times have changed……) where there was a study for us each and a spare room and Many people came to stay (there were two bathrooms – both startlingly 1960s still in decor and blindingly white but with Lovely accessories from the bathing department at somewhere chic like Liberty of London, we believe).

 

we did enjoy breakfasts with guests on the small terrace with Treated (england – damp – rain) Outdoor furniture from somewhere like Heals (since 1810) or a Conran contraption in sturdy teak with fine lines that was built for a Tall man (which we’re Not) and so we could happily curl into its strong back and pull our knees up to our chin and balance a coffee cup on top while still looking at the View and dreaming of a future in America – where, of course, we write to you from Now – isn’t that GLORIAous?.

in our hostess duties (which often we were just too overwrought to do very well – we were, after all, Young and Inexperienced) we were very much inspired by Bill Blass.

yes.

who better, darlings?

 

terribly arch and-witty.

 

 

achingly Chic.

Oh! darlings – couldn’t you imagine walking through his house in Connecticut with a handful of raw cashews, a grenadine with fizzy Italian water and picking up a book about architecture in the late 18th century and spending an entire afternoon with Bill on the soft smooth chaise, gossiping wildly about Goings On on the Upper East Side?

the urbane genius –

(sadly we Never met him before he passed through the veil that separates this world from the next but sometimes we are Sure he finds a spare terminal in the celestial lending library and logs on, late at night, and might Occasionally type our address just to shake his head and have a small deep chuckle at our sheer nerve at talking about him)

so powerfully There in his stance – and aren’t those models Magnificent?

but the greatest thing about Bill Blass – for us – is the book he left – for it is the words and ideas and amusements and poignancy (heavily hidden behind a take it or leave-it attitude from the no nonsense Indiana upbringing) of a man who got sick and finally decided to look at his legacy – what he believed (or didn’t) – how he got where he was, by then, and what It All Was For (if anything).

of course we identify (the you-know-what experience) but it such a Moving Book (and very funny and sometimes quite almost snort-through-the-nose naughty revelations about Some People) and beautifully co-written with the fabulous fashion empress Cathy Horyn who – today – writes tweets-like-haiku – So Modern (as William would say)

 

 

so – in no particular order (as they lie on TV because Everyone knows that’s the First thing you ask for in a Contract – Above the Title or first-on-the-stiff-paper-card at the Academy Awards, love) – our moments-of-Blass:

In this stiff-upper-lip wholesomeness there was surely somewhere a budding genius for avoiding anything unpleasant or ugly (what else am I to make of a drawing I did at the age of six showing a butler serving drinks in a Manhattan penthouse, other than, perhaps, an advanced knowledge of where the better customers lodged?)
Bare Blass P. 3

have you EVER seen anyone wear a denim jacket (or is that moleskine or finely woven cord?) so insouciantly? genius.

Needless to say, I’ve had a lot of time to think about the people in my life and the people who are no longer here. My father, of course. And my reach has widened. This has been the strange, unexpected blessing of a disease that would have killed me if I had not, for once, let my friends into my life. It has made me more open.
Bare Blass P. 15

I’m often asked how I got to know so many people, especially when I was first coming along in the early fifties and didn’t have any social connections to speak of. The answer was simple: I was interested in what they had to say.
Bare Blass P. 50

back to this ad again for a second for some deeper background information (well, deeper is a relative word, we gave absolutely none before, darlings ;-)

this ad was written by the GREAT Jane Trahey (whom we shall we covering shortly as we simply adore her mordant wit and genius too) to highlight the awful practice of copying.

here is her full text:

They can’t knock off Bill Blass.
Seventh Avenue gets away with murder. Somebody creates a hot design and bang, before he even gets it in the stores they knock it off. That’s why Bill Blass got himself some protection. The protection of exclusive fabrics nobody else can have. Of subtle nuances or cut, of shaping and draping. Of thousands of details so tiny nobody but Bill Blass even knows they’re there. Next time you want something knockout that won’t be knocked off, get yourself some protection. Invest in Bill Blass.

her use of words and phrasing and meaning is just divine, isn’t it? so inspiring.

and the way she set up Her Own Agency – sigh – a dream – one of white walls, swingy chairs, a hot pink background to some huge print (perhaps a Norman Parkinson 1950 or a Swinging London shot later on – but no later than 1967) –

so sorry – we digress – again.

Bill Blass.

ok.

more quotes?

are you enjoying this?

we are.

One day I was in my boutique in Bonwit’s and I saw this black lady in her cloth coat and worn shoes. She looked like somebody’s cook. Not a salesman would wait on her. All these grand fags and they were all fussing over whatever celebrities were there. So I went over to the lady and I said, “Miss Fitzgerald, can I help you?” She said, “Yeah, I’m closing tonight at the Waldorf and I want twenty six blazers, twenty-six pairs of pants, twenty-six shirts, and twenty-six ties. Do you think you can get someone to help me?” I said, “I think I can,” and I went over to one of the salesmen. I said, “Get your ass over there, you son of a bitch. That’s Ella Fitzgerald and she’ll give you the biggest order you’ve had all week.” She wanted the clothes as gifts for the guys in her orchestra, but nobody knew who she was.

some stronger language than we Usually allow in teamgloria but Oh! isn’t he Splendid the way he Sorts it All Out?

we admire that.

PAT BUCKLEY: Bill and I had a thing that we would do two or three times a year. It took the planning of D-Day. We’d see five movies a day. We’d start out at nine o’clock in the morning to catch the ten o’clock show. Very often we’d catch lunch from an umbrella cart on the corner. Then we’d drag ourselves home around midnight. It was so much fun and we’d laugh ourselves sick.

isn’t that utterly delicious?

hmmm.

we’ve done three (maybe four during jet lag/sleeplessness when we popped on a DVD in the early hours) movies in a day……..might be time, soon, to try a Ms. Buckley and Mr. Bass day-out. divine.

which umbrella cart did they get their hot dogs from?

and was it safer to eat a cart-bought-hot-dog in 1979?

probably.

it always looked so Possible in Woody Allen movies.

Back to Blass – he is most generous in the book with witty asides – like this one:

Mention of Truman brings to mind the late and hilarious Patrick O’Higgins, a half-French, half-Irish journalist who was secretary to Helena Rubenstein. He was working on a book about her life when Truman came out with In Cold Blood. Patrick wanted to call her book In Cold Cream. Miss Rubenstein was not amused. But I’d hate for it to get away.
Bare Blass P.110

another naughty insider moment?

bien sur, cheri.

In 1975, I went to China at the invitation of the Chinese government. Halston had been their first choice. But when the Chinese emissaries came to see him in New York, he kept his dark glasses on. I guess that was considered very bad manners, and a very bad omen. They thought Halston was the devil. So they said, “He won’t do.” I was next on the list.
Bare Blass P.119

we feel an illustrative shot here might help give texture to the anecdote and we found this great shot (isn’t the interweb a helpful place?)

 

WAIT!

go back to the search results a moment darlings……

LOOK!

there – the clearly-Instagram-ed-shot bottom left (near the Plaza) – that’s from teamgloria!

that’s the first time that’s happened – blimey.

seen-by-google (without doing any Dark Art of the SEO consultancy-ness – how amusing.)

gosh.

the post was from January 19, 2012: and it is called “7.50AM: talk of Courrèges and dreaming of Halston.”

yes.

we can see why Google liked it.

that was a Very special morning.

and we do believe we talked about Bill Blass during that breakfast because the esteemed personage who had taken us to drink coffee and chat was a Fashion Executive from years-gone-by who had known Blass.

hmmm.

you see – there are no coincidences if one lives a big and glorious life.

it does appear to be some sort of cosmic celestial and Rather amusingly splendid pattern emerging.

this (very early example of our collage – pre-decoupage-days) notebook (Nancy Mitford probably shuddered at the word notebook but it was indeed a book-for-recording-notes) is a pre-teamgloria-workbook where we were trying to Sort Out Our Head and inventory ideas and what-went-wrong and how we’d like to Live in the future.

The Californians call this “inner work” which is just a delightful expression – in New York people would ask “Oh yeah, who’s your Internist? We know this great guy up at Kettering. We could call him for you.” because people in New York are always offering to call doctors for you, that they know. It’s a “social capital thing” apparently. We find it a tiny bit disconcerting.

The English of course would greet you with a slightly worrying expression but then, after a few glasses of the potent liquid, slyly slip over to you and start to pry details on what this inner work is, because, they’re sort of fascinated but couldn’t possible admit to it.

Other friends from Other lands would light incense and ask the ancestors to clear away the bad karma.

Being teamgloria, of course, and being Widely Travel(l)ed –

we do it all.

The point of this rather rambling moment is just to draw your attention to the picture of Bill Blass to the left.

because when a dog loves you That Much you must be a truly lovely person.

last anecdote: the middle picture is Cher’s house in Malibu and yes, there is a Cher moment coming up: we were once on a date in Los Angeles – nope, you’re not getting any details apart from this one: Our date picked up their cellphone – we were driving, not they at the time, thank goodness, and said “Oh, it’s CHER, I better get it.” We tried not to crash the car and look sort of nonchalant as we turned Left on Laurel but it was impossible not to eavesdrop – Cher has a Very distinctive voice……….yes, darlings, We Have Lived many lives.

the final words must belong to Bill.

here’s his recipe for meat loaf:

1 cup chopped celery, I cup chopped onion, 2 pounds ground sirloin, 1/2 pound ground pork, 1/2 pound ground veal, (ask your butcher to grind the meats fresh) 1/2 cup minced parsley, 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs, 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper, pinch of thyme and marjoram, 1 12-ounce bottle Heinz Chili Sauce, 5 strips bacon.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Saute celery and onion in butter. Combine with the meats, parsley, bread crumbs, and egg with Worcestershire sauce, add seasonings, and form loaf. Top with chili sauce and then bacon. Bake 1 hour. Remove from oven and rest – not you, silly, the meat loaf.

serves six.

Bare Blass P.168

thank you Bill Blass.

waving from manhattan to wherever you are.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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