Writing Is Like A Muscle

December 5th, 2016

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I’ve been blogging for nearly six and one half years now, and during this period of time I’ve learned so much and have met a multitude of incredible people who I would not know but for the existence of Style Crone.  Blogging has brought me many gifts that I appreciate every day.  However, the art of writing is its own special  challenge.

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Prior to blogging, I wrote as a health care provider, documenting relevant information about patients in their medical records.  Or writing descriptions of projects that would facilitate system change in the medical environment.  It was more technical in nature, and part of my daily life at work.

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Writing about style and navigating the journey of aging is different.  I find that if I feel passionate about something, words flow to the screen as though I’m compelled to share my inner self. It also provides structure, and along with yoga and meditation, it is part of the scaffolding of my life.  Writing has become a discipline, and I have fallen in love with words.  There is a devotion that comes with continuing, with improving and with exercising this muscle. There is so much to learn. I now collect words as lovingly as I collect hats.

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Photos By Daniel taken at Union Station Denver HERE

Vintage navy maxi coat with rhinestone buttons, vintage navy headpiece with veil, vintage rhinestone jewelry and vintage leather wine colored gloves – estate sales, heeled boot and navy turtleneck – retail sales.

Linking up with Catherine’s #iwillwearwhatilike HERE at Not Dressed As Lamb and Patti’s Visible Monday HERE at Not Dead Yet Style.

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December’s Hat Attack features a collaboration with Iva Ksenevich HERE, an international milliner based in Moscow, who has customers in France, Italy, the USA, Shanghai, Finland, Serbia, Russia, Germany, Libya, Israel, Australia etc.  I met Iva on Instagram, and was fascinated with her magnificent designs. I’m honored to wear Iva’s creation for this month’s Hat Attack.

“This hat is a special piece from my collection ’13,’ which consists of 13 hats. All the hats have geometry, which I love. This particular violet one was my experimentation with static geometry and movement.  This piece was also featured at the Fashion Crowd Challenge global contest, where I entered, along with 15 top designers from around the globe, and went to Shanghai to make a show in 2016. So you may consider it the lucky one! The materials are felt, silk and cotton.”….Iva Ksenevich

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The Story of Iva Ksenevich Millinery by Iva Ksenevich

“I grew up in a small provincial town in Belarus. Being raised in the place of plants and factories, I would have never imagined that I would start making couture hats.. It all happened by accident when, after receiving my university diploma in teaching foreign languages and literature, I decided to never ever work at school. All this boring system, things, that you have to explain over and over again – no experiments, no fun, no everyday challenge. Thus, to the shock of my parents, I decided to go for hairdressing, which became my job for almost 10 years, until I got bored with the hair too. At some point, when braiding and crazy colors were popular, I did a lot of arty things. But when I moved to Moscow, it all started looking like a factory again – same blonds, hair extensions, long hair. Moscow is quite conservative on this matter; all girls want to be sexually attractive, well in their understanding. They are scared to wear hats there, to be different.”

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Photos By Daniel

“One day everything changed, when by an accident I traveled to London. I was mesmerised by the styles people wore there. All these hats, crazy combinations with clothes, yet quite sophisticated and extremely stylish. I understood one thing – it’s the hat – that makes all the style complete. And since there was a bit of free time and a bit of money, I decided to go for it and try to take a course in millinery.

My first teacher was Rose Cory – an oldish funny lady, who made hats for the Queen, had an adorable sense of British humour and was in love with hats since she was 13. You should have seen her hands, when she was working – these were butterflies! I have never seen such fluency in handwork.

After Rose, I traveled to Paris – to study with Estelle Ramousse – a French diva of millinery, experimental, energetic, daring. Her atelier, situated in a small Parisian street became my home for about a week. We worked a lot, we were super tired, but super happy with the result! Voila – these two weeks, one in London – and one in Paris made my base. After this, for three years I have been self educating, experimenting, trying to find out new techniques, making first shaky steps into the world of Millinery.”….Iva Ksenevich

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Iva Ksenevich

“What I love about millinery can be described in one phrase: ‘Millinery is a lost form of Art.’ For me it is creating, thinking, finding the ways of making it and combining the piece with a character of a person. It has the power. I love millinery! It makes our lives more colorful and hearts full of joy!”….Iva Ksenevich

Linking up with Catherine’s #iwillwearwhatilike HERE at Not Dressed As Lamb.

Now it’s your turn to throw a little headwear my way. Give The SC a DECEMBER HAT ATTACK and kindly link to Style Crone somewhere in your post. The link-up will be open through December 31st.

Anyone can participate in the celebration of headwear!  All you need is a URL, which can be acquired from Instagram, Facebook or your website.  All forms of headwear are appreciated:  hat, headwrap, headscarf, headpiece, fascinator, hair flower, headband or other adornment for your head that you enjoy.  Multiple photos are encouraged!

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In the spirit of the season of gratitude, I am wishing my followers a peaceful and meaningful holiday, however you celebrate, or don’t.  Thank you for your support and for following Style Crone, which would not exist without you.

On the day after Thanksgiving in the US, I am thankful to Ari Seth Cohen of Advanced Style HERE  for the opportunity to contribute to his Advance Love Project HERE.  It was an honor and privilege to collaborate with Bill and Eva Kobus-Webb, and write the following interview about their inspiring life and their love. It has been one of the high points of my life.

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ADVANCED LOVE: BILL AND EVA KOBUS-WEBB

Interview by Judith Boyd

Several weeks ago when checking my Instagram feed I came across an image that nearly took my breath away. Taken by Advanced Style founder, Ari Seth Cohen, the picture showed two hands intertwined, like branches of wisteria. The hands belonged to Bill, 74, and Eva, 68, an interracial couple who have been married for 42 years. Bill is African American and Eva is from Germany and I couldn’t help but be taken in by the style, dignity and warmth they projected from the photo.

In 2010, towards the end of my husband Nelson’s life, I launched my own blog, Style Crone, celebrating style and ageing. Like Bill, Nelson was African American and if he were alive today, we’d have been together for 39 years. The photo of Bill and Eva together brought on a torrent of tears, and left me feeling an unexpected sense of loss, for the life I’d lived – and loved – with Nelson. When Ari asked me to interview Bill and Eva for his Advanced Love project, it felt like true synchronicity – an unexpected gift that allowed me to meet this extraordinary couple.

Style CroneCollaborating with Bill and Eva, as we explored the lifeline of their devoted relationship, allowed me another opportunity to focus on all that my relationship with Nelson gave to me. It has been healing and revealing to speak with this extraordinary couple, who project dignity, warmth, generosity and style. So much of their relationship, which is the most intimate form of integration, mirrors the experience that I had with Nelson.

JUDITH: I’m thrilled and honored to meet the two of you and get to know you and the story of your Advanced Love through this interview. How did you meet and what attracted you to one another?

BILL: Eva and I were introduced by a co-worker in 1969 at a Wall Street company in Manhattan and began meeting for lunch. I was 27 and Eva 21. Our meeting was probably fate, but of course her personality and sense of style attracted me to her.

EVA: He was tall, dark and handsome and I noticed that he respected and supported women. No male chauvinist here. I watched him treat all people with high regard, no matter their status. He advocated for the promotion of a woman who was criticized for her assertive behavior. This manner of conducting oneself would have been deemed as acceptable for a man, but not for a woman. We married in 1974, and we recently celebrated our 42nd wedding anniversary. Bill is now 74 and I’m 68. We have both retired from that very same company where we met 47 years ago.

JUDITH: Over the years, how have you supported and honored each other’s dreams or endeavors?

BILL: Eva has been supportive of researching my family history and has done all of the leg work for many years. I’d first shown her several family Bibles in 1974, and this has been an ongoing project for her. This has culminated in finding a grave site commemorating my great grandfather (a Civil War veteran). In 2006 she located my third great grandfather, a slave owned by Thomas Jefferson from 1785-1806. I am now a member of the Advisory Committee for African American Affairs at Monticello. I encouraged Eva to trust her decision to go back to school while working full time. She graduated with honors in 2004. We visited her birthplace, Berlin, Germany, this past Spring.

EVA: It’s easy to support Bill in his endeavors and interests because they are basically the same as mine. We are both big history buffs and avid readers. I recently read the book,The Candy Bombers, by Andrei Cherny, which took place in Germany between 1948 and 1950. I was a Berlin airlift baby. As I was reading this book, I discussed it with Bill, and realized for the first time the difficulties that my parents went through during that time.

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JUDITH: What part does style and creativity play in your relationship?

EVA: Style and creativity have always played a part in our relationship. It became an outlet for us as a couple because our work environment was very conservative. I love to wear hats to complete an outfit. Bill has always been a stylish individual. As a matter of fact, he makes me work harder on how I look. I moved from Germany to New Jersey at the age of five. As a teenager, I took the bus to Greenwich Village, inhaling the fashion of that time. I loved hanging out in St. Marks, Fillmore East and the Electric Circus. It was a very exciting time for style, music and social change.

BILL: We both enjoy the arts, music (especially jazz), design, photography, fashion, museums and travel. We have extended our love of art to self expression. I was interested in fashion from an early age and style is part of my DNA. I appreciate Eva’s style and “looking good.” I grew up in West Virginia. As a teenager I ordered clothing from The Village Squire in NYC. I recently celebrated 50 years of living in NYC and would not like to live in any other place in the world.

EVA: I was influenced by the women in Paris during our European trip in 1976. Over the years I’ve had curly hair, straight hair, loved high platform shoes and at one time I shaved my eyebrows.

BILL: I like to push the envelope. I’ve sported a goatee, a beard, and a Fu Manchu mustache. In 2009 I participated in a beard contest in Brooklyn. I was one of the few men over 35 years of age.

JUDITH: How do you manage conflict and solve problems?

EVA: You must make a commitment to work on problems and be able to compromise. There have been issues which have turned us upside down, but our relationship has always been more important than the problem that we were focusing upon.

BILL: We respect each other’s opinions and one person must not dominate. Because we believe in the strength of our relationship, we trust that we will always find a solution to any disagreement. If a problem comes up, we discuss and resolve the issue.

JUDITH: How have you overcome challenges associated with being an interracial couple in our society?

BILL: In the early years of our relationship, certainly, negative vibes and resistance came from both family and friends. But over these many years they have become a non-issue. However, in 2016, “Middle American” conservative attitudes give one pause for thought.

Eva’s family was against our relationship in the beginning, but Eva was willing to sacrifice everything for me. I applaud Eva for that. Her parents came to our wedding, even though they didn’t approve. When our daughter was born, they became very involved with her. They would pick her up and take care of her when she was sick so that we could both go to work. Their attitudes might not have changed, but because we were family, they dealt with it on a different level. It was clear that we were happy together and good for each other.

EVA: I’m usually the one that doesn’t see the stares and living in the middle of Manhattan helps. We have never had overt actions of discrimination directed towards us. It has been more subtle.

BILL: I had a friend whom I haven’t seen since our wedding in 1974. It was obvious that she didn’t approve of our relationship. At this point, my shoes and Eva’s hats are more interesting to our friends than the color of our skin. We’re always ready to present ourselves to the next audience.

JUDITH: What are the positive aspects of living as an interracial couple?

EVA: There are countless positive benefits of learning about each other’s culture. Embracing and exploring the beauty of differences has enhanced, deepened, influenced and enriched our relationship. We learn and explore with each other.

BILL: Our home is a refection of who we are. We have incorporated our cultures in the pieces that decorate our living space. Diversity provides a lifetime of education. We don’t have to be a cookie cutter of each other.

EVA: During the holidays we combine German Christmas decorations with the Kwanza Man and African statues. Bill’s great-grandparents’ furniture sit side-by-side the German pieces from my parents’ home.

JUDITH: How has parenting affected your relationship?

BILL: Both being a parent and having parents has had an impact on our relationship. The birth of our daughter in January of 1981 occurred in close proximity to the sudden death of my mother in June of that year. We moved my father, at the age of 87, to NYC into our one bedroom apartment. He lived with us until his death seven years later.

In the 1980’s and 1990’s, we were part of a bi-racial support group. We thought that it was necessary as a family to have a support system and for our daughter M’Lynda to have a sense of identity. It was helpful for all of us. Our daughter is now 35, married, and lives in New Jersey. We have one grandson, age 11.

EVA: As Bill said, in 1981 we were thrust from two to four quite suddenly. It wasn’t easy, but we managed. Bill was just as supportive when my mother was ill. You work it out. That is the key!

After our daughter left home, we regrouped and redefined our relationship, and enjoyed the extra space. Living in the same apartment building for over 40 years has contributed to our stability and pride of community.

BILL: After our daughter left to live on her own, we were happy and we celebrated. It was good for all of us and she needed to be independent. When she lived with us and she was out late, I couldn’t sleep until she walked in the door.

JUDITH: How do you navigate growth and change individually and as a couple?

BILL: I had not been outside the United States until I went with Eva to Germany and Paris in 1976. Also, Eva is more knowledgeable about jazz than I am, and she has exposed me to new music.

EVA: Change and growth are inevitable and must be encouraged for a couple to thrive. Sometimes we have had to drag each other along. I’m a non-practicing Catholic, but we felt it was important to expose our daughter to the black experience. So we all went to Bill’s church during the time that M’Lynda was growing up.

BILL: We believe in multigenerational groupings. We have many associates that are younger than we are, and we may not agree or understand where they are coming from, but we try to keep an open and curious mind. Intergenerational energy has been an integral part of our lives and opens us to new ideas. I enjoy the young Dandy Wellington and in Paris I saw an older man with a cane. He was ready!

g63a9624JUDITH: So what is the secret to your “Advanced Love,” which has blossomed for 47 years?

EVA: We encourage each other, focus on our positive qualities, work together on common goals, and never forget to have fun! It’s difficult to answer this question, but we went into the relationship thinking of it as a commitment. Our disposable society throws relationships out like garbage. We followed the examples of our parents who were together through thick and thin. You go through life and all of a sudden it’s been 42 years. It becomes unconscious because you want it to work.

BILL: It’s a give and take combined with mutual respect. There’s a comfort zone where we accept each other’s quirks and we give each other space. We still have fun going out for a glass of “bubbly,” but also have our individual pursuits and retain our own identity. Eva goes to the gym and I have been singing in a church choir for 60 years!

During the first part of a relationship you’re starry-eyed. The glue to the relationship comes later. You can still have fun and look good when you’re doing it. It’s the small things that can drive you crazy. Like leaving the cap off the toothpaste or other annoyances of living together. That’s life.

EVA: If there’s a secret, I don’t know what it is. Every couple is different and what works for us may not work for others. We do continue to date and regularly dress up and step out for drinks or dinner. I’m the researcher and tech person in our relationship, and I’m always looking for new places to go. Then I ask Bill if he would like to check it out. Bill does the cooking and I clean up afterwords. It works for us.

BILL: There is no canned recipe or magical formula, but every day can be different, even after 42 years. When we do go out, we meet fascinating people, both younger and older than we are. We have had favorite restaurants that have closed over the years, but then we discover new destinations that are different, but still fun.

EVA: (with a hint of nostalgia in her voice) We look at our wedding picture and half of the people who attended are no longer here. Every day is a good day. We don’t take anything for granted.”

 

 

 

The First Snow Of The Season

November 21st, 2016

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The weather has been unseasonably warm and the Colorado earth is parched.  The dry wind whips through my garden, and takes everything in its path that is available and ready for a ride to another location.

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And then it snowed.  Daniel and I took off to play at the Cheeseman Park Pavilion, which provided shelter from the white winter wonderland and the wind.  We had to keep moving because it was bone-chilling cold and the wind cut like a knife.  The day before had been 80 degrees.  I was in denial that it was time to search through my winter coat collection for something warmer.

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So out the door I went with my recently acquired “estate sale of the year” Victorian jacket which covered the gifted wine colored Victorian silk velvet top and the estate sale black turtleneck.

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I grabbed the gifted wine colored silk velvet vintage turban with rhinestone trim and threw on an estate sale rhinestone belt as necklace and a pair of estate sale rhinestone earrings.  The wine colored estate sale vintage suede gloves got in on the act.

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The wine colored skinny jeans and burgundy booties were retail sale purchases.  It’s always fun to mix vintage with contemporary.  It’s my specialty and I’m offering up another serving for public consumption.  It’s my version of celebrating the first snow of the season.

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Photos By Daniel

Linking up with Catherine’s #iwillwearwhatilike HERE at Not Dressed As Lamb and Patti’s Visible Monday HERE at Not Dead Yet Style.

The Estate Sale Subculture

November 14th, 2016

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I’ve been a fan of estate sales since the mid 70’s.  The people who frequent this unique and interesting shopping destination are a diverse crew.  Antique dealers, pickers, neighbors of the identified house, random regulars, collectors or someone who drove by and stopped in on a lark.  I know many of the people who work for the businesses who host the sales.  The entire scene is like theatre and I always enjoy the show.

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Most of the vintage pieces that comprise my collections were discovered at estate sales.  The components of the ensemble that I wore for this post were all purchased at estate sales, except for the mustard jacket, which was found in a vintage shop in the 80’s.  The hat, the jewelry, the maxi skirt, the gloves and the tall camel boots.  All treasures that have had a mysterious past.

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The vintage feather and fur felt hat was discovered this summer.  I could hardly believe my good fortune when I gazed upon its beauty.  It’s in perfect condition and I love how it sweeps around my face in every direction.  It’s feathers could function as a veil if I were so inclined. I wear it as armor for my protection and it thrills me to give it new life.

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I don’t go to as many estate sales as I did in the past.  I’m very selective and I don’t always check to see what’s available.  But a text from a friend or a random notice by email still has the ability to motivate me to rush out the door to participate in one of my favorite pastimes.  It’s the thrill of the hunt!

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Photos By Daniel

Linking up with Catherine’s #iwillwearwhatilike HERE at Not Dressed As Lamb and Patti’s Visible Monday HERE at Not Dead Yet Style.

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