Zoom Hero

Hello, hello!
I’ve been missing you terribly, but somehow unable to open my laptop and start typing. The combined forces of election anxiety and pandemic despair annexed the small part of my brain reserved for creative efforts and my heart didn’t have the power to compensate.

I realize that one could fairly say, “A true artist creates from the world in all its beauty and horror. Did not Picasso paint Guernica under circumstances far worse than these?” Fair enough!* But I am not a true artist. I am just a lawyer with good taste writing to entertain myself and my friends. Thank you for your kind messages and comments over the last three months. And special credit to Jeffiner because — if anything could have pulled me out of the doldrums, being asked my views as a dancer (you honor me!) should have worked.

On to business!
Some of you have asked how The Directrice has been dressing for this extended period of remote work.
The short answer is: She is over-dressing. The Directrice gets all dressed up — dresses, hard pants, belts, and everything else — to work in her dining room.
The summer was all about dresses and hideo-marvelous sandals.
But in fall and winter, we have turned to eye-catching accessories that fit in the Zoom frame: large brooches, statement necklaces, and scarves.
My goal is to inject a little visual interest into every Zoom meeting.
Do I have your attention?

Heroes come in many shapes and sizes
How fortunate, then, that a colleague found Lilian Asterfield and shared this find with me!**
Lilian Asterfield is the alter-ego of Nicole Deponte, a graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art who trained as a sculptor. Nicole works in mixed media paintings and collage, but Lilian . . . she is sculpting with textiles, turning vintage ties and dead-stock fabrics into exquisite cravats and ascots.

My enthusiasm for Lilian Asterfield (and Nicole) really cannot be contained. In addition to the structural ingenuity of her designs — part origami, part Gehry — her work with color and pattern is amazing.
Please take a spin through her website and look at each piece. I promise: You will be delighted. Her color and pattern combinations are brilliant. Perhaps what I love most about them is that they are created with re-purposed goods. She is literally working with the material available and creating things of heart-stopping beauty.
You know how I feel about pattern-mixing

What’s that? You say there is no pattern mixing in this ascot?
Perhaps you have noticed that there is no pattern-mixing in this particular ascot?
That is true. This one is made from a single extremely groovy fabric, patterned like marble.
I thought this mixed-blue marble would work well now with black and grey sweaters (of which I have many) and later with these Jil Sander dresses when we return to the office: navy and teal. Won’t that be Very Effective?
But don’t you worry: I bought a few of these pieces and the others involve elaborate pattern mixes. You have that to look forward to.

Lest you think that I am suggesting material acquisitions = emotional boost, allow me to clarify.
I am just delighted to see something so original and unexpected — and it has livened me up sufficiently to bring me back to my blog with something to say.*+
Relatedly, Allie Brosh’s new bookSolutions and Other Problems — is out and has several chapters of such brilliance that it makes me laugh until I cry. I recommend it highly.
The Directrice in the grips of near divine inspiration

Top to bottom, for Zoom, I am wearing a tuxedo style blouse, a sweater vest, and some cropped trousers with s-t-r-e-t-c-h.
For photos, I have worn the mules that my mother does not care for. But my feet tend to get cold+ when I am sitting at my computer, so I am more likely to wear fancy sneakers+* these days.
Extremely respectable

For the Zoom meeting that requires a jacket, or for the return to the office, here’s my plan.
Such a Business Lady!

Here is a another close-up view, allowing you to appreciate the ingenuity.
In addition to their striking looks, these pieces are resilient. I think they will pack beautifully. I am looking forward to taking them on a business trip some day.
Another view

So, back to the title of this post.
APPLAUSE for Zoom Hero, Lilian Asterfield/Nicole Deponte. Her work pre-dated 2020 and it will last long beyond this year, but it is perfectly suited for this moment — in which we are spending so much time inside very small boxes.
2020 has been a devastating year for so many. Artists and skilled craftspeople have been hit hard by the loss of craft show circuit. If you’ve been looking for a gift for your best friend, daughter, sister-in-law or your fantastic, deserving self — I think we’ve found it!
You should also check out Art Party Central, a collective effort to bring makers and appreciators together.
A good day’s work

The Directrice exhausted herself cavorting while The Photographer adjusted his camera settings
As for me, I’ll do my best to post at least weekly. How does that sound? I do have a several sets of photos stacked up.

As a show of good faith, I’ll leave you with the best part of myself: Mr. Orange and Philo. Do not judge the unmade bed. It was early in the morning.++
Such a pair

* To present the full record, though, Picasso was not in Spain when he painted Guernica. He was in Paris.
** The Lilian Asterfield discovery was shared between me and several colleagues, and led to an evening of intense correspondence and then shopping. That will be the subject of a future post as, between us, I think we will have at least eight pieces to share. Having delightful colleagues who share one’s interest in clothes is such a treat.
*+ Obviously, there is a lot I could say about the state of the nation, but we agreed long ago that this blog would stick largely to one topic: dressing for work.
+ There is a Thermostat War going on in my household. By March 2021, there may be no survivors.
+* Fancy (or Dress) Sneakers is a rapidly growing area of my closet.
++ While I may not be the most rigorous of housekeepers, the bed must be made every day before everyone sits down to work.

32 thoughts on “Zoom Hero”

  1. Gorgeous! And we missed you! But please, feel NO pressure to blog. I am a librarian and I am finding it difficult to read these days. The days run together, don’t they? Here’s to better days, and that silk post modern ruff/cravat is fantastic on you.

  2. Welcome back! I’ve missed reading your posts. What a lovely piece you have shared with us. Perhaps this will inspire me to do better and shed the sweatpants!

  3. I more than understand the difficulty you’ve had in blogging. Even if some of us have more time due to this very long emergency, stress has a way of taxing creativity and cheeky wit, both among your many strengths. Love the Lilian Asterfield scarf sculpture (website is too good) and Allie Brosh is comic insight personified. At whatever pace, in whatever way you choose to be here, so glad to have you. Kindred spirits are always a blessing, especially now, and though you focus on clothing, your sensibility is always farther reaching and much appreciated.

  4. Glad you’re back! These are gorgeous. I also really like how you’re wearing the swiss dot shirt. I impulse bought one a few weeks ago and have been struggling to wear it and be warm at the same time. Vests are clearly the solution!

  5. Oh, hooray. Just as I am struggling with a new post for my blog, you have come along and lifted me!

    Also, I LOVE that outfit. I will definitely be checking out Lillian Asterfield.

    It’s great to know you’re over-dressing for Zoom. The thought that you’d given in to sweatpants was too depressing. I should never have worried.

  6. It was such a delight to see you in my inbox this morning — you’ve been missed! Looking forward to more Lillian Asterfield and fancy/dress sneakers. 🙂

    • Thank you, Christine Q for patronizing my local bookstore! Politics & Prose has managed to survive the superstore and Amazon. It would break my heart if the pandemic finished them off. Even though I’ve moved to Kindle for many things (my mysteries!), I still buy some books in print. Right now, there is a pastry cookbook on the hold shelf. I don’t know that I will actually bake the pastry, but I do want to read about it! I find it very soothing to read about cooking and baking.

  7. Ah – and there is once again order in the world! Your blog is like tonic. Please keep posting when you can. I went and did a little reminiscing in past posts while you were gone since you are quite timeless.

  8. Also very happy The Directrice is back in action! I missed being The Photographer. She showed me the ascot and I said, “That’s cool…” and then I looked closer and realized, “It’s made of TIES!” It strikes me as being a witty and subversive appropriation of classically male symbols (and phallic symbols, at that) for classically feminine purposes. Well played, Lilian Asterfield.

  9. What a treat to see an email from the Directrice pop up this morning, alerting me to a new post! And it was worth the wait! I am beyond impressed with your zoom attire. Even on days when I need to be in something that isn’t a sweatshirt, I still wear leggings and slippers on the bottom! I have found that a nice blow out, lipstick, and an accessory go very far these days. But hard pants – no thank you. You are a hero to us all.

    (for warm feet I highly recommend the merino wool socks from Bombas)

  10. Per your suggestion, I looked at the Lillian Asterfield website and was intrigued with the headbands and the fascinators!!!! Thanks for jazzing up my day. I am retired so I really don’t have to worry about what to wear daily except to my medical appointments, whether in person or on Zoom.

  11. It is good to see you again. Keep it up! I’ve noticed that after spending all day at work on the computer, I generally don’t want to get back on it for “fun” (ugh!). So I’ve started getting on for a little while before work. And I only keep my gardening journal on Facebook. So, thank you so much for writing for us and giving a new outfit to look at. I’m probably your mother’s age and agree with her about the shoes, but I bet the sneakers that you work in are adorable. Why don’t you show them to us. Where do you buy your sneakers? Are they retro?

    • Hello EL! The fun sneakers are Converse All-Star and Superga and the exercise (but still fun) are Nikes. This seems a worthy topic, so I will do a post on it soon!

    • Ah, I just read your reply to my last comment. I will wait until you finish reading, as the ballerina question comes into play concerning the last paragraphs of the book. I also don’t mind spoilers, but I appreciated how Brand handled all the red herrings in this book. Thank you!!

  12. So happy to read you this afternoon, but so much solidarity on the lack of inspiration. The beautiful ascots are a trumphant return. And thank you for the reminder about Allie Brosh’s new book. Welcome back and takre care of yourself.

  13. Thanks for posting. We’ve missed you. But we sure do understand. About supporting artists and artisans, I took the plunge and purchased a piece from Judith Kinghorn. I’ve been eyeing her things at craft shows for years and I finally decided if ever there was a time to do it, this was the time. And I’m happy to report my new brooch looks fantastic on camera. Win-win.

  14. So happy you’re back, and bearing such treasures — these vintage-material pieces are a dream, already folded/tied so masterfully (skills I’ve failed to develop despite decades of determined practice). And I knew in my heart you were dressing up. Or how could any of us go on?

  15. Directrice, I am so very happy to see you once again. I have been quietly concerned for your wellbeing, and it makes me so happy to know that you are okay! I hope that you have a lovely, restful and rejuvenating holiday season.

  16. Great to see you again! You do make me laugh with your anecdotes. I also suffer a thermostat war – I feel the cold more than the rest of the house, but I bought a fabulous teal zebra striped velvet bomber, filled down to wear sitting hunkered typing from home!


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