Springtime in New York is the stuff of urban fairy-tales, the stuff that made me fall in love with this maddening metropolis in the first place. For some, New York is all grit, all concrete; hard; cold; relentless, and never fair. Brutal winters, crowded subways, cramped quarters, and suffocating fumes that cloud the gray skies. Harsh accents and even harsher words flung at you everyday, with reckless New York drivers rarely braking for pedestrians or fashionistas in irksome heels….
And in truth, so much of this attitude dominates the culture of New York. I’m not sure if we’ve internalized projected notions of who New Yorkers are, as seen in movies (see: Woody Allen or Spike Lee) or written of in novels (read: Edith Wharton or Truman Capote), or this is simply what becomes of us over time as urban dwellers, but there is an undeniable edge that resides at the city’s core.
However if perspective is gained, one realizes that they must take the bitter with the sweet. A sweetness I always see manifest once the temperature breaks above 70.
Yes, those ominous gray clouds that hover longingly over our high-reaching sky-scrapers, subside, and give way to a beaming and lustrous burst of sunshine. The grand yellow orb above beams its rays down upon the jaded, the pallid, the joyless, and Spring bursts onto this hapless population.
We spill out from our flats, walk-ups, lofts, studios, and brownstones, where we have hibernated for months, and take to the tree-lined rows of our newly verdant neighborhood blocks. Kids whiz by on their tricycles and skateboards, shrieking out of joy and fear; older couples tend to their gardens and nod to all passerby’s; the young and old take to their blessed stoops, their hands wrapped around perspiring bottles of beer. Girls flutter by in maxi dresses, while fellows gaze suggestively after their trails.
The parks are packed, bodies strewn about on their bumpy hills and slopes, soaking up the sun’s vibrations, and you can always find me amongst its recipients. The sunshine in New York makes the city new to me, it makes me rethink its architecture, haunts, and dwellers. Everyone and everything is somehow supremely attractive, the sun seemingly dusting off otherwise shabby surroundings to make for a certain twinkle. Without hesitation, I perch for hours in a park, indulging in its rays; the constant urge to move/do/see, finally quieted.
However, last summer when I was introduced to the Conservatory Gardens uptown, I felt my soul was not simply quieted, but wholly silenced by the unsuspecting beauty of the park. Modeled after the wistful and detailed mapping of French gardens (yes, they have sucked me in again), the Conservatory Garden is an intricate complex of adoring flora, serpentine walkways, and forbidden lawns. I thought it the perfect setting for this shoot, a lush backdrop to the simplicity of warm weather dressing.
I channel all sorts of style sirens and fashion muses for this time of year, from the classic romanticism of Ruth Orkin’s “American Girl In Italy” to the Brooklyn funk of a young Joie Lee circa “She’s Gotta Have It”. But no matter the style id I assume, I always take great pleasure in my Spring and Summer wardrobes: I love not being bogged down by layers, asserting color in the rotation, letting my newly emblazoned tan act as an accent to pastels or different fabrics, while drawing upon a “softness” that often eludes me.
Take this ensemble for instance. The two-piece patterned silhouette is certainly a blast from the past, something I imagine Diane Keaton’s character in “Manhattan” would have worn. It has a nipped waist, it dares to match, but it’s soft, thin, and begs to be worn in a very unconsciously pulled-together way. So I kept the blouse a bit open, rumpled my temporarily straightened hair (it’s grown!), and slipped into my Belstaff sandals, which are quickly becoming a mainstay. It was unfussy, cool, and perfect for climbing over the gnarled cobblestone of the park’s pathways or under the twisting vines that submerged the garden’s canopies.
Of course the Conservatory’s crown jewel is its vast main lawn, which remains prohibited to visitors, its perfectly manicured stalks of grass immune to touch. I couldn’t help myself from frolicking in its center, however, the breeze catching my skirt and literally blowing me out into the middle. I didn’t resist the pull, but plopped down, and felt an ease wash over me.
I simply basked.//