Athena Magazine

Fashion, lifestyle, passions

Horse hair? Horsefeathers! February 18, 2009

1856crnl1Every so often I’ll come across a pattern that lists horse hair as a requirement and, trust me, you won’t find it at your chain sewing store, nor any clerk who knows what it is.  Well, I learned tonight in my haute couture sewing techniques class just what I need it for. You know those Scarlett O’Hara gowns, where the hems seems to have a life of their own. Horse hair! These days, anytime you want to stiffen up an edge—a hem, a beaded bandeau top, etc—horse hair (the modern version is a nylon mesh strip) is your answer. It’s also used often as a couture embellishment. Mystery solved. And here’s the other piece of the puzzle. Where do you get it? In NYC’s garment district, at my most favorite place, Steinlauf and Stoller! For colored horse hair, a rare commodity, indeed, try JG Enterprises, a millinery supply shop, located on 38th Street. (Check back soon for email and phone).

For a nice tutorial on applying horse hair, read this.

For some horse hair history, read here.


Cool Couture by Kenneth D. King February 17, 2009

coolcoutureweb_000I know fashion designer and author Kenneth D. King from my days as a sewing editor, and along with being an absolute delight of a person, he’s also amazingly talented in his art and supremely generous in his sharing of his knowledge. In fact, he’s been teaching the second semester (embellishments) of the FIT Haute Couture certificate that I’m pursuing, and I’m crossing my fingers I’ll be lucky enough to get him as a professor. But for those of us who don’t get to learn from Kenneth in person, he’s recently released an updated version of his 1996 favorite Cool Couture: Construction Secrets for Runway Style, and frankly, his timing couldn’t be better. His sensibility is both classically original and futuristically fresh. And couture (and knowing how to accomplish it) is truly just so cool now.

Order Cool Couture here.

Visit Kenneth D. King’s web site here.


Get Crafty: I Love to Create web site February 15, 2009

Filed under: Totally handmade — rebmas03 @ 10:27 pm
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createFor you crafty types, here’s a cute web site created by crafts company Duncan:


Target’s Alex McQueen Party: Tonight, NYC and Free! February 14, 2009

Note: The real reason to go is to attend my colorist Laura’s boyfriend’s band gig here. Golden Pyramid is the B-52s of the 21st century!

target-steve-mcqueen-mcq-market-08The bi-annual Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City have always ushered in a few surprises. And this season is no different as the show kicked off this morning at Bryant Park. Splashed across the back page of The Daily – Front Row, the official trade paper of the show, was the announcement of a pop-up shop between British designer Alexander McQueen and discount retail giant Target. The pop-up store, named Target McQ Market, will offer exclusive items by the famed designer at affordable everyday prices. The store will only exist for 2 DAYS ONLY, starting tomorrow, February 14th, at Noon, till Sunday, February 15th. The store is located at the very Westside of Manhattan, in 330 West Street. If you are in the great New York City, you wouldn’t want to miss this opportunity. Editor Note: Knowing that many out-of-towners are in New York City this week, we have included a visual, step-by-step, walking direction to the storefront. Check it out after the jump. Target x Alexander McQueen – Target McQ Market 330 West Street | Map New York, NY 10014 Event Date: February 14th (Tomorrow!) – February 15th (Sunday) | Noon – 10 pm

For more info, click here.


Fashion Week arrives!

Filed under: Fashionista Files — rebmas03 @ 3:43 am
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peter-som1Yesterday was the kickoff at the tents at Bryant Park and presentations elsewhere. Get the latest scoop here!


The Thinkin’ Girl’s Play: Off-Broadway for only $15 February 13, 2009

dirtWell, you know you’re real New Yorker when you have a friend who has a play off-Broadway. And Jessica Greer Morris is one of those kind of friends. She’s written an amazingly smart play, All the Dirt on You, about “one naughty girl, one nice, talkin’ smack in the ladies room.” Directed by Robert La Fosse and starring Elizabeth Dement and Tara Westwood, you have a choice of four shows over the next week or so. Best of all, in these hard-hit times, it’s actually theater that’s affordable: only 15 bucks. I like the sound of that!

February 15-16 @ 8pm
February 21 @ 3pm
February 22 @ 7pm

The Beckmann Theater @ American Theater of Actors
314 W54th St. between 8/9th Aves

Call for reservations, 212-769-7973
Tickets: $15

For more info:


John T. Unger Studios: Exceptionally created recycled firepits February 12, 2009

Submitted by Marjorie Cunningham: Designer of Marjorie’s Cracked Plate Jewelry and Manager of the Reclaimed to Fame Market

Is there a more wonderful way to spend an evening with friends and loved ones than gathered together outside around a warm entrancingly beautiful firepit?  John T. Unger of Mancelona, Mich., is an artist who creates one-of-a-kind firepits that are works of art.  The flames are drawn free hand so no two firepits are exactly alike.  Each piece is signed by the artist.  And best of all, John hand cuts each firepit from 100% recycled steel.  John talks about his strong belief in recycling and about himself and his art:

“I’m best known as an artist and designer, but relaxing makes me tense, so I tend to put in a lot of hours on diverse projects.   I’ve been making art professionally since about 1995, and have made a full-time living as an artist since 2000.   On the way to a successful art career I’ve been a poet and writer, a tech geek, a print and web designer, illustrator, industrial designer, musician, teacher, actor, set designer and even a paid guru once.   I like to joke that I’m the world’s most well-educated self-taught artist— I’ve learned pretty much everything I know by doing it.  It’s all the same thing in the end—I wake up most days thinking about how I want to change, fix or improve some aspect of the world.  And after a couple cups of coffee I get started on it.  The best way to get a real sense of who I am and what I’ve done is probably to check out my blog or portfolio at  Feel free to email me or call my mobile between 9-5 pacific time at 231.584.2710.  I’m friendly.

Art has been good to me, and I feel very lucky to have been able to pursue what interests me on my own terms.  As an artist, I am also a small business owner who supports a family, pays taxes, and supports other local businesses through the sale of my firepits.  I have a part-time assistant who depends on the income I provide him to make his house payment.   I buy the materials for my firebowls at the scrapyard, paying a premium to have them cut and delivered (I’ve spent over $10,000 at the scrapyard this year alone).  I am one of the larger customers for my local freight company and am pleased to be able to pass along my 75% savings to you.  There are not a lot of successful businesses or job opportunities in the area of Michigan where I live, and the income I make from my art and spend in the community is important to the people I support.  The fact that I am able to sell my work globally and bring money into the Michigan economy (one of the worst in the nation) is something that I am very proud of and I feel pretty good about the fact that I can help people pay their bills while larger corporate companies are laying people off left and right.

About the Art: I believe that surprise and beauty are a good start, but I expect more and so should you.  As an artist and designer, I am intensely committed to sustainable design practices and materials in the following ways: I work primarily with recycled or re-used materials.  This is the best way I know to minimize my impact on natural resources, climate and the environment.   In addition, I feel that creative re-use has the potential to spark new ways of looking at the world… if one thing can be turned into another, what else can we change?  Successful recycled art and design encourages creativity in others— it’s alchemical, magical, subversive, and transformative by nature.  I feel that only be a good thing.

I design for permanence. Most of my objects will last generations with little or no maintenance.  I try to create objects that will never go out of style by drawing from primal metaphor and classical elements of design that speak to what it means to be human and alive.  When I can, I like to throw some surprise or humor in the mix too.

I design for functionality.  My work is intended to be useful as well as beautiful. I enjoy the engineering aspect of art as much as the creative part, and it’s very important to me to make things which work better or more easily than mass produced items. When possible, I design for easy disassembly for shipping or later re-use of materials.

My creative mandate is “sustainable design with an edge.”  Just because we’re good doesn’t mean we have to be boring, right?  I think there’s a place for rock n’ roll to dance with environmental responsibility in a house shakin’ way.  If green products are to compete in the market, they need to be sexy, sleek and chic—cooler than new.”

Visit John T. Unger Studios at


Get Ready for Valentine’s Day with Pretty Easy Cookies! February 11, 2009

tray-of-valentines-cookiesBy Julia Pantoga

Someday, the domestic goddess will have a staff and her days of making roll-out cookies for holidays will end. Until then, the dg will don her Valentine’s Day tiara, open a bottle of beer, take out her rolling pin and make cookies at her kitchen table the same way that she tells you to do it.

essential-valentines-day-cookie-making-suppliesI went through all the details of these cookies with you before the winter holidays, so I’ll refer you to my previous columns: Holiday Prep: The Easiest Holiday Cookies Ever, Parts 1, 2 and 3 and tell you what to do differently for Valentine’s Day. The first difference is that you will use heart-shaped cookie cutters. Wilton has a great set of six different sizes of the exact same heart . Having the same shape in different sizes will give you more creative opportunities when you get to decorating.

Make the same frosting, but this time you need only three colors: light pink, white and dark red. White, you will have; light pink is made by putting a small amount of red dye in white frosting, and dark red is made with several drops of red dye and one drop of blue dye (be careful with the blue, or your frosting will turn out black).

more-valentines-day-cookie-making-suppliesThe technique for decorating heart cookies is the same one I used for my Christmas trees in December. Frost each heart with light pink frosting. Paint a few strokes of dark red on each heart. Paint a few of the small hearts plain white or dark red. While the frosting is still wet, decorate the large heart cookies with the small ones.

Remember, on Sunday or Monday, go to your local craft sale and stock up on 75% off Valentines Day merchandise for next year. Keep in mind that anything you find in a solid color (red, white, silver, gold) can be used for other holidays.


The Little Black Box February 10, 2009

pinkbox3From time to time, Athena tries to be a  little sartorial, but we’re generalists here and are into all sorts of trouble. Besides, there are so many more out there who do it so much better. And the Little Black Box blog is one of my favorite discoveries. Basically, it reviews all sorts of great indie designers and handmade items, along with a smattering of great blog commentary. Worth a visit: Little Black Box.


iFashion Network Exclusive Interview: Project Runway’s Jack Mackenroth February 9, 2009

For more iFashion, visit their blog.