“Blackout” is the New Black

My Statue of Liberty and direct Hudson River views never get old and they are enviable. But my location also qualified me for Zone A status last year, prior to Hurricane Irene (which proved to be a non happening for us), and most recently, for Hurricane Sandy. As a result, we were among those Manhattanites directly affected by the latter, and it was only this past weekend, with complete power and heat restored to our building, that I finally felt as though I had just gotten my life back (talk about a true “Thanksgiving”).

While fashion has long been a source of inspiration to me, it’s rather hard to think about fashion (or write about it) when you are in limbo, living without basic human comforts like electricity and heat, and having to rely on a transistor radio or cell phone for all of your news. All of a sudden, often used phrases in fashion jargon (“must haves” and “gotta have it”) took on a whole new meaning. It was impossible, if not unfathomable, to even entertain the thought of attending an evening gala or high profile event during this time (fortunately, many of those were immediately cancelled or postponed). But that doesn’t mean that I didn’t think about fashion, or that it did not help me, or come into play in the last few weeks.

Jil Sander for Uniqlo puffer jacket fall/winter 2011

Thankfully, I have a well balanced closet and as such, was able to tap into the part of my urban wardrobe which is quite functional, utilitarian, and of course, stylish to boot. I had to be creative in order to get through dark cold days without hot showers, eventually packing for a change of location(s) for an unknown period of time. I relied on essential, basic, lightweight yet warm layers, all in black. (You don’t tire of them, they don’t show wear and tear, or dirt – LOL). I was thankful for the multi pocketed zip up Jil Sander for Uniqlo nylon hoodies and featherweight down jackets purchased last year, assorted leggings, skinny jeans, and flat boots which proved perfect for walking 20 blocks to recharge my phone or climbing 16 flights of stairs. (Just a note, at the beginning, I reminded myself what great exercise it was, and how beneficial it was for my legs, but like everything else, it got old fast and I longed for a working elevator).

Armand Diradourian woven fringe shawl at Barneys

Of course, black is not only the absolute height of fashion regardless of when, where, or circumstances (does it ever lose its cache?), but is the perfect foil for accessories. My chrome yellow Armand Diradourian cashmere fringed shawl added comfort, warmth and a much needed pop of color, and my beloved stache of necklaces (both vintage and newly acquired), added texture and interest. They staved off boredom for me, and entertained those around me.

Vintage KJL key pendant

Several neon, glow in the dark necklaces purchased at H&M (cheap to boot) lit up the dark nights and allowed me to literally glow in the dark hallways and stairwells (those and my trusty LED spotlights and flashlights of course). And my piled on gold and silver metal chains, paired with a few vintage key pendants (including a massive silver toned vintage KJL necklace purchased from Madge Novel, In-Style Vintage), were the perfect reminders as to what is truly KEY in life.

Yoko Ono key pendants with Swarovski crystals

Speaking of keys, I have always been drawn to them because of their classic shape and their symbolism. And I’m hardly alone. This fall, Yoko Ono collaborated with Swarovski Elements for a limited editiion contemporary Key-cut crystal collection. The heavily crystal-studded keys (which fall under the headings: “A Key to Open the Forest” and “A Key to Open the Universe”), are designed around the theme of “Unlocking the Door to a Better Life”.

– Marilyn Kirschner

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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