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Velvet is Back

Anna Marie Magagna, One Shoulder Dress.
Anna Marie Magagna, One Shoulder Dress. Photo Credit: Contributed

WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- September is almost a memory so I have put away my whites … white shoes, white handbag and white duck pants. With all the troubles in the world that I can’t do anything about … Syria, Kenya, Turkey … and on the home front the debt ceiling and Obamacare … I for one am distracting myself by changing my closet from summer to fall and making the really big decision of what to wear to the ArtsWestchester gala in November.

There is good news in the fashion world (if not in the real world). Velvet is back. This may not rock your boat, but for years it rocked mine. Yes, I was the daughter of a velvet salesman. I knew as a child that if top designers were using fine French velvet (the stuff of royalty) in their fall collections, and hundreds of yards of it were tumbling off the warehouse shelves, my father could afford to take our family on vacation, and perhaps bring home a new dress or two for me. Back then, the uncertainty about the velvet season was a stressful family concern.

This week, I was happy to find a fashionista soul mate in Anna Marie Magagna (rhymes with lasagna) whose father’s two silk mills in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and her mother’s satin backed velvet dresses inspired her fashion sense. Magagna’s brilliant career as a fashion illustrator is on view at the Madelyn Jordan Gallery in Scarsdale through Nov. 2. The gallery showcases the work of 20th century contemporary art in all media. During the '70s, Magagna was the artistic darling of Geraldine Stutz, President of Henri Bendel, penning their edgy advertisements for the New York Times with freedom and flair. She describes her work as fine art in fashion in which she draws directly from model to pen capturing what she calls the insouciant woman. Her sophisticated, yet fluid, original line drawings interpret the designs of major fashion icons like Stephen Burrows, Sonia Rykiel Jean Muir and Zandra Rhodes.

So as the leaves fall and the weather chills, I am focusing on things I can do something about. I am dieting to fit into my “other size” wardrobe, gathering stuff for the December coat drives and measuring what’s in fashion against what is in my closet. Hopefully, by the time I lose five pounds, the debt limit issue will be resolved and Syria will destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. One can only hope.

Janet Langsman is chief executive officer of ArtsWestchester. Her weekly blog is published with permission of ArtsWestchester and is also posted online.