Friday, February 3, 2012

Still More Fashion Insight

Manhattan Avenue, 2012

I really hadn’t intended for What I Saw to become a showcase of cutting edge fashion. But I know many of you reading this are women who at least like to know what’s going on. So here’s another quick guide to what the finer ladies will be wearing this spring.
I took this picture the other day in the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. A lot of people don’t know that Brooklyn’s bigger and has a larger and far more diverse population than Manhattan. For many years Greenpoint has been a very tight Polish neighborhood. Business signs are in Polish. The shops are full of groceries and dry goods from brands you’d never find anywhere but here or, say, the older Polish neighborhoods of Buffalo, Cleveland or Chicago.

Documentation, 2003

One of my favorite storefronts on Manhattan Avenue is a place called Marco Polo Nuda. From the window display and the line on the sign that reads “Something new from Italy,” I assume they sell clothing. I was intrigued by the exotic hint of "nuda," though. It turns out nuda means “boredom” in Polish. So I guess there’s an idiom involved that I just don’t understand.

Marco Polo Nuda, 2003

Greenpoint wasn’t always a Polish enclave. In the 1800s, it was an area of manufacturing and shipping. The ironclad warship Monitor was built at the Continental Iron Works in Greenpoint. If you ever used a Eberhard Faber pencil it was probably made in Greenpoint. 
These days, young hipsters and trust fund babies have spilled into Greenpoint from the adjacent Williamsburg neighborhood, driving up the rents and bringing with them hipster stores, artisanal cheeses, trendy bars, tiny coffee houses, vegan restaurants and bi-lingual signs. Former factories are becoming loft “residences” and blocks formerly made up of shingled row houses have been replaced by high rises full of multi-million dollar condos. The old pencil factory now houses artists, illustrators, architects, internet media and start-ups, and craftsmen. Along the East River is a sprawling reproduction of the 1920s-era Atlantic City boardwalk used for filming HBO’s Boardwalk Empire series.
Sorry for the digression. Back to fashion.
I have no idea how you’d categorize the styles in the window shown above. All I can say is that it seems to be a perfect metaphor for the changes taking place in Greenpoint. The cap on the lady’s head down at the bottom of the display case is all hipster. Ditto the denim skirt, scarf belt and tights. But the blue frilly things below the knees is all Polish, or maybe some kind of holdover from the disco era.
The window also reminds us that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. I sure hope none of the ladies in my life see this before they open their presents.


  1. The Pencil factory reminds me of the Torpedo Factory in Old Towne Alexandria. I love when old buildings get re-purposed that way. Sounds like a great area for browsing all sorts of interesting things. As for those things in the first photo, I'm likin' the scarves around the hips.

  2. That window does have an international flavor...