Picture of Vera Jane Cook

Vera Jane Cook

Elegance Gone

I was channel surfing the other day, which is something I find myself doing a lot, especially now during this awful pandemic.  I found a real gem on television called “Always at the Carlyle”.  Written and directed by Mathew Miele.  I was charmed and enchanted by this documentary of days gone by at this marvelous institution on Madison Avenue and 76th street here in New York City. A few of the people interviewed for this wonderful documentary were George Clooney, Elaine Stritch, Angelica Houston, Roger Federer and Vera Wang, who characterized the Carlyle as “representing elegance, history and scandal.  Well said Vera!

For those of you that don’t know this spectacular Manhattan landmark it is exquisitely decorated.  For example, the room where Bobby Short performed the terrifically romantic music of Cole Porter and Rogers and Hart was filled with Marcel Vertes Illustrations on its walls.  Tre chic! Look it up, it will make you smile.

Then there was the Bemelmans Bar.  The artist Ludwig Bemelmans was an Austrian born American writer and illustrator of children’s books.  Most notably the ‘Madeleine Series’.  He was also a successful artist for The New Yorker, as well as Town & Country.  With his distinct style of Art, he transformed the Bemelmans Bar into his whimsical scenes of Central Park that included picnicking rabbits and ice-skating elephants. Enchanting!  In lieu of payment for his work he instead asked and received accommodations for he and his family at the Carlyle.  Now that’s having real cache!

What a time to be living in New York City.  When men wore gabardine suits with Fedora hats and wing tipped shoes.  The women wore double breasted form fitting suits with pencil skirts and high heels every day.  When style still existed.  Before men started showing off their hairy arms in tight fitting t shirts – wearing flip flops on their feet.  And the women not much better with their tattooed arms, short tight skirts and blue hair.

This documentary made me long for the good old days.  When the ladies who lunch showed up with well -manicured nails and designer bags. They drank martinis and ate Waldorf salads and gossiped the afternoon away. No, I don’t want to go back and lose everything we have now, and I’m not an elitist, but there once was a time when men wore fedoras and women were sleek, manners were expected, tattoos belonged on sailors and the world was a more quiet place. Go to the Carlyle, you just might find it the same. Well, maybe I am just a bit of an elitist.