Sunday, June 28, 2009

ELLE Decor goes to Kansas City

ELLE Decor July/August 2009 is selling out at newstands in the Kansas City area. Grab a copy while you can.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

(V) Valentino

We enjoyed a showing of Valentino The Last Emperor at AMC 30 in Olathe, Kansas on Saturday. It is also showing at the Tivoli Theatre in Kansas City, Missouri.

VALENTINO THE LAST EMPEROR is a feature-length film on the legendary designer Valentino Garavani in the wake of his exit in 2008 from the company he founded in Rome more than 45 years ago. Produced and directed by Matt Tyrnauer, Special Correspondent for Vanity Fair magazine, the film is an intimate, engaging and funny fly-on-the-wall exploration of the singular world of one of Italy's richest and most famous men. The film documents the colorful and dramatic closing act of Valentino's celebrated career, tells the story of his extraordinary life and work, and also explores the larger themes affecting the fashion business today. But at the heart of the film is the unique relationship between Valentino and his business partner and companion of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti.

Business of Fashion reports on Valentino

Charlie Rose interviews with Valentino

Friday, June 26, 2009

May 1, 1902

Kansas City Star, May 1, 1902, pg. 5

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Sorry, we had no choice but to use the pun.

The cover of the 1979 Holiday catalog from Harzfeld's features a 19th century painting of a cat. We think this is a pretty risky, minimalist yet elegant cover. The Harzfeld's "signature" must have been superimposed. Inside you can find this offer:

Right off our Cat-alog Cover
A. Charming late 19th century painting from the J. Babbin collection of pussycats. People loved the Harzfelds cat so much we had a lithograph run off for collectors. You can begin your collection of Harzfelds cats right now. 20"x16". 8.00 (1.30) B. We also have 24 postcards (they make a great thank you). 6.00 (.90) idiosyncrasies, Cover Photo: Barbara Seller

Does anyone know more? We've searched on "Babbin" with no luck. Was this painting in the store?

Consider a recycled cat: Animal Haven KC

Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Cabinet III

We woke up early and drove I-70 east to Emma. The auction was actually on Sunday, so we decided to preview the auction and then drive a little further, to Columbia, to research its Harzfeld's location. We enjoy road trips and stopped at some antique shops on the way.

We found our exit to the small town of Emma, and easily found the auction house. We looked around at the interesting items, but alas, no display case. Although we could have inquired, we thought it best to keep a low profile to not express too much interest in the cabinet. We got back on I-70 and made our way to Columbia. We stopped at the library, went to special collections and found great help. Our first focus was the phone book area. This helped us establish when the store moved between three different locations and who managed it over the years. We also found items in the vertical files and Harzfeld's ads from a few college yearbooks. We then sought out the locations and snapped some photos.

We spent the evening in Columbia and stopped back at the auction house on the way home. Still no cabinet. We again surrendered the fact that it might not be in the cards. We signed up to received future auction bills by mail and headed back to Kansas City.

Several weeks later, an auction bill arrived in the mail. This auction had many old store fixture items so I scanned the listings and there it was! A small photo was included, but there were no details of its origin.

Finally, it was the weekend of the second auction. We headed back out to Emma. We sat through numerous items until finally in the late afternoon, it was time for the cabinet to sell. We had decided on a limit we would bid. I calmly made the starting bid once they called out for $600. I was patiently waiting, then, an opposing bid was given. I calmly raised their bid and waited. SOLD to #168 for $800! We were excited and relieved that we would finally end up with the cabinet.

The auction house was good about storing items and offered delivery. We weighed our options, and decided to have them deliver it to our house. We were nervous about leaving our large plate glass box behind since there were many items being moved about as the auction came to a close, but since it had survived this many years, hopefully it would make it through this event. We drove home and cleared a space for the cabinet.

A week later, the cabinet was to deliver. I waved the truck and trailer in and we backed it up to our back sliding door. A nice older (than us) gentleman of medium stature came out of the truck. We realized he was alone. As we discussed how we would get this monster into the house, he shared about the pins in his back, yet had little hesitation about the task. After not finding any additional help, we strategized a bit. Then he disappeared under the cabinet. With all the assistance we could offer, the cabinet began to levitate. How he was able to raise the weight of the cabinet from all fours is still baffling. With a few moves forward and repositioning, we were at the door.

I got my side in and backed into the the house as our new friend guided his end to the door. His energy was giving way as we approached, and the cabinet was dropping with him. Thankfully he was okay and with the exception of the front right leg, so was the cabinet. After recovering, we finished the move, settled up, and wished him well with his other large deliveries.

Like much of our information, and many of the items from Harzfeld's, they seem to come to us, but not without a little effort.

(8' 2" in width)

Friday, June 19, 2009

The Cabinet II

We had been invited to a friend's house that Saturday morning which wasn't a conflict since the cabinet was to sell in the afternoon according to the eBay listing. What we didn't realize was that this didn't correspond with the time of the actual auction as spelled out somewhere on the listing. We discovered this fact before making it to the auction house and began to surrender that it was not meant to be. We called and it had indeed sold for under $600 and had already left the premisses.

Months later, I attended an estate sale conducted by the same auction house. Michele and I enjoy the hunt for collectibles and the unusual. It was at the end of the sale, on a Friday, and everything was at least half off. I found a slide projector and some old acetate record albums. While checking out, I mentioned to the women at the folding table that I missed the auction and the opportunity to purchase the cabinet. She consulted with an associate and said it was purchased by another auction house in Emma, Missouri and was to be resold that weekend.

I got home with my treasures and Michele and I planned for our trip to Emma.

to be continued...

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Cabinet

A few months ago we acquired a great piece of Harzfeld's history, a large display cabinet. The story is too long for one post, so we'll "break it up" a bit. Yes, as you can see from the image, a leg has been broken off, but I'll soon have that fixed. Maybe these posts will prevent me from procrastinating on that project.

We first learned of the cabinet from an eBay listing, which coordinated with a local live auction. We also heard from the kind owner of the cabinet, who left a message on our answering machine to inform us of the pending sale. (We lost your message and number, so if you read this, thank you.)

Excited about the prospect of owning the piece, we prepared to make the trip to the Lone Jack, Missouri auction house on a Saturday this past Spring.

to be continued...

btw - The book is coming along with most of the images together. The manuscript needs a lot of work over the next two months.

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Independent

ABOUT OUR COVER... The romance of evening black, absolutely elegant from attending the premiere benefit performance of the "Medea" May 17th, sponsored by the Performing Arts Foundation. Left, flounces of fluted silk chiffon create a whimsical aura at 170.00. Right, tri-dimensional designs dot airy marquisette over a muted nude background, 140.00. French Room, third [floor] Downtown and Plaza.

This is from the May 11, 1968 issue of The Independent, Kansas City's Weekly Journal of Society. The publication was established in 1899. The Parisian / Harzfeld's was an early advertiser and the relationship continued through 1984 when the chain of stores closed. There were numerous covers that were done in partnership, some of which promoted local events.

We had the honor of meeting with Heather Paxton who gave generously of her time to allow us to search through The Independent's archives. Heather is very knowledgable about Kansas City history and was able to locate some helpful gems of information. It was great fun to search through the ads in the bound volumes.

Image courtesy of The Independent.
Cover illustration by Patricia George.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Lorene Roberson

She started with Harzfeld’s working part-time in sweaters at their Plaza store in the '50s. She was promoted to manager of the 3rd floor at that location and then was made assistant manager at Corinth. From there, she advanced to become “buyer of coats and suits.” Her office was downtown, but she spent the majority of her time traveling to New York and California. She bought for all the Harzfeld's stores in town. When they were building at Metcalf, they made her manager of the entire store.

We recently had the pleasure of meeting Lorene along with her neighbors Janet and Frank, who served as a gracious hosts. She's a very active, spry, and “with-it” lady and just turned 88 years old. Here are some of her shared memories:

“My memories of being in the family of Harzfeld’s will always be close to my heart. Their caring and personal concern, from Mr. Siegel and all of management, was remarkable. Your work progress was noted and congratulated – sincerely. I became a member starting in part-time sales. I was given the privilege of advancing to buyer – to becoming the first woman store manager in the city. On my buying trips to New York and Los Angeles, I met some very interesting people – some notable, some stars. Principals of companies held Harzfeld’s in high regard – its buyers, too. I was taken to dinners, Broadway shows, even the World’s Fair! One principal (Leslie Fay line) owned a race track. I loved it all – who wouldn’t? Fashion slogans of Harzfeld’s were:
    ‘Fashion is our specialty; Perfection is our creed’ and
    ‘Always First with Tomorrow’s Fashion’

Harzfeld’s will always be remembered as the store of Fashion – in Kansas City and in New York. I was broken-hearted when I heard the word “closing,” but I had been so lucky – blessed, by my experiences.”

Lorene has lent us her memory-filled scrapbook, some of which will find its way into our book.

Thanks Lorene.


You can type "3616 Belleview, Kansas City, Mo" into your TomTom gps device, but now you may more easily find Tom, or the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio Historical Site, via seven new wayfinding signs.

Summer in Space

Top emerging fashion designers will take center stage during the ninth annual West 18th Street Fashion Show. This year’s free, outdoor event, Summer in Space, will be held at 8 p.m., Saturday, June 6. This outdoor fashion show– which draws nearly 2000 spectators– is held on the block of West 18th Street, between Wyandotte Street and Baltimore Avenue.

The event will bring together eighteen established and emerging designers, featuring returning designer Ariadne Fish, who has recently been gaining notoriety both locally and nationally. Fish, a Kansas City Art Institute graduate, will display her unique brand of powerful, avant-garde fashion. The show will also feature perennial favorites Jovana Mirabile (New York); Joscelyn Himes (awarded KC Magazine’s 2008 Best Local Fashion Designer); Peggy Noland (featured in Rolling Stone, Elle, and Spin); Birdies Panties and Swimwear Boutique located on 18th Street, and more. This year's theme, Summer in Space, serves as a source of inspiration for the designers, and it guides the stage design and event identity.

The event organizers have enlisted the help of a panel of fashion experts, which includes retired fashion designer and current Curator/Director of the Kansas City Historic Garment District Museum, Ann Brownfield; designer and owner of Crossroads boutique, Tomboy Design Studio, Laura McGrew; and former editor of KC Magazine and stylist, Chadwick Brooks.

Prominent local theatre actor Corrie Van Ausdal will host the event. Local artist, musician, and jazz ringleader, Mark Southerland, will be the musical director.

Photo: Tom Foley

That Girl

We have a set of photos from 1946 that clearly list Harzfeld's associates, except for one person, currently known as "me". She did a great job with her co-workers, and now we'd love to give her credit.

From Left: "Me", Mary Lou Harkenss, Helen Richardson

Let us know if you can help.