Hysterical things are happening right now in the fashion world. Trends are all over the place, with retro being front and center. Not necessarily classic, sort of a throw back to a by gone era when clothes were designed for comfort and warmth, with a ‘laissez faire’ sort of disregard for style. I am speaking of a particular item that I grew up wearing in “high school” that I am now wearing many years even after “higher school.” A poncho. A fringed, beautiful red soft cashmere knit poncho as the accessory ‘du jour’ or on ‘les nuits’ when this red honey crisp throw has been an easy go to/wrap for cool, not at all cold nights that we have become accustomed to, during this frostless Fall. This wrap/sweater/throw/coverup with a one size fits all fit, and with the hole in the center to fit every size head has gotten so much more wear this season than anticipated on the day that this impulse item argued with me at the counter, and won.
I waltzed into Roberta Roller Rabbit (RRR) on Lexington Avenue for pillow coverings (I rarely walk out without them) and this red fringed poncho was rolled up and tied with a raffia bow and placed ever so cleverly in a basket, sitting on the counter that housed my “just a minute, please” purse, (whilst looking for the wallet I can never find, actually, I always think I lost, but didn’t, it always seems.) Like many of the wearable art/clothing at this tony upper east side design/fabric/clothing studio, (with the specialty of this design emporium being the most comfortable pajamas in. the. world.,) the pretty ponchos are sort of pre-packaged for even the most discerning shoppers. I did take the bait and unwrapped this soft, luxurious sweater (which was hand knit in Nepal, no really, it’s true) while waiting at the counter, and, without slipping it on, I bought it. (One Size Fits All – the fit description was good enough for me – just saying – the hair goes all static with the tiniest touch of cashmere when the temps are over 70 degrees.) I had a suspicion that it would fit. And it does.
Saying “Made in Nepal” means the world to RRR – as the philosophy of the proprietors are socially, economically and environmentally conscience. Many of their garments and hats come directly from Kathmandu. An area full of Sherpas – year round mountaineers and marathoners (now saying these it is true that we share the love of a 26 mile fun run and prefer to wear the same comfort clothing after said workout.) These Nepalese guides know a little bit about weather (and the clothing necessary to guide some ‘crazy sporsters’ all the way up the Kiliminjaro. Naturally these troupers are not wearing a pretty little poncho during the treacherous treks, but once at their peak – or the mountain’s for sure, when the air is milder, and the winds die down just enough wind to keep a fire warm, it’s off with the wick polar tec, and on with a poncho – I actually know a former sherpa. A poncho is a go to even for them, on a day or evening when the weather is less dramatic. On their days off, it seems, they all have a side job, styling and hand knitting (on their down time, at the bottom of those gargantuan mountains) some gorgeous, spicy colored American flavored, candy red, cover ups for RRR and their sporty customers.
We, the less worked, sometimes down timers, can always find an after work hand made item of comfort (like this small blanket that is as cozy as RRR pajamas feel after a long day of shopping, or sherping) by taking the trek up the small Lexington Avenue hill past 72nd Street towards RRR. A Western world shopping sherpa spree if you will, (that pun was very much intended, indeed.) Those of us that guide ourselves up and down escalators and elevators and in and out of those hard to reach shops with the very steep prices, sometimes guiding along a newcomer, an inexperienced friend who has yet to experience the ultimate high – those of us that at times will pay dearly for the pain of gain. The joyous feeling of feeling a great feeling piece of clothing can not be at all confused or compared with the unbelievable journey of a very outrageous, risky downright dangerous Himalayan High, to be certain, but a tiny closer to home feeling that happens at an infinitely smaller apex, when a gigantic (or ridiculously minute, but determined) feat/purchase has been accomplished.
Roberta Roller Rabbit on Lexington Avenue is stock full of priceless items like this poncho, the pajamas that I swoon over, pillow casings, bric a brac (also made in far off lands) and fabrics galore. Every piece of material is hand made and hand dyed, like this pretty popover, and very unique. I will climb mountains to get there, even on a day when there is an annoying street fair, taking me way off course, and back down the hill, out of the way and back around again, eventually, to reach the pretty brass door handles that house the items that made a much longer trek to get there than I.
And, that sherpa that I know, he, too sports a similar poncho today, and during the winter months, it may even be topped over our by our sad, colorless Western look, a black down puffer coat. And when in New York right – his overcoat/poncho, too, is the color of night. He made it to the top and back again and although his small hoodie (those sherpas are quite petite) is a bit different from the average hot colored New Yorkers, he was, indeed one of the first to compliment my fringed poncho. And, it’s true, he was also curious to know where it was made. We, two, then shared a smile.
Photographs by Viva Violeta Photography