Vintage NYC

Vintage Co-founder Kalen Arreola, Distract TV Reporter Gita Cellei, Jewelry Designer Mina D, Co-founder Amelia Meloni

On April 13th, the day of the Vintage NYC Magazine Launch Party, I didn’t feel like dressing up and going to a party.  But Gita Cellei of Distract TV was so enthusiastic, I changed my mind and I’m so glad I did.

Gita Cellei with Crooner Larry Costa

The party boasted a red carpet interview area, Hollywood movies on three screens, models wearing 40s and 50s influenced designs by Henry Picado and Mina D, ballroom dancers Aleksandar Vukosavljevic and Viktoriya Kolbenova, crooner Larry Costa, DJ Teal Camner, and doughnuts.  I’m not sure why doughnuts were the Vintage victual of choice, but Gita was delighted.  For such a petite woman, she got through an enormous number of doughnuts: jelly, cherry, chocolate and custard; she tried them all, several times.

Gita with dancers Viktoriya Kolbenova and Aleksandar Vukosavljevic

One of the surprises of this event was that I found myself surrounded by British women.  Gita moved to New York from London last year.  Her friend Fiona moved here from Scotland more recently.  We chose a prime viewing position for the performances, and soon the space beside me was filled by two girls from London, Heather and Jazz, who came to New York with an International Professional Services Organization. 

London Ladies Jazz and Heather

Amongst the many photographers, Distract TV was the only company recording video of the event.  Distract TV covers fashion, burlesque and cultural events, and Gita is their New York Correspondent.

Mina D, Gita Cellei and Cameraperson Pablo

Several photographers came around snapping Fiona and I while Gita was working.  One photographer asked me to describe my outfit. 

“It’s a burgundy lace sheath dress,” I said.

“I’m wearing a top and a skirt,” said Fiona, flapping the waistband at him.

“I can’t wait to see how she describes her outfit,” said Fiona as the man went on to photograph a girl wearing jeans and a flowery bomber jacket.

Models with Larry Costa (center)

My favorite models were the ones who came as couples, because I love the contrast between the long shimmering gowns and the classic men’s suits.  At the end of the evening, the models were judged by audience applause.  The winner wore an exquisite monochrome beaded gown and jewelry.

Winner of Model Contest

Once Gita finished recording, she, Fiona and I started dancing.  Fiona is a Scottish dance instructor, and we tried to copy some of her moves.  I removed my wedges, deciding the time for elegance was over.  Fortunately, the photographers had decided the same thing and were on their way out. 

Dancers Viktoriya Kolbenova and Aleksandar Vukosavljevic

I’m looking forward to seeing Distract TV’s report on the event.  And I’m glad I went out when I didn’t feel like it, because I realized that looking cool and having fun don’t have to be mutually exclusive.  And nor do being skinny and eating doughnuts.

Frugal Feasts, Harlem Style


I learned about Frugal Feasts from Sasha Lyutse, who is a Policy Analyst for the Natural Resources Defense Council and also teaches yoga.  The idea was inspired by Mark Bittman’s $5 challenge with Slow Food USA, which states, "I pledge to share a fresh, healthy meal that costs less than $5 — because slow food shouldn't have to cost more than fast food."

“The concept is infused with the principle that comes from the work we do,” said Sasha, “to use the most sustainable sources possible."

“Sustainable means we strive to eat lower on the food chain, so the items have less environmental impact.  We use organically grown food from local farmer’s markets.  It’s a balanced meal and it’s created on a budget.”

I attended a vegan feast hosted by photographer, Alexis Percival.  There were three couples at the Frugal Feast, four single ladies, Alexis and Ricky the cat, who lap-hopped throughout the evening.

Each of the four courses had a wine pairing. I don’t really understand wine but in honor of the Frugal Feast, I sampled the first wine, which was a sparkling wine, a Cava from Spain. 

Wine photo by Mikel Washington

This is what I learned about wine that night:

Sparkling wines, like the Cava make an excellent aperitif because they are light and won't overwhelm the palate. Dry wines have higher alcohol content (12% and above) because the sugar has been converted to alcohol.  

Radish photo by Mikel Washington

The first course was Mustard Greens with Olive Oil, Rice Vinegar and Salt, topped with "moo" radish and crispy fried scallion.  Alexis brought out the second wine, a Riesling from France.  I felt I should taste it in honor of the event, but when I contemplated every course having its own wine, I decided to just take a sip.

The second course, Austrian Style Purple Potato Salad, was accompanied by a Beaujolais, also from France.  The third course was Whole Wheat Pizza with Roasted Butternut Squash & Garlic, Portobello Mushrooms, Onions and fresh spinach. The wine was Ribera del Duero from Spain.  At this point, I stopped trying to keep up with the wines.

Ricky the Cat with a Lady, photo by Sasha Lyutse

The other Frugal Feasters were clearly tipsy by the third course. Then Alexis brought out the dessert, Poached Apples with Syrup topped with Candied Walnuts. My wines were lined up, glinting expectantly.

Guests came from as far away as the Lower East Side and Queens to sample Alexis’s feast.  The conversation ran the gamut of world travel, relationships, food and wine and the effect on our minds of video games and social networking. 

The simple pleasures in life, good company and good food, still have a lot going for them, and Frugal Feasts are a great way of continuing the tradition.