If you believe Nostradamus and/or the Mayans, the world will end this year. (Just ask any Spanish conquistador who set out in search of the mythical city of gold how reliable a source those Mayans are.) I neither believe such an Old Testament-style cataclysm is upon us, nor see the point in debating the supposed “evidence” to support such fire-and-brimstone predictions. The Apocalypse is unlikely to happen in 2012 – however, it may still prove to be defined by apocalypses.
As you may have learned by reading a newspaper, watching the news, perusing the internet or simply having ears, 2012 is an election year – a presidential election year – and that is sure to bring with it many apocalypses. As this went to press, the field of Republican candidates is rapidly narrowing, and the eventual nominee is all but official. This is sure to cause much gnashing of teeth and wailing to the heavens in many circles, as conservative Christians and hardcore Tea Partiers are left to choose between the Anti-Christ (Obama) and Christ, the Sequel (Romney), and liberals cower in terror at the prospect of a Romney presidency that will turn the country into a repressive, ultra-orthodox Mormon theocracy in which Democrats are outlawed, just like what happened to Massachusetts when he was governor (right?).
The point is that in the past decade-plus, we have lost the ability as a country to have a rational, civilized discourse about the pertinent issues of the day without it resulting in name-calling, finger-pointing, hysterical shrieking and Chicken Little-esque doomsday prophecies. Each talking point that doesn’t reinforce our particular world-view is regarded as heresy, and each turn of events that doesn’t further our agenda is heralded as the apocalypse.
We seemingly forget that the entire history and development of this country has been based on the constant negotiation of disagreements and compromises. Some are major, some minor, some …
We’re happy to report that driving and parking Downtown is getting easier and more user-friendly. Spending time in the city center has typically required drivers to navigate an unnecessarily complex and inhospitable system of one-way streets, baffling parking regulations and maddening inconsistency in the placement and function of parking meters. (This multi-space meter doesn’t take credit cards? The one two blocks over does. I don’t have any coins.) Fortunately, that has been changing for the better.
Last month, Empire and Weybosset Streets were opened to two-way traffic after some repair and improvement work. This will free up the flow of traffic in and around Downtown, and no longer require circumnavigating the entire neighborhood to, say, double back to AS220 if you miss a parking spot on the first pass, or get to PPAC if you’re already on Dorrance.
Of course, the biggest problem most of us have Downtown is parking: where to find it, how to know if it’s legal and how to pay for it. The City and the Downtown Improvement District (you know, the folks responsible for those yellow-jacketed workers watering the flowers and cleaning up the sidewalks) are working on an initiative to provide visitors with better information and options. The aptly named Park Downtown Providence effort involves new parking-directional signs and green stickers placed on meters to clarify enforcement hours, but its most effective improvement is the accompanying website. It boasts features like an interactive map that will allow you to select your destination, then highlight nearby parking options that can be filtered by criteria like “credit cards accepted,” “indoor garages” and “open 24 hours.” Visitors can also find information about the locations and rules of on-street parking, a list of parking specials and directions to popular locations. While it won’t entirely solve the parking puzzle, it definitely puts a …
Core: Center of Real Energy on the East Side has expanded. Owner Denise Chakoian-Olney recently opened the Mind/Body Pilates Studio just down the road from Core’s main location in Wayland Square. In addition to private Pilates sessions, the new studio offers small group Pilates Reformer classes.
Caster’s Bicycles & Fitness offers free indoor training classes each Monday at its Providence location. Participants are asked to bring their own bikes and indoor trainers, as well as a towel and water bottle. If you don’t have a trainer, you can rent one at Caster’s for $3 per class.
Karen Sabag opened Thursday night’s StyleWeek with a touch of formality. Her stunning evening gowns, which utilized interesting textures like feathers and cut crystal, were red carpet ready. It was easy to imagine these polished gowns on Hollywood starlets at the Oscars. Sabag finished her collection with an unbelievably beautiful confection of a wedding gown that had the crowd cheering.
Candice Wu’s “Esoteric” line brought some drama to the evening. The striking silhouettes of her military-inspired separates were at once edgy and feminine. Wu’s juxtaposition of softer elements like fur and chiffon were an unexpected counterpart to the pure rock and roll of her structured leather pieces.
Toni Lyn Spaziano closed the night with her Chances R collection, which benefits a disabled boy named Chance. Her lovely dresses were at once buttoned-up and playful. There were even a few surprise appearances by kids who modeled matching outfits with adults. Spaziano closed her show with a pair of beautiful, graceful mermaid-style evening gowns finished with feathers.
The second show of Wednesday evening was by Boston-based designer Marcel Plante. His innovative, totally exciting “Doll Boys” collection blurred fashion rules and gender lines: male and female models were all dressed in drag, making it impossible (in a good way) to tell the difference between the men’s and women’s fashion. The show had everyone buzzing during and after.
XO Café (125 North Main Street) is in the mood for love. Visit the restaurant’s website, www.xocafe.com, or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/xocaferi, and submit your most romantic story in 500 words or less. The staff will choose their favorite (best advice: go for the waterworks) and the winner receives dinner for two on Valentine’s Day. Entries are due by Monday, February 6, so start putting those finishing touches on your tale (and please lose that running-through-the-airport scene in the third act).
Who: Joseph Aaron Segal
What: Knitwear and apparel designer
Where: His studio, Harris Avenue, Providence
Why: I fricken-fracken love his kitty sweaters
When I contacted Joe a week or so prior to visiting his studio, I made sure to ask him to set aside a cat-eye ring for me – I just had to have one. And now I do. Joe is the brain behind Pretty Snake and the “crazy cat sweater.” If you haven’t glimpsed one of Joe’s innovative creations yet, you’re sure to soon. He’s already getting more orders than he can keep up with; after the holiday rush, he’d sold out of all of his cat sweaters and t-shirts. I’ve been coveting one for quite some time now and I was dying to see where and how they are manufactured.
Joe and his one employee, Hannah Abelow – who refers to herself as his “friendsistant” – met at RISD, where the fashion and textile designer received his MFA. (Joe currently teaches Machine Knitting and Industrial Knitting at RISD.) The pair work out of a loft housed inside a large artist-occupied warehouse, which boasts a run-down sensibility that any creative mind would extol. Half of the studio space is where all the knitting magic happens; the other is where the photo shoots go down.
It was as a grad student that Joe created his very first cat-focused garment – a knit sweater dress that he had never showed to anyone outside his RISD cohorts prior to our encounter. It’s stored in a giant plastic bin, amongst a multitude of experimental fabric swatches and projects that he worked on back in the day. (Joe sells his swatches at trade shows to companies such as Ralph Lauren Home.) “They want to see what’s possible,” Joe explains, “so I make them as crazy as possible.”
(The original "cat sweater" knit dress)
(One of Segal's experimental fabric swatches)
Fast forward a bit, to the day when Joe turned his grad …
Providence Monthly is proud to once again be a sponsor of StyleWeek Providence, which returns to Downtown from January 22-28. The twice-yearly event provides a showcase for local, regional and national designers, and puts the spotlight on our fair city as an innovative place for fashion. This installment returns to the grand Biltmore Hotel and we'll be there all week to see what our designers have come up with this year. Check back for updates and blog posts throughout the week, but for now, take a look back at the August 2011 StyleWeek.
Quick Look: Behind the Scenes at Style Week Providence from Ryan Hughes on Vimeo.
Great news for foodies: Providence is finally getting a clam shack. After wasting years lagging far behind pretty much all of South County, most of the East Bay, and Warwick in the area of fried seafood technology, the city welcomes the venerable Blount Fine Foods to the space that formerly housed the second (and unfortunately short-lived) Stanley's Burgers. This addresses a gaping hole in the Providence food scene. As a port city and the capital of the Ocean State, we offered precious little in the way of classic New England seafood. Sure, there is Hemenway's, but that's much more of a fine dining experience. Beyond that and neighborhood institution Carrie's on the North Providence border, there wasn't much. When Blount opens in the spring, we will, at long last, be able to get a decent plate of fried clams without having to hit 95 South.
StyleWeek Providence Autumn/Winter 2012 begins this Sunday, January 22 at the Providence Biltmore. As always, Providence Monthly will be in the mix at all the shows and after parties. In anticipation of the main event, however, StyleWeek paid us a little visit to chat about the local fashion scene with our Executive Editor, Julie Tremaine.