Wasting Time With…Madeline Virbasius

Madeline Virbasius is the type of wonder woman I inspire to become.  Splitting her time between fashion and music, she is editor of highly-regarded Sentimentalist Magazine and the General Manager/Buyer for Jumelle, one of Brooklyn’s chicest sources for cutting edge designers.  I was fortunate enough to waste some time with Madeline and discuss everything from fashion week to Todd English’snew restaurant.

1. What does a typical day entail in your role as general manager/buyer for Jumelle?

It all depends on the time of year, but the biannual fashion weeks are always the most hectic and exciting.  During September’s S/S ’11 fashion week, it was almost ridiculous that I fit in 7 presentations and fashion shows in the space of 5 hours in one day, running from Rachel Comey’s show to Nomia’s, to presentations at Milk from Billy Reid to Mandy Coon and surviving to write about it (though I would not call this part of the job taxing). Market week follows that, with Jumelle’s owner and the other buyer and I doing around twenty or more showroom appointments or meeting up with designers for the next season’s buy. Fashion week in Paris, which I usually do every other season, is of course a highlight of the job as well.

2. What are a few up and coming lines we should keep an eye out for?

Boessert/Schorn’s F/W 2010 Lookbook

One of the newest lines we carry is a Berlin designer called Boessert/Schorn, whose drapey, somewhat androgynous clothes are known for its contrasts and combinations of material and texture.  This fall, they did a lot of vibrant knit capes that flew out of the shop.

Some of my favorite pieces from Anntian’s F/W 2010 line

Anntian is another Berlin design team, a husband and wife duo, known for their vibrant, hand-printed fabrics and cutting edge designs. A lot of their clothing is suitable for either sex, which I like, since androgyny is always fun.

Some ensembles from Hope’s 2010 Lookbook

Hope is a Swedish line that first launched in 2002 in Stockholm, and is just finding its way in the States. I love that even though they’re far from goth, their latest collection was inspired by their country’s “raw, northern ambience” and such characters as the hooded Death figure from Ingmar Bergman’s film “The Seventh Seal”.

My favorite pieces from the F/W and S/S 2010 Shabd collections.

Shabd is by Shabd Simon-Alexander, a local, eco-friendly Brooklyn designer whose hand-dyed silks and basics use classic or Shibori techniques to create modern, effortless pieces, with prints inspired by everything from rocks to skyscrapers.

3. What are 5 pieces you recommend for this fall/winter?

  • A vintage cape layered over a big sweater or leather jacket
  • Instead of NYC’s uniform black, try wearing a bright blue or red dress in the middle of winter
  • If you’re tired of the overplayed clog boot, find some vintage lace-up boots in your local thrift or at a great vintage shop like Malin Landaeus in Williamsburg
  • A floppy fedora or big faux fur hat for dramatic days (not just to cover hair badness)
  • Long, glamorous gloves

4. What are some of your favorite pieces at Jumelle right now?

The Hope Ullman coat with white shearling collar, which reminds me of something worn by one of the glamorous Edward Gorey ladies; Future Classics’ merino sweaters that can be buttoned in seemingly avant-garde ways or worn as floaty capes, so retro/modern!

More after the jump…

5. I love that you split your time between fashion and music.  How did you get into both? Do you ever envision yourself leaving one behind to focus on the other?

I remember being the little 7-year-old goof ball who had to have a lavender ultrasuede trench or ocelot print coat to stand out from the crowd. I’ve always been into clothing and the visual, fantastical part of fashion. Then I hung out with kids quite a few years older than me in grade school and listening to music was the “thing”, so I was always into seeing new bands. I grew up in Worcester, near Boston, which had a great music scene. High school weekends were usually spent at all-ages shows or in friends’ garages, where we attempted to learn to sing or play guitar.

I think I’ll always be into both, but my focus does fluctuate depending on the week or what’s going on.

6. What does a typical day entail in your role as editor for Sentimentalist Magazine?

A little procrastination and a load of sifting through PR e-mails to find the gems to post about, listening to mp3s, watching new bands on YouTube and deciding which shows are the must-sees. Then there’s arranging interviews and photo shoots, the “glamorous” part.

7. Who are some up and coming artists we should look out for?

Soars, from PA, Losers, from London, Food Stamps and Total Slacker, from Brooklyn. A favorite weekend night out is going to our friend Lady Bree’s shows at Don Pedro’s in Bushwick and discovering bands.

8. What are some bands you can’t stop listening to right now?

CREEP and OOoOo, since my boyfriend’s addicted to them too.

9. What are some of your favorite local places to shop (for clothing, home wares, music, food, etc)?

Gary Graham dress from F/W 2010, Earrings from de Vera and Opening Ceremony at the Ace Hotel

I get a lot of my clothes at Jumelle these days but otherwise, I like to visit stores that feel like an escape–Gary Graham (he’s also a fave designer we carry) or de Vera (for their exquisite displays of rare antiques and jewelry). For more practical things, there’s Opening Ceremony (especially the tiny one in the Ace Hotel since it’s not so overwhelming), Eva, or online boutiques and Ebay.

ABC Carpet & Home’s Holiday 2009 window displays

I’ve always scanned ABC Carpet and Home for its display ideas and housewares, but I still can’t really outfit my apartment from their finds, seeing that no matter what the thread count, who really needs $300 pillow cases?

The wine bar at The Plaza Food Hall

We have a 24-hour fruit and vegetable market right next to our apartment, so a lot of my food is procured there at odd hours, though I am a sucker for Chelsea Market or posh places that feel like food halls in London, like The Plaza Food Hall, with its oyster bar, chatty chefs and choice of menus.

10. What are your favorite bars/lounges/restaurants in NYC?

Five Leaves, photo courtesy of The New York Times

We live close to Five Leaves on Lorimer and have gone there regularly–it just keeps getting better since it opened two years ago, or Walter Foods on Grand St. is a great stop on the South side. Anyway Café in the East Village is worth checking out for its live jazz and chill, Russian-French vibe, the new Knitting Factory is a cool place to see bands since it’s more mellow than venues like Music Hall, and you can see the stage through the bar window when you’re not in the mood for the crush.

11. What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood and why?

The West Village, for its gas lamps, intact 19th-c. houses and cobblestone streets I still get lost in.

12. What is your favorite way to waste time?

Reading books, magazines and blogs, walking through new neighborhoods and stopping in cafés, baking, shopping online, thinking about vacations, obsessively listening to a favorite new album.


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