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On November 1st, as part of the DANCE/DRAW exhibition at the ICA in Boston, Paul Chan and William Forsythe will be speaking in conversation with ICA Chief Curator Helen Molesworth.  The talk will explore the junction of performance and art, focusing on 21st century artists that have branched out from their specific medium.  The DANCE/DRAW show, which opened October 7th, is an interesting mélange of works in and of itself.  Here Molesworth is attempting to examine how the body leaves traces after movement, exploring performance, performance art, and more traditional physical arts, and how the interplay between these different dimensions of art has formed something a little more complex when one compares the corporeal verses the ethereal.

William Forsythe is a brilliant contemporary choreographer and dancer, known for being one of the first to re-envision classical ballet choreography, deconstructing said choreography’s structures and forms in extremely groundbreaking ways.  He is also acutely engaged in other forms of art-making, particular performance and multimedia work.

Paul Chan is a contemporary art genius out of New York, and truly embraces the contemporary interdisciplinarity of art-making, working primarily in multimedia but never limiting himself to one medium.  His work has been in many exhibitions worldwide, including solo exhibitions at the Serpentine Gallery in London and the New Museum in New York.  He is represented by Greene Neftali gallery in Manhattan.

Find out more about the talk and exhibition at the ICA’s website.


Most bridge labels are lackluster, downmarket attempts at capitalizing on a brand’s recognition in the marketplace. McQ, the lower-priced label from Alexander McQueen, is anything but. One visit to the label’s tumblr and it’s clear: this line is every bit as artful as its much-pricier counterpart.

With the winter months fast-approaching, I’m in full advocating-for-heels-in-snow mode [for those who would inquire, I've moved my many pair of Beatle Boots to the front of my closet, all with two-inch lifts...].

First up, this McQ two-tone bootie. Sturdy heel, textured outsole and an incredible combination of black and rich brown polished calfskin. In short, it’s the kind of shoe wardrobe staple that can take you through the entire season.

GET IT HERE.

Diego Diaz Marin is a Spanish fashion photographer from Torre Del Mar in Malaga. That sentence alone made me swoon, but I’ll admit, much as I found these kaleidoscopic images utterly otherwordly, I was just as intrigued by the self-portrait of Mr. Marin on his site. Beauty begets beauty, it would seem.

His work is layered and evocative, almost cinematic. It’s the kind of work that is sometimes flawed in its technical delivery, but so full of spirit that mostly you don’t care. Purists may decry these geometric repetitions, but the effect cannot be denied. Looking glass, eat your heart out.

From Mr. Marin: “The shoot is entitled Gypsy Crisis, with Spanish model Fabiola Gomez, my personal muse. It is a story of an Andalusian girl, an elegant millionaire, who finds herself suffering from the current economic crisis in Spain. The focus was strong color and feeling. These kaleidoscopic images are meant to be disorienting but also beautiful.”

Discover his work for yourself. Beware, though, you may find hours slipping by before you know it…

DIEGO DIAZ MARIN

[Photo: Erik Madigan Heck for Nomenus Quartlerly]

Mary Katrantzou is a London-based designer who has been making waves since her début runway collection for F/W 2009. The attention is due largely to the virtuosity of her printmaking, but it is also due to her evocative sense of silhouette and proportion, that variety of exaggerated shapes by and large restricted to the haute couturiers.

Such statement-making pieces have quickly become the darlings of both fashion editors and street-style-stars alike (Ms. Anna Dello Russo wore Katrantzou to Chanel’s F/W ’11 show, and has donned myriad other Katrantzou duds…). The editorials featuring her work (ranging from the quite obvious to the more surrealistic) often complement her maximalist tendencies rather than juxtapose them. Yes, I realize florals v. industrial spaces is hyperoverdone (in as much as it was parodied in The Devil Wears Prada), but there’s a sleekness to her silhouette that is at odds with the prints, and I don’t think that particular tension has been duly explored.

Opining aside, the pieces are, as singular expressions of an artistic spirit, beautiful beyond reason. Even better? Buying one such dress is a near-finite guarantee that you’ll never be caught wearing the same thing as some other woman, unless you keep the company of the aforementioned Ms. Anna Dello Russo. (Editor’s note: if you do, please call me, immediately. Let’s be friends. Kthx.)

In these times of watered-down designer collections pandering to the last dollar, how often can you really say that something you bought is unique and different?
This dress will do the trick quite nicely. An investment piece, for sure, but look at it this way: when you tire of wearing it, you can hang it on the wall. Art, meet Fashion. Fashion, meet Art.

GET IT HERE.

This Thursday and Friday Neiman Marcus Copley Place will host designer Christian Siriano for an intimate presentation of his Resort and S/S ’12 collections. One of fashion’s favorite wunderkinds, Siriano is as well known for his ebullient personality as he is for his jaw-dropping designs. So, yes, come for the fabulous frocks, but also come to get a chance to meet this charming personality.

From ultra-feminine silhouettes to his virtuosity of tailoring, the collections are not to be missed. I had the distinct pleasure of seeing the Spring 2012 collection at NYFW, and, frankly, cannot wait to get to see these pieces up-close-and-personal.

Christian Siriano Presentation
& Personal Appearance
Thursday & Friday
October 13-14
10AM-4PM

Neiman Marcus
Couture Salon on Level Three
Copley Place

RSVP by phone to (617) 536-3660, ext. 2052

Griffin Museum of Photography
4 Clarendon Street
Boston, MA 02116
P | 857.239.9240

Photograph courtesy of Sarah Chang/Cliff Watts.

Sarah Chang is a virtuoso violinist of the highest order. She began playing at the age of four. At the age of nine, she made her soloist début with the New York Philharmonic. Since that time, she has enjoyed the rare success of both critical acclaim and lasting commercial relevance, captivating audiences and record listeners alike with her measured approach to music and its many mysteries.

This Sunday, October 16th, Ms. Chang comes to Boston for a performance at Symphony Hall, as part of the Celebrity Series of Boston. At the heart of Sunday’s program are two richly expressive, Romantic-era chamber works: the Brahms Violin Sonata No. 3 in d minor and the Franck Violin Sonata in A Major. Ms. Chang has performed these pieces the world over, and in her hands the sometimes-enigmatic motifs of each seem to unfurl, revealing unparalleled moments of musical transcendence. In short, this is a program you cannot afford to miss.

Sarah Chang, violin
Andrew von Oeyen, piano
Sunday, October 16, 3:00PM
Symphony Hall

Buy your tickets now.

Fuse and XFINITY have come together to give you a chance to win a full day and night of enjoyment in Boston! One lucky winner will win a pair of tickets to an event of their choice at the Citi Performing Arts Center Wang Theatre, a music prize pack including an MP3 player and headphones, a gift certificate for a night on the town and a pair of tickets to a local Boston museum or attraction! In short, it’s one of the few contests worth entering.

To enter, simply head here and fill out the quick registration form. This sweeps is only open to residents of Massachusetts and ends next Thursday, October 13th, so get on it now.

That meant NOW, kids.

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The new video collaboration between filmmaker Harmony Korine and Proenza Schouler is a doozy. After the brilliant film Act Da Fool, which showcased Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2010 RTW collection, I was overwhelmed with anticipation for this year’s creative iteration, titled Snowballs.  The video was premiered (quite fittingly) at Silencio, a club in Paris designed completely by David Lynch.

Observing Act Da Fool in juxtaposition with Snowballs, I would venture to say that if you give Korine an inch he is wont to take a mile.

The first film stirred up some controversy, with arguments focused on the misrepresentation of urban culture. One must realize that Korine’s whole oeuvre focuses on groups that often go unnoticed.  His portraits of these individuals come from a completely different angle than we are generally used to, and therefore arouse distain and controversy among many critics.

With that introduction, lets delve into Snowballs – the most alien portrayal of fashion I’ve witnessed.  The video’s protagonists are two young females decked out in selections from Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2011 RTW line, juxtaposed against an assortment of cheap store-bought ‘Indian’ headdresses, plastic bags as shoes, and other passing accoutrements as costume.  Styled by Pop magazine’s Vanessa Reid, the pairings point to society’s nascent obsession with Native American cultures, and are rightly spliced with a heavy dose of the derelict.

The two protagonists move through this dystopian space in a puckish manner, dancing in backyard forts, and wandering down deserted Nashville streets, where manufactured homes dot the landscape to form a decidedly lackluster setting for gorgeous clothes. It’s an unsettling narrative, to say the least, wherein a nasally sing-song voiceover vaguely references issues of American Indian oppression.

As the film proceeds, it explores a decidedly Lynchian aura, causing an inexplicable feeling that forced me to the edge of my seat multiple times.  The sets become blanketed in darkness, with characters losing layers of clothing as day turns to night.  At one point a male character enters the narrative, ranting prophetically, as if possessed.

Snowballs does not have the same evocative, dreamlike qualities of Act Da Fool; you can’t let it take you away like a magic carpet.  But Snowballs is effective in that it incites a strong curiosity: what is the true context of these clothes, and what is their origin in terms of influences?  Proenza Schouler said they looked at many Native American textiles for inspiration, yet the wearers of the clothing are far removed from those influences.  We are trained to critique the conceptual within art, the aesthetic within fashion, but the true beauty of Snowballs is that Korine invites us to do both, giving the fashion a space within which to live and breathe, and indirectly imbuing the clothes with a meaning beyond artifice.

 

From Ryan McGinley’s Moonmilk series.

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I hate Boston fashion parties: the insipid small talk (which, to me, recalls those rather-famous lines in Prufrock), the roving photographers who seem intent to catch me at my ugliest, the awful music, the ramblings of the social climbers who all seem to have business cards before they have businesses, the horrible, horrible ‘fashion’, and, worst of all, the plague of fauxcialites who spend all night fighting over one of two things: the free cocktails or a photograph with some notable name for their next Facebook update. They are all as transparent as they are perfectly useless. For me parties are a fail-safe recipe for discontent.

That said,when Alex Hall calls me with an invite, I know all of that will be different. Her parties are as dynamic and as wildly fun as she is. That is, as polished and perfect as they are effortlessly enjoyable. And it is a testament to her inexhaustible charm that she attracts the best and the brightest of Boston’s many circles: the artists, photographers, interior designers, PR folk, musicians, writers, models, and, yes, even the fashion folk. Nearly everyone knows her. Perhaps more notable is that I’ve yet to meet a person who doesn’t love her.

This past Wednesday she hosted a celebration of Boston’s top models at Forum, creating a unique and necessary niche during the Boston Fashion Week maelstrom. I went for the reasons aforementioned.

It may be the first time I’ve enjoyed a party in Boston that wasn’t for StyleBoston (our parties are EPIC). The models, a spot-on mix of incredible girls from the city’s top agencies (Click, Dynasty Models & Talent, Maggie Inc, Model Club), looked absolutely stunning, and represented the true range of Boston talent. Joico flew in celeb stylist George Papanikolas (who was quite handsome himself) from L.A. to prepare the models for their fête beforehand with Maxime Salon. Makeup was apparently done by Glow Beauty Boutique and Skincare in Braintree, but it was so flawless I hardly noticed makeup at all. A beautiful show of restraint on the part of the Glow team.

And yes, as is customary at such events, I gulped down more of the specialty Brugal Rum cocktails, particularly the “Cover Shot” (irony?),  than is prudent to admit. But let’s just say I hate rum and I somehow couldn’t get enough of these concoctions. That’s how good they were.

As for the food Forum prepared, well, all I can say at this point is that there may or may not be photographic evidence of me devouring nearly an entire cheese plate, all by my lonesome. Let me also say that were such photographic evidence ever to surface, I know which photographer would be to blame, and there’s little worse than a woman scorned. Or besmirched. Or photographed devouring nearly an entire cheese plate by herself. I’m just saying I’d be angry, is all.

Below is a gallery, courtesy of Randy Gross of Elevin Studios. Cyberstalk the guests at your leisure.

This weekend the Boston Symphony Orchestra opened its 2011/2012 season, the first sans longstanding conductor James Levine. On the program were Mozart’s five violin concertos, performed over two consecutive evenings. It was a bold choice for the BSO, as of those five concertos only two—the third in G Major and the fifth in A Major—enjoy any notable popularity. The first and second concertos, while clear examples of Mozart’s early musical genius, are hardly ever played. The fourth is played more frequently than the first two, but not by any great margin. Clearly, the BSO understood: the third and the fifth concertos were slated for Friday’s Opening Gala; the remaining first, second and fourth concertos, the night thereafter.

The reason the BSO could afford potentially putting off its patrons with the latter program of less-popular material was simple: Anne-Sophie Mutter, the acclaimed German virtuoso, was scheduled to lead the orchestra as both soloist and conductor. While Ms. Mutter possesses many of the ‘star soloist’ characteristics that sell tickets–an award-winning recording career, performances in every major city, with every major orchestra, a sterling educational pedigree, etc–what separates her from her contemporaries is not her glittering CV. It is, rather, the distinctive and arresting emotional language of her playing.

That said, in the spirit of putting my attention span to the test, I opted for the latter of the two programs. [Having played the third and the fifth concertos in my younger years, I had little interest in seeing them performed. Frankly, even the rich musicality I expect of Ms. Mutter could not have erased the memories of being forced to play those works. All that frothiness, the lightness of bow, the incessant trills and superfluous grace notes. Give me Dvořák's Concerto in a minor or give me death, thank you very much.]

When I entered Symphony Hall just before 8PM on Saturday there wasn’t an empty seat in sight, save, thankfully, for mine. It is a testament to Ms. Mutter’s appeal that such a program appeared to be sold out, an otherwise unlikely scenario for a roster of concertos which most of the audience had doubtfully ever heard.

On the stage there was a significantly pared-down ensemble–one more in keeping with the chamber ensembles that would have performed these concertos during Mozart’s era. This more intimate arrangement, coupled with the lingering absence of Mr. Levine, seemed to suggest that the BSO would be doing things a bit differently this season. But the real focus was always Ms. Mutter, as the entire audience waited with bated breath for her to grace the stage.

Ms. Mutter did, in fact, grace the stage. First, with a black silk-satin and chiffon gown, and then, and much more notably, with her musicianship.

Throughout the program, she demonstrated an incredible range of voice in her approach, shifting effortlessly from fury to finesse, from defiant, heavy-fisted vigor to the most ephemeral effervescence.  In each of the three concertos, she transformed perfectly ordinary motifs into something divine: sustained single notes which hovered above the room for a time and then melted away into nothingness; passages rife with deceptively difficult technical feats, wherein Ms. Mutter would jump from the G string to the E string (that is, skipping the two middle strings altogether) with aplomb; and her handling of Mozart’s characteristic, and nearly constant, trills–the rapid fluctuation between two notes. Typically, trills are almost purely decorative, but in Ms. Mutter’s hands they were sublime phrases in their own right, evocative of mischievous songbirds.

And yes, her many cadenzas–those perfunctory exhibitions of sprawling technical virtuosity–were certainly impressive, but it was during the fleeting minor motifs that she most impressed herself upon the audience. In these passages her tone was at its richest, languid and robust, one supple sostenuto after another. She seemed to burrow into the somber phrases and then languorously emerge, as if with a prolonged sigh. In short, her command of her instrument was often eclipsed by the conviction with which she played, inviting the audience into a musical experience as rare as it was otherworldly.

It is true that her sometimes less-than-traditional approach has earned her a Purist critic here and there, and I will admit that Ms. Mutter did seem most at home in Mozart’s music when she was playing his lighthearted Classical-era motifs with her trademark Romantic-era pathos. Yes, she took certain liberties: a generous and wide Germanic vibrato (which is not wholly historically accurate), a reoccurring rubato (the lingering to elongate a phrase–again, not wholly historically accurate considering how often it was employed outside of the composer’s notations), and, perhaps most frequently, her playing many already-rather-fast passages so rapidly that they were nearly indistinguishable, save for the passing effect they created. But it was precisely because of these liberties that the concertos, which to me have always felt claustrophobic in their ebullient simplicity, were suddenly fresh and relevant, intensely expressive instead of merely elegant.

The BSO did a commendable job of complementing Ms. Mutter’s musicality, especially considering that concertos like Mozart’s have a way of relegating the ensemble to a strictly supporting role. This pared-down setting seemed instead to highlight the individual musicians, affording a level of nuance often lost to the grand swell of a full symphonic setting. Gone was the stiffness, the separation between ensemble and soloist, the rigid call-and-response. At times, the relationship between the BSO and Ms. Mutter was so intimate I felt as though I was watching a relaxed rehearsal among close friends.

For the Boston Symphony Orchestra, this opening night series could have served to underscore the absence of Mr. Levine. Instead, it was a resounding celebration of those present:  the dynamic virtuoso and the committed musicians of the BSO who, with or without their beloved conductor, are not only moving forward, but moving ahead.

It takes a certain amount of chutzpah to pull off wearing a hat–an amount that typically hovers above the (mostly hatless) heads of most Bostonians. Hats say: Look at me, damn it. Now. And: That’s right, bitch. I’m someone to be reckoned with. If not even sometimes: You know you wish you had guts enough to wear this. None of which are sentiments most New Englanders are exactly comfy with. The ubiquitousRed Sox cap notwithstanding, hats just aren’t our thing.

I’d reckon that was all changed last Monday night. The Boston Fashion Week show of Marie Galvin, milliner and longtime Boston fixture who for years has struggled with a local aversion to flamboyance, had just that kind of impact.

That’s largely because Galvin made two very smart decisions for the show: First, she went for wearability. Gone were her outrageous sculptural creations that may look beautiful behind glass, but would all but eclipse their wearer. (And have, in the past, emitted squawks of, “Where on earth would I wear that?“) No, she kept things earthly, unpretentious, and simply pretty with intricate fascinators festooned with netting and feathers; pom-pom topped wool caps; ’20s, ’30s, and ’60s-inspired numbers topped with petite poofs of feathers. The only hints at architectural derring-do–a fascinator of silk multi-curls here, a gorgeous, asymmetrical black meringue for the finale–were still sized well enough that they stayed proportionate to the models’ heads. Meaning they came off as daring rather than overwhelming or silly.

Her second smart move was tapping CONTRA to style the show, all the clothing and accessories pulled from Neiman Marcus with an eye toward elegance and streamlined refinement that still nodded to the runway. Gauzy blouses, python-patterned pencil skirts, silk shift dresses, and fur-collared coats–all of it a mostly neutral palette, and all of it as ladylike as it was edgy. They were the perfect foil for the hats–and arguably the most convincing argument for the hats themselves.

Together, Galvin and Contra showed Bostonians that not only are hats wearable every day; they showed them how to wear them–as an improvement to an already spectacular outfit. That’s the kind of equation capable of proving to the hatless public that style statements are nothing to be afraid of. And that, even as vintage-inspired as many of Galvin’s creations may be, is an idea that’s time has finally come.

For all you awash in the NYFW hubbub, I admonish you to stop for a second, take a cool sip of your diet coke, and give a little thanks to all of our designer ancestors.  Specifically Giorgio di Sant’Angelo.  Potentially one of the most cultured and well-traveled designers that ever were, Giorgio di Sant’Angelo successfully incorporated a mind-blowingly eclectic set of influences that even Comme des Garçons would balk at.

He is also the genius that brought jersey fabric into wide use for outerwear, praising the sensuality of the form of the body. “Silhouette as we’ve known it, as something imposed by fashion is finished.  The only silhouette for 1971 is the body,” he stated.  He was known as the wild child of fashion, bringing vibrant colors, ethnic influences, and massive clusters of jewelry into wide circulation.

Giorgio di Sant’Angelo was born in Italy and grew up in Brazil and Argentina.  He eventually returned to Italy to study architecture and industrial design.  Later on, he focused on art, ceramics and sculpture in Spain, boasting Picasso as one of his professors.  Following that, he did a brief stint in California doing animation, then relocated to New York City and began freelancing.  He soon caught the attention of Vogue editor Diana Vreeland with his unique and bizarre Lucite jewelry.  The rest was history.  Giorgio di Sant’Angelo brought hippie into high fashion by wrapping his models in layers and swaths of fabric and adorning them with the most brilliant of accessories.  This is truly a case of artist-turned-designer, a man with a varicolored vision that ended up being most successfully expressed through dress.

He was quoted as saying, “I am not a fashion designer but an artist who works in fashion—an engineer of color and form.”  This is clear when one spends a little time with his work, there is a painterly quality to his clothing compositions—they don’t exist merely to flatter the body but also to bring the mind into the persona the clothes create.

If you are going to be in Phoenix any time soon, make an effort to check out a retrospective of his design work, opening the 17th of September and running until February 12th, 2012.   More details HERE.

 

For the premiere of StyleBoston’s third season, I partnered with an all-star team to bring you what I consider to be one of the best Fashion Forward features to date: a behind-the-scenes look at our Fall 2011 editorial shoot.

I’ll admit, as a whole this F/W season was wildly underwhelming for me.  Throughout the shows in February, it seemed as though designers were reacting to continued buyer hesitation by pushing aside designs that could or would have felt new and fresh. Instead, in concert they gave us collections that not only pandered to the last-standing dollar, but also diluted, with their severe safeness, the very essence of the brands which designers were scrambling to save from financial woes. Gone were the idiosyncratic signatures of each designer–the differences that distinguish one brand from another–and in their stead was a mild sea of sameness. The waves advanced but never broke, and if they ever reached the shore, well, I must have missed them from where I was standing.

As a result of this conciliatory consensus among designers, the editorial pages of America’s major fashion tomes–Vogue, Elle, W, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire and the rest of their ilk–were chock full of predictable features hailing the neoclassicist revival as the next best thing since the no-carb diet. “Finally, designers have come back to reality and created sensible collections that every woman, in every city, in every country, of every shape, of every age, can wear!” Never mind that no fewer than twenty designers brought you nearly the same pencil skirt silhouette. Never mind that you most likely already own that very silhouette and have for over a decade. These are clothes you can buy, said the editors. And though seeing that tired phrase over and over again definitely annoyed me,  I could hardly blame them. After all, designers lose money when their more outlandish pieces don’t sell and their retailers scale back their seasonal buys. Designers losing money = designers having smaller advertising budgets = designers spending fewer advertising dollars with America’s paragons of print.  Either way, it was clear: the buzzword of the season was buy buy buy buy buy, and it was repeated ad nauseum.

My word was somewhat different: bored.

Of course, I enjoy a somewhat rare position: we at styleboston maintain a pretty strict separation between our sponsors and our editorial coverage, so I’m not beholden to tell you to buy buy buy buy buy whatever’s sitting on the racks at your nearest boutique or department store. That, frankly, just isn’t my thing. If you already have it, you probably don’t need another, and if we’re being honest with ourselves, you don’t actually need any of this. But fashion, at its best, is an incredible form of escapism, a bit of fantasy that you can put on and take off as you see fit. By my estimation, when a design hits that mark, it’s always a worthy investment.

All that in mind, the team and I selected our favorites from the Fall 2011 season for this feature. That labels like Comme des Garçons and Proenza Schouler made it onto that list is to be expected,  but there were certainly a few surprises, too: a diaphanous cocktail dress from Christian Siriano, for example. The designer himself dubbed the tulle confection the “ChaCha” dress because of the way the skirt floats and sways away from the body as you move, and frankly, who could resist a dress that makes you want to dance until you drop? I mean, damn, even I was tempted to purchase the thing, and I don’t wear dresses (they don’t fit) and I hate dancing (because I can’t dance).

All kidding aside, I hope you’ll take a few moments to peruse the feature, Cosas Oscuras, and maybe, just maybe, remember that while fashion is a serious industry, it is not serious business. Consider some of fashion’s most historic moments… In 1947, Christian Dior rebelled against post-World-War-II fabric restrictions by using over 20 yards in a single silhouette. It was a perfectly pedantic whim, but in the process he débuted the revolutionary New Look. Yves Saint Laurent fantasized about a modern power woman, slick and in control. That fantasy manifested itself as the Le Smoking tuxedo. It was the first clear foray into menswear as womenswear, territory designers are still mining for inspiration to this very day. Or Savage Beauty, the Met’s Alexander McQueen retrospective, which not only drew record crowds, but was then extended, then sold over 20,000 new memberships as people vied to skip the four-hour lines. When it finally closed, the museum could hardly meet demand.  In short, a little fantasy goes a long way.

And for those who wonder at my admittedly pretentious title, Cosas Oscuras, I’ll come clean: the phrase was plucked from one of my favorite lines of Pablo Neruda’s verse, “Te amo como se aman ciertas cosas oscuras…” I won’t bother translating it because, hey, this is the digital age. You, like me, have google.

So take it in, love it, hate it, burn it (difficult through a computer screen, but I admire persistence!). And, as always, please feel free to leave your feedback in the comments section.

Much love,
JGC

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