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Of Food and Fashion: Featuring Mina Stone

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I ran into fashion designer Mina Stone the other night in the neighborhood, and we were chatting about the NYC Garment District. Mina is known here in New York for her clothes, but also for her cooking. I write about fashion, but I also write about food, so the parallel Mina drew made perfect sense.

dress and purslane salad by Mina Stone

Producing her collection in the garment district, Mina said, is sort of like provisioning a kitchen in an old-world neighborhood -- (Fabric superstore Mood excepted, which she likened to the Whole Foods of fabric). You go to the butcher, the baker, the fish guy, the dairy... As a production assistant back in the day, I used to make my rounds to the button man, the furrier (Greek, like Mina), the silk guy and the sample maker -- each from a different corner of the globe.

Mina is right -- the Garment District is still totally old New York, and just like our great little culinary corners (which still exist, Whole Foods or not!), the neighborhood makes modern masterpieces possible, thanks to traditional techniques, the best materials and artists like Mina!

And I think that given a closer look, we might find that the city's culinary corners actually have a bit to do with our history in clothing production too. I recently interviewed my grandmother, Mom Mom, for an upcoming webisode, about my great grandfather's old knicker factory downtown. He came over with a wave of Eastern European Jews at the turn of the century, many of whom went into the rag trade on the Lower East Side.

Provisioning for a trip to Mom Mom's at Russ & Daughters

I went to the neighborhood to pick up a book for my historical research at the Tenement Museum, and also to pick up a dozen bagels and some lox to bring to my grandma from Russ & Daughters. It turns out that the specialty shop has been around since the same era that brought all those Jewish garmentos. I talked it over with Mom Mom over bagels, and I'll share more with you in the webisode to come!

Just a little food for thought, to whet your appetite in the meantime.

This post was originally composed for CLOSETTOUR.