2004-05-07 / Columnists

On The Beach

With Beverly Baxter

Beverly Baxter models a Mink halter top with matching headband and gloves.Beverly Baxter models a Mink halter top with matching headband and gloves.

An Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Mink Bikini?

Perhaps you’ve just spent the winter strenuously getting into svelte shape for summer. You’ve retired your cashmeres and ugg boots; and just as you arrive at the furrier to put your mink into cold storage, there on the rack in front of you are an array of Bikinis! That’s right! All trimmed in or designed completely in mink, sable, lynx, or rabbit! 

Rather than falling prey to anti-fur organizations like P.E.T.A. whose sole objective is to make the fur industry extinct, Furriers and Designers have fiercely fought back with an expanded use of fur in the most unconventional of ways.

On a recent visit to the Andreas Nicholas Fur Salon on Rockaway Beach Blvd., I was stunned to find fashion items such as "knit-like" sweaters, ponchos, and even halter tops and handbags all designed in varied colors and fur!

When many of us think of fur, we think of glamour as well as tradition. We think both Mamie Eisenhower as well as those glamorous celebrities in the 70s ad campaign for Blackglama’s What Becomes A Legend Most? For many years it was all about the coat and its symbolization of status, accomplishment, and the ultimate gift a man could give his wife. Hidden within the seams was the statement that both had "arrived". I’ve still early images of my grandmother-fresh from her trips to Europe-in her living-room with a wall-to-wall carpet of custom-made fur coats! (Fur as carpet? I’ve heard of walking on the wild side; but I’m sure that would come later!)

The fur industry has in many revolutionary ways shed its staid image and has evolved into the fashion mainstream to appeal to the "everywoman". "The most exciting change we’re seeing is the use of fur as fabric", states Andreas Nicholas. With the use of color, haute design, and varied furs, this is simply not your grandmother’s fur coat! In addition to quality and traditional minks, you will also find more casual everyday uses of fur. This is evident in the popular denim jacket lined and trimmed in fur or "knit"-like sweaters in purple rabbit! One of the hottest coats are the sheared minks in non-typical colors like kelly green (as in Saint Patrick’s Day!) or a reversible poncho trimmed in squirrel or a sheared Stone Martin and sheared Beaver.

"Gone are the conventional limitations. If you can think it: the kind of animal, your choice of color, "fabric"-type and design, we can do it! The creative possibilities are endless. That’s what we’re seeing on the runways." states Andreas.

The Andreas Nicholas Salon, formally Jay and Jay Furs, has been in business at the same location since 1947. Julius Sheinbaum, "Mr. J", has made coats for many generations of Rockaway’s women. He still comes in to assist Mr. Nichoas on Saturdays and to tend to the craft he loves as well as the clients who came from all over the tri-state area. In fact, the back workroom is very much as it was nearly 60 years ago with an enormous vault on the premises. They also rent stoles for special occasions.

I had initially gone in to see a coat I had admired on my friend Rosemary Murphy. While I thought I’d grown tired of the two minks I had, Andreas showed me creative ways to enliven them since the skins were all in good shape. He calls it "fur surgery"! "By changing a notch collar to a cowl or trimming it, hooding it, or cuffing it with exotic furs like sable, chinchilla, or lynx, we can create a whole new look so that one coat can have many lives and many personalities."

For Mother’s Day, visit Andreas Nicholas and slip into something more comfortable and let the creative possibilities in fur take you!

***Congratulations to Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey, Frances Abbracciamento, and Joe Mure and all the honorees on a successful Benefit Luncheon for Trinity Seniors. Nearly 750 attended to support this worthwhile organization. Dr. Chapey will be honored with Ruth Van Leer at Hadassah’s annual Heart Luncheon on May 11 at the Lawrence Country Club. Celebrating her 44th season, the Luncheon is chaired by Fay Cohen. Please join Fay and Hadassah President Renee Freeman in celebrating the achievements of these distinguished honorees.

***14,000 Daffodils are again in bloom! thanks to Nadia Murphy and the Garden Club Ladies. They each represent perpetual prayers for all those who perished in the WTC attack.     

***Very Special Birthday wishes this month to a very special woman whom I love. She’s everybody’s "mother"; and if you are lucky enough, she is your friend. She certainly is mine: Happy Birthday Frances Abbracciamento!

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