all in linen. The concept, the execution, the clothing raising compassion to a creative art, menswear that aspires, in John’s words, to be cruelty free and earth friendly. From his watermelon/kale ticking stripe suit that opened the show, to his navy striped djellaba and “om” printed shorts, jackets and pants, John maintained his compassionate integrity and creative passion.
and I are longtime colleagues within the fashion industry, friends joined initially by the love of fashion — I visited his West Village apartment to view his first collection in ’91, resulting in kudos and a rave review in DNR, as well as a friendship as kindred Midwestern souls. Recently we’ve connected from our love of animals, dogs in general and Mignon in particular. John is the soul reason we have Mignon in our lives, a life-altering meeting during a North Shore Animal League adoption event sponsored by John in front of his store. That chance meeting led to the adoption of the Pomeranian love of our life!
FW: if you could have any notable person – dead or alive – wear your designs, who would it be and why, and in what would you dress them?
JB: i keep a movie still from “gandhi” with ben kingsley spooling his own yarn. for some reason my fantasy customer is gandhi himself. i would want him to teach me how to spin my own yarn and make fabric and then i would cut it into a long fit (and flair) djellaba for him.
FW: what is your most revered, favorite piece of clothing that you own now or have ever owned?
FW: what is, to you, the most impressive act you have ever accomplished and how would that be represented by your words to live by, either as an affirmation or quote or perhaps a sentiment for you as John Bartlett the fashion designer and animal activist and/or for you as John the individual?
JB: i humbly think that becoming vegan was the most (personally) impressive act i have ever tackled, but also the most natural, once i made the commitment. i feel that in this moment in time we are beginning to see how entangled our relationship is with animals, and the earth, so for me choosing a vegan lifestyle has been an incredible leap. a quote that i keep on my phone is this one by robert alden: “there is not enough darkness in all the world to put out even one candle.” this has many meanings on many levels and speaks to me…
Designer and animal activist John Bartlett was the success story at Thursday night’s dot429 and Wells Fargo “Salon Series: Conversations About Success” premiere. Held in the beautiful outdoor garden of The Yard at the Soho Grand Hotel, the enticing and inviting first of the series focused on investment as the topic and John gave his take on his multiple levels of success, from personal to professional to philanthropic.
“If you’re doing what you love, you can give so much back to your community,” John said, noting
that fashion is a harsh mistress that he had to walk away from after 9/11. He said he put everything in storage and went on sabbatical to Cambodia and Thailand, investing time in yoga and watching the Buddhist monks, where something there “hit my soul.” That led him back to New York, where he adopted a dog from North Shore Animal League, Tiny Tim, who put him on an entirely new path, and he returned to fashion, “doing it in a way that makes me happy.”
Tiny Tim made a huge impact on John and his business. The tripod dog became the logo of the designer’s clothing company, inspired John to volunteer at the Harlem animal care and control, to work with the compassion program to get dogs off the euthanasia list and ultimately to create the Tiny Tim Rescue Fund. “My legacy is the foundation that was created in honor of Tiny Tim. I’m working to merge the two worlds of commerce and compassion.”
Tiny Tim passed away about a year ago, but John says he still inspires him. For one, he’s just adopted a new little dog to join his existing family of two bigger dogs. In Mykonos recently, John got down on one knee and proposed to his longtime partner. Now, as far as investment goes, John quips that he’s planning ahead for 2 — plus 3 dogs. It’s obvious John has given so much back to his community — he loves what he’s doing. And we love him for that.
L-R: designer Kevin Stewart, Susan Sidor, Catherine Salfino, Barney Bishop, Gary Williams
|Event organizer Mary Ellen Barone with Mr. Osborn|
rice balls, meat balls, sauteed peppers and calamari
Did a quick drive by after the Perry Street block party to see John Bartlett, one of my most favorite designers of all time. I wanted my Loup Charmant designer friend Kee to meet him finally and see his magnificent style.
We were saddened to hear that he had bad news about Tiny Tim, the beloved tripod canine love of his life, who is also the logo for his adorable retro and rustic Seventh Avenue shop.
TT has just been diagnosed with lymphoma and while JB tried one go-round with chemo, he decided not to put his buddy through the whole ordeal. We concur and commiserate, and are sending John, his hubby and Tiny Tim all our love and positive thoughts.
Speaking of positive thoughts, we can’t stop thinking about the sweet capsule group of women’s wear that John just introduced, the one that was practically hidden that night in a back corner. The pretty little men’s wear inspired pieces include a luxurious butterscotch and buttery cashmere cable sweater, soft tweed trousers and vest. A particularly soft and cushy black and white houndstooth check hunting shirt had me practically fainting, as did a black and white argyle cashmere turtleneck that would be the equivalent to wearing your favorite blankie out to dinner. We vowed to come back for more, as the whole thing left us girls salivating, in particular, about owning a John Bartlett man’s suit sized to fit us. John promised us he’d be getting in more and keep us posted.
Now, isn’t he the sweetest designer ever?
I am so lucky to have this little thing to wake up to every morning. I think about this a lot, of all the joy and love she has brought into our lives.
She lights up early in the a.m., waiting quietly until she can no more and then, wriggling ecstatically, pounces on P to give him his morning kisses, grinning at him to roll her over in a rough-and-tumble tummy rub or throw her doggie-crack toy around the bed for her to chase like a mad beast.
She is a beautiful soul, an intuitive friend, a great listener, a super snuggler, a wonderful traveler and a master of the fake-out/sneak-in when it comes to restaurants, cocktail parties and art museums. She is a celebrity on our 7th Street sidewalk, greeted by neighbors I’ve never met. One model-esque couple stopped us with “Is that Mignon? We thought we recognized her!” And then spoke French to her. Children love her, and while she may be afraid, she is never snippy or mean to them.
New comprehensions and communications astound me. How she understands what I ask her to do and how she does it, blows my mind. New positions for sleep, with all four legs in the air, amuse me. I realize just how bound together humans and canines truly are. And I love it.
I am blessed that we were able to bring Mignon back with us from the North Shore Animal League that November day, thankful to John Bartlett and his endearing and unending love and support and championing of all the rescue animals brought in to that facility needing new families.
Thank you, John. Thank you NSAL.
Look at us.
What a lovely little family we have now.
Meet Miss Princess Pomegranate Lulubelle Mignon!!!!!
Mignon for reals.
I first met this beautiful little pomegranate, oops! er, Pomeranian!, at a North Shore Animal League adoption event sponsored by designer extraordinaire/animal rights supporter John Bartlett, held in front of his 7th Avenue South West Village clothing boutique a couple of Saturdays ago. In my mind, it was just a drive-by for us, a quickie run-through-the-wagon-thang to say hi to JB and head home for a very much needed shower. (P and I had pitched in with the workmen that morning during a massive cleaning of my co-op’s cellar storage space, recently made even more filthy than its normal cellar dirtiness from a building-wide electric upgrade.) The deal had been struck between the two of us that I could run through and look at the doggies, but that P would not get out of the car.
On first pass, this Little One, “Penny” on her cage’s name card, coyly drew me in with those endlessly deep liquid eyes, then literally drew me in with her dexterous curling paws, begging me to scratch her behind her ears in between sweet, warm licky kisses. She had me at ~ yes ~ hello. Yet still I dangerously pushed my limit by giving in to the attendant’s request to hold her.
No doubt about it. I was hooked.
I ran out to the car and now I was begging, pleading with P to come in and meet her, breathlessly describing how her sweet little delicate face seemed a combination of Kuku’s, our former pocket Yorkie, and Lily’s, our lovable Maltese we’d lost nearly a year ago, whose death I thought I’d never get over enough to want another doglet in our lives. Obviously, I was wrong. The time had finally come.
JB came over and met the hubby, but P still wouldn’t get out of the car. Okay, I rationalized, we’d go home, shower and return to the adoption wagon. They’d be there at least until 4:30, according to one of the volunteers. If the doglet was still there when we got back, it would show that it was meant to be. If not, oh well. We’d only just begun to talk about adopting a shelter dog, anyway, and we hadn’t even begun to look at any at all. This was our first foray. And it was a big step.
Of course when we got home, there was no water in the building. I waited, secure in the belief that we’d be able to shower soon and head back over. When 4:30 came and went, I started to accept that maybe it wasn’t meant to be, and when it was 6 and there was still no water, I began to worry about how we’d get cleaned up for dinner plans we had. By the time our friends let us know they were running late and we finally had water to shower, the doggie adoption idea was fading as fast as the shower water was swirling down the bathtub drain.
I Facebooked John quickly before running out the door, thanking him for inviting us and apologized for not making it back. I inquired about the little pom and who she’d been adopted by and told John we were thinking about heading out to Long Island the next day to check out what other doggies the shelter might have. When I got home, John’s response made my heart jump; a woman had been in the process of adopting the Little One and had gone out to get her checkbook but never returned. Little One was still available for adoption!
That next morning we got out to NSAL later than we’d planned, more like around 11 than the opening hour of 10. Inside the atrium, a young woman already was playing with “Penny,” her completed paperwork piled to one side. I watched as a worker came and took “Penny.” She was being adopted.
When the news was confirmed, I burst into tears behind my sunglasses and merely walked silently out to the car, crushed. P tried to console me and as we were about to drive out, I had a change of heart and decided we should make certain the adoption was going through. For an hour or more, we tried to track her down, bugging various volunteers, unable to find out exactly what was transpiring. The young woman adopting “Penny” was now playing with two other puppies. No one could tell us where “Penny” was. One worker said she was already adopted, and tried to steer us toward other Poms. I tried to explain that we weren’t looking for Poms in general, merely looking for one Pom in particular. Another worker said he found out that she was on hold but couldn’t figure out why or how, since the shelter doesn’t allow holding; it’s a first-come-first-serve basis facility. Then we were told she was on hold along with another Pom for a worker’s aunt whose Pom had died earlier that week.
We gave up; it was all too confusing and I sadly resigned myself to the fact that this Pom and we were not meant to be. I’d left my name and number with one of the more helpful and kindest of the volunteers, Steve, and we were driving out of the parking lot when Steve rang, hurrying me back inside. I was ushered into an interior administrative office where I finally, finally was able to hold the sweet Little One on my lap.
We found out what little information they knew about her. She was a puppy mill mommy from Missouri, a pretty little dog relegated to live, eat, drink, eliminate and whelp her little ones over and over in a wire cage much like a rabbit hutch kept up off the ground. She was 3 or 4 years old and that would have been her existence for the rest of her life, until she died in puppy birth or could no longer have pups and was deemed redundant and let loose as a stray or hit on the back of the head with a rock. Her tummy and teats were swollen from perpetually pumping out puppies that were then taken from her, shipped out probably not even yet weaned and sold in pet stores around the country. She was from one of five states that allow the more notorious mills, “commercial breeders,” which basically ignore the Animal Welfare Act.
The rest is history. She’s not housebroken, but almost. And she has just found her voice, another difficult training path we are on. But we are making it work, the key being incredible diligence and consistency. And watchfulness. It’s hard work. Especially with my other hand having just been operated upon this past week. But, again. We are. Making it. Work…
And, of course, wee wee pads help!