March 7, 2013
Photo by Tom Oxley
Whenever a new band with their music manages to subtly reference the past while simultaneously experimenting sonically in an entirely current way (and, perhaps most importantly, gets our toes tapping at the same time), they can count us as immediate and ardent fans.
Natalie and Eliot Bergman, the brother-sister duo behind Wild Belle, do just that. Their singular sound (on new album Isles) has footholds in reggae, soul, doo-wop and afrobeat, and seems to rely as heavily on powerful percussion and horn (brace yourself for some killer sax) as on Natalie’s rambling, retro-tinged vocals (think a funkified Amy Winehouse).
We caught up with Natalie to talk music and style icons, dream island destinations and what it’s like to work with her brother.
Can you tell me a bit about your musical background?
I come from a musical family. My mother was always playing Joni Mitchell on guitar and Gershwin on the piano. My father is a great guitar player and has a strong voice like Sinatra. Singing and dancing was always encouraged in our household!
I started playing violin when I was in preschool, then piano a few years later and shortly after found my fondness of songwriting. I was in gospel choir in school and my teacher, Mr. Bell, was an amazing pianist. I studied with him all through high school, and he gave me a real outlet for expressing myself. I was rejected from all of the school musicals, and Mr. Bell gave me a place to shine. I’ve never really thanked him, but I am so appreciative of him for turning me onto all sorts of soul music and a whole bunch of African music.
I moved to Boston for college where I studied piano and percussion for a few years, then took a break from school to move to New York City where I played with various musicians around town before eventually ending up in the studio with my brother!
Had you worked together before? What was it like collaborating with your brother?
Elliot was recording a new record in Michigan at Key Club with Bill Skibbe. He invited me into the studio to work on some demos I had recorded in GarageBand over the past few years and we sort of reworked the demos and they magically evolved into something called “Wild Belle.”
Neither of us predicted what was to come, but it was all very natural. If I had no eyes and I no longer had ears, Elliot could navigate for me. He knows what sounds I like. He understands me more than most people on this planet and I am extremely thankful for that.
March 4, 2013
Are you a constant chronicler? Unlike the Instagram-ing masses, do you rely on something more than an iPhone for your nonstop picture-taking? Can you rattle off your favorite photographers the way most name-check celebrities?
If you answered yes to all of the above, Foam Magazine’s annual Talent Call just may be for you.
The highly esteemed Amsterdam-born quarterly photography magazine (and one of Madewell’s must-reads) holds a contest every year to find the next set of young and hungry photo talent (the age limit for entries is 18–35).
So what exactly do you win (besides major bragging rights, of course)? Your work will be published in the magazine and online, and, as if that wasn’t cool enough, also exhibited for the public to behold at Amsterdam’s annual Unseen Photo Fair.
Think you’ve got an, ahem, shot?
Enter the Talent Call here.
February 23, 2013
A chat with Jessica Taylor, a performance maker and curator, confirmed a travel fact we had long suspected: Berlin just may be one of the coolest European capitals, period. Expat Taylor, whose next project is conceptualizing the menu for a weekend pop-up eatery at Sing Blackbird, a spot local to Berlin, shared some of her favorite places in the city she now calls home.
Avant-Garde Haven: Volksbühne, Linienstraße 227, +49 30 24065 ext. 5
What I love about the Berlin theater scene is that even the state-run theater is experimental and innovative. I’ve seen incredible productions at Volksbühne, from the great Laurie Anderson to an epic 11-hour marathon adaptation of Ibsen’s John Gabriel Borkman.
Artsy Haunt: Hamburger Bahnhof, Invalidenstraße 50, +49 30 3987 3411
A former railway station, Hamburger Bahnhof houses permanent pieces by Cy Twombly and Joseph Beuys along with a fantastic rotation of exhibitions. My favorite: a Carsten Höller exhibition with twelve live reindeer in which (a few lucky) visitors were invited to spend the night on an elevated mushroom above the reindeer pen and wake up to breakfast in bed!
Locavore Gem: Little Otik, Graefestrasse 71, +49 30 5036 2301
I used to live around the corner from this gem that specializes in farm-to-table fare.
Fashionable Café: Sing Blackbird, Sanderstraße 11, +49 30 5484 5051
My girls Tasha and Diana run this sweet little cafe/vintage shop. In the three years it has been open it’s quickly turned into a Berlin institution, serving delicious treats and hosting the most fly vintage-clothing flea market in town.
Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name. Many a late morning have been spent here enjoying a fine English breakfast that languidly eases into afternoon scones, and suddenly it’s half past six and you’re ordering a pitcher of Pimms.
Indie Movie House: Babylon Kino, Rosa-Luxemburg-Straße 30, +49 30 242 5969
A great place for film buffs! My favorite Babylon moment was watching a live orchestra perform during a screening of Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times.
Vintage Treasure Trove: Das Neue Schwarz, Mulackstrasse 38, +49 30 2787 4467
A superstore of beautiful fashion! Sometimes I get dizzy just thinking about the impeccable selection of accessories.
Singular Bookshop: Dialogue Books, Schönleinstraße 31, +49 30 6273 5111
A haven for expats looking for great literature. Dialogue’s expert team of book geeks will actually sit down with you to recommend their favorite reads and take special orders. I always leave with something unexpected.
Round-the-clock Hangout: Tempelhof Feld, Künnekeweg 1, +49 30 9170 0700
When the city of Berlin decided to turn one of Europe’s most iconic airports into the city’s largest public park, Berliners went berserk. And rightfully so. Now you can spend the day barbecuing, gardening in your vegetable plot, going to trade shows or dancing in the hangar to Diplo.
Palatial Escape: Sanssouci, Schloss Sanssouci - Potsdam, +03 3 1969 4202
Germany’s very own Versailles! If you’re looking to escape the DDR architecture of the city, take the train 30 minutes outside of the city and explore Sanssouci’s verdant gardens and majestic palaces.
Buzzy Boutique Hotel: Michelberger Hotel, Warschauer Straße 39/40, +49 30 2977 ext. 8590
Hotel Michelberger knows how to throw a shindig. For their opening party three years ago, they invited guests to party all night and stay the entire weekend in their rooms to party some more. Classic Berlin!
February 8, 2013
We admit it, we love a great big-screen love story. And since Valentine’s Day is the ultimate occasion for celebrating mushy sentimentalism in all its various incarnations, we couldn’t think of a better time to pay homage to eight of our favorite lovey-dovey movies. We separated them for your convenience into comedy and tearjerker categories, so you know whether or not to have tissues handy.
(Be sure to take a break from Valentine’s viewing to enter our Pinterest sweeps with Rue La La for a chance to win $2,000 in gift cards!)
When Harry Met Sally (1989)
Perhaps the greatest romantic comedy of all time. Written by the inimitable Nora Ehpron, with Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan playing the titular lovable failures at love, it asked the age-old question: Can men and women be friends without sex getting in the way? It also has pretty much the best scene ever filmed in a deli. (“I’ll have what she’s having.”)
Sixteen Candles (1984)
As one tagline said, “It’s the story of a girl who’s stuck with a guy who’s driving her crazy, and stuck on a guy she’s crazy about.” A year before reuniting for one of the most seminal teen flicks ever (The Breakfast Club), ’80s brat pack queen Molly Ringwald and Anthony Michael Hall starred in this John Hughes high school romance classic. It’s really the ensemble cast—the sister on quaaludes, the inappropriate grandparents, the foreign-exchange student—that raised the comedic ante though.
Annie Hall (1977)
The epitome of a nervous romance, the (in our humble opinion) best Woody Allen film traces the ups and (mostly) downs of the equally neuroses-racked comedian Alvy Singer and his sometime girlfriend, singer/photographer/quirky dresser Annie Hall. As always, there are many Woody-isms to appreciate: “A relationship is like a shark—it has to constantly move forward or it dies. And I think what we have on our hands is a dead shark.”
Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994)
No one plays the bumbling avowed bachelor quite like Hugh Grant. He’s Charlie in this British comedy revolving around a group of close friends as they attend, well, four weddings and a funeral together, each event highlighting their own misfortune in the love department. It’s at one gathering that he meets the American woman Carrie (Andie MacDowell), who helps him change his ways.
Love Story (1970)
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.” The most famous line from this extreme tearjerker. Based on the hugely successful book by Erich Segal, it starred two of the decade’s most buzzed-about (and attractive) actors, Ali MacGraw and Ryan O’Neal, as the Ivy League couple in an ultimately ill-fated love story. When you’re not weeping, there is also style inspiration (think ’70s New England prep) aplenty to behold.
Legends of the Fall (1994)
Of the many romantic quandaries to find yourself in, having three attractive brothers all madly in love with you doesn’t seem like such a bad one. But for Susannah (Julia Ormond) in this story set in the stunning Montana Rockies in the early 1900s, it would lead to jealousy, betrayal and, ultimately, tragedy. Not so tragic: Brad Pitt as the wild-natured youngest son Tristan, who is awfully easy on the eyes with his long shiny mane of golden hair.
An Affair to Remember (1957)
One of the original rom-crys, it is the forbearer of the tragic romance genre and the standard against which all future films should be compared. It’s so iconic, in fact, that it inspired a major plot point in ’90s big-screen romance Sleepless in Seattle. Starring the devastatingly handsome Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr, it tells the story of a man and woman who fall in love on a cruise and, though they are both engaged, agree to meet in six months at the top of the Empire State Building. But something goes wrong…
The soundtrack featuring the sweetest Righteous Brother’s ballad, “Unchained Melody.” That famous scene at the pottery wheel. The “ditto” response to declarations of love. Plus, of course, the gorgeous stars, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Memorable moments abound in this movie about a man who comes back to his girlfriend as a ghost (with the help of medium Whoopi Goldberg).
January 25, 2013
We count ourselves big fans of the print medium here at Madewell, so when we discovered the wonder that is Book Stand, an online shop devoted to offering a thoughtful curation of the most exquisite, and often very hard-to-find, books and magazines, we were immediately smitten. The curator responsible for all this amazingness? LA-based art and film director Claire Cottrell. Read all about her:
Claire Cottrell in her LA home. Photo by Jessica Comingore.
Can you tell us a little about your background?
I studied architecture but was seduced by advertising when I was finishing up grad school. I worked my way up as a producer and then, after feeling like I’d lost my way creatively, switched gears and started working as an art director, and then as a film director. I’ve always been obsessed with art books.
What inspired you to start Book Stand?
In between jobs I was making a living creating mood boards for ad campaigns, film and television. It was kind of crazy, but big production companies would pay me to research and present inspiring images to help clients visualize a project. The more I thought about it, the more I fell in love with the idea of a place where you can literally shop for inspiration.
How do you find the books and magazines you feature?
I start with a subject that’s of interest to me (plants, a specific color, a philosophy) and then start looking around, which involves everything from poking around the internet to scouring second-hand stores, friends’ personal libraries, etc. And lately, I’ve had some really interesting submissions.
What are your top five favorite titles you are currently carrying?
Are Plants People, by Mark Borthwick
Blossom, by Hermine Van Dijck and Eefje Coninck
Plants and Mammals, by Carol Bove
Natural History, by Jordan Sullivan
Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion and Jewelry, by Leanne Shapton
Do you have any favorite bookstores or literary landmarks that you’ve visited?
0fr. in Paris and Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts.
What are the first books you remember falling in love with?
Swallows and Amazons, by Arthur Ransome
The Faraway Tree, by Enid Blyton
Take Care of Yourself, by Sophie Calle
What are your thoughts on the Kindle culture?
I think it’s great if you’re an avid reader, but personally, I can’t do it. I spend enough time looking at a screen; the printed page is my escape from digital everything. Add to that, I think tablets work for literature, but the art book is (and always will be) best as a beautiful object that you can hold and cherish.
January 18, 2013
Photos by Olivia Malone.
From the Go-Go’s to Bikini Kill, The Pointer Sisters to Sleater-Kinney (and, in turn, Wild Flag), we love us an all-girl band. Add to our already healthy roster of women-only bands who rock the Brooklyn-based group Bad Girlfriend. Besides their name, which we think, it should be said, is pretty awesome, we can also get behind the cheery garage-punk tunes they are churning out. Not to mention they happen to be big fans of, well, us—check out how killer they all look on stage in our Veda x Madewell leather jackets.
Yup, these are Veda x Madewell denim and leather jackets—they drop Jan. 29, so keep a lookout.
Since the girls spend the majority of their time working (and playing) in their Williamsburg neighborhood, we asked them to share some of their favorite local haunts.
Favorite Tattoo Parlor:
492 Metropolitan Ave.
Favorite Music Venue:
289 Kent Ave.
Favorite Vintage Store:
285 N. 6th St.
Champs (vegan diner)
176 Ainslie St.
Favorite Record Store:
Academy Record Annex
96 N. 6th St.
Spoonbill & Sugartown
218 Bedford Ave.
Favorite Juice Bar:
Lodge General Store
318 Grand St.
Favorite Sweet Treat Spot:
Momofuku Milk Bar
382 Metropolitan Ave.
295 Berry St.
Favorite Brunch Spot:
133 Wythe Ave.