Visual Arts » Fashion

In My Closet: House of Style



About the series:
'In My Closet' is a Sky Blue Window feature, taking readers inside the wardrobes of some of the city's most fashionable women and men. Clothing budgets, big and small, are included. But the owners of the closets you'll read about have at least one thing in common: wearable art.

  • Perry Reichanadter

Name: Emmett Cooper and Naieem Abdool

Their work: Co-owners of Emmetts, 711 E. 54th St.

Their play: Traveling, mainly to New York City and Los Angeles, and browsing antiques stores, vintage apparel shops and high-end boutiques.

Closet CliffsNotes: Having converted a room in their home into their closet, Cooper and Abdool maintain a collection of new and old pieces that can be mixed and matched into polished glamorous looks for Abdool's taste or hip rock 'n' roll style for Cooper's.

Favorite pieces: Cooper's Italian rhinestone ankle boots and Abdool's white vintage cricketer's jacket

Something they'll never have in their closet: pleated pants (Cooper), button-down cardigan (Abdool)

When hair stylist Naieem Abdool slips on his favorite vintage black jacket, one with authentic leopard lapels, there's only one appropriate addition: a rare piece of gold-tone-and-rhinestone jewelry, designed by fashion icon Gianni Versace.

  • Perry Reichanadter

The accessory -- a hair clip Abdool affixes to the funky jacket like a pin -- was a gift from supermodel Elaine Irwin. She got it as a favor for modeling Versace's 1992 bondage collection of super-sexy black straps, leather and gold buckles. And, a few years ago, she decided it should go to Abdool when he and his partner, Emmett Cooper, were working on her hair.

"I was telling her that my favorite (collection) was ... when she wore the bondage dress," remembers Abdool, who said he got goose bumps and teary-eyed when Irwin handed him the clip. "It was made during a time when supermodels were popular."

The unique clip, which was worn during runway shows and wasn't sold in stores, is a contemporary eye-catcher that resembles a shiny sundial.

Abdool and Cooper love it for its sentimental value - Irwin is their favorite client. But it's a great conversation piece, too, much like most of the rest of their collection of jackets, jewelry, belts and baubles.

Speaking of, here are a few more highlights:

  • Perry Reichanadter

+ A necklace and bracelet of ivory-colored skull-shaped beads that were blessed by the Dalai Lama

 Irwin, who gave them to Abdool and Cooper, knows the religious leader.

"In Buddhism, skulls are very positive," said Cooper, who wears the bracelet daily.

Though they all don't have such famous origins, beaded wrist-wear is a staple in the couple's wardrobe. Cooper got his first set of colorful bracelets 20 years ago at Los Angeles' swanky boutique Traffic, which caters to Hollywood's elite.  About four years ago, Abdool and Cooper started making their own versions.

Cooper wears yet another bracelet on days he wants a little nostalgia with his fashion. Over decades of her life, his mother wore a small, diamond-accented timepiece. So, after she died, Cooper had it affixed to decorative metal doorknob hardware that is bent into a cuff for his wrist.

The face of the watch fits perfectly in the spot where a small doorknob used to be, and Cooper set it at 9 p.m. - the hour his mother died.

  • Perry Reichanadter

+ Cooper's Italian ankle boots

Comfortable Italian boots with intricate stitching and amber rhinestones on the top, they add cool cowboy sparkle to a jeans-and-Tee ensemble and puts a two-step twist on dressy occasions. Gotten two decades ago in New York City at Otto Tootsi Plohound, a one-time cutting edge chain of shoe stores, the boots were once a source of good-natured angst.

"We walked into a store that everybody said was the coolest shoe store, and as we walked in we both zeroed in on these boots at the exact same time," remembers Cooper. "Naieem runs right up to them and grabs them and goes, 'They're mine!'"

Dejected, Cooper waited for the store's salesperson to bring a pair to fit the quick-thinking Abdool's size 13 feet. But there was only one pair left in a size 11 -- Cooper's size. So after using his best braggart's tone to announce to Abdool, "they're mine," Cooper bought the pair of shoes that have since become his favorite.

  • Perry Reichanadter

+ A Gucci belt

Abdool apparently scored the accessory while it was on hold in a Beverly Hills boutique for a famous drag queen.

Having spotted the piece in a magazine, Abdool wanted the status symbol, despite the fact that the sales staff at the Gucci boutique told him there was only one left in the store and it was on hold for RuPaul, the drag queen, model and recording artist. Eventually, because the celebrity was late to pick it up, the store's sales staff agreed to sell it to Abdool, who admires RuPaul even if he did snag his belt.

"I think he's a positive person for kids that are growing up and don't fit in," said Abdool.

  • Perry Reichanadter

+ A collection of T-shirts signed by celebrities

Icon Liza Minnelli, TippiHedren (star of  Alfred Hitcock's "The Birds.") and the lesser-known Angelyne, a Hollywood singer, actress, politician and model who is known for advertising herself on billboards, have all signed tees for Cooper and Abdool.

"I like to find rare and obscure T-shirts that are iconic for different periods in popular culture," said Abdool.

+ Unusual jackets

Abdool, who gravitates to old-school Hollywood glamour and polish, loves his white vintage jacket, perhaps once worn by a cricketer, purchased with him in mind.

Jeannie Brown, the widow of the late NBA star Roger Brown, loves to scour estate sales and the like for unique pieces and resell them, said Abdool. She found the jacket, which is a favorite.

"I feel like I'm in Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s," said Abdool. "It was such a glamorous time. Everything was about grooming. I just strive for that look, with a polished edge, but then I try to make it a little more fun with my jewelry."

  • Perry Reichanadter

As for Cooper, his favorite jackets have something in common: texture and tweed. Some are lined with the classic cloth, some are made of it, but one of his favorites is a patchwork of several different types. All of them, though, can be worn with jeans, boots and a simple, preferably wrinkled, shirt -- just the way Cooper likes his look.

"I think we kind of balance each other out in a way," said Abdool.

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