Fashion and func­tion

Get ready for the lat­est fashion ac­ces­sory, the bi­cy­cle.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - TRENDS - By RUTH LA FERLA

TALK about mak­ing an en­trance. In­tent on ar­riv­ing at a re­cent gala in style, Topaz Page-Green swooshed onto the scene on her trusty vin­tage road­ster. She wore, of all things, a scar­let dress with a slinky 1920s feel. “It was to the an­kles,” she re­called. “I had to hoist it up.”

Page-Green, who runs a non-profit group that pro­vides meals to needy chil­dren, likes to charge around town on her bike. Some­times she’s done up in sparkly neck­laces and tow­er­ing heels; other times she coasts to ap­point­ments, sans hel­met, in a blazer and fresh­pressed jeans. “I get a lit­tle sweaty but it doesn’t bother me,” she said. Her bike, af­ter all, is a stylish ap­pendage, “a kind of rus­tic en­hance­ment,” she said.

She is one in an in­creas­ingly vis­i­ble band of chic New York­ers whoosh­ing along the green­painted bike lanes that have pro­lif­er­ated in Man­hat­tan, from the Brook­lyn Bridge to the Hud­son and from TriBeCa to Har­lem, clutch­ing Black­Ber­rys and clad not in span­dex, but in flut­tery skirts, capes and kit­ten heels.

Road­ways are the new run­ways for these style-ob­sessed cy­clists, their bikes no mere con­veyance but a racy ad­junct to their look. More than a few are in­fus­ing what used to be an ath­letic, or purely prac­ti­cal, pur­suit with eye-catch­ing glam­our and sex ap­peal. Their style, a mod­ish amal­gam of fashion and func­tion, is doc­u­mented on blogs and em­u­lated by like-minded sis­ters on wheels.

Women, mostly young, have given the im­age of cy­clists “an ex­treme makeover,” said Ge­orge Bliss, who owns Hud­son Ur­ban Bikes on Charles Street in the West Vil­lage. His store caters to up­scale New York­ers whose aim it is to speed around town on a tra­di­tional Sch­winn or three-speed Raleigh while sac­ri­fic­ing nei­ther their deco­rum nor élan. They are a far cry “from the im­age of the adult cy­clist as in­fantry solider with a hel­met,” Bliss said, re­fer­ring mostly to the ath­letes and mes­sen­gers who whiz by in that all-too-fa­mil­iar for­ward-thrust pos­ture that has, he said, “alien­ated ev­ery pedes­trian.”

Bliss said that his clients tend to be women who al­most in­vari­ably dress to im­press. “They are my best cus­tomers,” he said. “They want more things – fend­ers, bas­kets, chains, bells and things to carry their kids and their dogs.” And most are turn­ing their backs on the on­ce­cus­tom­ary aero­dy­namic hel­mets and la­tex shorts in favour of a look as fetch­ing as it is gen­teel.

In a city that el­e­vates the pur­suit of chic to strato­spheric heights, vogu­ish cy­clists on vin­tage bikes are “part of a move­ment,” said Julie Hirschfeld, the owner of Ade­line Ade­line, a bou­tique in TriBeCa that sells bi­cy­cles, jaunty vin­tage-style wicker bas­kets and can­vas bags. Their look, cap­tured on web­sites like The Sar­to­ri­al­ist and Bi­cy­cle Cat­walk, as well as Cy­cle Chic from Copen­hagen, is part of “that whole sort of blog style,” Hirschfeld said, one that is stud­ied and much copied on Man­hat­tan’s streets.

A de­sire to look work­day glam­orous im­pelled Michelle Til­lou, an art dealer, to ride to her gallery on Beek­man Place the other day wear­ing a blazer, elas­ti­cised trousers and patent-leather wedge-heel shoes. More of­ten she slips on kit­ten heels. “The bet­ter to hook onto the ped­als,” she said.

For de­signer Lela Rose, wedge-heeled plat­forms and a khaki shirt­dress of her own de­sign are ideal for rac­ing on her cus­tom tri­cy­cle from the Union Square Green­mar­ket, where she picked up a bun­dle of mint, to her Sev­enth Av­enue ate­lier.

Rose and her cy­cling co­horts be­gan ap­pear­ing in Man­hat­tan in sig­nif­i­cant num­bers a cou­ple of years ago, in­flu­enced per­haps by a hand­ful of early adopters, in­clud­ing lo­cal celeb- ri­ties like Chloë Se­vi­gny and Naomi Watts, who aimed to burn calo­ries, not fos­sil fu­els.

Not ev­ery­one is thrilled. Ross Autry, a blog­ger in Birm­ing­ham, Alabama, noted in an email that mul­ti­task­ing bi­cy­clists are too self­con­sciously hip for his taste and, what’s worse, may pose a haz­ard.

“Fix­ing your make-up or send­ing a text mes­sage could have cat­a­strophic re­sults,” he said. Such com­plaints, though, go largely un­noted in an in­creas­ingly bike-friendly city. Last year, the city com­pleted 321.8km of bike lanes in all five bor­oughs, con­tribut­ing to an in­crease in the num­ber of daily city cy­clists to an es­ti­mated 201,000, up 79% from 2008, ac­cord­ing to Trans­porta­tion Al­ter­na­tives, a bi­cy­cle ad­vo­cacy or­gan­i­sa­tion.

A re­port by the Depart­ment of Plan­ning in­di­cates that the num­ber of adult fe­male cy­clists in the city is grow­ing faster than that of men. The male-to-fe­male ra­tio has dropped yearly since 2003. Some of these women seem to view their bikes, equipped with high-end sad­dle bags and bells, as a stand-in for a car.

Rose, who moved to New York from Dal­las, can be spied any day of the week ped­al­ing up­town from her home in TriBeCa, her chil­dren and Stitch, her ter­rier, in tow in a seat­ing com­part­ment that is at­tached to the tri­cy­cle.

“A bike in New York City is sort of what a con­vert­ible is in Los An­ge­les,” said Bon­nie Mor­ri­son, a fashion pub­li­cist who scoots around the city on a boy’s Raleigh Chop­per from the 70s. Its low-rid­ing ba­nana seat, ul­tra­w­ide han­dle­bars and non­func­tion­ing speedome­ter are part of its charm, Mor­ri­son said.

So, too, is its off-kil­ter cool. Mor­ri­son once planned an out­fit to com­ple­ment her lit­tle chop­per: a chambray shirt flat sandals and a pat­terned 50s-in­spired Prada skirt. “I saw my­self as this very chic, care­free Parisian on a moped with an Her­mès bag and the wind in my hair,” she said. It turned out that her skirt was too snug for pro­pri­ety. “Be­sides,” she said, “at times, when I see my re­flec­tion in a shop win­dow, I think, Oh my God, I look like a 35year-old on a child’s bike.”

On a blus­tery morn­ing last week in Wil­liams­burg, Brook­lyn, Lee Dares, a model newly ar­rived from Toronto, wore a girl­ishly bibbed sweater, a navy blazer, Ann De­meule­meester roughrider boots and vin­tage Gucci sun­glasses, her look ac­ces­sorised with a bor­rowed Sch­winn Le Tour. Dares has her heart set on a Raleigh sin­gle-speed, once she set­tles in. – IHT Alexan­dra Cas­san­iti’s

cot­ton can­vas bike

bag straps to han­dle­bars

or seat post.

Pedal power: Fashion de­signer Lela Rose tak­ing her cus­tom-built tri­cy­cle and her dog, Stitch, to her stu­dio.

Lee Dares, a model, adopts the pop­u­lar mode of travel in Wil­liams­burg, Brook­lyn.

Po Campo’s rack tote is wa­ter-re­sis­tant and re­flec­tive.

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