Jesus, this month. How much heartbreak can we take?
To lighten the mood a bit, last week I met my friend Angela in New York and spent a delightful day with her. We walked from Battery Park to Chinatown, where we feasted at Nom Wah (Thanks to Rosie for sending us there. Best. Dim Sum. Ever!), then we caught the train uptown to see the “Manus Ex Machina” exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So here are some pictures to remind us that when the world gets ugly, and God knows it’s been one ugly-ass summer so far, there is still beauty all around us.
The exhibit has been extended into September. If you have the chance, do go see it.
This is a long one, and picture heavy, so grab a cup or glass, sit back, and enjoy. 🙂
I was in New York for a series of meetings this week. Yesterday morning, I got a call about an hour before one of my scheduled meetings that the vendor was sick and couldn’t make it. That gave me a couple of hours to kill. Let’s see, I’m in New York, I have nowhere to be until noon. What to do? It took me all of about a nanosecond to hail a cab and head up to the Met, where “Charles James: Beyond Fashion” is on display. I had less than 2 hours, so I booked it right for the exhibit.
The exhibit is outstanding for the most part. It’s split into two areas. The first area houses the iconic James gowns: Tree, Butterfly, Four Leaf Clover, Swan and many others. These gowns are heavy. They weigh between 12 and 20 lbs. Vogue has a fun article about the comparative weights of several iconic James Gowns. For example, Tree:
Weighs 13 lbs, or as Vogue likes to say, about the same as an average sized watermelon. The Butterfly dress, which I am kicking myself for not getting a picture, weighs the same as 5 baby French Bulldogs. Speaking of which, Puppy Dress!!!!
Rather than blah blah blah you to death, let me just share the pictures I took. They allowed pictures, as long as you didn’t use flash. I only had my phone with me, so pardon the low quality.
Something cool that the exhibit did was they had videos, camera shots and ‘x-rays’ of the innards of the dresses. They used robotic arms to highlight the areas they were describing on monitors, and they even (and this was totally cool) had one camera that delved under a dress to show the multicolored layers of tulle that made up the underskirt.
The silk and velvet Four Leaf Clover was there, as was this absolutely spectacular lace and silk version
Here are some more pictures with some detail shots
This bridal dress was designed by Charles for a Modess sanitary napkins print ad. My, how times have changed…
This dress was designed for the opening of a Georgia O’Keefe exhibit, and is meant to reference the female genitalia. Can I just say? I am no prude but I don’t need any literal references to the vajayjay running down the front of my dress.
There’s a reason that look never caught on, Chuck, trust me.
After the Iconic Gowns, the exhibit continues.
On the other side of the museum, behind the Temple of Dendur (which is so cool, BTW) and down in the basement!
Seriously, the gowns are front and center, and the rest of his work is consigned to the cellar. The curators were trying to say something here. Maybe the curators were inadvertently imagining the wearers of his other outfits to be traveling by subway? Who knows. But in the (basement) Anna Wintour Costume Institute, the works displayed were in many cases, remarkably pedestrian. Coats, day and evening dresses, worn by the socialites of the day, and no doubt worn beautifully, but they were not iconic. They are not notable. They are not even memorable.
As I said to Phyllis, ‘These reminded me of Ethel Mertz and Mamie Eisenhower.’ I said earlier that the show was outstanding for the most part. The part that was outstanding was on the first floor, not in the basement. The coats, dresses and outfits – even the gowns, are of their time. They are a wonderful diorama of postwar chic. James is considered visionary, but his vision doesn’t translate across time. They are costumes that were worn by our grandmothers. Beautiful costumes, but costumes nonetheless.
While this may be more of an historical reference, the show is really worth seeing. If you can get to New York to see this exhibit, by all means do! It’s a great snapshot of American fashion history.
And apropos of nothing, I put up a huge Memorial Day sale at Gorgeous Fabrics! Almost everything* is on sale for 20% off. So get over there and grab some great bargains! Sale runs through May 29th, 2011.
(*What’s not included? Swatches, muslin, notions, gift certificates and fabrics that came in and are put up on the site after the sale began. Other than that, it’s all good.)
I took some time recently to see the “High Style: Betsy Bloomingdale and the Haute Couture” exhibit at the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, MA.
Can I just tell you? Beyond fabulous.
I remember seeing pictures of Betsy Bloomingdale in Vogue and Bazaar. My mother always exclaimed over her taste. It was a real treat to see the dresses and gowns they had on display at the museum. It brought me right back to my childhood and youth. The exhibit runs through January 2, 2011.
It’s a lovely little boite of a museum, but it almost seems neglected. Lowell, MA, was at one time a center of the textile industry in the US. But now there are no textile mills within many miles. The industry abandoned New England for the South many long years ago. And now, of course, it has abandoned the South for far flung lands. It’s a stark reminder of what once was, and probably will never be again.
That said, it’s a fun little museum, and this exhibit, which is a traveling road show of the exhibit put forth by the museum at FIDM in Los Angeles, is a must see! You start out in the upper foyer, where there are croquis and a video, along with an amazing silk/linen gown by Dior (Bohan). The gown has handpainted flowers from the bodice down to the hem. As you get closer to the bottom, there are amazing handpainted organza blossoms attached. It’s simply astounding.
Next to the foyer is a room with several gowns that Bloomingdale wore at various occasions, including Reagan-era dinners, Met galas, and Parisian soirees. They were all just gorgeous, and you can get up close and personal to them. I was alone in the galleries and I was able to get within inches of the gowns to look at the stitching. There is another room on the lower floor, which houses gowns, dresses and pantsuits by Galanos, Dior, Givenchy, Halston and several others. It’s a peek inside a rarefied world.
For me, the most interesting piece was a black velvet and gold silk gown by Dior. This one was turned inside out, so you can see the inner construction of the corselette. The hand-stitched finish of the seam allowances was so fine it was breathtaking.
Wow, I’m using an awful lot of superlatives, non? Well, if you’re going to look at couture, you might as well pull out all the superlatives that Sr. Jacqueline taught you in 10th grade.
Seriously though, this is a must-see, if you have any interest in couture. It is at Lowell for the remainder of 2010. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
Here are a couple of pictures of desses and gowns from the exhibit, to tempt you to go…
I read three newspapers per day now. I added Women’s Wear Daily to my roster. And given the depressing headlines stalking the other two, I’m glad I did. Though I must admit, lately the gloom has spread to the front page of WWD.
But you know what? This post isn’t about that. This post is about fabulousness in its purest form, available for free online. To whit, WWD had an article on Tuesday about the latest offering from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. They are placing their entire catalogue online! And my favorite part?
I promised you pictures of the Performance Art Balloons at the MAD opening, so here you go. Talk about taking the balloon doggie to a new level. First we have the “Anemone”: Then there was the “Boy Balloon” And of course, the complementing “Girl Balloon” Tell me those aren’t, um, evocative…