Items: Is Fashion Modern? @ MoMA

On October 1st, 2017, MoMA opened a new exhibition with the inquiring title ”Items: Is Fashion Modern?”, sparking waves of excitement across the worlds of fashion and design. Not so much because of the items themselves, which were mainly clothes and accessories we are all familiar with in our everyday lives, but mainly because ”Items” was the first fashion show that MoMA had organised in more than 70 years, the last time being in 1944 with a similarly inquiring exhibition, called ”Are Clothes Modern?”

The 2017 show consisted of 111 items of clothing and accessories that had had a strong impact on the world in the 20th and 21st centuries. It had also invited some designers, engineers, and manufacturers to reexamine these familiar items with the view of rendering them – or at least some versions of them – useful, updated and ”Modern” further into the future.

Robin From Skin Series, 2006
Tamae Hirokawa, Japanese, b. 1976 – Somarta, Japan, founded 2006
Tights

Somarta developed a computer-aided design and manufacturing process to produce seamless, three-dimensional knitted garments that are halfway between tattoos and tights


Le Smoking, 1967
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche


StarckNaked, 1997
Philippe Starck for Wolford
Little Black Dress


Pia Interlandi, Australian, b. 1985
Garments for the Grave, founded 2012
Little Black (Death) Dress, 2017

Pia Interlandi’s Little Black Dress incorporates all of the classic principles of the LBD – versatility, sophistication and understated glamour – to form, in the words of the designer, a garment ”to carry one from this world to the next, a garment literally created for the grave.” The ensemble upends the traditional relationship between person and dress: its wearer participates in its creation but never sees herself wearing the final result; its major function is to shroud a lifeless body. Interlandi uses a fabric that is responsive to the touch of the hands of grieving loved ones, turning from black to white through the transfer of body heat. The act is a symbol of the energy embodied in the process of decomposition and the cycles of mourning, from despair to acceptance. Sandals, S/S 1996
Martin Margiela


Bernard Rudofsky, architect and designer, American, born Austria, 1905-1988

One of the items presented in the 1944 exhibition ”Are Clothes Modern?”. A statue representing what a female body should have looked like to match the fashion of that particular time in history. This one, the bustle of 1875, transformed its wearer into a four-legged centaur.


Boots, fall 2010
Noritaka Tatehana, Japanese, born 1985


Shoes, 1993
Andrew Buckler and Johanne Price, British


Boots, 1987
Vivienne Westwood


Boots made for Elton John, 1974
Unknown desinger


A-POC Queen, 1997
Issey Miyake & Dai Fujiwara

A-POC Queen is a textile generated from a single thread by a computer-programmed industrial knitting machine.  The customer can cut along the seams without destroying the tubular structure of each individual item, and virtually no material is wasted in the process of creating – without needle or thread – a complete monochromatic outfit from this single swath of cloth. Jumpsuit Specimen, 2017
Richard Malone, Irish, born 1990


Sleeping Bag Coat, designed 1973, manufactured 2017
Norma Kamali


Poster Dress, 1967
Harry Gordon, American, 1930-2007

Disposable paper dresses became widely available by 1966, eschewing tailoring and washability in favour of affordable, faddish designs. Graphic designer Harry Gordon released a series of poster shift dresses inspired by pop culture and politics, including a 1967 version with an image of Bob Dylan; the packaging encouraged buyers to repurpose it as a poster or pillow covers.


Bret.on 2017
Unmade, UK, founded 2014

Bret.on is a reinterpretation of the classic Breton shirt by the fashion technology company Unmade, which allows brands and individuals to create unique, customized knitted garments on an industrial scale.


Chinos, 2017
The Sartists, South Africa, founded 2013

A collective of young designers based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, The Sartists combine collaborative design processes, found materials, astute brand awareness and reflections on their country’s political history, namely apartheid and colonialism.


Safari jacket 1969-70 & Pantsuit S/S 1970
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche


Suit, 1970
Bill Blass


Zoot suit, 1940-42
Unknown designer, U.S.A.


T-shirt 2017
Hanes


Ray-Ban Sunglasses, 1970s

When American test pilot Major Rudolph William ”Shorty” Schroeder injured his eye mid-flight in 1920, fellow pilot Lieutenant John Macready, alongside optical company Bausch & Lomb, designed googles to mitigate both frost formation and sunlight, aptly named Ray-Ban. These goggles in turn inspired the development of sunglasses branded the Ray-Ban Aviator in 1938.


MoMA, December 3rd, 2017

It’s (almost) (always) party time in the Roaring ’20s

So, if you are going to make an entrance, make it a grand one.

1/
Evening dress by Callot Soeurs of Paris, 1923-26. Perl, floss, metallic thread, silk, velvet
On loan from Museum of the City of New York for the Jazz Age exhibition

2/
Mirror, ca. 1930, designed by Paul Fehér. Wrought iron, brass, silver, gold plating, glass

3/
Staircase model, France, mid-late 19th century
Carved, joined, turned, bent and planed oak

4/
Dress and Jacket with box and lid, Delphos
Designed by Mariano Fortuny with his inimitable pleating technique and natural dyeing process, this particular example of the iconic Delphos dress is in its original box, which has both the name of the buyer, Mrs. J.H. Lorentzen of Pasadena California, and the seller, Elsie McNeil. This provides a key into the importance of the American market in Fortuny’s success. The first photograph of a Delphos dress is by Alfred Steiglitz—a portrait of his sister taken in 1907. By 1912, Fortuny’s gowns were being sold in New York. Because they hug the body and were designed to be worn without a corset, in Europe the Delphos was considered a tea gown—suitable only for at-home entertaining. But American actresses and dancers like Lillian Gish and Isadora Duncan wore them in public as evening gowns. In 1927 Elsie McNeil, an American interior designer, became so enamored of Fortuny’s fabrics that she went to Italy and persuaded him to give her the exclusive rights to sell his products in the US. She became his close friend, protégé, and guardian angel—she helped him through some very difficult financial times in the 1930s and after WWII, and purchased the company after his death.

5/
Mural (detail), The World of Radio, 1934
Designed by Arthur Gordon Smith, for Nadea Dragonette Loftus and Jessica Dragonette
Cotton batik

6/
Staircase model, France, late 18th century
Carved, joined, bent, planed and carved pear, wrought brass wire, turned bone

This fine triple-height staircase model is similar to one designed by Robert Adam for 20 Portman Place in London.

7/
Curved staircase model in the French style, ca. 1850
Carved, planed, turned and veneered walnut

From  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, April through August 2017

July 30th, 2017

All that Jazz

Delectable, capricious and very very Stylish. American taste with a strong European touch. Flapperdom reigning supreme.

Muse With Violin Screen, 1930. Designed by Paul Fehér. Manufactured by Rose Iron Works Collections, LLC. Wrought iron, brass; silver and gold plating, featuring a stylized figure of entertainer Josephine Baker
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Daybed (USA), 1933–1935. Designed by Frederick Kiesler, commissioned for a domestic interior by textile designer Marguerita Mergentime. Birch-faced plywood, tulip poplar, nickel-plated steel
Peacock Side Chair, 1921–22. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for The Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. Oak, leatherette upholstery
Gift Kodak Camera And Box. Designed by Walter Dorwin Teague. Manufactured by Eastman Kodak Company. Leather-covered metal, chrome-plated and enameled metal, glass (camera); lacquered cedar, chrome-plated and enameled metal (case)
Chanin Building Pair Of Gates (detail). Designed by René Paul Chambellan. Wrought iron, bronze
Skyscraper Bookcase Desk, ca. 1928. Designed by Paul T. Frankl. California redwood and black laquer || Armchair from the International Exposition of Art and Industry 1928. Designed by Walter von Nessen. Aluminium, brass, leather
Evening Dress And Underslip, 1926. Designed by Gabrielle “Coco” Chanel. Blue silk chiffon with applied blue ombré silk fringe
Boucheron Brooch, 1925. Diamonds, platinum, carved lapis, onyx, coral, jade
Cocktail Bar Perfume Presentation. Designed by Jean Patou. Manufactured by Brosse Glassworks. Presentation case: burlwood; four larger flacons: molded glass; seven smaller flacons: molded glass, metal.  This bar-form set held a selection of liquor bottle–like perfume bottles entitled “Bittersweet,” “Sweet,” “Dry” and “Angostura no. 1” through “Angostura no. 7” that equated the sensuality of perfume with drinking in a not-so-subtle reference to the illicit cocktail culture during American prohibition. The empty bottle entitled “My Own” was provided to encourage the owner to mix and match her own scent. In 1928 Patou installed a women-only cocktail bar in his Paris boutique for clients, many American, to enjoy while making final decisions on garments and waiting for fittings and alterations.
Actaeon, 1925. Designed by Paul Manship. Gilt bronze. This work captures a climactic moment of transformation, as Actaeon has just been hit by Diana’s arrow, which is turning him into a stag.
Chandelier, ca. 1925. Designed by William Hunt Diederich. Cut steel and wrought iron

Canapé Gondole, ca. 1925. Designed by Marcel Coard. Carved indian rosewood, indian rosewood-veneered wood, brass, and linen velvet
Temple Dress, Mer Ka Ba Collection, 2013. Designed by threeASFOUR in collaboration with Bradley Rothenberg. Laser-cut bonded silk organza, nylon power mesh underdress
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Trans… Armchair, 2007. Designed by Fernando Campana. Wicker, iron, found objects (plastic, rubber) Commissioned from the designers by Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum The designers created this chair from a collection of discarded objects
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From  The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, an exhibition at the Cooper Hewitt, April through August 2017.

Paired with contemporary objects of laser-cut technology: modern, streamlined and still very stylish. I just wish we had a little bit more of that Jazz in our lives.

July 30th, 2017

Meanwhile, New York was doing ‘OK

Thanks to Brooklyn Museum at its curators who had organised an extraordinary exhibition about the work and lifestyle of Georgia O’Keeffe. It was truly extraordinary because, refreshingly and for the first time ever, it focused on her wardrobe, showing some of her signature garments alongside her paintings and photographs. In doing so, the show was successful in capturing the spirit of the woman behind the artist, her steely determination to be in charge of her own life and work, the reinvention of herself as a style icon. I went into the exhibition an avid admirer of the work by one of the most significant artists of the twentieth century. I came out full of new images, knowledge and a better understanding of her intriguing personality. Coming back from Los Angeles, I couldn’t have asked for a smoother landing into the frenzy of New York City. 

Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe at 291, 1917
Platinum print


Georgia O’Keeffe
Shell and Old Shingle VI, 1926
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
Black Pansy & Forget-Me-Nots (Pansy), 1926
Oil on canvas


Cecil Beaton
Portrait of Painter Georgia O’Keeffe, 1946
Gelatin silver print

Black remained her favourite colour throughout O’Keeffe’s life. Her reason was described in one article in 1929: ”She wears black almost invariably – not, she says, because she prefers it, but because, if she started picking out colours for dresses, she would have no time for painting.”


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1932
Gelatin silver print

A modernist in dress as well as art, O’Keeffe liked to wear white blouses partially covered with a black sweater to create defined blocks of light and dark. 


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, probably 1919
Gelatin silver print

O’Keeffe considered her neck and head as integral shapes in arranging her dress. She frequently used the necklines of her blouses as visual framing devices for her long neck, and headdresses or her neatly wound hair to bring closure to her sartorial composition.


Georgia O’Keeffe
Manhattan, 1932
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
Brooklyn Bridge, 1949
Oil on masonite

Just before moving to New Mexico permanently in 1949, O’Keeffe painted this farewell salute to New York, her home for thirty years.


Arnold Newman
Georgia O’Keeffe, Ghost Ranch, N.M., 1968
Dye transfer on paper


Apron, 20th century
Denim

This apron was probably bought off-the-rack, but O’Keeffe added the lower section using her own scraps of denim. Though she had kitchen help much of the time, she was a good cook. She used fruits and vegetables from her own gardens and prepared food as she dressed, simply with few adornments.


Claudius Lafond jacket & red and purple cotton madras dress, 1950s

O’Keeffe rejected the synthetic fibers that were popular during and after WWII, such as nylon, acrylic and polyester. When traveling in the 1950s and 1960s, she continued to seek out natural cottons and silks in either a single colour of sometimes with stripes, checks or plaids. She may have bought this heavyweight cotton-work jacket when she went to Franc for the first time, in 1953. She most likely designed the plaid Madras dress for herself. 


Don Worth
Georgia O’Keeffe with Chair, 1958 (printed 1968)
Gelatin silver print

Customarily, O’Keeffe wore black and white when photographers came to visit, but in 1958, she made an exception for Don Worth. She wore her white French work jacket over the red plaid dress, we saw above.


Armi Ratia for Marimekko
”Mother’s Coat” Dress with matching belt, designed mid-1950s.


Annika Rimala for Marimekko
”Varjo” Dress, ca. 1963


Georgia O’Keeffe
Ram’s head, White Hollyhock-Hills (Ram’s Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico), 1935
Oil on canvas


Georgia O’Keeffe
In the Patio IX, ca. 1964
Oil on canvas mounted on panel


Emilio Pucci
”Chute” Dress, ca. 1954

This was one of the first Pucci dresses to be sold in the American market, testifying to O’Keeffe’s interest in and awareness of contemporary fashion.


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918
Gelatin silver print


Alfred Stieglitz
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1918
Gelatin silver print


Paul Strand
Georgia O’Keeffe, Texas, 1918
Platinum print

Paul Strand, a young photographer supported and mentored by Stieglitz, was the first to capture O’Keeffe sleepy-eyed and slightly disheveled, wearing a kimono. The fact that kimonos were sleep and bath wear for her gives this photography its frisson; her letters to Strand show that the two were briefly attracted to one another and may have had a short-lived dalliance.


Georgia O’Keeffe
Green, Yellow and Orange, 1960
Oil on canvas


Philippe Halsman
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1967


Philippe Halsman
Georgia O’Keeffe, 1967


Tony Vaccaro
Georgia O’Keeffe with the Cheese, 1960
Gelatin silver print


Ansel Adams
Georgia O’Keeffe, Carmel Highlands, California, 1981 – printed 1982
Gelatin silver print

In 1981, O’Keeffe visited Ansel Adams in California for the last time. They were very dear friends and had known one another for over fifty years. He unfailingly got her to look directly at him and his camera for portraits that characteristically are straightforward and natural, without the mythos that attended photographs of her as a solitary and remote figure of the desert.


Alexander Calder
Pin, ca 1938
Brass

Sculptor Alexander Calder, who also made hand-wrought metal jewelry, created this brass pin for O’Keeffe. It first appears in a 1938 photograph and, from then on, O’Keeffe wore it often for photo shoots. When her hair turned grey, she found the pin’s copper colour less flattering and, on a trip to India in 1959, she found a craftsman to make her a silver version, which she wore for the rest of her life. She was known to boast that the copy cost her only five dollars.


Georgia O’Keeffe: Living Modern was running in Brooklyn Museum until July 23rd, 2017. I caught it one day before closing.

July 22nd, 2017

San Francisco is… keeping its hats on

[In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, hats were a social obsession, subjects of acclaim and critique. The Paris millinery industry was at its financial and creative peak between the mid-1870s and 1914, the period between the Franco-Prussian War and the outbreak of the World War I, decades that coincided with the ear of French Impressionism. The women who made and sold hats – milliners, or modistes in French – as well as those who purchased them, fascinated Edgar Degas and other artists in his circle.] Bonnets of the 1880s by Mangin Maurice (left) & Cordeau et Laugaudin (right)


Bonnet, ca. 1894 by an unknown designer, France


Jean Béraud, 1849-1935
Fashionable Woman on the Champs-Élysées, n.d.
Oil on canvas


Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Woman Adjusting Her Hair, ca. 1884
Oil on canvas


Hat by Maison Virot, ca. 1900 (with alterations)


Hat by Camille Marchais, ca. 1895


Bonnet by Mesdemoiselles Cotel, ca. 1885 (left) & Capote by E. Gauthier, ca. 1890


Hat by Caroline Reboux, ca. 1904-1905 (left) & by Au Bon Marché, retailer, ca. 1884


Capote by Auguste Poussineau, known as A. Félix, ca. 1880-1885 (front) & Hat by Monsieur Heitz-Boyer, 1898 (back)


Hat by an unknown designer, ca. 1890


Édouard Manet (1832-1883)
Berthe Morisot, ca. 1869-1873
Oil on canvas


Louise Catherine Breslau (1856-1927)
The Milliners, 1899
Pastel on paper mounted on board


Paul-César Helleu (1859-1927)
The Final Touch, ca 1885
Pastel on paper


Degas, Impressionism, and the Paris Millinery Trade exhibition ran until September 2017 @ the Legion of Honor*

July 07th, 2017

*If, by any chance, September 2018 finds you in San Francisco, please do make me jealous and go see the current exhibition, Truth and Beauty: The Pre-Raphaelites and the Old Masters!

LV Loves America

And the feeling is mutual. Hat trunk in leather, once belonging to Marjorie Merriweather Post


Nicolas Ghesquière embroidered dress worn by Emma Stone at the 2017 British Film Institute Festival


Marc Jacobs feathers headpiece


With this last, highly instagrammable chapter, we end our walk through the history of a House whose name became synonymous with travel. Have you packed your wardrobe/hat/shoe steamer trunks yet? Me too! The question now is… where do we go next?

Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017

LV & friends

Yayoi Kusama


Robert Wilson


The Music Room

Since the founding of the House of Louis Vuitton, exacting customers have been able to place unique special orders to fulfill their private purposes and dreams. There is no fantasy or extravagance that cannot be packed. Shower, trunk, altar trunk, bed trunk or cigar trunk – in every situation, Louis Vuitton matched the traveler’s ambition and unique needs with equal expertise. Musical instruments, fragile and delicate, are probably the most vulnerable items to pack. Whether a violin, a guitar or the conductor’s baton, cases were designed by the trunk-maker as protection and enhancement. 


Supreme
Skateboard trunk


Cindy Sherman
Studio in a trunk


Volez
Voguez
Voyager

at the American Stock Exchange Building, through January 7th, 2018.

Admission is free

November 12th, 2017