Deep || Midnight || Blue

If I had to pick one from this plethora of extraordinary gowns, it would have to be this one; an eclectic combination of taffeta and lace, paired with leather biker trousers in Lee McQueen’s inimitable style.

House of Givenchy
Evening Ensemble, S/S 1999 by
Alexander McQueen (1969-2010)

Black silk taffeta, white duchesse satin, white cotton lace, white silk organza, black leather

From the Heavenly Bodies exhibiton, held @The Met in 2018

July 14th, 2018

Celebrating Bill Cunningham

… the legendary journalist, one of New York City’s most beloved photographers, who started his long career as a milliner.

At once elegant and whimsical, Cunningham’s hats were favoured by upscale clients who enjoyed wearing fashionable works of art. His beach hats were, in his words, ”a bit outrageous”. Woven raffia show-stoppers topped with cascading sprays of feathers or chiffon, the hats sported deep crowns created to to fit comfortably over the high-piled bouffant hairstyles of the early 1960s.

Cunningham opened his first millinery shop in a brownstone on East 52nd Street, where he cleaned for his landlords in exchange for living and work space. He then moved uptown o West 54th Street and to West 57th Street, before relocating to the Carnegie Hall Studios. In addition to hats, he also made muffs and masks, often of feathers. Cunningham regarded feathers as the ultimate ”objects of beauty”. 

Bill Cunningham is remembered today as a milliner, photojournalist and social anthropologist. His most treasured, life-long pursuit, however, was that of a loyal friend. Over the nearly seventy years he lived in New York, he touched a wide circle of friends with his energy, creativity, kindness and quiet humility. 

New-York Historical Society acquired a number of objects, personal correspondence, ephemera, and photographs reflecting the life and work of Bill Cunningham, including his bike, camera and iconic blue jacket. They were all on display between June and September 2018.

New-York Historical Society

June 23rd, 2018

Walk this Way

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Walk This Way…

… was an exhibition of footwear from the vast Stuart Weitzman Collection of Historic Shoes, on show at the New-York Historical Society between April-October 2018. Over a 100 pairs of these (mostly) wearable artworks were on display and I was in shoe heaven, barely able to restrain myself from trying them on – and walking away.

Scroll down and tell me you wouldn’t…

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Sharon Von Senden, Jewels at Work – Swarovski crystals, stained glass, vintage stones
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Robert Steele, Corrugated Curves, Cardboard
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Unidentified maker, open-toe mules, ca. 1950s – Leather, plexiglas, rhinestone, elastic Spring-o-lator. These shoes  belonged to Ginger Rogers
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Unidentified maker, Mary Jane shoes, ca. 1926 – Silk and metallic patterned fabric, embossed metal buttons

”Mary Jane” was originally a character in a popular newspaper strip, Buster Brown. In 1904, the Brown Shoe Company licenced her image to market children’s shoes. Eventually, any shoe with a chunky low heel and a strap across the instep became know as a ”Mary Jane”.

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Terry de Havilland, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede, leather
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David Evins, Column-heel pumps, ca. 1970 – Plastic
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Unidentified maker, Pumps, late 1920s – Silk, leather
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Unidentified maker, Laced pumps, 1910 – Silk brocade, laces
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Peal & Co., Buttoned boots, ca. 1920 (left) & Lace-up boots by an unidentified maker, ca. 1910-20 (right)
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Unidentified maker from China, Ankle-strap sandals, ca. 1930s – Silk, kid leather, embroidery
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Delman Shoes, Peep-toe evening shoes, ca. 1935 – Leather and mesh net
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Fenton Footwear, T-strap pumps, ca. 1937 – Velveteen, leather
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Unidentified maker, Buttoned boots, 1870s
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Unidentified maker, Lace-up boots, ca. 1900 – Silk and silk brocade
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Fenton Last, Open-toe slingback sandals, late 1970s – Leather, silk
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Knight Shoe Ltd., Lace-up boots, 1910-15 – Leather, canvas, laces
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C. P. Ford & Co., High-top shoes, 1905-10 from Rochester, New York – Leather, buttons
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Krohn-Fechheimer & Co., Red Cross Noiseless shoes, ca. 1918, Leather
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Enzo of Roma, Thong sandals, 1960s – Leather, synthetic
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The Chelsea Cobbler, Peep-toe platform shoes, ca. 1972 – Suede
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Frank Brothers, T-strap shoes, ca. 1930 – Silk satin, kid leather, mother-of-pearl button
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Unidentified maker, T-strap evening sandals, ca. 1940s – Leather, silk, rhinestones
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Herbert Levine Inc., Kabuki platform shoes, 1964 – Suede, wood
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Robert Tabor, Cabfab – Acrylic, vinyl, rhinestones
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The Red Carpet
Unidentified maker, Stilted bath clogs (qabâqib), 19th century. Ottoman, possibly Syrian – Wood, inlaid mother-of-pearl

Women throughout the Islamic Middle East wore stilted wooden bath clogs such as these for over four centuries. An adaptation of ancient Roman shoes called sculponea, qabâqib were similarly associated with bathing and bath houses. Nineteenth-century European orientalists considered these highly desirable collectibles, symbolizing an imagined ”Eastern” exoticism and eroticism.

Freed of London, Toe shoes, 1994-95 – Silk, canvas, leather

The ballerina Heather Watts wore this pair of pointe shoes on January 15, 1995 for her farewell performance as a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, which she joined in 1970. Watts afterwards told the New York Times, ”I need to live in new shoes.”

Gregg Barnes, designer. T.O. Dey, maker. ”Kinky boots” ca. 2013, from New York City. Paten metallic leathers, rubber, fabric, metal

”The sex is in the heel / Fierce as you can make it / The sex is the appeal”, sings Lola, the drag queen at the heart of the musical Kinky Boots. The hit Broadway show is based on the true story of a struggling shoe factory that survived by producing high-heeled fetish footwear in men’s sizes.

New-York Historical Society, New York City

June 23rd, 2018

The Magnificent Seven @ The Art Institute of Chicago

|1|- 1875/1900, gilt bronze – by Antonin Mercié (1845-1916)

|2|- 1895/1902 – designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)

|3|- 1902 – designed by Carlo Bugatti (1856-1940)

|4|- Day (Truth), 1896/98, oil on canvas – by Ferdinand Hodler (1853-1918)

|5|- 1894, oil on canvas – by József Rippl-Rónai (1861–1927)

|6|- Figure with Meat, 1954, oil on canvas – by Francis Bacon (1909-1992)

|7|- Nude with a Pitcher, 1906, oil on canvas – by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973)

Art and objects from the Art Institute of Chicago permanent collection.

November 4th, 2017

A Night at the Opera

I would have spared you of yet more photos of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center had it not been for this exquisite costume designed for Birgit Nilsson, for the 1961 production of Turandot, by the multi talented Mr. Cecil Beaton.

I had ample time to be bedazzled as I used the intermission to join that familiar long line to the Ladies Room. Gazing at her headpiece, it thought it was matched only by the Sputnik chandeliers in sparkle.

But, while Turandot is my favourite opera (and Nessun Dorma my favourite aria of all times), that evening we were there to enjoy the ever so charming Die Zauberflöte. It was as grand as a Metropolitan Opera production was expected to be.  Birgit Nilsson in Turandot, 1961. Photo from the Metropolitan Opera Archives


September 30th, 2017

The Scintillating Gardens of Tiffany Studios

These Tiffany artifacts don’t necessarily involve breakfast. Equally brilliant, precious and a tad more colourful, they are at their best and brightest at dinner. They are also part of the New-York Historical Society’s permanent collection and light up an entire – recently renovated – floor. 

The New-York Historical Society’s extensive collection of Tiffany Studios lamps was the gift of pioneering collector Dr. Egon Neustadt (1898-1984), an Austrian immigrant an orthodontist. Along with his wife, Hildegard Steininger (1911-1961), Neustadt began buying Tiffany lamps at a time when Americans scorned them as passé. Shortly after their marriage in 1935, the couple, looking for affordable furnishings for their Queens home, found a ”strange, old-fashioned” Daffodil lamp in  Greenwich Village antique shop and purchased it for $12.50. That modest discovery sparked a decades-long quest in which the Neustadts amassed more than 200 Tiffany lamps, perhaps the largest and most encyclopedic collection in the world. 

September 23rd, 2017