Sunday, September 21, 2014

Dance & Fashion the Night Away

Jean is the one with the dance background, so it was a little odd for me to go of to the opening of FIT's current exhibition, Dance & Fashion, without the resident expert, who was in Vegas for a family wedding.  But it wasn't hard to have a great time, learn a lot, and have an evening of visual delights.  Dance & Fashion demonstrates the numerous interconnections between the two.

Fortunately for me, Chloe Pang, a woman of many talents, including making hats, took the above photo on her camera because I (say it all together, everyone) forgot to take a picture of myself.   Here is a self-styled photo of Chloe at the opening. This photo doesn't do her justice, so more about Chloe later.

But you really want to know about the costumes, so let's get right to it.

At the opening of the exhibition is something everyone will expect to see: a costume worn by a household name of the dance world, and here it is.

This was worn by Michail Barishnikov for Swan Lake in 1988.  Everyone (including me) was probably expecting something to do with Nijinksy, Pavlova (they have her shoes) Nureyev, or Fonteyn.  Having made that concession, the show moves on to meatier fare.

I thought there would be some Leon Bakst drawings from the early 20th century, but they had better than that: two costumes (far left) designed by Bakst for the Ballet Russes' Scheherazade.   Next to that is a Paul Poiret costume in the same vein.  Poiret, according to the exhibition label, denied that he had been influenced by the Ballet Russes, but the liberating, blousy clothes, which became very popular, were the perfect antidote to the staid, restrictive clothing of the Victorian age.

Several decades later, Ungaro (below, left) and Christian Lacroix (center) as well as Yves Saint Laurent (not shown) drew inspiration from the Ballet Russes' designs, proof of their lasting appeal.

Another form of dance that had a great influence on fashion was flamenco.  Left, a highly flaired and ruffled polka dot flamenco dress; right, a much toned down evening dress that echoes flamenco characteristics by Balenciaga.

Schiaparelli also drew from flamenco.   In this dress, the designer exaggerated the flared hem and added a rainbow of colors that would be seen when the hem was lifted, for dramatic effect.

Stella McCartney draws on Punk and the current fashion for tattoos in this dance costume for the New York City Ballet.

We have to show you the cover photo for the exhibition.  No photo of ours could ever do justice to this costume.  Iris van Herpen made this for Benjamin Millepied's Neverwhere.  It's worn here by Lauren Lovett.  Be sure not to miss the shoes!

, 201This is about the time when you want labels to say something about the materials.  Are they huge sequins?  Are they flexible?  Were they laser cut?  Can we see a blueprint, please?  What are the shoes made of?  Who made them?  Are they custom made for Lauren's feet?  Van Herpen herself is a former dancer, so she would be in a good position to know the mechanics of a good costume.  Sooo much has been left unsaid here, but it's no wonder this was made the centerpiece of the exhibition.  We want to wear this, too.  Well, the over the knee version, anyway.Neverwhere

Dance and Fashion does a great job of showing the role of major designers in dance.  These costumes were made by Norma Kamali for Twyla Tharp.

Narciso Rodriguez made this black and cream costume for Stephen Petronio Company.  Jean says: Narciso did the costumes for  Locomotor, which premiered in April 2014 at Stephen's 30th Anniversary celebration at the Joyce Theater.  In keeping with Stephen's description of Locomotor as moving forward and backward in time, Narciso designed the unitards with triangular cutouts in the back to reveal what the New York Times called "the undulations of the spine".
, 2013

This bold confection in shimmering transparent horsehair and organza for a male dancer is the work of Ralph Rucci, made for Youth America Grand Prix.

When Rei Kawakubo did her famous "Bump" collection (below, right), conventional thinking would not place it in a dance performance, but Merce Cunningham did just that (below, left).  As explained in the label, "the costumes de-formed the dancers' bodies and hindered their movements, but through this tension revealed new aspects of the collaborators' work."

No exhibition of dance costumes would be complete without some examples from Martha Graham, for whom the clothing was an integral part of the performance.  This is a recreation of a costume in which Graham performed in 1930.  The stretch in the jersey accentuates the movements of the body.

This exotic and erotic costume was designed by Halston.

One of Graham's most dramatic costumes was this black dress with red overskirt, made for the dance Imperial Gesture.

At rest, it is already striking.  Below, Blakely White-McGuire demonstrates the power of the costume in motion.

Dance & Fashion, which opened on September 13th during Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, is open through January 3, 2015.

Now how about a look at the attendees at the opening night?

There were some who looked like dancers, such as this woman whose headdress evokes Swan Lake

And this woman in a flamenco-like dress

There were dancers - below is Stephen Petronio, center, his husband, Jean-Marc Flack at left, and Sarah Silver, his company photographer, at right.

Miki Orihara, right, a principal dancer of the Martha Graham Dance Company; Arielle, center, who designed Miki's outfit, as well as her own; and Dr. Valerie Steele, left, director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, who organized the exhibition.

Judith Schwantes, FIT's press assistant, had a wonderful hairdo, and perfect red glasses to match.

Baroness, on the other hand, had fabulous pink hair and perfect green glasses to contrast.

Now, back to Chloe.  Here's a little video she did for Romer Millinery.  It's not strictly on topic, but this does her justice.  And she did the whole thing herself.

Valerie is wearing: vintage hat with no label; faceted wooden earrings by Monies; vintage Gaultier dress; canvas bag with Andy Warhol banana print from the Velvet Underground album cover by Uniqlo; so-called "rats" (hair shapers) as bracelets, from H&M.  Might or might not be wearing shoes.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tears in Your Jacket? Tears in Your Eyes.

Jean is away on business.  In her absence, Valerie waxes philosophical on the transitory nature of clothing.

Valerie says: Sharp-eyed readers will say "Hey!  They're recycling an old photo!", and complain that we're getting like TV, coasting on reruns.  But no, this is just to say 'remember this old jacket of Valerie's?'

I must have bought this jacket ten years ago, and even then it was second hand.  It's one of my all time faves, and after all this time it owes me nothing.  The last time I wore it, I made a sudden movement, and heard that telltale tearing sound.  I didn't see anything, though, and assumed I had unmoored a seam, as sometimes happens, with similar sound effects.

Well, sometimes, yes.  But not that time.

I recently went to wear it again, and found that, after many years of loving it to death, I had finally worn it to death.  Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Exhibit A.

And here is Exhibit B.  (The entire outfit from the first photo is reprised for easier reference.)

No, this is not some ham-handed (like, really ham-handed) imitation of David Bowie's album cover for Heroes.

Or an equally ham-handed imitation of Iggy Pop's  album cover for The Idiot.  (How could it be, when neither of them is wearing a hat?)

No, I struck those odd poses so you could see that I managed to tear holes in both armpits.  I could have put Photoshop red circles around each hole, but how much attention does any woman want to draw to her armpits?  I could have done selfie close-ups, but …  naaaahhh.  A distance shot is definitely better here, right?

Some of you might be thinking that white spot you see in each photo is my Marilyn Monroe / Andy Warhol pocket hankie.

Nope.  Nope, they're holes.  Two of them, and they don't run cleanly along the seams, which could be fixed easily enough.  They are great big tears in the fabric.  See? Sigh….

I should have thrown the jacket away, but I can't.  It's an old (oh, sorry, I mean vintage) Gianni Versace, and no one has ever figured out how this fabric was made.  Is it shibori?  Is it devore?  Is it heat treated and stenciled with pigment?  Everyone loves guessing.  But it's also hard to throw away because it goes so well with a pair of Krizia pants I bought (see above photos), also second hand, also years ago. I think the pants are made of polyester, with drips of polyurethane all over them.  In the photo, the two together look like a suit.  So when the jacket died, I despaired of finding a replacement for it.

But the Universe of Clothing is very odd indeed.  Two weeks ago, when I took a bag of recyclable clothes to a thrift shop, of course I had to have a look around at what others before me had brought to recycle, and I came across a lovely Giorgio Armani jacket.  Being in deaccessioning mode, I asked how I could justify buying it (for $48), when I realized it might be a good replacement for the Versace with the twin tears in it.  Isn't it great how we rationalize our purchases?

So here's the new Armani jacket, with the same old Krizia pants. Hard to tell, right?  Not impossible (hint: more buttons on the new one, and a turn-down notched collar), but how closely is anyone going to look?

Just for fun, here are two fiber close-ups.

On the left, the pants; on the right, the Versace jacket.

Below, pants on the left, Armani jacket on the right.  (The Armani is a very interesting knit.  The dots are all different sizes on the face of the fabric; on the back, it's rows and rows of completely even narrow horizontal black and white lines.  Trust the Italians to have the most intriguing fabrics.  How do they do that???!!!)

So I managed to solve the problem of replacing the jacket and keeping the illusion of having a suit.   In a perfect world, we would all say if one item enters the house, another has to leave.  I know which one is supposed to leave.  But I'm sure all readers know the feeling you get when you're supposed to do the deed.  I still love that jacket, and everything in me is trying to justify keeping it.  (I'll make a sleeveless shirt out of it!  I'll make place mats out of it!  I can make a hat!  Don't make me do this!  Nooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

In the Spotlight: We Visit the Georgine Runway Show at Lincoln Center

What we saw this time had a completely different accent from what we saw last time. Everything is still very feminine, but instead of a kind of fairy tale look, this time we saw very strong echoes of Halston throughout the show - lots of clean lines, flowing materials, minimalist designs, and nonstop glitz and glamour. And wonderful turbans.

The gold silk shirtdress, above, and the silver suit with matching turban, below, are perfect examples of that.

For a summer day out on the town… (wish you could see the purses better - they are shaped like little surf boards)

And a summer night out on the town:

A spectacular day look (don't try this at the office, unless you're the boss - or the boss's wife)

An equally spectacular summer evening in the Hamptons look.

This was perhaps the most serious of all the evening looks.  Perfect for a gala fundraiser after a hard day's work.

There was a selection of resort wear, too.

Two knockout looks, above and below.

We remember this ruffled look from the '70s.

And there were some terrific femme fatale bathing suits, like this one with the side lacing.  It's not a bikini, but it commands as much attention.  The model's towel, dragged like a mink coat would have been forty years ago, reads "NO DIVING".

This gold lame bathing suit brings the movie Goldfinger to mind.

This was Georgine's most daring look.  It's billed as a tunic over a dress.  It's a little hard to see, but the dress is designed to expose one breast.  We're showing it last, but it was shown near the middle of the program, so it wasn't designed as a wedding dress.  Although… hmmm…..


We arrived a little early, and here are some of the looks and people we saw:

This woman was wearing a dress that is almost certainly a huge blow-up of microbes under an electron microscope.  Remember we showed you another one a few weeks ago?

We very much admire the bare midriff look, although we ourselves will probably give it a miss.  (We gave it a go in the '70s, though.)

This woman is doing a great job of rocking the Ann-Margret look.

These three women had three completely different looks.

And let's not forget the men! Andrew Werner was one of several natty dressers we ran into. Check out his Instagram: #andrewwerner.

It was such a nice change to see men escape the usual acceptable suit colors.

This gent embraced a multitude of colors, and looked great in all of them.

Indoors, we ran into Patrick McDonald, Lauren Ezersky, and Mauricio Padilha.  Patrick is growing his hair out, and has given it a lavender color.  Do check out Mauricio's Instagram: #MAOPR.

Gazelle Paolo, Paul Alexander, and Marco Santaniello sat next to us. (Instagram: #gazellepaulo; #paulalexander.)

Jillian Mercado recently appeared in print advertising for Diesel and in a StylelikeU video, (Instagram: #jillianmercado.)

It's always a treat to run into Faustina Rose, who never seems to look the same way twice.  (Instagram: #sofausti.)

We first met Roberto Johnson and Stephan Mendoza last year.  Stephan is wearing a white shirt whose sleeves he cut off himself. (Instagram: #itsrobertojohnson and #mindofmendoza.)

Jason Brickhill and Allan Kent introduced themselves. (Instagram: #jasonbrickhill and #allankentc.)

Dominique Hanke designed her own suit, including the hat with the serpentine squiggle and the cat-shaped purse.

And sharp-eyed readers will remember Gregg Asher and Taylor Carson Sandvick from previous New York Fashion Week posts and their stint as stylists on Lifetime TV's Million Dollar Shoppers.  (Instagram: #fashionbaggage.)

Also seen on the Plaza: Paris Hilton and her sister, with so many paparazzi glued to them that had it been indoors, they would all have been deemed an illegal fire hazard.

And so another Fashion Week comes to a close, and life returns to normal. (Instagram: #mercedesbenzfashionweek, #mbfw, #nyfw.)

Check out the IFs on Instagram:  #idiosyncraticfashionistas.