Wednesday, December 14, 2011

F.I.T. To Be Tied - Part 2 of 2 - Rose Hartman

AND: Christmas Shopping at Grand Central Station

As promised, this is the second of two postings this week about the second amazing exhibition on view at the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) through January 7th!

We were a bit late for the opening of Incomparable Women of Style, the retrospective of Rose Hartman's photographs. We left the Issey Miyake 10th Anniversary party early (with Katherine Crone in tow) to run uptown to the Fashion Institute of Technology's Gladys Marcus Library to see her collection of '80s and '90s icons photographed in party mode, and were we glad we did!

For Jean, it was the ultimate trip down memory lane. Rose Hartman and the subjects of her photographs were familiar faces to New Yorkers of a certain age (like Jean) who frequented the many clubs like Studio 54. Even if you don't know Rose by name, chances are that, regardless of your age, you probably have seen her famous shot of Bianca Jagger entering her birthday party at Studio 54 riding a white stallion bareback. That image is on the poster for the show and greets visitors on the main floor and as they exit the elevator to the library on the 5th floor. On opening night, a red rose lay on the display case under the poster, a coy reference to the artist. The display case was filled with Hartman's slides. (That's Jean, inspecting them on a second trip we made several weeks later.)

In 1977, when Rose made the critical decision to switch careers from teacher to photographer, she found her niche in photographing the new club scene. It flourished both downtown and uptown, although the clientele downtown tended to prefer the edgier punk looks like Betsey Johnson, British imports and clothing from local boutiques, while the uptown crowd favored Mary McFadden, Halston, Calvin Klein, Stephen Burrows and Perry Ellis. Although there were dozens of clubs, Studio 54 became the international symbol of New York Night Life. Here is a shot of Rose in 1977.

Here is a picture of Rose today. She had recently donated her entire photographic collection to the library at FIT, which staged the opening to celebrate the gift and to showcase some of Rose's work. Rose chose to wear a a black silk top designed by Gemma Kahng. She is chatting with Austrian artist Nin Brudermann who was only 7 years old when Studio 54 opened but whose silver jumpsuit perfectly channeled the 1980's club vibe. Completing the trio is British bon vivant Anthony Haden-Guest who was a very recognizable fixture of the uptown New York nightlife scene in the 1980's. A reporter, writer and cartoonist, Haden-Guest continues to live a very colorful life, recently dubbed a "consummate party-goer" by The Observer.

It was particularly apt that Rose chose to wear one of Gemma Kahng's designs for her opening. After graduating from the Art Institute of Chicago, Gemma came to New York City and worked for fellow Korean designer Cathy Hardwick. Gemma hit it big in 1989 when one of her jackets appeared in Vogue. Her career flourished in the 1990s, the decade of power dressing in which women wore lots of suits. Gemma's tailoring is impeccable. In the new millennium's shift to casual dressing, her business faltered. This past April she was featured on Joe Zee's reality TV show "All on the Line" where her collection was picked up by the owners of Kirna Zabete who feature Gemma's designs in their Greene street store in SOHO. Gemma is pictured here with her technical director.

Jean says: I loved the fact that Anthony wore white-soled shoes to the opening and recalled the advice of legendary Studio 54 doorman Marc Benecke on how to decide if someone he didn't recognize should be allowed behind the velvet rope: "You can always tell a gentleman by his shoes." In 1997, 20 years after the club opened, Anthony Haden-Guest authored "The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco and the Culture of the Night". Many publications such as the New York Post have said that Anthony was the basis for Tom Wolfe's Peter Fallow character in "The Bonfire of the Vanities".

The icing on the cake was the appearance of photographer Patrick McMullen, who has covered the New York scene since the late 1970's. His company bio says he majored in business at NYU and minored in Studio 54! Who better to cover Rose's opening? Jean met him back in the 1970's and their paths crossed frequently in the 1980s and 1990s at venues such as The Ritz, The Palladium, Area, The Mudd Club and Webster Hall. Although less frequently than in the old days, their paths continue to cross at events such as this. He stopped Jean on the stairs and was sweet enough to post our photo with Rose Hartman and several stars of the night life on his website. Social Diary posted this photo and several others by Patrick on its site. Gemma Kahng, Collete and Sandy Long appear with us and with Rose. We had actually met Rose at an opening at the Museum of the City of New York last year.

For oodles of Patrick's images of the event, and to read his blog entry about it, go to or just google Patrick McMullen, go to his website, click on the event schedule on the left side and enter November 3, 2011 and scroll down to the first posting about Rose Hartman. Here is Jean's picture of Patrick himself and Jean Shafiroff, with Valerie and Katherine Crone visible in the background.

As the photos reveal, a black or black and white color scheme was the attire of choice that evening for the majority of the guests. Alina Slonim and Michele Gerber Klein are prime examples. Alina is an independent arts and crafts professional. Michele is a philanthropist and society figure who, as one of the original trustees of The New Museum, is deeply involved in the arts.

We keep running into Sandy Long at events, most recently at the Cecil Beaton opening at the Museum of the City of New York and at vintage shows. Sandy is one of "the ladies who dress" and often favors a black and white palette. We (Jean and Valerie) decided to accent our black outfits with shades of red.

Artist Katherine Crone and Valerie frame Ivy Brown, whose eponymous gallery is located in the heart of the Meat Packing District at 675 Hudson Street. If you are coming to New York City, check out the shows at Ivy Brown Gallery.

Jean loved this gentleman's long suede coat adorned with the outline of a map of the ancient world.


The FIT library staged the show on multi-levels, so the staircase afforded the best people-watching! Jean ran into Colette on the stairs and took this shot. Scroll down to the next entry to see one Rose Hartman's photos of Colette in 1984.

This shot captures the downtown mid-1980's look, coiffed hair, lots of makeup and glitzy, shimmery dressing. Colette appears in the center of this shot, between Hedy Klineman and Larissa at The Underground in 1984.

Here's Nin Brudermann on that staircase.

Jean says: This black and white pastiche of downtown club posters listing the clubs' performers and events really brought back memories! (Valerie remembers: Although I was born in New York, my old fashioned parents expected me to live at home until I married. Finding that a less than appealing life choice after I graduated, it was easier for me to move to Japan! So I missed the whole club scene, although both the music and the musicians of the club scene were lionized by the Japanese.)


Bianca Jagger was a frequent visitor to Studio 54, as was Rose Hartman, so she was the frequent subject of her and other photographers' photographs, which ran in publications ranging from The SOHO Weekly News and The New York Times to Rolling Stone and Time.

This wonderful picture captures Mick giving Bianca a smooch on her birthday and hangs on the wall on the main floor of the library.

The second Mrs. Jagger, Jerry Hall, also was a habitue' of Studio 54, often on the arm of voyeur and auteur Andy Warhol.

This black and white portrait of Jerry Hall and Vogue editor Diana Vreeland is Jean's favorite.

Although the vast majority of the images in the show are black and white prints, a section of the exhibit featured oversized color Kodachrome slides labeled by the photographer which give an idea of the valuable resource that Rose Hartman has gifted to FIT. The photographs are true snapshots in time of some of the most recognizable celebrities of the 1980's and 1990's. This shot shows Madonna arriving at the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute Gala in 1997. Just barely visible at the left is Ingrid Casares.

Here is one of Rose Hartman's color shots of the ever-fabulous Grace Jones.

Downtown party-giver and nightlife queen Suzanne Bartsch is famous for her amazing collection of colorful costumes and wigs and her eclectic way of putting herself together. Check out the hip beautifully carved out by her cutaway cheong sam, and the echo of the same cut at the neck on the opposite side. Whew! It is fitting that she is immortalized in color.

(With the exception of the Social Diary photo, all photographs were taken by Jean and Valerie and include shots of Rose Hartman's photographs on exhibit at FIT.)

What we're wearing:

On opening night, Jean is wearing an Issey Miyake dress with a Rick Owens shirt underneath, a Tahari assymmetric top, Amy Downs hat, Hello Kitty handbag, vintage eyeglasses. On our second trip, Jean is wearing a mustard Urban Outfitters turban, Issey Miyake black and yellow purse, Kyodan jacket, Kadem Sasson skirt from Rosebud, leopard Doc martens boots, vintage bakelite rings and bracelets.

On opening night, Valerie is wearing an Issey Miyake vest with tubular stuffing, Bettina Riedel dress, Pleats Please shirt, Easy Spirit shoes.

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Christmas at Grand Central Station

Last week we showed you just a few of the things available at the Union Square Christmas Market. We also stopped in at historic Grand Central Station, which has its own Christmas Market.

The nice thing about Grand Central's market is that it's indoors, so the time of day and weather don't matter. All the booths are in a single area, where there used to be rows and rows of imposing carved wooden benches to accomodate people waiting for trains.

We really enjoyed stopping into Christina's World, which specializes in Christmas tree ornaments. Christina designs her own, and has them hand blown in Poland. Not your typical fare, Christina's ornaments are often made in the shapes of animals. You can see several of them here. For space reasons, we're not including the wonderful stegosaurus or chameleon, but you get the idea. The designs are charming, the colors are great, and there was a lot of variety the day we visited.

At Loralin Design, we loved the little onesies made in Connecticut, and we really loved the nutty stuffed animal toys made in Brooklyn. They're a bit hard to see unless you click on the photo to enlarge it. Look for the low counter made of eight cubes on the floor. They're hanging all across the top of the cubes. The brightly colored corduroy animals are wonderful, too.

More great things coming out of Brooklyn. We stopped in at Umsteigen Handmade in Brooklyn, where they were selling whimsical, humorous tee shirts with great original hand screen printed designs. Here you can see a print of shoes and cars, a print of scissors, the shoes and cars again, this time in red, and sky writing planes. Wish we could show you more. There were also original designs for children's tees.

Hands down the most amazing booth we visited was Emma Handmade, run by a mother and daughter team. The mother knits and crochets cloche hats, even while standing in the booth, and her daughter takes care of the business end.

This was the most amazing thing we saw there: a hat knitted in the shape of the Coliseum! All across the wall were hung five or six astonishing knitted pieces, including a knitted Statue of Liberty. The mother's English is very limited, so we didn't want to take up their time with questions, but it's hard to imagine any patterns exist for these works. The mother must devise these in her head. We did get her to tell us it took her three months to make the Coliseum. It and the others hanging alongside it were all stunning feats. These alone are worth the trip to Grand Central.

Once you've done all your shopping, you can eat at any number of small restaurants in the basement, or buy something to take home with you at the gourmet food shop on the main floor. Here, Jean stops to buy a fresh loaf of bread.

Near the bread stand there was a spice shop under construction. We took this colorful, if cockeyed, photo on the run.

A photo on the balcony of Grand Central to commemorate our trip, and then off home...


  1. Was the woman at Emma Handmade selling those jaw-dropping knit sculpture hats, or were they just display pieces? I wish we had more markets like this here.