Thursday, June 28, 2012

Helmut Lang & Pravda

Last month (! how time flies!), we attended the opening of an exhibition of Helmut Lang's sculptures at a gallery in a beautiful townhouse on the north side of Washington Square. A photographer named Francesco took this picture of us just after we emerged from the show.

After a successful career as a fashion designer, Lang has left the world of fashion and moved on to the art world to focus on his sculpture. Although his brand continues, he has turned over the reins of his design house. Helmut (right) posed for a photo with a friend.

The gorgeous Ahn Doung.  French-born artist, actress (My Best Friend's Wedding, Scent of a Woman) and model, born of a Spanish mother and Vietnamese father, she is da bomb.  And Jean wanted to steal her shoes.  (The shoes behind are are also neat - and so is the haircut!)

We ran into Craig Hensala (left) with two of his friends. Craig is a man of many talents. An art dealer, he is currently managing Stephen Petronio Company, one of the premier modern dance companies (and our favorite), headquartered in New York City.

We were also happy to see Jack Giles, whose gallery on the Bowery is the scene of many of our nightlife crimes, including a show during last fall's fashion week.

We met this fab quartet and were intrigued by Matthias' re-purposing of a carpenter's apron from the local hardware store into a fashion statement.

It was one of the very first warm evenings of early May and the gallery was not air conditioned, so Matthias' apron was actually quite functional - not too hot or too constricting.  Don't be surprised if you see one or both of us aproned-up, so to speak, in a future posting.

This well-dressed couple was also quite sweet. He was sporting some fierce sideburns and a pocket watch.

"Ah, but what about the art?" you might ask. We posed for a photo next to this white stacked number.

Complex ( summed up the show up perfectly: "Exploring the distress of found objects in a psycho-social content". Yeah.  What he said.

Perhaps it was the heat or low blood sugar kicking in, but Jean kept thinking how the sculptures looked like stacks of macaroons.

"I rest my case", she said.

Couldn't resist this rear-view shot of Valerie and one of the young ladies working at the event.

As we were leaving, this goth guest was just arriving, and graciously agreed to let us take her photograph. Immediately after, we encountered Grace Coddington from Vogue (looking fab), who declined to be photographed.

A wee drinkie is the perfect coda to an art show. We were a short walk from Pravda, which we'd read had creative cocktails, so we headed there to see if it was true.

On our way to Pravda, we passed by this wall. We've photographed ourselves in front of it before, but you wouldn't know it because it's always changing. We don't know who does it, or why or how or when (anyone who does should write in to tell us), but it's a lovely surprise every time we come across a new design we can use as a background for silly antics.

Pravda is down a set of stairs in what may once have been a very nasty basement, but now it looks like a set from a silent expressionist movie of the '20s, painted that rich brown color of slowly disintegrating film.  (It has been described as "Soviet chic with a French bistro vibe".  Like so many of restauranteur Keith McNally's establishments, it has survived more than a decade and a half, long after it was THE place to be. You may recognize some of his other venues: Lucky Strike, Balthazar, Schiller's Liquor Bar, Pastis.)   The main room is disconcertingly noisy for little old ladies who like to talk. (We've heard that young people on dates like to go to bars because it minimizes the need for conversation.  We've never understood that, ourselves.) We asked for a quiet table and were directed up a narrow staircase lined with several marvelous Malevich-like artworks in lightboxes.

Between angles, glare, dark and flash, the art was nearly impossible to photograph to good effect, so we include just these two to give you some vague idea. Even badly photographed they're very interesting.

At the top of the narrow staircase was a narrow room, and behind the narrow bar was a bartender who looked for all the world like Hubert de Givenchy. He was all business - making sure we'd squared our bill away before we sat down with our drinks - but we had asked him to combine tequila with several other ingredients from various drinks on the menu to make us a completely new drink, and he did a great job, so all business is fine with us.

The proof is in the pudding, so to speak. In high style (note the red hat, bracelet, lipstick and drink stirrer), Valerie puts our concoction to the taste test -- success!  In a fashion aside, remember, ladies: the hat should come down over one eye, and look mysterious.  Both eyes visible is friendly, not mysterious.

Doesn't Jean make this drink look great, channeling her inner Norma Desmond (in her other Norma - Norma Kamali)? And the cocktails didn't just look great. They were fabulous!  (We uncreatively ordered the same thing, but that happens sometimes when you know what you like.)  There were stools at the bar, but we arrived early, and got to sit in two tobacco colored vintage leather club chairs - the kind you sink into and are enveloped in. How civilized!

Drinks finished, we got up the nerve to ask one of our fellow patrons to photograph us. Valerie pulled up her dress a bit, the better to show off her comic book stockings, and in the semi-darkness our photographer mistakenly admired Valerie's tattoos. Just to set the record straight, Valerie has no tattoos and no piercings anywhere. Yet.  (Jean ain't saying nuttin'.) 

Readers know we are curiously curious about the bathrooms of the places we patronize. Pravda's bathroom was nice, but - well - narrow, and hard to photograph. Happily, the bathroom's exterior is also fun to look at. We assume it says LADIES in Cyrillic, but for all we know it could say APPARATCHIKS.

You have to take a closer look at the fantastic off-kilter (ever so expressionist!) door. We'd missed it on the way in, so it was one last lovely surprise on our way out. If you're having trouble 'reading' the photo, the small shiny circle is its lock; the designer took a hammer and converted it into the door's handle. (We looked, but didn't find a sicle.)

And so, off we went into the night, having had another lovely evening.

Valerie is wearing: spray-painted vintage coolie hat, Kedem Sasson linen blouse and skirt, Betsey Johnson locked heart belt, Celeste Stein comic book leggings, Nicole sandals.

Jean is wearing: Urban Outfitters turban, Illesteva glasses, vintage Norma Kamali jumpsuit, Trippen boots, Max Azria for BCBG waist cincher and jacket, vintage bakelite rings and "charm" necklace.


  1. Cool art AND stylish guests - Jackpot! Too bad about Grace declining a photo, but I'm sure she feels she's been photographed enough for one lifetime. I love both of your outfits, and it's nice to see Jean in a variation from the head-to-toe black ;) That bar looks like it should be on the must-visit list when I'm there in October.

  2. The door actually says " Gentlemen". Love the outfits and the art!