Sunday, September 28, 2014

City Winery's Advanced Style Event

Last Monday evening, we went to an event at City Winery in Soho in honor of the opening of the Advanced Style documentary later that week. A crowd of very stylish "women of a certain age" and a number of other very well-dressed men and women of all ages.

As two large screens flanking the stage flashed slides of the start of the film, master of ceremonies Simon Doonan (Barney's Style Ambassador) took the stage to start the festivities.

Simon was soon joined by the brains of the operation -- Director Lina Plioplyte and producer Ari Seth Cohen, as well as the stars of the documentary. Simon asked the panel members a series of questions to get the discussion going and then took questions from the audience. From left to right: Lynn Dell Cohen, Tziporah Salamon, Jackie Tajah Murdock, Joyce Carpati, Debra Rapoport, Ilona Royce Smithkin, Lina Plioplyte, Ari Seth Cohen and Simon Doonan.

Once a dancer at the famous Apollo Theater, statuesque Jackie Tajah Murdock talked about being the face of Lanvin in an ad campaign photographed last fall by Stephen Meisel and quipped that at age 18, she wanted to go to Paris. She didn't get there until she was 81 and joked that she just flipped the digits! On a more serious note, she spoke about what she called her triple handicap: she said "I am old, I am a woman and I am handicapped". In the film, Jackie confesses to being legally blind an unable to see the faces of the performers in photographs in the lobby of the Apollo. She does, however, still possess drive and an incredible sense of style. She teaches at NYU and takes dance lessons twice a week.

Once the panel concluded, 93-year old Ilona took to the stage to perform a couple songs, to the delight of everyone in the audience.

Lynn Dell Cohen wore an amazing feather hat.

Debra Rapoport and Ari Seth Cohen.

Joyce Carpati.

Simon Doonan donned his shades once he was relieved of his duties as emcee.

Director Lina Plioplyte posed with us for a photo.

We had lots of friends in the audience, including Elke Kuhn, so the event was a great opportunity to catch up.

British fashion designer Jessica Bonarius from Manchester, whom we'd met at Sue Kreitzman's salon/party last month - and who has the most spectacular vintage wardrobe - has been in New York on a month-long internship working with costume designers.

Alice Carey sported a tuxedo jacket and bright yellow dress and floral boutonniere.

Lily Pink, whom we'd last seen at Debra and Stan's tea party at the end of May,was sporting her signature pink earmuffs. Her lovely friend obviously got the dress-code memo.

We'd last seen jewelry designer Diana Gabriel at that same tea party.

Ever the dandy, Bill Webb came dressed to the nines, with his wonderfully chic wife, Eva Kobus-Webb.

Jean hob-nobbed with all the swells, including this pair of gents.

Polly Guerin of "Polly Talk from New York" and Kathryn Hausman of Medusa's Heirlooms were seated just a few tables away from us.

Loved this young woman's top knot and print slacks accentuated by her red bag and sandals.

Artist and milliner Carol Markel and Jessica Bonarius added sparkle to the evening.

Barbara Flood wore an outfit with a Southwestern flair.

Artist Jean Betancourt and another guest posed for a quick photo.

Chicky (in stripes) and his lady friend (who had gorgeous silver hair) totally enjoyed the evening...

... as did these two ladies who dressed for the occasion.

We met this lovely young woman who flew in from Toronto with her husband to attend the event.  She brought him and a NYC friend to City Winery. Jean had an instant rapport with her and her friend as soon as she noticed both were wearing Trippen shoes. (Now, if we could only remember her name!  Email us, please.)

Shortly afterwards, we said our goodbyes.  Since we both had to get up early for work the next day, we headed out into the balmy evening and to our respective abodes.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Shopping Bag Spree

When a really good shopping bag shows up, it's hard not to ask for another.  And another.  And another.  That's what happened when we saw the shopping bags that Uniqlo is currently offering, in an ingenious marketing ploy to highlight their current collaboration with the Museum of Modern Art.  They have tee shirts and scarves (they call them stoles) and sweat shirts and bandannas and canvas bags, all emblazoned with art from iconic 20th century artists.  It's Uniqlo, so we were able to get a number of things -

Above, Jean is wearing a Keith Haring tee shirt, with this pattern.

Valerie is wearing an Andy Warhol tee shirt, with this pattern (to match her Icon shoes).

And we both got Basquiat stoles (which we'll wear when it's a bit cooler), with this hilarious pattern.

Finally, if you look carefully, you might see that Valerie is carrying a canvas bag with Andy Warhol bananas.  That's how we were able to get all the cool shopping bags, because even though the whole kit and kaboodle would have fit in one bag, Valerie cajoled the cashiers into bagging each item separately.  After the shopping bags hit critical mass, we stood outside Uniqlo's flagship store on Fifth Avenue, built an artsy little shopping bag wall, and photographed ourselves.  Then, to have a little fun, we honored the artists whose work is on the bags (actually, honored may be too strong a word) by customizing our photographs.

People our age might know that in his early days of drawing graffiti in public, Jean-Michel Basquiat went by the name SAMO (a shortening of same old *hit).  And of course jagged crowns were among his recurring themes.

Keith Haring is perhaps best known for his radiant baby, so to differentiate ourselves, we have radiant shopping bags.

And we turned up the volume (so to speak) on the color and contrast buttons as a nod to Andy.  (Just think what we could have done if we'd gotten wigs in time for this post!)

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 Mikhail Baryshnikov for Swan Lake in 1988.  Everyone (including me) was probably expecting something to do with Nijinsky, 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.