Category: Fashion

Calendar. 08.10.10.

Veruschka, in a dress by Kimberly, as photographed by Richard Avedon in 1967. Part of the exhibit Avedon Fashion 1944-2000 at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, which opens today. (Image courtesy of the Boston MFA and the Richard Avedon Foundation.)

Congrats to Marshall for winning the C-Mon Giveaway Extravaganza, Girls, Girls, Girls edition. These leggy ladies are all yours.

In Fashion: American High Style at the Brooklyn Museum.

Oh Those Sleeves! A 1969 evening dress by Madame Alix Grès, made from taupe silk paper taffeta. (Photos by C-M.)

I’m not someone who is known for her fashion sense (my entire closet is one long, jazz-like riff on jeans and sneakers). But that doesn’t mean I can’t drool over a beautifully-constructed frock when I see one. And the American High Style exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum, dedicated to chronicling the museum’s costume holdings, offered plenty to salivate over: Christian Dior, Elsa Schiaparelli, Cristobal Balenciaga, to name but a few. Of particular interest is the extensive collection of pieces by master cutter Charles James (1906-1978), whose Diamond Evening Dress (shown after the jump), made for heiress/philanthropist Dominique De Menil, is truly a wonder to behold.

Overall, this show is a winner — beautifully and cleanly presented (unlike its sister show at the Met, which is supposed to be a hot mess). The only bummer is that the curators decided to pipe in a lite music soundtrack of operatic ahhhhhs that seem to have been taken from a Disney musical (from the part of the film where the princess wakes up). It not only made me grit my teeth, it made me want to commit random acts of violence on small animals. My advice: if you truly want to enjoy this exhibit: pack an iPod.

The show is up at the Brooklyn Museum through Aug. 1.

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Calendar. 05.06.10.

Butterfly Dress, 1955, by Charles James. Part of the exhibit American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection at the Brooklyn Museum, opens tomorrow. (Image courtesy of the Brooklyn Museum.)

New Directors/New Films ’10: “Bill Cunningham New York.”

Cunningham gets his shot. (Image courtesy of New Directors/New Films.)

Directed by Richard Presse
84 minutes
Screening Wed., March 24 and Thurs., March 25.

In recent years, American documentaries seem to have become distilled versions of the Maysles Brothers’  infamous 1975 expose, Grey Gardens. Every film student with a camera has, at one point or another, obsessed over someone living on the fringes of society. While some directors excel at these creations (Werner Herzog), what we’re often left with is a lot of middling fare that would be better suited to a fluff segment on a prime-time news program. (Wordplay, we’re talking to you.) In this regard, Richard Presse’s Bill Cunningham New York isn’t exactly mining new cinematic territory. But it does provide a wonderful glimpse into the life of one of New York City’s most beloved icons: New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, a figure who has long lived on the fringes of high society.

For fans of the Grey Lady, Cunningham’s name is synonymous with style. In his weekly columns, On the Street and Evening Hours, he chronicles the latest street fashion and the doings of the champagne-and-caviar elite as they flit from ball to charitable ball. (His columns are benchmarks — to be caught on film by Cunningham is akin to winning the fashion lottery.) Cunningham is also renowned for maintaining his privacy. He may cover bold-face names, but he himself is rarely one. But the filmmakers nonetheless managed to record his daily whereabouts for a period of more than two years, from which they have composed a meticulously edited, briskly paced bio that benefits greatly from its subject’s ebullient charm.

The film is centered primarily on Cunningham’s day-to-day life. There is the Spartan studio apartment, furnished with rows of filing cabinets and a prison cot-style bed. There are the daily peregrinations around Gotham on his trusty bicycle, outfitted in a blue workman’s jacket, and juggling a camera with a dexterity that belies his octogenarian status. And we see plenty of layout sessions at the New York Times. There is also lots of effusive praise from the lions of the fashion industry. (The frosty high priestess herself comes on to exclaim: “We all dress for Bill.”) One of the more memorable moments shows Cunningham at home with his neighbors. He and a fellow photographer — the Norma Desmond-lite Editta Sherman — reminisce about the early years, when Cunningham was a young hat designer and Sherman would entertain her salon of chums with impromptu ballet recitals. The tenderness expressed between these two outsiders is utterly captivating. It is in one of these unguarded moments when Cunningham best sums up his passion for fashion: “Joan Crawford, Ginger Rogers, Marilyn Monroe…I had no interest because they weren’t stylish!”

And this is what ultimately makes the film special. For Cunningham is not your standard paparazzo. He is not concerned with the identity of his subjects or the larger celebrity culture — he simply wants to capture the beauty of clothes. (This clarity of purpose is reinforced during a jaunt to Paris, where he turns his back on the legendary Catherine Deneuve, unimpressed with her ensemble. Quelle nerve!) At one point in the film, the photographer appears to dodge the filmmaker’s query about his lack of companionship. But the question appears somewhat irrelevant. Cunningham is a modern-day ascetic — and fashion is his religion. His humble apartment, spendthrift wardrobe and disdain for the spotlight have practically defined his existence. Towards the end of the film, we see him in Paris, being honored with the title chevalier dans l’ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. His French is fractured, but his joy shines through as he chokes back the tears while exclaiming: “He who seeks beauty will find it!”

À bientôt!


Find the key to our Schnabel heads ratings system here. For more information on the New Directors/New Films festival, logon to their official website.

Calendar. 08.11.09.

2 Evacuation Dresses (2006), by Yael Mer. (Image courtesy of the Katonah Museum of Art.)

Say It Loud: Day-Glo everything by Stephen Sprouse at Deitch in NYC.

Celso and C-Monster arrive at the opening of the Stephen Sprouse show at Deitch. (Photos by C-M.)

For anyone wanting to short circuit their eyesight on the visual wonders of ’80s excess, look no further than Stephen Sprouse: Rock on Mars at Deitch — a throwback to the days when everyone was having a good old time amid the crack vials and the dog poo in SoHo. This fashion retrospective, by the designer known for channeling Day-Glo and punk to a high-end crowd, is relentless. Crayola colors are stirred in with velvety textures, vaguely reminding me of the outfits donned by Locomía, a high-camp fan-dancing Spanish pop group from the early ’90s. (Yes, fan-dancing!) 

The best part of the show, however, has nothing to do with the fashion. It’s an upstairs wall that has been covered, top to bottom, in the designer’s personal Polaroids. Expect to see the likes of Debbie Harry, Francesco Clemente and the rest of the ’80s Interview Magazine set mugging for the camera.

The show is up until Feb. 28.

Click on images to supersize. Polaroids after the jump.

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The art of tailgating, USC edition.

As the Bud Lite kicks in, this entrepreneurial young lady goes into full performance mode with Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing.

To psychologically prepare for my upcoming fellowship at USC, I attended this past weekend’s university tailgate festivities prior to watching the Trojans give the Oregon State Ducks a one-handed ass-whooping. There were countless parties all over campus (and in the campus parking lots), but I spent this particular tailgate drinking Bud in the company of a couple hundred future moguls at the business school’s well-stocked gathering. In addition to the copious supply of domestic beer, the party was a visual feast of maroon and gold in every polyester iteration you could imagine — and then some.

Herewith, a look at tailgate fashion…

Click on images to supersize. More after the jump.

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