Friday File

Happy Friday! I signed up for a week of unlimited pilates this week at a little local studio, and I am definitely feeling it today. But I need the push because I haven’t gotten much exercise in the last couple months because of life’s various detours. I’ve been sampling all the different options the studio offers. So far the barre class is my favorite. This weekend I’ll try out two more types of classes, and then relax at the beach. What are you up to?

Here are some great links to check out:

Lou Stoppard analyzes fun fur and its contradictions between fad, luxury, throwaway, and timelessness.

This is an interesting story of one woman’s quest to find Bing Crosby’s Levi’s denim tuxedo.

Before her death last week, the Museum at FIT was developing an exhibition of Lauren Bacall’s wardrobe. This week the museum announced that the show will open next spring.

Ok, so yesterday I mentioned that I didn’t want to start thinking about fall fashion yet. But, I admit, there is some cute stuff coming in Asos’ holiday collection.

Even though this is a few weeks old, this tell-all by Alexander McQueen’s long-time partner is a must read. Don’t miss it if you haven’t already read it.

Have a great weekend!

Friday File

It’s been quite a week. My dziadzia (Polish for grandfather) fell on Wednesday and needed surgery yesterday. If you are inclined to say prayers or keep people in your thoughts, I would be grateful for good thoughts for him.

At work I continued the inventory project this week and also tried to catch up on some cataloging that I had fallen behind on. It’s turning out to be a very productive summer.

I’ll leave you with a slightly longer link roundup this week to make up for fewer Friday posts lately. Hope you have a great weekend!

nude shoes by Christian Louboutin, photo from Victoria and Albert Museum via NY Times

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is challenging collecting norms with a new rapid-response collecting strategy which aims to bring contemporary issues in design, including mass-produced clothing, into the museum’s permanent collection. An exhibition of these contemporary artifacts will challenge visitors to rethink their relationship to these objects.

Designer Martin Margiela was notoriously known for not appearing in public. Since he left his namesake house, the brand has cultivated an image of an anonymous design team despite the fact that they do have a current head designer.

Check out the lingerie companies that are challenging Victoria Secret’s dominance in the market.

Ever wonder what happens to artifacts and artwork after an exhibition is deinstalled? The Smithsonian’s blog tries to illuminate the process.

Vanessa Friedman questions why more designers haven’t gotten into the game of tennis.

A little historical look at caftans with fashion historian Valerie Steele.

A new social and cultural phenomenon in China has taken hold — female college graduates donning white wedding gowns in group photo shoots.

Ira Glass of This American Life is brilliant but also possibly a little crazy. And it only makes me love him and his risk taking more.

I laughed at these Google Street View selfies in museums and art galleries.

Fall Fashion Exhibition at the Met

Exciting news came out of the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday. Its Costume Institute announced that it will offer the first fall fashion exhibition in seven years in the new Anna Wintour Costume Center!


mourning ensemble, 1870-1872 and veil, c. 1875, photo by Karin Willis, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

The exhibition is called Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, and will focus on on women’s mourning fashions of the 19th and early 20th centuries. About 30 ensembles are expected to be on exhibit contextualized with fashion plates, jewelry, accessories, photographs, and daguerreotypes. The show will run October 21, 2014 through February 1, 2015.

It’s exciting news that the Met is returning to a two-exhibition-a-year schedule. Also, this show, which will be thematic and organized chronologically, sounds as if it may be more scholarly in nature than the blockbuster summer exhibitions the Costume Institute normally produces. Can’t wait to hear more about it!

Magritte at the Art Institute of Chicago

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen an exhibition as great as the one I saw this weekend. On Sunday, I took myself down to the Art Institute of Chicago for the members-only opening of Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938. It blew me away.

Right from the start you could tell the exhibition of Belgian surrealist René Magritte’s work was going to be special based on its installation. The light levels are low, really low, and the walls were painted a really dark grey, almost like a soft black. It takes your eyes a bit to adjust to the darkness. But every single piece of artwork is spotlighted so that it glows. It is the definition of art as sacred object.

The Secret Player, 1927, from Wikiart.org

The exhibition begins with a replica of Napoleon’s death mask on which Magritte has painted a sky scene with clouds. Then you move into an intimate gallery of his most early surrealist paintings from 1926-1927. These are my favorite pieces because they seem filled with magic and wonder, particularly one called The Secret Player, seen above.

Next are a series of small galleries focused on his works from his prolific Paris years. Word association paintings are a focus here. Magritte’s most famous painting The Treachery of Images, also known colloquially as “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” or “This is not a pipe” is included.

The following section documents his return to Brussels, and its installation is genius. The long gallery is broken up by a series of parallel walls (there must have been 15-20 of them), each of which has a single glowing painting on it. I loved how it forced you to look at one painting at a time. The repetition of moving between each wall was oddly rhythmic and allowed reflective time between pieces.

Then you come to room of cases documenting Magritte’s commercial work, photographs of him in artistically composed shots, and surrealist publications he worked on. The exhibition ends with works he created in London and Brussels from 1937-1938, many of which were commissioned by British collector Edward James.

Personally I find Magritte to be a great technical artist, and the content of his work is confusing, funny, odd, and/or deep. Definitely go see the exhibition if you can! Just keep an open mind and remember that you don’t have to understand it to enjoy it. Sure, some pieces are deeply symbolic, but others might not have any discernible meaning. And it’s ok to laugh at the absurdity. Magritte’s art is filled with jokes.

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938 is open through October 13, 2014.

Met Gala 2014 Best Dressed

Yesterday was the opening of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual Costume Institute exhibition. This year the show is a retrospective of Charles James’ work. I can’t wait to see it!


red carpet for the Met Gala, photo from @metmuseum’s Instagram

And last night was the Met Gala. I could dissect all the fashion on the red carpet, but, honestly, let’s just skip to the best. No point in wasting time on the ensembles that were ill fitting, revealed too much skin, or just didn’t fit with the theme.

James is called the Architect of Fashion, and his gowns lived up to that name based on complicated understructures that supported them. Only a lady with a strong presence could pull one off properly. So it’s only fitting that the best from last night made their wearers look like ladies and had pronounced architectural elements.

First honorable mentions go to Dita von Teese and Karen Elson in Zac Posen, Tabitha Simmons in Dolce and Gabbana, and Bee Shaffer in Alexander McQueen.


Zac Posen and Dita von Teese, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times


Karen Elson in Zac Posen, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times


Tabith Simmons in Dolce and Gabbana, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times


Bee Shaffer in Alexander McQueen, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times

And here are my top three gowns.


Taylor Swift in Oscar de la Renta, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times

Taylor Swift looked so pretty in this Oscar de la Renta gown. I love the bustle that cascades into a sweeping train. It has just the right amount of embroidery, and the color complements her tone too.


Taylor Swift at the Met Gala, photo from @annstreetstudio’s Instagram


Lui Wen in Zac Posen, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times

I follow Zac Posen’s Instagram feed, and have been anticipating his dominance on this red carpet for months based on the behind-the-scenes photos he posts. I mean, come on! Liu Wen looks like a proper lady in this stunner that is clearly inspired by Charles James. This gown requires a “presence” in order to carry it off, and its construction certainly rivals James’ gowns.


Karolína Kurková in Marchesa, photo by Josh Haner/The New York Times

But my top choice goes to Karolína Kurková in Marchesa. Marchesa! Who knew?! This gown has some serious architecture and a little edge. The floral design pops right off of the fabric into three dimensional form. Superb!


Lui Wen and Karolína Kurková on the Met Gala red carpet, photo from @annstreetstudio’s Instagram

EDIT: When I woke up this morning, I finally saw Hamish Bowles on his Instagram feed. He was certainly the best dressed gent last night and belatedly deserves to be on my list!

Friday File

Happy Friday! My apologies for writing here less often lately. My evenings have become a bit busier. Also, I’m rededicating myself to exercising regularly — I signed up for Zumba and am getting back into strength training. This means I have less time to write after work, or I collapse in exhaustion when I get home.

On Monday I attended a documentary screening that I co-organized. If you have the opportunity to see “Men of the Cloth,” don’t miss it. It’s a captivating look at the lives of master tailors and their dedication to the craft.

Also, last night I got a haircut with a new stylist, Dae. He didn’t do anything dramatic to my hair, but I really liked what he had to say about developing a relationship with his clients. I felt like he really listened to me and that my hair was in good hands.

And now for some great links:

gowns by Charles James at the Met’s exhibition preview, photo by Hannah Thomson, from Vogue.com

Are you ready for Monday’s Met Gala 2014, which celebrates the opening of “Charles James: Beyond Fashion?” I’ll be watching online.

Fashion designer Patrick Kelly is the subject of a retrospective exhibition opening at the Philadelphia Museum of Art this Sunday.

Great news!

I don’t follow celebrity relationships, but I greatly enjoyed this open letter to George Clooney’s fiancée. She is one accomplished woman.

Do you read The Gentlewoman? I’ve been meaning to subscribe since it launched in 2010.

Just discovered The Courtauld Institute of Art’s new fashion history blog.

Friday File

Happy Friday! Unfortunately today isn’t the end of my workweek, because the college has Open House tomorrow. But it’s always fun to show off the collection to prospective students. We pull out the show-stoppers, so there’s lots of dazzling things to see. Hopefully I’ll get to catch up on sleep on Sunday and hang out with my husband, who has been on location shooting in California all week. I’ve missed him.

Now for the best of the week:

The new Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition on Italian fashion looks amazing. See some behind-the-scenes images of its mannequins getting dressed.

Not a huge fan of April Fools’ pranks, but this one by NPR is pretty great.

This would be a really fun job to have — fashion librarian.

Those ubiquitous rock-stud heels by Valentino are one of the lynchpins in the luxury fashion house’s financial success. Valentino is an interesting case study about how to stay relevant in the current market.

Uniqlo, the Japanese brand, is partnering with the Museum of Modern Art for a capsule collection in stores. I’m all for bringing the museum to the people, but this doesn’t seem to have any educational value, just a chance to make some bucks.

This article drives home how little has changed in the garment industry 103 years after the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. In fact, you could argue it’s gotten worse. We’ve got to wake up to the exploitation happening in countries like Bangladesh so that Westerners can buy cheap clothes.

Friday File

Happy Friday! I admit I am ready for Spring Break next week, even if it means I still have to work. I had a lot of class visits in the Fashion Study Collection this week plus a donor visit. I need a rest from lecturing, even if that means getting some monotonous cataloging done at my desk. Is there something you do at work that is commonly thought of as boring but you actually enjoy (at least from time to time)?

Aside from work, I’m looking forward to the Marc Le Bihan trunk show at Robin Richman this weekend. His spring/summer collection and pre-sale fall/winter collection will be 15% off, and there is a cocktail reception tonight.

Now, the best links of the week:

Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has smart, funny, and compelling thoughts on gender, feminism, and Africa and she’s stylish as all heck. Her Ted talk is incredible. I need to get my hands on her books. Someone get this woman a bigger platform immediately!

My good friend Liz is headed to the National Stationary Show. And her business, Betsy Ann Paper, needs a little help with a Kickstarter. If you love beautifully crafted stationary, you will want to back this. The rewards are stellar!

I’m planning to sit down with my iPad this weekend and read through the New York Times special section on Museums, which was published earlier in the week.

We need to do something to better support female fashion designers in the United States. The following section, reported as industry culture, makes me rage: “Over the past six months, I’d estimate that nearly a dozen publicists and designers have mentioned to me that it’s more difficult to sell an editor on a female designer. To them, the hierarchy goes like this: straight men first, gay men second, women third.”

I would visit a Museum of Food and Drinks.

I can’t wait until the Yves Saint Laurent movie comes out (June 25)! Also, I’m clutching my pearls over so many original garments worn in the film.

Rena Tom wrote a great piece that muses over handcraft versus machine craft.

Designer L’Wren Scott was found dead on Monday, which was ruled a suicide. Cathy Horyn wrote a personal reflection about Scott’s life and her relationship with the deceased designer.

Friday File

I’ve started a new medication, and unfortunately headaches are a side effect. So as I’m typing this, it feels like someone is crushing my brain. As a result, this week’s links have a little less commentary than usual. Hope you can understand. And have a great weekend!

Colin Powell’s 60-year-old selfie.

Muppets on exhibition! So interesting to consider the muppets from a conservation point of view.

My friend Shaelyn goes on a bench-researching quest.

Did society drive van Gogh to commit suicide? A new exhibition in Paris explores that theory.

Painting with nail polish! These must be tricky to produce.

Stories about John Dillinger, Depression-era bank robber, always fascinate me. Recently, a tommy gun stolen by his gang in 1933 was returned to an Indiana town.

Friday File

My parents are coming into town this weekend, and I’m looking forward to their visit. I’m taking them to Publican, a meat-centric restaurant with communal tables. All week I’ve been excited to get oysters!

I’m trying to fend off getting sick too. This has been a bad winter for my health. Stay warm, healthy, and have a great weekend!

And now here are this week’s links:


Solon and Emma Borglum in the Artist's Paris Studio, c. 1899, from Metropolitan Museum of Art, courtesy of Peter H. Hassrick

I had no idea cowboy artists in Paris were a thing during the late Victorian era.

Great blog post by the Ryerson Fashion Research Collection on the shirt-waist, a blouse women wore at the turn of the century.

I think libraries are awesome, and so is this piece proclaiming their hipness.

My colleague and former boss, Karen Herbaugh of the American Textile History Museum, was interviewed about wearing pajamas in public alongside Clinton Kelly. Karen shared her historical point of view, while Clinton brought his What Not To Wear-trademark assessment.

I was fascinated by this piece in The Atlantic called “The Death of the Cool Feminist Smoker.”

I’m not sure I understand normcore. Do you get it?

I’m trying to figure out how I can see the traveling exhibition of Dr. Seuss’ hats.