NYFW Spring 2015 Hats

Thom Browne, spring 2015, photos by Kim Weston Arnold/indigitalimages.com, via style.com

New York Fashion Week is almost over, and yesterday hats had their day in the sun. Yes, hats. Did you notice them too?

Thom Browne, spring 2015, photos by Kim Weston Arnold/indigitalimages.com, via style.com

Let’s start with Thom Browne. Milliner Stephen Jones designed hats that wittily played off Browne’s ensembles.

Karen Walker, spring 2015, photos by Livio Valerio/indigitalimages.com, via style.com

Karen Walker’s straw hats took the Western in a simple and elegant direction.

Donna Karan, spring 2015, photos by Yannis Vlamos/indigitalimages.com, via style.com

Donna Karan mixed up her looks with hats that either reached for high heights or mimicked an early 1900s oversized shape.

Rosie Assoulin, spring 2015, photos courtesy of Rosie Assoulin, via style.com

Rosie Assoulin went for a super dramatic brim.

Alice + Olivia, spring 2015, photo by Michael Loccisano for Getty, via fabsugar.com

And Alice + Olivia created a dramatic Marie Antoinette towering hairpiece with a bird perched on top.

These hats were certainly no wallflowers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many in one New York Fashion Week in recent history. Should we blame it all on Pharrell’s Vivienne Westwood hat?

Friday File

Happy Friday! I have the day off and am starting to packing up our apartment in anticipation of our move next weekend. Packing is far from my favorite thing, so please wish me luck.

If you are looking for something cool to do this weekend in Chicago, check out the exhibition “Field Works Gallery Extravaganza.” The show is this weekend only and features 18 emerging artists who were inspired by the Natural History Collection at the Field Museum. Tonight is the opening at Ian Sherwin Gallery from 7-11 p.m.

Hope you have a great weekend!

The Dolce & Gabbana fall 2014 Alta Moda show sounds like the most luxury fashion show possible. Christina Binkley takes us along to Capri for an insider’s look at the exclusive weekend in Capri.

Mad Men is known for being fastidious about its attention to period detail, and of course the furniture is no exception.

I have no idea if this story is true, but this craigslist post about a NYC restaurant’s turnaround issue makes you think about the effect our cell phones have on our culture.

Miss Idaho wore her insulin pump visible on her bikini during the swimsuit portion of the competition.

All about women’s knickers in the 1920s.

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.

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

This was a busy week because the students are back on campus. Spring semester started, and despite the cold, we plunged right ahead with regularly scheduled classes aside from Monday night. I’m excited to get back into the groove of class visits to the fashion collection and storage upgrade projects. But I will miss the quiet days of spending time by myself in the collection.

In a couple weeks, I’m hosting an event featuring lingerie from the collection, and I’m having a good time discovering some very beautiful and feminine pieces in it. You can see a lovely detail of a nightgown from the 1920s I’m planning to include below.

Here are this week’s links:

This great post on Unmaking Things shows us how one could take a new perspective on museum artifacts that are never on display.

There’s a Marie Antoinette Diet? Is it crazy to want to try it?

I love this essay from a Washington Post journalist on his love of figure skating despite being an untraditional fan.

Did you know that designers leave show notes on the audience’s seats during a fashion show? I have never seen any in person, but Erin Hazelton transcribed Maison Martin Margiela’s most recent couture show notes. When I read that the first two looks contained scraps of Mariano Fortuny fabric, I got really excited.

Style File – Masnada Dress

Last week we had a department meeting with all full-time and part-time faculty. I presented updates about the fashion collection, so I stepped it up from the more casual outfits I’ve been wearing this summer.

I love the texture of this Masnada dress from the Fall/Winter 13-14 collection. It’s a blend of 4 different synthetics, cotton, and wool. Up close, it kind of looks like a leathery latex woven into a wool ground. Also, I really love that it has tails in back made from a knit fabric.

To complete the outfit, I wore Kenneth Cole Reaction flats and carried the Pour la Victore bag.

The dress was a hit with faculty. Masnada is new to me, but I’m obsessed with what I see on its site. It is an Italian brand, and I am definitely going to keep an eye out for it now.

Are you familiar with Masnada?

Punk Part Two

This morning I bemoaned a lack of contextualization in the Met’s Punk: Chaos to Couture exhibition. I knew Andrew Bolton had done the research, I just didn’t see enough of it through the display or in text labels in the exhibition.

Well this afternoon I stumbled upon a video pinned to Pinterest by the Met — a gallery walk through with Bolton. Here is a lot of the missing context! It’s a great dialog about why this is important to look at and details on specific pieces.

And I didn’t mention before that I know the Punk exhibition catalog goes into great detail regarding the thesis of the show and the garments in it. I’m bummed more of this couldn’t have been included in the gallery spaces, and that it requires watching supplemental videos or buying an exhibition catalog to find the real meat.

Punk Needs More Meat

Two weekends ago I flew to New York City. The whole trip revolved around seeing Punk: Chaos to Couture at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I took in other shows as well while I was there. In two days, I saw six fashion exhibitions. Some were more high brow than others, but they were good overall. Unfortunately, Punk fell short of my initial expectations.

Punk: Chaos to Couture title wall gallery, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

When I first found out the show would be curated by Andrew Bolton, I decided I really wanted to go. He’s created some of the best exhibitions at the Met in my opinion. Dangerous Liaisons: Fashion and Furniture in the Eighteenth Century, Anglomania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion, and Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty were all his. With that kind of track record, I wanted to see this show. But then the less than stellar reviews started rolling in.

The reviews had two major problems with Punk: first, it was a show about high fashion appropriating punk, not a punk show, and second, there was a lack of contextualization. The first point is indeed true. Bolton and the Met never set out to make an authentic punk show or mislead people about what they would see. It was always going to be about high fashion co-opting the aesthetics. So if you don’t like high fashion’s blatant use of punk imagery, well, you probably aren’t going to like this show. I personally don’t mind that basic premise.

The second point about contextualization was the one I was skeptical about. I’ve read reviews of Bolton shows before, and so many of them complain of a lack of written contextualization. Well wake up folks, I wanted to say. Contextualization doesn’t always have to come in the form of the written word. It can be done through the exhibition design setting the scene. It can be done by showing period sketches or photographs in a case in the same room as a period garment to demonstrate that garment’s background. Audiences are smarter than you think. Give them a little credit that they can infer connections without everything being spelled out.

However, in this show the contextualization argument may be right. I left the show feeling like I hadn’t learned anything. I had just seen a bunch of cool looking clothes. The question “what was the point?” has been nagging me since I saw it.

Clothes for Heroes gallery, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

The small amount of clothes that were contextualized in the first gallery space was pretty cool, seen in the photo above. Authentic 1970s garments sold in Vivienne Westwood and Malcom McLaren’s shop in London were paired up with contemporary high fashion versions. The “real” stuff was fascinating to see. Their fashiony doppelgängers took on an elevated meaning standing right next to the authentic items. I saw an “Anarchy Mask” T-shirt reputedly worn by Johnny Rotten and the “God Save the Queen” T-shirt.

D.I.Y.: Bricolage gallery, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

But then things broke down to purely superficial aesthetic details in the following four gallery spaces. Not only were there a lack of references about how pieces were inspired by punk — other than they fit some vague approximation of what punk looked like and there was very loud music playing to hard-to-watch videos of punk imagery — but there were few details about the garments themselves. No descriptive labels for individual garments, no pictures of the clothes on the runway or worn in everyday life. The exhibition design left me wanting more. I wanted to know what it was like to sew Gareth Pugh ruffled gowns out of garbage bags (seen in the photo above on the center platform). There was no video of the infamous graffitied McQueen dress from spring/summer 1999 getting spray painted live on the runway by robotic machines. No insight into the minds of any of the designers when they were conceiving of these clothes.

430 King's Road Period Room, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

My first walk through of the exhibition was a treat however. My friend Sarah Scaturro, head conservator in the Costume Institute, took me through. She pointed out things I would have never noticed on my own — every element in the replicated Seditionaries shop is archival (seen in the photo above), the single garment owned by the Met in a particular gallery was standing on the only pedestal that didn’t house a speaker, a T-shirt that said “58% DON’T WANT PERSHING” was the real punk deal. That was very exciting getting an individual tour. So I have to say a big thank you to Sarah for taking time out of her day to walk through it with me.

D.I.Y.: Graffiti & Agitprop gallery, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

The garments in Punk were really cool, and they were a treat to see, especially that graffitied McQueen dress (seen above at left) — I had a sacred moment when I saw it in person. The show was a visual treat and mounted very well. But I felt the exhibition could have taught me more, could have pushed beyond the superficial aesthetics. It lacked the heart and soul Bolton’s other shows are known to have. I wanted something a little more meaty, but I didn’t get it.

Exhibition File – Punk: Chaos to Couture

Punk: Chaos to Couture graphic, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

It is the time of year that fashion historians wait for with anticipation — the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute fashion exhibition. This year’s theme is Punk: Chaos to Couture. Curated by Andrew Bolton, the exhibition design is sure to thrill with sensory overload.

According to the Met’s website, Punk “will examine punk’s impact on high fashion from the movement’s birth in the early 1970s through its continuing influence today. Featuring approximately one hundred designs for men and women, the exhibition will include original punk garments and recent, directional fashion to illustrate how haute couture and ready-to-wear borrow punk’s visual symbols.”

The major themes in the show include New York and London, Clothes for Heroes, Hardware, Bricolage, Graffiti and Agitprop, and Destroy. It’ll look at the DIY aesthetic and the ways the original punk movement inspire designers working today.

I’m actually going to New York this weekend specifically to see the show. I saw Bolton’s AngloMania: Tradition and Transgression in British Fashion exhibition in 2006, and it was over the top. I’m still kicking myself for not finding a way to New York to see his famed Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty show — the 5th most attended exhibition at the Met.

The show opens to the public today and runs until August 14. Some of the reviews are out:

Robin Givhan says that “Even If Punk Can’t Shock, Fashion Still Can.”
Suzy Menkes thinks the exhibition is “Punk Without the Down and Dirty.”
Sasha Frere Jones decries the show as “The Day That Punk Died Again.”

I’m trying to reserve judgement, even though these reviews do not say the most flattering things about Punk. This is not the first time Bolton has been accused of not contextualizing the fashion he exhibits. His shows are not for fashion historian purists. I’ll let you know what I think after this weekend.

Address: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 215 Centre Street, New York, New York
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday 9:30-5:30, Friday-Saturday 9:30-9, Sunday 9:30-5:30
Recommended Admission: adults $25, seniors $17, students $12, members and children under 12 free
Website: www.metmuseum.org/Exhibitions/listings/2013/PUNK?utm_source=homepage&utm_medium=banner&utm_campaign=punk

Exhibition File – New at the Museum of Chinese in America

The Museum of Chinese in America opens two exhibitions tomorrow that add to the dialogue on modern fashion. Both focus on Chinese or Chinese Americans and their relationships to fashion and dress, which are often overlooked in the broader discussion.

Front Row: Chinese American Designers graphic, from Museum of Chinese in America

First, Front Row: Chinese American Designers “features the unique visions of 16 designers” in an exhibition curated by guest curator Mary Ping. It looks at social and cultural forces that gave rise to Chinese American designers in New York. The show explores two waves, the first in the 1980s, which included Anna Sui, Vera Wang, and Vivienne Tam, and a second, recent one that includes Derek Lam and Phillip Lim. Of note are the range of aesthetics and entrepreneurial paths in this group. It will be interesting to see the breadth of differences between these designers despite their common background.

Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s exhibition graphic, from Museum of Chinese in America

The second show is Shanghai Glamour: New Women 1910s-40s exploring fashion, women, and the city’s identity during the early 20th century. The way women dressed during this period was emblematic of modern life — changing social, political, and gender roles were revealed. This exhibition was guest curated by Mei Mei Rado.

Both exhibitions run until September 29.

And don’t miss Eric Wilson’s Front Row column in the New York Times this week. He highlights both shows.

Address: Museum of Chinese in America, 215 Centre Street, New York, New York
Hours: Tuesday-Wednesday 11-6, Thursday 11-9, Friday-Sunday 11-6
Admission: adults $10, seniors and students $5, members and children under 12 free
Website: mocanyc.org/exhibitions/upcoming_exhibits/front_row_chinese_american_designers + mocanyc.org/exhibitions/upcoming_exhibits/shanghai_glamour