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

Happy Friday! What are you up to this weekend? We are moving tomorrow, and I can’t wait. We’ve been living among boxes for the past week, which has not been easy. The movers are coming in the late afternoon. Wish us luck!

And now some interesting links.

I need to add this book on the history of manicures to my bookshelf.

The August cover of Marie Claire is too cool. I kind of want to get my hands on an issue.

Some Ikea stores are advertising rescue dogs throughout their showrooms with life-size cardboard models. Such a cute idea.

This survey of scientists, most of whom work in the field, shows a high percentage of sexual abuse, especially for female students or postdocs. #yesallwomen

Back in the 19th century, doctors warned women about the dangers of “bicycle face.” Seriously.

I’m looking forward to exploring The Museum at FIT’s new website for its current exhibition Exposed: A History of Lingerie.

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.

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.

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

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.

The Met’s New Charles James Acquisitions

ball gown by Charles James, 1947, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

This coming summer’s big Costume Institute exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is Charles James: Beyond Fashion. It runs from May 8 to August 10, and I can’t wait to see it. James was a brilliant designer, and one of the greatest American couturiers ever.

In 2009, the Brooklyn Museum of Art transferred its entire costume collection to the Met. Along with that transfer came a major archive of James’ work, setting up the Met to mount this major retrospective.

Well recently my research took me into the Met’s online collection database, and I found a ton of James pieces newly acquired by the museum. During 2013, the Met acquired more than 150 pieces, including some early works from the 1930s. Most of these are purchases credited as Costume Institute Benefit Fund, Friends of The Costume Institute Gifts, and Acquisitions Fund, 2013. There are also a few purchased with funds from individual donors.

Some of these new James acquisitions are stunning. Take a look for yourself.

dress by Charles James, early 1930s, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

label in dress by Charles James, early 1930s, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

evening jacket by Charles James, 1930s, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

evening dress by Charles James, c. 1935, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

cocktail dress by Charles James, early 1950s, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

suit by Charles James, 1950s, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

dress by Charles James, 1952-53, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

label in dress by Charles James, 1952-53, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

'Butterfly' gown by Charles James, c. 1955, from Metropolitan Museum of Art

I wonder how many of these new pieces will show up in the exhibition this summer.

I’m torn whether or not the Met’s acquisition of so many pieces by James is a good or damaging thing for the field of fashion history. On one hand it creates a really strong collection, and will be amazing for Met fashion historians who want to examine the evolution in James’ design. Hopefully they will publish their findings so that we can all learn from their research.

On the other hand it could make it harder for an outside researcher to examine James garments in person. Conducting research at the Met isn’t possible for just anyone, especially an independent historian or someone at an institution with limited funds. The acquisition of so many pieces by a single institution means that it’s harder for smaller institutions to acquire any James garments for themselves. Plus, there’s no way the Met will be able to show all of these garments in a single exhibition, so many will live in storage unseen by the public.

What do you think about a single institution acquiring so many pieces of a designer’s work? And are you excited to see the exhibition this summer?