I had the chance to pop up to the Metropolitan Museum to see the Costume Institute show called "The Model as Muse." Its theme is iconic models of the twentieth century and their roles in projecting and sometimes inspiring the fashion of their times. The exhibit started with the Charles James dresses pictured above, pieces of sculpture in their own right. Their rich, saturated colors and heavy, lustrous fabrics created a delicious tableaux. These dresses reminded me of Millicent Rogers, the Standard oil heiress who wore the most subtly colored Charles James gowns. She was also a very creative jewelry designer and lived in a house in Taos, New Mexico, now a museum out in the desert which TD and I have visited. Charles James was a sad story: though he created the most beautiful clothes, the eccentric designer died penniless in the Chelsea Hotel on 23rd Street.
In "The Model as Muse" show I was delighted to see one of my favorite fashion photographs of all time. Here is model Lisa Taylor wearing Calvin Klein photographed by Arthur Elgort in Vogue from October, 1976:
I think it captured American fashion so well: simple, clean, healthy, strong. Legendary fashion editor Polly Mellen worked on this shoot, and when I met Polly, we talked about this picture. Polly said, "She is the epitome of the modern woman, deep in thought, not just looking beautiful."
Here is another famous, iconic fashion photo in the show, also Lisa Taylor, also wearing Calvin Klein, this time shot by Helmut Newton for Vogue, May 1975. Polly worked on this shoot too: Polly really is one of the greats, isn't she? Someone should do a show on her.
This picture expressed the then new feminism movement; the woman in a sheer dress with her legs spread was clearly ogling the man passing by. Again, the picture is simple, strong, chic, just like the clothes. And Lisa Taylor was a knockout, the perfect embodiment of American beauty.
After that I went up to the Sculpture Roof Garden where currently installed is this crazy stainless steel sculpture called Maelstrom by Roxy Paine.
It's meant to make the viewer feel as if he is "immersed in the midst of a catalysmic force of nature" but honestly I was just afraid I was going to trip.
Or poke an eye out.
Then I went to the New American Wing. They cleaned things up and simplified there, taking out a gift shop and adding a little cafe; it would be a nice place to eat lunch.