Thursday, November 28, 2013

Grateful for Vreeland

A delightfully entertaining read is offered in the new, big, over-sized, hard-cover book Diana Vreeland Memos: The Vogue Years. Vreeland, the legendary fashion editor at Harper's Bazaar, editor in chief at Vogue, and Special Consultant at the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, is an endlessly fascinating figure who has been the subject of numerous articles, books and a documentary. This book of Vreeland's Vogue memos was lovingly edited by her grandson Alexander Vreeland. He is the son of Frederick Vreeland, who was a diplomat, and husband of Lisa Immordino Vreeland, who produced the documentary and book about Diana Vreeland called The Eye Has to Travel.

In his charming introduction, Alexander recalls his grandmother's habits. When Diana Vreeland was the editor of Vogue, she typically worked in the bathroom of her Park Avenue apartment in the morning, dictating memos and letters over the phone to her secretaries. By the time she arrived at the office, which was never before noon, she was done with her daily correspondence.

Alexander remembers visiting his grandmother as a boy in her office for lunch where a small card table would be set up for them to eat together. She listened intently to her grandson as she enjoyed her lunch of a peanut butter sandwich, a glass of whiskey and a bowl of ice cream. Then she was back to work, creating her infamous issues of Vogue.

Her memos and letters collected in the book reveal her exacting mind and super creative imagination. Vreeland knew precisely what she wanted to see in the pages of her magazine, and these memos describe to her staff in words how to get it. Besides her famous visual eye, she was a gifted writer and copy editor. Some of the memos are like poetry; they express her intellect, optimism and enthusiasm. Here are a couple of my favorites and how they are pictured in the book –

"There will be amusing ways of doing things...
putting things on...
thinking about yourself...
being who you are... the way you want to be..."

"Let's keep to blue because of sky and marvelous tiling everywhere...
vivid blues, mixed blues, printed blues, blue, blue all the way." 

"Think Nureyev is absolutely sensational!"

"Let's make our writing the best... let's have it flow and have a rhythm...
I think this piece so really important that it should be written over again."

"I wish that we could have a spiritual article that would give people a bit of a lift."

"Beauty is in all things that love and are loved,
animals and children, and if women have it,
it is because they feel completely free in this
world and in their lives as they feel close to God...
and they are spiritually in tune with the universe."

Diana Vreeland is the gift that keeps on giving.
Best wishes and happy Thanksgiving to everyone!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Instagram Fan

Two of my favorite New York icons: the Empire State Building from inside the New York Public Library
As you probably can tell from the blog, I like to take pictures of New York City or wherever I happen to be. Visitors seem to enjoy the photographs on the blog, as well as the stories. Kind of recently, I signed up for Instagram, the photo sharing app, and these are some photos from my Instagram account.
Feeling fallish with flowers and candles –

City Hall Park with the Manhattan Municipal Building beyond –

A walk in the woods in Connecticut – 

The elegant Audubon Center in Prospect Park in Brooklyn –

A trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art found me looking at a Sargent painting in the American Wing –

If you like the blog, you might like to follow me on Instagram! Search for me at bartboehlert. And let's connect on Facebook too. As always, thank you for visiting the blog dear readers.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Fashion Renegades in New York

Fashion photograph by Lee Miller on the left and outfit by Jean Paul Gaultier on the right (click on photos to enlarge).
There are lots of fun events going on in New York City in the fall, and TD and I were invited to a couple on one night. Liz Smith used to say that on some nights in New York with multiple events, one needed to travel "by ambulance or helicopter." Such was the case.

First stop was the Staley-Wise Gallery on Broadway in Soho for a reception for a new book from Monacelli Press about the photographer Lee Miller by Becky E. Conekin who is a fashion historian and teaches modern European history at Yale.

Lee Miller is a fascinating story. She grew up in Poughkeepsie, New York, up the Hudson River. As a young woman in New York City, she was stopped from stepping in front of a car by Mr. Condé Nast himself, who launched her as a model in the pages of his Vogue magazine.
Here is a picture in the book of Lee Miller wearing Chanel and photographed by George Hoyeningen-Huene in 1930.

Chic. I love the pure, elegant lines of the clothes from the 30's. Here is Lee Miller photographed in a simple v-neck dress with her brother Erik in 1930, also by Hoyeningen-Huene.

But Lee Miller was not content to model; she wanted to be a photographer. "I would rather take a picture than be in one," she said. In Europe, she became romantically involved with the Surrealist artist Man Ray. Lee Miller went on to become a distinguished photographer, first working in fashion and later as a photojournalist documenting World War II and the liberation of the concentration camps. It's believed that she never fully recovered from the horrors she witnessed in World War ll.

This new book Lee Miller in Fashion, is the first to examine her earlier career as a model and a fashion photographer. It's a fascinating look at a woman who refused to be tied down by tradition and fearlessly explored whatever intrigued her. 
Self portrait by Lee Miller –

Then we were on to Brooklyn (helicopter, please) for a preview of the work of another fashion rebel – French fashion designer Jean Paul Gaultier. The Brooklyn Museum is offering a retrospective of the work of the enfant terrible, the bad boy of fashion, which is up until Feb. 23, 2014. Gaultier is renowned for provocatively blending gender, showing skirts for men and tough, aggressive clothes for women like the big cone bra he designed for Madonna's Blonde Ambition Tour in 1990.

I love the Brooklyn Museum where a new modern entrance has been added on to the original Beaux-Arts facade. Inside, the ambitious exhibition features 140 garments from Gaultier's 30 years of fashion design. Adding an eery note, these digitized mannequins moved and talked. Their eyes blinked and they looked directly at you while spouting off. It was strangely weird and kind of distracting from the clothes but oddly entertaining.

This mannequin, wearing a top hat and a coat made of feathers to look like leopard skin, spoke in French.

More ensembles from the wild world of Jean Paul Gaultier.

The galleries rambled on in this big show which is a fun celebration of Gaultier's eccentric and unique vision of beauty. At the end we had a drink at the preview party and by then were starving so we walked down Flatbush Avenue to Franny's, the popular pizza restaurant owned by husband-and-wife team Andrew Feinberg and Francine Stephens. The place was crowded, and after a bit of a wait cooling our heels at the bar, we were seated at a table and enjoyed a delicious dinner. The food for the fresh salads, pizza and pasta is all sourced locally. Would definitely go back to this charming restaurant.

Hello Brooklyn.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Hearst Magazines Designer Visions at the Walker Tower

With pal Michael Boodro, the editor of Elle Decor.
Three interior designers recently did their magic in three residences for the Hearst Magazines Designer Visions showcase in the newly renovated Walker Tower on West 18th Street so I toddled over to the gala opening. After all, it's only three blocks from the apartment!

The Art Deco-style Walker Tower was built in 1929 by architect Ralph Walker for the New York Telephone Company.  The New York Times called Walker "the architect of the century," and Frank Lloyd Wright said he was "the only other honest architect." Later, Verizon used the building which was recently bought and converted into luxury residences. Very luxury. Just yesterday, the building's penthouse apartment went into contract for almost $55 million, which is a real estate record for downtown Manhattan. Verizon still occupies the first seven floors, and the new apartments in the upper floors have sold or are being sold; Cameron Diaz was spotted checking out the building.
Archival photo of the Walker Tower in Chelsea – 

For the Hearst Designer Visions showcase, designers Allesandra Branca decorated an apartment for Elle Decor, Jamie Drake created one for House Beautiful, and Carlos Aparicio went to work for Veranda. The party was mobbed with guests and it was hard to take pictures of the residences, which will be featured in upcoming issues of the magazines, but I did manage to get a few snaps. I ran into my friend Michael Boodro, the editor of Elle Decor, who told me more about the magazine's apartment.

Allesandra Branca, who designs a collection of fabrics for Schumacher, combined vivid reds and blues in a guest room for an Elle Decor residence.

"Allesandra took a huge raw space and made it into a colorful yet sophisticated family home," he said. "She used lots of pinks and reds, and showed how different fabrics and patterns can be harmonious and not clash. It's a practical but glamorous apartment."
A pretty vignette –

Designer Jamie Drake is renowned for his bold use of color, and he brought his signature touch to his apartment for House Beautiful. There was a golden foyer, a pink living room, a blue media room, and an aquamarine bedroom which was conveniently punctuated by this stylish guest in a scarlet red dress and matching bag. 

Across the hall I met Clinton Smith, the new editor of Veranda magazine. Clinton reported that designer Carlos Aparicio is the owner of Gallery BAC in Soho, which deals in 20th century European antiques. For the Veranda apartment, Aparicio mixed in pieces by masters including Jean-Michel Frank to create an interior that was inspired by the craftsmanship and quality of the period between the wars.

Throughout the three residences, a common feature was the jaw-dropping, 360 degree views. The building has new floor-to-ceiling windows, and the resulting site lines are fantastic. Here, a luxurious bathtub looks downtown toward the new Freedom Tower on the site of the World Trade Center.

On the other side of the building, a view uptown –

Many of the apartments in the Walker Tower have stunning outdoor terraces. I love the timeless, graceful Art Deco architecture – very "Gotham City."

"After you –" 

It's always fun to go out and see new designers and new buildings and new views –

And that is why we love New York.