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.


Unknown said...

I love taking trips with you! This particular mash up seems summarized in that photo of the Brooklyn Museum: classic lines on top, a bit of lifting the skirt to sneak in at the bottom. What Lee and Jean Paul share is a good eye - just like you!

Bart Boehlert said...

Dear Abigail, Thank you for coming along! Really appreciate the compliment –