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Since 2012, the RICHMOND MURAL PROJECT has been sponsoring talented artists from all over the world in an effort to establish Richmond, Virginia as an international destination for art. The founder, Shane Pomajambo, believes that the many murals around the city will help promote tourism and support local business. It is currently the largest grouping of murals in the U.S.
After being introduced to the project by a friend and wanting to support the arts, I headed out to explore what the city had to offer. I wore my STELLA MCCARTNEY Ridley Stretch Cady Dress from the Resort 2012 collection. When I came across the frock in store, it didn’t have much hanger appeal, but the striking blue did appeal to me in a way that meant I had to try it on. The classic seam work and subtle top stitching was a winning combination. I couldn’t decide if the dress seemed more azure or perhaps cerulean, but I did decide that it was coming home with me. My only alteration was a shortened hem. I paired the dress with my beige GUCCI Noah half D’orsay patent leather heels and LULU FROST jewelry. The necklace features two chains, one gold, one silver, several small diamond like studs, and an interwoven yellow ribbon.
I discovered this impressive mural by TAYLOR WHITE. Located at 100 S. Addison Street in the Carytown neighborhood, it appears to be a human body in shades of blue and purple intertwined with what I interpreted as life in the form of stranded ropes. Life being something that consistently keeps us enveloped and is inescapable. White states that her “work is an unending pursuit of the delicate harmony that exist in that sweet spot between order and chaos.” This statement easily holds true for me by simply replacing her “work” for fashion. My love for the art of fashion is something that sometimes manifests as chaotic, but it never fails to provide a sense of order in my life. But, I wouldn’t want it any other way…
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GODS AND KINGS THE RISE AND FALL OF ALEXANDER MCQUEEN AND JOHN GALLIANO is the latest book from Dana Thomas, author of DELUXE: HOW LUXURY LOST ITS LUSTER. It is an in depth look at the lives and work of two of the most gifted and skilled designers London has ever produced. Lee Alexander McQueen was and will always be one of my favorite designers and I often read about his life and work however, this was my first time reading about John Galliano. While his aesthetic doesn’t always speak to me personally, I still very much appreciate his art and craftsmanship.
Initially upon hearing about this book, I wondered why Thomas chose to write about these two designers together, but after just reading the introduction, it was very clear. The similarities these two shared were many; supportive mothers, romantic theatricalism, and an undeniable talent. Unfortunately, they also shared a substance abuse problem, destructive behaviors, and sometimes violent tempers. Their timelines mirrored each other so closely that it made me wonder were the similarities, both good and bad, the real recipe for their genius?
In the end, both would succumb to the pressures of commerce and profits. In 2010, McQueen hung himself with a belt in his wardrobe and nearly a year later Galliano had a series of very public drunken episodes in restaurants and cafes. Thomas points out that several other prominent designers have endured nervous breakdowns, drug overdoses, and bouts of depression. The businesses of fashion and the people who run them demand a constant stream of creative production and unfortunately, the artists suffer. When the artist suffers, so does the art.
With GODS AND KINGS, Thomas does an extraordinary job of shedding light on the darker side of the fashion industry, much like she did with DELUXE, and tells the stories of two brilliant artists that is equally beautiful as it is tragic.
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A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE 2050 GROUP
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Last year I saw a trailer for a documentary about a New York based nonagenarian known for her bold sense of style and clever one liners. Her name is Iris Apfel and she is the subject of one of Albert Maysles’ last films. Now showing at the Film Forum, IRIS is a personal narrative of her fashionable life and loves told through her own words and pictures. Being immersed in the world of fashion, I had definitely heard of Apfel before, but I was soon to learn that there was so much more to her. That underneath the multiple large necklaces and layers of scarves was a truly extraordinary woman.
The first thing that you discover about Apfel is that she is funny. Funny and extremely witty. At 93 years old she has had and continues to lead an interesting life by embracing her uniqueness and channelling her creativity into her work. Apfel has been an interior designer, ran a successful textile company, and a passionate shopper. In IRIS, as you watch her sort through flea markets and haggle for a better price, you clearly see that she takes both pleasure and solace in the activity. Having spent a lifetime traveling the world, Apfel has amassed a sizable collection of clothing, home goods, and jewelry housed in multiple homes and a storage loft. To say that her collection is large is a gross understatement. It’s one of those things you have to see to believe.
IRIS is so many things. A devoted wife, a consummate businesswoman, but I think the most interesting thing about her is that she is brave and unafraid. Apfel has had the audacity to live a life true to herself. One of individuality and eccentricities where you wear round eyeglasses everyday and more is always better. For nearly a century, she has dressed in a style that is uniquely hers whilst inspiring many people along the way. In 2005, The Metropolitan Museum of Art honored her with a retrospective entitled “Rara Avis: The Irreverent Iris Apfel.” A rare bird indeed.
One thing that really stood out for me was Apfel’s choice to not have children. Even though Apfel has donated and sold an extensive amount of her collection, there is still more than plenty left. I wonder what will happen to all those special pieces she’s collected over the years, all those pieces that she’s loved and can’t bare to part with? One of the main purposes of this blog is to preserve the memories, to preserve the love. While I do not have any children, I do hope to have them in the future. My children will inherit my entire wardrobe along with a well documented account of stories and pictures. My dream is that when they wear the clothing and carry the bags, they will feel the love I once had for them. I shop to make my dreams come true…
The announcement of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s annual fashion exhibit is something that I look forward to every year. I’d read that the show was to be titled CHINA: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS, but it wasn’t until I saw a picture of a gold sequined dress in a press release that I became truly intrigued. It stated that the objective of the exhibit was to “explore the impact of Chinese aesthetics on Western fashion”. For hundreds of years, designers have been referencing culture, art, and cinema from the East and incorporating into their work. Sometimes with just a nod, sometimes quite literally, and always with their own interpretation. However, the most obvious question can not be avoided. Can this exhibition be done without being culturally insensitive?
The curators of this exhibit risked offending an entire nation, deliberately or not, but I believe they understood how important producing it was. It took this show for me to learn and understand just how rich and broad China’s fashionable history is. After viewing this exhibition in person it is clear that the major influence of the Eastern world can not be denied. The use of colorful embroidered silks and Chinese calligraphy can be seen in the work of several Western designers including Christian Dior, Karl Lagerfeld, and Yves Saint Laurent. The intricacies found in the garments is spectacular and makes me worry that my camera did not aptly capture the sparkle of the sequins or the lightness of the lace…
CHINA: THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS takes its name from Lewis Carroll’s 1871 novel that features a curious heroine always on the hunt for a magical world. I too am always seeking to learn more and just as Alice climbed through the mirror, so did I as I explored this impressive exhibition and arrived on the other side. Because of this, my fashion education will forever be enriched. Bravo, Metropolitan Museum of Art. Bravo!
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A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO NBM PUBLISHING
A friend of mine alerted me to the last viewing days of the YVES SAINT LAURENT + HALSTON: FASHIONING THE 70S presentation currently being held at The Museum at FIT. It is a show that focuses on the two iconic designers’s creations specific to that decade. I had been wavering whether or not to attend, but when I asked his personal opinion he described the collection as “full of life and love“. Well, I certainly couldn’t pass that up! I’m so glad I made the trip as his description was accurate.
Housed in the basement of the museum, the exhibit takes place in a large room with an all glossy white interior. Some of the models were placed on large pedestals whilst others were contained in partial plexiglass rooms. The mannequins were grouped in twos, one dressed in Halston, one in Laurent. The exhibition was further divided into themes such as exoticism and menswear. Side by side, the outfits eerily mirrored each other. It was absolutely mesmerizing to see how these two designers with different backgrounds, different cultural references (one French, one American), and in different places created designs that paralleled each other during the 1970’s. Was it coincidence? Do great minds really think alike?
The pieces all seemed to be quintessentially seventies attire; lots of jersey, jumpsuits, and halter tops. Let’s not forget, this was also the decade of disco, so there was a healthy dose of sequins, ruffles, and gold lamé. It definitely appears that Halston and Laurent were all about flow-y pieces. Most of the looks were draped allowing for easy movement. I did notice a lack of any body conscience looks.
I am always so pleasantly surprised when I’m viewing vintage clothing and find it extremely modern. It is very clear that the work of Laurent and Halston continue to be inspirational for the designers of today. The exhibition was all tied together with a feature wall displaying a dual timeline of both designers’ careers from 1952 to 1984 and not one, but two spinning disco balls. There was, however, no music.
Noticeably absent from the collection were shoes and there were very little accessories. It prompted me to think about what the complete look was like. What kind of jewelry did the women wear and how did they style their hair? Having not been born yet, I have to rely on pictures and exhibits like these. So decided to ask someone who lived through the 70’s and who had a first hand experience with the fashion and could paint a complete picture. My mother.
I gave her a call to quiz her about her past wardrobe choices. As expected there were bell bottoms and chunky heels. Jumpsuits and blouses with long, billowy sleeves. She was partial to pastels, empire dresses and a line skirts. My mother happens to be petite and recalls having several pieces custom made and personalized. (Think embroidered initials!) I asked her specifically about Halston and Laurent. She remembers Halston’s designs, but not Laurent. Funnily enough, she did mention she favored geometric print dresses that featured blocks of color. No doubt a reference to Laurent’s 1965 Mondrian Collection. I inquired about her hairstyle. Her chosen look, a large afro a la Angela Davis.
Accessories included big loop earrings, bangle bracelets, and wide rim floppy hats. Fashion is often a topic of discussion between us and she is constantly remarking how she’s seen and worn most of these styles before. Oh, and she says there was polyester. Lots of polyester.
Unfortunately for me, my mom didn’t save these things. She travelled extensively during the 70’s and as a result, her wardrobe got lost in the fray. I am deeply saddened by the possible treasure trove of a wardrobe that could have been. After a long talk about trends and popular styles from her youth, the one thing she stressed the most is that she simply wore and purchased whatever she liked the most. A sentiment we should all practice.
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