Friday, August 01, 2014

The Met Museum of Art Charles James: Beyond Fashion

Every year the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Costume Institute host a Fashion based exhibit. Some years are better than other, but I have to say that this year's presentation was exceptionally extraordinary. Charles James was a British born American couturier whose career spanned from the 1920's to the late 70's. James mastered cutting and structure in a time where ball gowns ruled the world.

The exhibition itself was quite large and was housed in two separate locations, the Costume Institute and gallery 199. My tour began downstairs in the Anna Wintour Costume Center. Immediately, you walk into a dark room full of iridescent taffeta and multiple layers of velvet. Dress forms are grouped in small clusters behind clear plexiglass walls that proudly displayed white vinyl quotes from the designer himself. As I walked the floor, I noticed that there didn't seem to be much day wear and admittedly the coats weren't my favorite. The dresses however, the dresses were amazing.

I took a minute to absorb my surroundings. There were 4 large projection screens showing detailed video James' work as well as smaller screens that told the history behind the clothes. When you looked closely, it was easy to see the detail in the draping and the contrived construction. To the right of the room stood a dress comprised of several 6 1/2 inch wide antique silk ribbons in peach, gold, and ivory. A feat that no doubt took hours and hours of construction and was magnificent in it completion. Despite the age of the designs, most of the evening wear appeared quite relevant and could easily be pictured on any modern red carpet. My favorite, a navy silk faille cocktail dress from 1953. Some pieces did veer a little towards costume, but then I thought that was okay. Fashion should serve us both in function and fantasy.

Gallery 199 was all about the ball gown. Individual dresses stood on round pedestals under spotlights, each accompanied by an informative screen linked to robotic arms fit with cameras. They carefully scanned around the garments to showcase the detail and the craftsmanship that went into the garments. Everything you needed to know about the dress was clearly displayed on the screen. The retrospective was certainly thorough and a true fusion of Fashion and technology.

Charles James may not have a widely recognizable name like some of his counterparts from his lifetime, but his work speaks for itself. The Met Museum was a spectacular choice to house a lifetime of glamour. The buildings' grandness was the perfect setting for the perfect ball gowns. I look forward to what the Costume Institute has in store next.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A Fashionable Journey: Kenya

My recent exploration of the Republic of Kenya included discovering what the country had to offer in the way of Fashion. When I travel, I am always searching for Fashion as it is inescapable element of our lives. You see, I truly believe that Fashion lives everywhere and I have to say that NairobiKenya did not disappoint; it is a city alive and full of constant movement. The first stop on our tour, the City Market located in the heart of Nairobi.

Housed inside of a large concrete warehouse, you can purchase everything from flowers to traditional fabrics and decorative ornaments. All of the shops and stalls are ran by rather friendly salesmen who are more than happy to engage you in polite conversation and walk you through their available wares. This place is full of all the typical items one might find at a market, but I, I was on the hunt for jewelry. My love for Fashion means that I can easily spend hours scouring markets and sifting through merchandise until I find that one special piece to take home. In this case, I found five.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Blue Print

In my quest to live a life filled with more purpose, I recently travelled to the great East African nation of the Republic of Kenya. I was in the country to visit, learn, and explore what the land had to offer. Two hours outside of Nairobi, I found myself at the Crescent Island Game Park; a sanctuary for wild animals in the heart of the Great Rift Valley located on the great Lake Naivasha.

For my walk amongst the flora and fauna, I wore my SALONI Apsara abstract print dress featuring a vibrant blue print. It felt appropriate for the occasion and I dare say it went well with my natural surroundings. I remember the day I first saw this dress. As I perused the store selections, this piece did catch my attention, but I wasn't quite sure about the ruched skirt and the draped bodice. I continued on, only to see the frock again. A light gray faceless mannequin near the staircase was sporting the dress from Saloni's Spring / Summer 2014 collection. I walked around her slowly to examine the below the knee skirt and back keyhole opening. It was clear to me that the hanger wasn't doing this dress any justice. I quickly made a U-turn and collected my size from the selling rack. I almost walked out of the store without this dress, but providence brought us together. After some research I learned that according to Buddhist mythology, an Apsara is "a female spirit of the clouds and waters." With its ethereal blue print, it was easy to see why this name was chosen for the dress. All at once, this dress willingly lends itself to both the sea and sky. It is also said that SALONI means beautiful in sanskrit.

I paired this dress with my YSL Hortense wedges and as comfortable as the shoes are, I have to admit it was much easier to traverse the landscape barefoot. Local residents of the island included a rather friendly giraffe, striped zebras, water dwelling hippos, and a skittish herd of large horned grazing gazelles. Most were willing to pose for a pretty picture or two, some were not. As I walked the park taking in the countryside, I couldn't help but feel that the sky seemed bluer, the grass greener, and the air clearer. It was there, 40 miles from the equator and in the shadow of a volcano, I forged a Fashionable bond with nature. I couldn't have been happier...