Wednesday, May 13, 2015


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 ForumIRIS 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...

Thursday, May 07, 2015

The Met Museum of Art China: Through the Looking Glass

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 very large presentation is being housed in the Costume Institute's Anna Wintour gallery as well as the existing Chinese galleries and spans three floors. The pieces were mostly grouped by color and accompanied by articles such as porcelain vases and tapestry. Every corner offers something interesting as you wander into a Chinese garden and a plexiglass bamboo forest. There was also a lot of red as it a color that symbolizes good fortune and happiness in Chinese culture. Snippets of popular films stream in almost every room and each mannequin is accessorized with uniquely whimsical headwear. I found this to be my favorite thing.  

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!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

From the Fashion Library - Girl In Dior

Always on the hunt for new fashionable literature, I recently came across GIRL IN DIOR by Annie Goetzinger. I was surprised to learn that unlike any of the other books in my collection, this was a graphic novel. This seemed new and interesting and I was intrigued. 

GIRL IN DIOR is the story of Clara, a young woman whose failed attempt at reporting leads to her becoming a model and muse for Monsieur Christian Dior. Basically, every fashion girl's dream. The novel begins in 1947 with Dior's first couture show and ends 10 years later with his untimely death. Although Clara is a fictional character, the novel includes all the men and women who helped create and shape DiorGoetzinger's careful pen strokes and detailed illustrations capture the beauty and craft of the New Look. This book will be as a visual history of the fashions of the time. 

But, GIRL IN DIOR is more than just a comic book. Blended with truth and a little imagination, Goetzinger draws a great tale of haute couture and whimsy.