Monday, April 27, 2015

JOHN FAIRCHILD, The Man Who Changed Fashion by Polly Guerin

John B. Fairchild 1927-2015
Portrait by Irving Penn
To most business people the name John B.Fairchild does not resonate with their business experience, but to the fashion industry John B. Fairchild, the publishing tycoon of Women's Wear Daily, is a super hero who changed the way the world looked at fashion.
   I attended his memorial service at the Church of the Ascension in lower Manhattan this morning and Bill Cunningham,  the New York Times' photo journalist was front and center snapping photographs of arriving fashion designers and fashionistas.
   I wanted to attend and pay my respects because during the publication's halcyon days I was an editor in the fashion department and remember what an exhilarating time it was to work there.
   I was.escorted to a seat right in the middle of the fashion luminaries too numerous to mention. Oh yes, Anna Wintour was there and Pierre Berge, the late Yves Saint Laurent patron, spoke, but his inaudible speech was lost to most everyone's ears. Leonard Lauder made up for that with a robust speech in which he talked about how Fairchild was witty, effortlessly stylish, chivalrous and endlessly curious. And how Fairchild changed an industry reporting newspaper into a publication that everyone wanted to read, including women of influence outside the industry, and gave them a glossy magazine called W too. Then in 1983 he founded the original M magazine---the first cover of which featured Prince Philip.
  Fairchild had engaging relationships with the late Oscar de la Renta and Bill Blass. He was always in a rush and ready to stir things up.. He coined the phrases Ladies Who Lunch, Jackie O, Beautiful People, and Fashion Victim to name a few. He was the Bard of the 60s, 70s, and 80's, and on a positive note, he had a very keen eye for stirring the industry up like a conductor on the stage of fashion..  Lauder concluded, "An era closes but our John Fairchild is with us forever."
   As for WWD, it has moved on and ceased print publication on Friday, April 24, but it is not deserting the print business altogether. The Fairchild organization is launching a weekly edition of WWD with deeper context, timely analysis and compelling graphics, As as for the late Inspirer-In-Chief John B. Fairchild, he  would insist, a touch of silly.In fact the publication is also now hyper-daily via (open 24-7), a digital daily PDF edition.
  Ta Ta darlings!!! I shall miss my morning coffee reading WWD, but times must move with technology and alas we now have the digital version. fan mail welcome at  Check in on Polly's Blogs on fashion, poetry from the heart, womendetermined to succeed and visionary men on

Monday, April 20, 2015

LAFAYETTE'S RETURN and the Hermione: Review by Polly Guerin

One of the big historical events of 2015 takes us back to 1780, when the French frigate called the Hermione
brought the Marquis de Layayette with exciting news of renewed French aid for the American Revolution.
   "The Frigate of Liberty" in which Lafayette sailed to American has historical significance in its role in turning the tide of the American Revolutionary War.What does this mean to you?
    Thomas Fleming the eminent author and board member of the New York Revolutionary Round Table, summed up what the Hermoine means.He declared that without Lafayette, there probably would not have been a French alliance, and with the French alliance, America would have lost its war of independence.
"She sails like a bird," the Marquis de Lafayette wrote about the Hermione, the ship that carried him and a decisive stache of arms across the Atlantic in aid of the nascent American Revolution.
   The Hermione is an invaluable part of history and the idea of reconstructing an authentic, historical replica of the Hermione, made by hand using the techniques of the eighteenth century, was conceived in 1993 by the organization French Friends of Hermione-Lafayette in America. The reconstructed Hermione is a work of pure craftsmanship in glorious original colors. This is a riveting event and in the summer of this year, a reconstructed Hermione returns to America leaving from France and visiting ports along the east coast of the United States for a summer of celebrations, spending the fourth of July in New York. 

A New York Historical Society exhibition, Lafayette's Return: The Boy General," the
American Revolution and the Hermione, focuses on both the recreated ship and Lafayette himself , the Boy General,  whose close friendship with George Washington and diplomatic networks in Paris helped win the war. The exhibit highlights Lafayette's early years from his initial advocacy on behalf of the Revolution in the late 1770s to the Hermione's voyage in 1780 and the events leading to the British surrender at Yorktown in 1781.                                                                                                                                                       Celebrating this historic event the French Institute Alliance Francaise, FIAF, presents the world premiere of  the play Hermione Project Lafayette on Wednesday April 22 at 7:30 pm and an additional date, Thursday, April 23 at 7:30 pm. Tickets $25 with code SM25, the FIAF Box Office 1 800 982 2787.  An opening night benefit dinner, catered by award-winning chef Daniel Boulud's Feast & Fetes in FIAF's Le Skyroom $400 includes the performance and dinner on April 22. The event venue  for the two performances is at the Alliance Francaise, Florence Gould Hall, 55 East 59th Street
  Discover this incredible story of the young Marquis de Lafayette, French hero of the American Revolution. The play celebrates the historic return to the United States of the Hermione, an authentic reconstruction. 
At the age of 19, Lafayette sailed to as a volunteer soldier In this new play inspired by letters between Lafayette and his wife, follow the young couple's life of adventure, and their political brinkmanship in securing support for the American cause from a reluctant king. 
   Ta Ta darlings!!! The Hermione is an event not to missed. For further information about the Hermione's exact sailing dates check with the website Friends of Hermione-Lafayette.
For information about the The New York American Revolutionary Round Table, NYARRT contact chairman David Jacobs, at 
   The exhibit, Lafayette's Return: "The Boy General," the American Revolution and the Hermione, opens May 19 and extends through to August 16, 2015 at New York Historical Society, NYHS, located at 79th Street and Central Park West. The Hermione event is a truly historical adventure that has resonates for all members of the family.. 
   Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the link to Polly's blogs on fashion, womendeterminedtosucceed, visonarymen or poetry in the left hand column.

Monday, April 13, 2015

SULTANS of DECCAN INDIA: Opulence and Fantasy: Review by Polly Guerin

Parrot Perched on a Mango tree with tethered ram
The ever enriching exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Sultan of Deccan India, 1500-1700: Opulence and Fantasy, brings visitors into a world of charm and great beauty with some 200 of the finest works from major international, private and royal collections. The exhibition opening April 20 runs through July 26, 20l5 in the first -floor exhibition gallery. It explores the character of Deccani art in various media: poetic lyricism in painting; lively created metal work; and a distinguishing tradition of textile production. Why is Deccan history so important? Because it will resonate with your creative senses to inspire and be amazed by the distinctive Indo-Islamic art and culture.
   The Deccan plateau of south-central India was home to a succession of highly cultured Muslim Kingdoms with a rich artistic heritage. Under their patronage in the 16th and 17th centuries, foreign influences---notably from Iran, Turkey, eastern Africa, and Europe--combined with ancient and prevailing Indian traditions to create a distinctive Indo-Islamic art and culture. A highlight is the presentation of all the known masterpieces and several new discoveries in painting, the greatest art of the Deccan.
   Diamonds on display will dazzle your imagination. Some of the largest ever found originated in the great mines of the Deccan. From antiquity until the 18th and 19th centuries, when diamonds were discovered in Brazil and Africa, India was virtually the sole source of these precious gems. Whether given as diplomatic gifts or trade by merchants, India's diamond reached an appreciative audience among European royalty.  Among the treasures from Golconda---whose diamond mines were the source of such diamonds as the legendary Kohinoor---will be a group of magnificent gems to feast your eyes on, from international royal collections, including the "Idol's Eye" and "Agra" diamonds.
In addition, look for the gilt steel armor shoes fit for a Sultan.  
Manuscript of Nyjumal-Ulum (Stars of Science)
                                                               Magnificent Textiles shown include spectacular large painted textiles, several over nine feet in height and all richly painted with motifs drawn from Indian, Islamic, and European art. These are shown along with sumptuous royal objects made of inlaid and gilded metal, precious jewels, carved wood, and stone architectural elements, many of which draw inspiration from the art of Safavid Persia and Ottoman Turkey.
   The Deccan plateau by the 16th century included immigrants from Central Asia and Iran, African military slaves, native-born Muslim nobles, European missionaries, merchants,
and mercenaries.
As a result, it boasted one of the most cosmopolitan societies of the early modern world.  To provide a glimpse into this dynamic, yet little-known society, the exhibition focuses chiefly on the courtly art of the kingdoms of Bijapur, Ahmaadnagar, Bidar and Golconda. These dynamic centers of royal patronage drew some of the greatest artists, writers, poets and musicians of the period.
  Ta Ta Darlings!!! The exhibition's  incredible treasure trove of artifacts is both breathtaking and an awesome reminder of the great artisan talent of centuries ago.  Fan mail welcome at Check out Polly's Blog links on
Gilt Steel armored shoes for a Sultan


Monday, April 6, 2015


The Great Migration, hundreds left for Northern Cities
Never were the images more telling and never was the story so compelling than Jacob Lawrence's gripping images in his Migration Series and other Visions of the Great Movement North by America's rural South to the urban North.  One-Way Ticket which opened at MoMA, the Museum of Modern Art, runs through Sept.7, 2015. It offers a rare opportunity to see all the 60 panels of Jacob Lawrence's Migration Series--- special programs, film exhibitions, digital resources and publications explore the legacy and influence of the Great Migration on American culture and society.

One Way Ticket to Northern Cities during WWI
ONE-WAY TICKET offers visitors Lawrence's celebrated series in its entirety revealing how hundreds of of thousands of African-Americans left the rural South for the industrial North in search of jobs, homes and respect. While the exhibition's focus is on Lawrence's Migration series, it  includes much more to stimulate the mind with novels and poems by writers such as Langston Hughes, Claude McKay and Richard Wright. Other sections, dedicated to music, explore the integration of Southern sounds into music performed for Northern audiences and feature video and audio recordings of performances by Marian Anderson, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, and others. Digital platforms allow visitors to page through historical books immediately related to Lawrence's work. Take time to listen to the audio and video recordings of 10 poets reading their contributions to the Migration Series Poetry Suite.
THE MIGRATION RESEARCH Lawrence completed his landmark series of 60 small tempera paintings with captions in 1941, when he was just 23 years old. A child of immigrants himself and a resident of Harlem since the age of 13, Lawrence's views as an artist were shaped by his background. He spent months at the 135th Street branch of the New York Public Library (now the Schomburg Center for Research in Black culture) studying historical documents, photographs and journals and other printer material related to the Great Migration. The show in essence is meant to celebrate the centennial of the migration, which started  during World War I.  Even earlier the artist had been hailed as a prodigy by the Harlem cultural
The Laboring Immigrants in the City
establishment.  THE GALLERY STORYBOARD As you stand in the gallery the images seemingly wrap around the walls in a storyboard manner. On separate pieces of paper Lawrence wrote captions for each image, a format he learned from magazines and that provides a lively narrative.
HARLEM TOURS In Mid-April MoMA will launch a self-guided walking tour, available from the exhibition's website, which explores key Harlem monuments and institutions of the 1930s and 1940s, the era during which Jacob Lawrence began his career as an artist. The tour includes stops with artworks related to the exhibition that can not only be seen at their locations in Harlem, such as Aaron Douglas's mural cycle at the Schomburg Center for Research and his mural at the YMCA at 135th Street, and Charles Alston's recently restored murals at the Harlem Hospital. The tour introduces audiences to Harlem's sights and sounds, and experiences that helped to shape Lawrence's views as an artist.
Ta Ta darlings!!! Jacob Makes a World: Jacob Lawrence, a Young Artist in Harlem, a new children'a book, by writer Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts is available at MoMA stores or online through Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs on and in the left-hand column click on any one of the Blogs from fashion, to visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry.

Monday, March 30, 2015

FASHIONING THE BODY at Bard Center Gallery: Review by Polly Guerin

Tight Lacing after John Collet 1777
It appears that there is really nothing new about how women and men have shaped their bodies into distinctive silhouettes in the name of fashion. The quest to create a new figure continues to inspire fashionistas. Even today women and men are determined to  reshape, retool and,  more often than not, they take plastic surgery to alter, improve but sometimes distort their bodies into a vision of controlled beauty.
  The historical significance of Fashioning the Body: An Intimate History of the Silhouette is worth the trip uptown. The exhibition will be on display at the Bard Graduate Center, at 18 West 86th Street, from April 3 through July 26, 2015
   This extravagant display presents the novel devices and materials that women and men have used to shape their silhouettes from the 17th Century to today, including extra wide panniers draped in sumptuous fabrics and the underpinnings, that were necessary to support such extravagance. Corsets, crinolines, bustles, stomach belts, girdles, and push-up bras also get their due recognition. Note the image right: "Tight Lacing or Fashion before Ease," after John Collet in The Profession of the Proprietors, 1777. Hand-colored mezzotint published by Bowles and Carver. The Trustees of the British Museum.
   Beneath it all there is a world of intrigue and mystery and curator Denia Bruna, at the Musee des Arts decoratives and professor a the Ecole du Louvre, presents the history of "behind the scenes" in a well documented exhibition.
Winding  Up The Ladies ca 1828
The tricks for fashioning women's bodies have always confounded belief.  One wonders, what made these women and sometimes men allow themselves to be pulled, squashed and shaped into fashion?  Part of the answer may be the fact that the ability to engage in such body distortion, the minuscule waist, for example, required several people to pull you tight till your breath was nearly sucked out of your body.  Yet, the pain was worth it to be able to trump your nose at society and let them know that you were high-minded enough to afford such luxury even if achieving it meant by torturous results. Note the image "A Correct View of the New Machine for Winding Up the Ladies," ca. 1828. Hand;colored engraving, Courtesy of the Museum at FIT.
   A broad range of silhouette-shaping garments are featured that flattened the stomach, compressed the waist, lifted the breasts, added curves to the hips and curvature to the derriere.  As for men their vanity paralleled women's eccentricities and the perfectly curved leg of an seventeenth century gentleman would be padded to produce the perfect silhouette, Today men's underwear padding enhances the center of their charm as well as well-shaped buttocks.
The Bustle Contraption
   The exhibition is a rare insider view into the underpinnings of fashion that mirrored society's concept of one's superior status and perceived elegance.
   A series of black velvet mannequins illustrating a woman's silhouette throughout time invites the viewer to understand how a woman's body shape was altered to accommodate the extremes of fashion.
  TaTa darlings!!! I'm certainly glad that all I need to do is to go to the gym to keep in shape. Whew!!! Imagine the discomfort that women suffered wearing cages of different sizes and shapes to underscore the crinoline, to create a bustle or achieve exaggerated proportions of court dress.  Then too, men also wore girdles to enhance their posture and create a straight aristocratic silhouette.Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and click on the link that takes you to womendeterminedtosucceed, visonary men, poetryfromtheheart or hiddentreasures.


Monday, March 23, 2015


Ralph Pucci: The Art of the Mannequin Art, fashion and craft in sculptural forms takes center stage at MAD, the Museum of Art and Design; the first museum exhibition to consider the artistic innovation of the display mannequin. Who are these silent sculptures? They may be rigid forms, yet mannequins can be mirrors of society, objects of fascination and even works of art, all at once. Ralph Pucci may be the kingpin in the mannequin world, but just to set the record straight, there is no relation  to the fashion designer Emilio Pucci.
   The show is on view  from March 31 to Aug 30 and covers 30 years of Pucci mannequins at MAD's second floor at 2 Columbus Circle. 
   The Naked Truth Stripped down naked Pucci created mannequins that reflect  major cultural trends of the past three decades.Some of the mannequins are very detailed, or muscular, some remind us of Greek sculptures. Others may strike you as whimsical while others in their graceful stance may want you to say,
"I wish I had a figure like that!" Pucci acknowledges that one of his biggest successes was doing action sport mannequins doing handstand, stretching or jogging which reflected the late 70s when running became popular
and exercising was de rigueur. 
  Pucci's Workshop is a 'not to be missed' opportunity to see a simulation of Pucci's workshop on 44 West 18th Street. Demonstrations at MAD by Michael Evert, Pucci's sculptor in residence, will create a bust of a head every other week using subjects such as Mary McFadden, Isabel Toledo and Linda Fargo to name a few. "We always think of our mannequins as capturing  moments in time," declared Pucci.  He does custom work, too, such as the mannequin designed for Diane von Furstenberg to celebrate her 40-year retrospective of her wrap dress.
    Who is Pucci? The manufacturer/designer called PUCCI started out as a mannequin repair shop and
evolved from that humble beginning into a mannequin maker with a showroom of high end furniture, lighting and art.  Ralph Pucci has collaborated not only with fashion designers but illustrators and supermodels including Veruschka and Christy Turlington.  Andree Putman designed Art Deco-inspired mannequins manufactured by Pucci for Barney's New York and Lowell Nesbitt created Robert Mapplethorp-inspired mannequins channelling Greek and Roman sculptures.What makes these mannequins so special is the hand workmanship craft as they are cast by hand with special finishes . 
   By the Way, Saks Fifth Avenue will display Pucci mannequins in its windows to support the show and you know where to go. It's a mad, mad world, but only the MAD museum could conjure up such an innovative show!.
Ta Ta Darlings! By the way everyone loves a fashion show and the Rockettes' New York Spring Spectacular makes fashion a splash and the dancers high kicking fashion show is rather spectacular. Fan mail welcome at Visit Polly's Blogs at and in the left hand column is a list of Blog links to fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


Reading Rose Hartman's new book, Incomparable Couples, is like taking a trip down memory lane revisiting the glamorous and celebrated personalities who defined the fashion and social trendsetter era for three decades. The book is populated by people we knew and people we wish we knew. Nostalgia tugs at our hearts as we review the pages of engaging couples at the prime of their celebrity.
   Couples featured in this full-color, beautiful tome include:: Jerry Hall and Annie Leibovitz, Bob Mackie and Cher, Jean Paul Gautier and Lauren Bacall, Peter and Jane Fonda, Bianca and Jade Jagger, Sean Lennon and Yoko Ono, Liz Taylor and her dog, Robert Wolders and Audrey Hepburn, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, and 150 more, too numerous to list here.
    So why should we want to read Incomparable Couples?" The answer comes clear and forthright in the  photographs themselves and I can surreptitiously hear the reader saying, "Oh I remember them, and then repeat page after page, I remember them again, and then sigh. At best Hartman's photographic documentary serves as a permanent archival book referencing artists and muses, designers and muses, family, mothers and children; pets, friendships, models, marriages --images of people we remember and people we wish we had known.
   Hartman, the quintessential photographer of our time, captures beautiful duos, unlikely duos and some downright scary duos. Rose's images are always spontaneous, never staged, that is what makes these photographs so interesting and spellbinding.. Ms. Hartman tips the shutter at just the right moment, capturing a critical moment in a conversation--a pose, a gesture--to present a story abut two people from the world of popular culture.
  Eric Shiner who wrote some of the text wrote, "It might be best to think about Rose as an anthropologist who has spend so much time with her subjects that she has become a trusted, known entity."
   In her presence, celebrities have let their guard down, allowing her to capture moments otherwise rarely   seen. The vitality of the images in "Incomparable Couples" attest to the rare sense of familiarity.  Hartman portrays the humanity in her subjects. instead of their more famous, fashionable shells. :
  Incomparable Couples is published by ACC Editions,  photographs by Rose Hartman, Texts by Eric Shiner, Michael Gross and Rose Hartman, hardcover $49.50 available a fine book stores.
   Who is Rose Hartman? Rose stands as one of the most prolific photographers of our age. As a woman
photographer, she has jumped over every hurdle in a male-dominated world to create a huge body of work documenting the demimonde of fame and glamour in the center of the world of culture. Hartman is a one of those remarkable women who have scaled the heights of success in their oeuvre. She has created a book that has archival value, recording over time, she straddles the boundaries between street photography, portraiture and documentary photography. My hearty congratulations to Rose Hartman for preserving a world of celebrity for generations to come. As Eric Shiner, Director of the Any Warhol Museum said, "It takes two to tango, but it takes Rose to truly dance."
Read this feature on Polly's Blogs pollytalkfromnewyork.blogspot and also on amazingartdecodivas (women determined to succeed) or go to and click on the link in the left hand column to either one of these blogs.