Monday, February 23, 2015

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS OF CHINESE GLAMOR (c) Recount by Polly Guerin

Left: 18rh Cent Festival Robe/Tom Ford for Yves Saint Laurent dress
China has sparked fashonistas imaginations for centuries but nothing meets the eye more fascinating than the juxtaposition of ancient court robes with haute fashion designer's creations, paintings, films, porcelains and object d'art. Such is the upcoming show, China: Through the Looking Glass, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art's China exhibition staged in the Chinese Galleries and the Anna Wintour Costume Center from May 7 through August 16th. Pictured right: A woman's court robe with a Ralph Lauren dinner jacket ensemble. More recognizable are the blue and white Chinese porcelains including the 15th-century "Jar with Dragon" and 2005 Roberto Cavalli's evening dress. Next to it is an Alexander McQueen by Sarah Burton evening dress with a dramatic fishtail skirt. The exhibition features 130 couture and avant-garde ready-to-wear pieces juxtaposed with Chinese costumes, which served as inspiration.
   Fashions are displayed from the 1700s to today through an assortment of interactive displays. Styles reflect their relationship to decorative arts from Imperial China in the Chinese Galleries to the AstorCourt, which houses costumes worn by Chinese opera star Mei Lanfang, the inspiration for John Galliano's spring 2003 Christian Dior couture collection. Other designers are well represented including: Coco Chanel. Dries Van Noten, Jason Wu and Balenciaga. FILMS also illustrate how our image of China developed with video clips including"Raise the Red Lantern," "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Farewell My Concubine."  
In celebration of the exhibition's opening the Met's benefit will take place on May 4th andthe red carpet guests will no doubt be as interesting to watch as the show itself.  Now is the time to pull out your mandarin collared dress of richly patterned Chinese evening gown. Now is the time to schedule "Through the Looking Glass" on your calendar.
Ta Ta darlings!!!  I must say the press preview was a voyeurs delight.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com on fashion, remarkable men, poetry and amazing women. Just click on the link in the left hand column to go directly to any Blog.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Yves Saint Laurent + Halston: Fashioning the 70s (c) Recount by Polly Guerin

Who better among the celebrated designers to define the sexy and glamorous fashions of the 1970s than two of the best-known fashion designers in modern history: Yves Saint Laurent and Halston. The juxtaposition of these two designers' fashions in tandem in a breathtaking retrospective shows us what really beautiful clothes is all about and no museum presents the exhibition better than the world-class fashion museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT),  Here's the scoop!!!
YSL and Halston  Lounge Pajamas
THE TIMELINE:  A dynamic illustrated timeline at the entrance to the exhibition begins in the early Fifties, with Roy Halston Frowick's move from Des Moines, Iowa to Chicago, where he took a job as a window dresser, and, Yves Saint Laurent's from Oran, Algeria, to Paris, where he won the first and third prizes in a fashion illustration contest, and had his top design produced by Hubert de Givenchy. The timeline ends in the early Eighties with Saint Laurent's retrospective at the Met curated by Diana Vreeland and Halston's loss of his name and business.
SIMILAR IDEA: During the first few years of the 1970s, Saint Laurent and Halston held remarkably similar ideas. At one end of the spectrum was Saint Laurent's broad range of creativity, which encompassed his brilliant use of color, drama and fantasy.  The other end was Halston's mastery of  haute modernism and minimalism.
   For instance, the simply elegant casual ensemble of YSL featuring fur collar and cuff on a sweater set with multi-color wool skirt is as elegant today as it was in the 70s.
   Alas the red carpet fashion shows today leave a lot to be desired. I would like to see similar elegant 70's-influenced fashions, but so much of what is shown in the press just does not justify the addition of gimmicks or attachments that do nothing to make a fashion statement.
Yves Saint Laurent, Evening Gown
MAKING AN ENTRANCE;: At the entrance to the show you come upon a pair of silk crepe pants (sets) in intense prints. Saint Laurent's pink, red and violet paisley and Halston's royal blue floral lounge pajamas that might go to any party by night. The overt opulence of Saint Laurent against the minimalism of Halston
is clearly obvious in a black Halston cut out dress and an Yves Saint Laurent red cut out. No two designers defined and dominated the decade more than YSL and Halston.  They were the era's most influential and celebrated clothing creators.  Saint Laurent is viewed as the great colorist who imbued his clothes with a sense of drama and fantasy, while Halston is seen as the era's master of modernism and minimalism.
   The exhibition is drawn exclusively from the vast holdings of The Museum at FIT. For instance, the museum's collection hold the Halston archives---the most comprehensive records of his work in the world---as well as a vast array of significant Yves Saint Laurent pieces donated by important clients, fashion editors, friends, and colleagues of Saint Laurent.The exhibition is organized by Patricia Meers, deputy director of The Museum at FIT, and Emma McClendon, assistant curator The exhibition will be on view through April 18, 2015. There will be a talk and tour of the exhibit on Wednesday., March 4 at 10:30 am, Monday, March 23, 6 pm and Wednesday,  April 15, 10:30 am.  Reservations are required call: 212.217.4550
Ta Ta darlings!!! .I've been to the YSL/Halston show. It's worth the trip and all shows at The Museum at FIT are Free admission. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. In the left hand column of Polly's website, www.pollytalk.com you can click onto any of Polly's Blogs that might interest you on remarkable men, amazing women, poetry, and, of course, fashion.




Monday, February 9, 2015

LINCOLN SPEAKS: Words That Transformed a Nation (c) By Polly Guerin

President Lincoln by Alexander Gardner
"If walls could speak what would they say?"  Abraham Lincoln for one speaks volumes. Now a new exhibition at the Morgan Library & Museum titled "LINCOLN SPEAKS: Words that Transformed a Nation" brings to light Lincoln's skill and command of language. Largely self-taught, he achieved a mastery of the word not only as a writer but as a speaker that helped him win the presidency. This photograph was taken less than two weeks before Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863, two-and-a-half years into the Civil war. Here's the scoop!!
   Sources of Lincoln's Language:Throughout history  we have read of men and women of humble means who have brought themselves out of ignorance to high standards of the written and spoken word. However, Lincoln's legacy is an amazing example of how reading the bible, the classics and the plays of Shakespeare can mold one's character with a sense of what is right and wrong. The Morgan exhibition open until June 7th,  gives us an opportunity to explore how his words changed the course of history and defined the true meaning of America's founding principle of human equality. In his writings and speeches---many of which are woven into the historic fabric of America---he vigorously strove to defend the Union and the Constitution, while also salving the wounds of a country torn by civil war.
   The Emancipator: Works on view include photographic portraits, books owned and used by Lincoln. He felt strongly about the injustice of slavery yet he had to be especially cautious when addressing slavery's future. For these reasons Lincoln relied less on the spoken word than the written word as reflected in his carefully crafted and widely circulated public letters. speech manuscripts, military memos, and personal letters to family and friends. He used words penned with a lawyer's precision and a poet's send of rhythm, confidant in their power to persuade an audience..He reread the language of the King James translation of
The Emancipation Proclamation 
the Bible, he revered Shakespeare's plays and sonnets.
  The Commander-in-Chief: Lincoln was not a natural warrior nor had he any real military training and like many other of his pursuits, he had to teach himself about command. Yes, as commander-in-chief he was uncompromisingly clear in laying out military strategy. Lincoln's words circulated in the military camps through publications that addressed the troops. He also spoke to many volunteers individually. They admired the common touch of a president who lacked airs and graces and remained approachable, and mixed kindness with good humor jokes and easy familiarity.
 Lincoln's Words Live On: It is interesting to note that Lincoln's words have lived on through their intrinsic power.  In essence, Lincoln continues to speak to people throughout the world. Mohandas Gandhi recognized in Lincoln a model of nonviolence. In Britain during the Second World War his words stiffened resolve and  Ghanaians used him to legitimize liberation from British colonial rule. When breathed his last. his words could scarcely have been more prescient.
The exhibition,accompanied by a short in-gallery film, features former president Bill Clinton and a group of celebrated authors and scholars who address various aspects of Lincoln's remarkable life and legacy."Why is Lincoln Still Relevant? a conversation with historians takes place on April 28, 6:30 pm. Check other programs on www.themorgan.org.
Ta Ta darlings!!! By delving into the great books of history and honing his skills Lincoln penned works that
inspire today and all the tomorrow's to come.  Fan mail welcome pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on fashion, amazing women, remarkable men and poetry on www.polltalk.com...just click on the link in the right-hand column to the Blog of your interest.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

FASHION CELEBRATED in FIT's New Lecture Series (c) By Polly Gueirn

The world of Fashion and Culture at The Museum at FIT (MFIT), the only museum in New York City dedicated solely to the art of fashion,opens another stunning exhibition and a selection of world-class lectures that kick off this month. Here's the scoop!!!
YVES SAINT LAURENT + HALSTON: Fashioning the 70's is worth a visit to indulge in the luxury of fluid silk printed gowns and pantsuits, in the Museum at FIT, Special Exhibition Gallery, February 6 to April 18, 2015.Admission is always Free. Check the hours on the museum information hot line: 212.217.4558. At the same time see FAKING IT: Originals, Copies and Counterfeits in the Fashion and Textile Gallery.
From a schedule of 8 Fashion Lectures, here are some of my favorites, the last one on April 1st. All lectures
are held in the Katie Murphy Amphitheater and start at 6 pm. Advance reservations are required. Email museuminfo@fitnyc or call 212.217.4585.
MADEMOISELLE: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History, Thursday February 19 features author, Rhoda K. Garelick's seminal biography of Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel. Yes, dear reader, one can never get enough of Chanel and Garelick paints a portrait of one of the greatest designers of the 20th century, presenting Chanel as a woman of daring and a designer who branded a century and remade the world in he own image.A book signing follows the presentation.
FILM SCREENING: Passage #5: Christian Dior, Spring/Summer 2011. A rare opportunity with nostalgic charm. Dr. Alexandra Palmer will introduce the documentary film Passage #5, on Tuesday, February 24. The film chronicles the creation of a sensational Christian Dior gown, commissioned along with the film, for the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.
VINTAGE BLACK GLAMOR: Join fashion, lifestyle, and arts journalist Nichelle Gainer for a presentation of her new book, Vintage Black Glamor, on Tuesday, March 10. This stunning publication's nostalgic insight into the stories of black fashion icons of the 20th century is another reason why black women---entertainers, dancers, actors, writer---carved a niche of their own in the annals of fashion history.
THE BATTLE OF VERSAILLES: Robin Givhan in conversation with FIT's Patricia Mears on
Wednesday, April 1. The Battle of Versailles: The Night American Fashion Stumbled into the Spotlight and Made History is not to be missed.. Robin Givhan, Pulitzer Prize-winning fashion critic for the Washington Post, presents her first book, The Battle of Versailles, the story of a 1973 face-off between five American designers, including Halston and Oscar de la Renta---and five French designers (Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Cardin among them). Buoyed by a decision to use ten African American models (unheard of then) the underdog Yanks pulled off a victory, cementing American fashion as a major player on the international stage.
A series of Talks and Tours are also scheduled on selected evenings and weekday mornings, and begin in the museum lobby. Reservations are required. For a complete list email: museuminfo@fignyc.
LAUREN BACALL: The Look on Wednesday, March 11 at 10:30 am  and Monday, March 6 at 6 pm is my favorite. The look examines Bacall's distinctive style within the context of her modeling, film and theater careers.
Ta TA Darlings!!! Pollytalk will be present at several of these lectures, do say hello.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs on remarkable men, amazing women, poetry and landmark finds...go to www.pollytalk.com and click in the left hand column on the link that gives you direct access.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

FASHION'S GARDEN OF DELIGHTS, THE PARIS COUTURE (c) By Polly Guerin

Karl Lagerfeld's Fantasy Garden Spring 2015 Collection
Paris haute couture takes a walk in the garden of fantastic delights for Spring 2015. Karl Lagerfeld, the master creator for Chanel, fashioned and Eden of Haute, a beautiful paradise filled with mammoth flowers in a bucolic stark white garden filled with stupendous floral and fauna that only our wildest dreams could imagine. Here's the scoop!!!
   The Grand Palais was the site of this extravaganza, which in a way, eclipsed even the fashions that paraded around the garden on a circular stage. Yet, as the models walked the white carpet a most extraordinary thing occurred. The flowers cranked open in full bloom to reveal the most enchanting colors---orange, yellow, pink and red. And then, the fashions replicated in those colors, came forth embellished with intricate laces, embroidered tweeds, plastered linens. Floral appliques emerged, such as deep borders on an orange coat, on the bottom of a long tunic and fashioned as cuffs on the sleeves of a jacket, while breathtaking sheer skirts with floral border hems sashayed around the runway
   Some critics say that such showmanship often overshadows the actual fashions on review, but Lagerfeld did not disappoint with youthful silhouettes that had fashionista appeal.
   Then, too, there was Raf Simons for Dior, who went on a different curve of interest and fused a
Raf Simons for Dior Spring 2015 Collection
powerful, couture collection, drawing on past eras in a modern revivalist extravaganza---evoking the Fifties' romance, Sixties' experimentation and the wild freedom of the Seventies It was a heady mix of familiar themes, even miss-matched motifs on a body suit---dots, stripes, floral, and geometric motifs juxtaposed together in an eye-popping print. .In sharp contrast, a bright yellow demure three-quarter coat, with neat school-girl point collar made a stunning classic entry.
   Ditto for Schiaparelli posted fifteen teenage girls from the choir, Les Cherubims, who stood in windows ringing the show and sang out with sweet voices to Ravel's Bolero. Thus paying homage to the legendary designer, Elsa Schiaparelli, who in her halcyon days partnered with the surrealist Salvador Dali and even Jean Cocteau in creating some of her avant garde fabrics and embroideries.. Elsa's famed trademark, shocking pink, drenched the show, with archive-inspired
Ditto for Schiaparelli's Green Silk Gown
prints with mirrors and colorful hearts on jumpsuits and femme fatale tuxedos. Other embellishments that Elsa would adore included ribbon embroideries, cascading stars and tiny feather applique. The dramatic entrance of a show-stopper green silk evening gown was printed with blue swirling ribbons and floating white lady hands, a la Schiaparelli, while other dresses came forth in other quirky prints and intricate embroideries.
For more on the Paris shows: see WWD.com/runway.
Ta Ta Darlings!!! I remember it well, haute couture is the quintessential fashion theater and the best show in Paris.  Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com.  Visit Polly's Blogs on www.pollytalk.com and click on the Blog of your interest, just click the link  listed in the left hand column  for Blogs on amazing women, remarkable men and Polly's poetry.

Monday, January 12, 2015

CHINA, Through the Looking Glass, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute (c) By Polly Guerin

Yves Saint Laurent by Tom Ford 2004
The Palace Museum in Beijing, China was the setting recently where the Metropolitan Museum of Art held a press briefing about its spring 2015 Costume Institute exhibition, "China Through the Looking Glass," an exhibition that explores how Chinese art and film have influenced Western fashion design for centuries.
   This show is expected to attract a great Chinese interest in tickets so you may want to book your tickets early. It will open on May 7th,  three days after the Met's Costume Institute benefit. The gala evening is being hosted by Silas Chou, one of the key investors in Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger who has extensive business interest in China, and actors Gong Li and Jennifer Lawrence.. Wintour has organized the Costume Institutes annual gala dinner since 1995 and last year the museum named the Costume Institute after her.
The Celebs in Beijing: Of course, Anna Wintour was there to celebrate the event and the Chanel-clad editor explained that the decision to unveil details in the Chinese capital rather than in New York, stemmed from a desire to acknowledge  the country that had inspired the exhibition. Wintour, the artistic director of Conde Nast and Editor-in-Chief of American Vogue was not alone on the trip. There was a  high-ranking entourage of delegates on the occasion, and what a prestigious mix it was, culled together, no doubt, as a sign to indicate just how important the exhibition is to the museum and quite possibly to the State Department. Dignitaries included Charles P Campbell, director and CEO of the Metropolitan Museum; Shan Jixiang, Director of the Palace Museum; Max Baucus, U.S. Ambassador to the People's Republic of China; Andrew Bolton,curator in the Costume Institute. Wong Kar-Wai, Artristic Director of the exhibition also attended the briefing.
Roberto Cavalli gown reflects Chinese export porcelains
Forbidden City Fashion Andrew Bolton discussed how the exhibition will juxtapose Chinese art and historic costumes with high fashion to demonstrate the World's fascination with Chinese imagery. Wong Kar-Wai brought up the role of film in the exhibition and showed a montage of the film clips that will be used in the exhibition to illuminate the impact of the cinematic arts on Western fashion. For instance a Yves Saint Laurent dress by Tom Ford 2004 was inspired by the dragon robe  by Puyi (1906-1967), the last Chinese emperor for his inauguration in 1906; and there is a stunning blue-and-white Chanel beaded grown, by Karl Lagerfeld, 1964 and a show stopper, the Roberto Cavalli gown (2005) whose patterns reflect those on Chinese export porcelains.
China Through the Looking Glass will be on view in the Anna Wintour Costume Institute Center through August 16 and will feature more than 130 haute couture and ready-to-wear fashions juxtaposed with traditional Chinese masterpieces in jade, lacquer, chinoiserie, and blue-and-white porcelains. Andrew Bolton, curator of the exhibition noted: "From the earliest period of European contact with China in the sixteenth century, the West has has been enchanted with enigmatic objects and imagery from China, providing inspiration for fashion designers from Paul Poiret to Yves Saint Laurent. Through the looking glass of fashion, designers conjoin disparate stylistic references into a pastiche of Chinese aesthetic and cultural traditions."
Ta Ta darlings! No, bless your heart, I did not go to China but received this scope  through the fashion grapevine.Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc.gmail.com. Visit Polly's Blogs at www.pollytalk.com.

Monday, December 22, 2014

HOLIDAY RECALL, A Musical ChannelingTruman Capote's A CHRISTMAS MEMORY by Polly Guerin

Young Buddy (Silvano Spagnuolo) and Sook (Alice Ripley)
Top: Ashley Robinson, the writer Photo by Carol Rosegg
On Thanksgiving it has become my tradition to revisit Truman Capote’s 1956 short story, “A Christmas Memory.” This nostalgic story with its riveting sentimentality has been made into TV specials, radio plays, an opera and now just when I thought that that was the end of its production life, a new musical, “HOLIDAY RECALL,” makes its debut at the DR2 Theatre in New York City.
  CAPOTE'S CHRISTMAS MEMORY: The story itself, one of Capote’s earliest works, is rather biographical. It tells the story of a young boy named Buddy, whose parents are off on some travels or other entertainment, In the film version, Buddy has returned to the Alabama house where he spent the happiest part of growing up with his cousin and best friend, called Sook.  In the movie, she was brilliantly portrayed by Geraldine Page, who evokes the character as a simple, country folk woman in her house dress and apron, the kind of woman you might find in a farm house kitchen. 
   FRUITCAKE PARTNERS: Together these unlikely companions spend most of their activity engaged in their pre-Christmas ritual discussing and making fruitcakes.  They count their pennies that were stored in a jar under the bed and determine that they just had enough to purchase the ingredients and moonshine. With a rickety old baby pram as their article of conveyance they triumphantly walk off from the modest farm house to the village to purchase the condiments. The highlight of their tour is a visit to HaHa Jones, the moonshine purveyor, a man whose Native American Indian ancestry superimposes on his personality. He is a rather scary character, especially to young Buddy.
  CELEBRATING DUO:This pair of unlikely characters end up in the farm house kitchen making numerous fruit cakes and carefully wrapping them, and sending them off in the mail addressed to assorted friends, random acquaintances and even dignitaries.  The making of the cakes is a happy occupation and with the last bit of moonshine left in the bottle Sook and Buddy celebrate.  Sook, however, makes the grave mistake of giving Buddy just a wee bit of the moonshine, and that is when Sook’s two haughty sisters in their finery arrive to scold Sook for serving alcohol to Buddy. With the inevitable serious consequences, Buddy is banished to military school and Sook is bereaved by the lost of the one dear friend she ever had. This is an uncanny relationship that tugs at your heartstrings and I wonder--- "Wouldn't it be wonderful, wouldn't it make a difference, for every lonely young child to have a person like Sook in their young lives!"
   However, before the end of the film, Sook and Buddy spend one last Christmas together. They both secretly, make kites for one another, but life for Sook would never be the same, a few letters arrived from Buddy but that was short lived and sadly Sook passed away shortly afterward.
HOLIDAY RECALL Sorry, to be so verbose, now back to the musical, Holiday Recall. Alice Ripley, “Neck to Normal,” tony winner plays Sook and Buddy is played by Ashley Robinson According to a review of the musical by Vincentell in the New York Post, the shows fragile charm comes through best in numbers like “Mighty Sweet Music,” in which all seven cast members take up ukuleles.Vincentell says, “With musicals, as with gifts, the best things come in small packages.” Efficiently directed by Charlotte Moore for Irish Rep, the show has nostalgia layered on top of nostalgia. Your in for a treat!!! At the DR2 Theatre, 103 E. 15th St. Shows are scheduled through January 4th. .Ticket info 212.727.2737.

Ta Ta darlings!!! PollyTalk is off to Holiday Recall this weekend to see my favorite film, now a musical. Fan mail welcome at pollytalknyc@gmail.com. Visit Pollytalk’s Blogs on www.pollytalk.com and click in the left-hand column for the Blog of your choice on fashion, amazing women, remarkable men, hidden treasures or poetry