Monday, January 30, 2017

PARIS REFASHIONED, 1957-1968 at FIT: Review By Polly Guerin

Does French Haute Couture Matter? Mais, pourquoi pas? Why not? As Marcel Proust wrote, "Recherche du temps perdu!" (Remembrance of Lost Time) Fashion also continues to reflect on its glorious past. In its latest exhibit The Museum at FIT examines the combined influences of French Haute Couture, ready-to-wear, and popular culture of the era. The exhibit spans eleven years of style innovation and unforgettable design with particular emphasis on how fashion was perceived and promoted by the American fashion press.
      In order to rediscover one of the most ground breaking time periods in fashion History The Museum at FIT's exhibition PARIS REFASHIONED, 1957-1968 reassures us that while this era positioned London as the center of innovative, youth-orientated design, this limited perspective overlooks the significant role Paris continued to play in the fashion industry. Designers featured in the show include Christian Dior, Lanvin, Karl Lagerfeld, Hubert de Givenchy, Nina Ricci, Yves Saint Laurent and others,  Associate curator of accessories Coleen Hill and colleagues have selected all the objects on view from the Museum of FIT's permanent collection of more than 50,000 objects. The exhibition on view from February 10 - April 15, 2017.
A 1950s COUTURE SALON The exhibition's introductory gallery includes a selection of more than 30 haute couture garments and accessories from the era. Let your imagination soar and vicariously imagine you are in Paris. The clothing is arranged in a setting designed to resemble a 1950's couture salon when the then 21-year old Yves Saint Laurent, promoted creative director in 1957 of Christian Dior, ushered in a demarcation, a shift toward a more relaxed and, ultimately, more youthful design.
Balenciaga "Baby Doll"dress---Chanel  1959---Andre Courreges suit
Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel's iconic suit includes a 1959 version in red wool tweed with artfully notched "tulip"-shaped pockets. Her suits were made in endless variations and became a signature of her work during the 1950's-60s. It is interesting to note that women of all ages embraced Chanel's modern, easy-to-wear clothing. Even the working gal embraced the look wearing copies manufactured by cheap imitators. Caption: Cristobal Balenciaga, "Baby Doll" dress, circa, 1957 gift of "The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art from the estate of Ann E. Woodward. Chanel, suit, fall 1959, gift of Mrs Walter Eytan and Andre Courreges, suit, 1961. donated in the memory of Isabel Eberstadt by her family.

VISITING A PARIS BOUTIQUE While the introduction of 1950s haute couture is essential to the history of French fashion, the majority of the exhibition is devoted to the dynamic designs of the 1960s  Let's go shopping; the larger gallery space, designed to evoke a 1960s boutique, highlights a number of fashions by Andre Courreges, a protege of Balenciaga including a three-piece suit, which includes a wool jacket cut in a unique, scultpural silhouette.  Space Age fashion include his famous white leather boots and a dress trimmed in black vinyl. With Pierre Cardin revisit his "Cosmos" collection including a mini dress that features cutouts over the breastbone. The look of knee-length boots, and a helmet-style hat, helped to further Cardin's reputation as an avant-garde couturier.
Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, raincoat
FRENCH READY-TO-WEAR The success of Pret-a-Porter, French ready-to-wear,  had a profound impact on the couture industry. The exhibit features one of Saint Laurent's earliest Rive Gauche creations, a raincoat made from bright yellow vinyl with chunky, knitted wool sleeves.  Looks familiar?  A black version version of this raincoat was worn by Catherine Deveuve in the 1967 film Belle de Jour, for which Saint Laurent designed the costumes. Caption: Yves Saint Laurent Rive Gauche, raincoat, 1966, gift of Ethel Scull.
     Paris Refashioned concludes in 1968, the year Courreges opened his first ready-to-wear boutique in New York Meanwhile, his mentor, the great couturier Balenciaga, decided to close his house after more than 30 years.
   The exhibition is accompanied by a book of the same title, to be published by Yale University Press in spring 2017.
     FREE admission. The Museum at FIT is located at 27th Street and Seventh Avenue. Hours Tuesday-Friday, noon-8pm. Saturday, 10-5pm, Closed Sunday, Monday and Legal Holidays.
    Ta Ta Darlings!!!  It's deja vu, it's time to revisit fashion in all its innovative glory and to relive the time when fashionable women made the world so elegant and charming.  Fan mail always welcome at  Visit Polly's other Blogs as and click in the left-hand column the links to women determined to succeed (amazingartdecowomen), men remarkable visionaries, poetry from the heart and the fashion historian.

Monday, January 23, 2017

WINTER ANTIQUES SHOW Through January 29: Review by Polly Guerin

Washington and Lafayette at the Battle of Yorktown
Why are antique fairs important? The great folk art collector and patron of the arts summed it up succinctly in 1926 when she said, "To me (art) is one of the great resources of my life...I feel...that it enriches the spiritual life and makes one more sane and sympathetic, more observant and understanding, as well as being good for one's nerves."  Indeed the fair may just be the perfect tonic as the statement is even more relevant today.
      However, do not let me mislead you, the Winter Antiques Show's focus on folk art, is but one of the major highlights. The fair primarily features 70 renowned experts in the fine and decorative arts from around the world with a breathtaking array of curated presentations, booth collaborations, modern/contemporary art and design, as well as masterworks of American Art to a wide range of work by artists such as Louis Comfort Tiffany, John Singer Sargent, and Harry Bertoia. The show includes leading experts in ancient through contemporary art and design including 17th-19th English furniture and silver, Italian postwar, Wiener Werkstatte, Art Deco, British Aesthetic Movement, Scandinavian modernist, artists' jewelry, Asian, tribal and Oceanic Art, Old Masters, antique maps and armor and garden ornament.
THE FOLK ART CONNECTION As the Winter Antiques Show celebrates its 63rd year as America's preeminent art, antiques and design fair, its run through Sunday, January 29th provides ample time to visit the Park Avenue Armory, 67th Street and Park Avenue. The Fair's major focal point is the 2017 loan exhibition, Revolution and Evolution, which pays homage to the folk art collection of the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum (AARFAM), one of the Art Museums of Colonial Willamsburg in Virginia.This colorful painting , featured above, created by the Massachusetts folk artist Reuben Law Reed in the mid-nineteenth century, circa 1781, depicts commander in chief George Washington and his French General Gilbert du Motier, the Marquis de Lafayette, surveying the land segment of one of the decisive engagements of the American Revolution. The battle ended with the surrender of a British army under General Charles Cornwallis, first marquis Cornwallis, and proved to be the last major engagement of the War. Family members claim that the image "was painted from a description of the battle of Yorktown given by eye witnesses, who it is said congratulated him on the likeness." Reed had ancestors who had fought in the battles of Lexington and Bunker Hill, and he maintained a lifelong interest in the war. Image: Created 1860-1880, Courtesy AARFAM, Colonial Williamsburg Foundation.
Art Deco silver leaf panels and Mattia Bonetti table
EXHIBITOR COLLABORATIONS This year, the Winter Antiques Show offers to important collaborations by exhibitors. One such collaboration, the David Gill Gallery and Carolle Thibault-Pomerantz are showing furniture by Mattia Bonetti. For this unique collaboration designer Mattia Bonetti has created an exclusive wallpaper entitled "Carolle Line" for Carolle Thibaut Pomerantz. Silk-screened gold and silver metallic striations on digitally printed background is presented on the overall walls of the stand and vintage Papier Peints--the art of illusion and trompe l'oeil---hand over it as "works of art."  The antique wall panels, Les Mois, one panel from a set of 5, individually depicting five months, April, July, August, October and December, are outstanding wood-block printed works of art by Joseph Dufour, 1808, he hand brushed the background in pale blue, the design by the French artist, Alexander Evariste Fragonard, the son of Jean-Honore Fragonard.
     Then, too, there is a fine pair of Art Deco over-door panels, wood block dsign highlighted in silver leaf, France ca. 1925, Charles H. Geoffory manufacturer.
JOHN SINGER SARGENT Take note, although the highly accomplished painter of landscapes and genre scenes, some of Sargent's society portraits are displayed at this year's show. Though he spent most of his life abroad, his American ties brought him numerous portrait commissions including the portrait of Kate Haven, 1903, one of his many portraits of children at exhibitor Adelson Gallery, New York, one of the country's foremost experts of the works of John Singer Sargent.  
Mrs. Hugh Jackson by John Singer Sargent
Yet you will find Sargent elsewhere in the show. From exhibitor Michael Altman Fine Art, comes a widely published and exhibited work by John Singer Sargent from 1907, portraiture of Mrs. Hugh Jackson (known throughout her life as "Tiny" because of her small size at birth, oil on canvas.
      Stop of at Didier Ltd and view a Salvador Dali, unique Surrealist hand ring with a pair of hands with cut ruby fingernails holding a globe encrusted with mine-cut diamonds.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!! Important to know. Every object at the Winter Antiques Show is vetted for authenticity, date and condition by a committee of 160 experts from the United States and Europe. Net proceeds from the Show benefit the East Side House Settlement which provides quality education and technology training as gateways out of poverty to students in the South Bronx.
      Fan mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at and in the left hand column click on the subjects of interest such as fashion, visionary men, women determined to succeed and poetry.

Monday, January 16, 2017

BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS: FIT Fashion Symposium: Review by Polly Guerin

Black Fashion Designers Exhibit the Museum at FIT
Black Fashion Matters. That is the thesis of the Museum at FIT'S exhibit Black Fashion Designers. which examines the impact made by designers of African American descent on the world of fashion.
     While acknowledging the creative talents of designers, who were often overlooked, the exhibit pays homage to their legacy and puts a fresh spin on issues of diversity within the fashion industry.
    Co-curated by Ariele Elia, an assistant manager of outfits and fabrics at the Museum at FIT and her co-curator Elizabeth Method, a curatorial assistant, the exhibit, featuring 75 ensembles by 60 designers, shows that even though they share a common identity, black designers are cut from an individualistic cloth of originality.  While the 1970s was a good time for black designers, the sinuously sexy clothes by Stephen Burrows and Scott Barrie were regarded precisely since they were black. Although these designers had a hard time, they ultimately influenced and changed the fashion industry.
    Flamboyant fashion spokesman, Andre Leon Talley who helped with the exhibition said. "By their very presence, when they were acknowledged, and recognized, they took that minute of fame and ran with it, like they were running for the Olympic gold medals.  I believe that when they had chances to be on a phase, they took advantage and they quietly transformed style."
Ann Lowe and an elegant ensemble
 In 1953, when the fashion industry was, in practice, segregated, Ann Lowe, stands as a pillar of remarkable fortitude. History records that the Lowe, proud to be the designer of Jacqueline Kennedy's wedding event gown and bridal party gowns, did not let the fact that pipe burst in her showroom a mere 10 days prior to the wedding ruin her reputation. Lowe worked overtime, providing the dresses on schedule. There are other black designers to mention such as Jon Weston, a FIT grad,  who dealt with discrimination throughout the 1960s, but emerged in the 1970s, after the Civil Liberty Motion, when mindsets towards black designers changed, and Weston opened a Seventh Avenue
     Then too, there is there is the black beaded dress of Eric Gaskins who trained with the Paris Haute Couture Givenchy and Andre Walker's abstracted fashion that illustrates the vibrancy that black designers bring to the fashion industry.
     FREE "Talk and Tours" for the Black Fashion Designers exhibit include Wednesday, February 22 and Wednesday, March 15 both at 10:30 am and Monday April 24 and Monday, May 8 both at 6 pm. Meet in the FIT Museum lobby.
BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS, FASHION SYMPOSIUM, (Registration required) Monday, February 6, 10 am-5 pm.. The daylong symposium, held during Black History Month, explores the emergence of black designers in the New York and global fashion industries, the unique challenge of being labeled a "black designer<" political activism, and a wide range of other themes that are touched on in the exhibition, Black Fashion Designers.   

Among the twenty scholars, designers, and models scheduled to speak are Alphonso McClendon, associate professor of fashion design at Drexel University, who will talk about fashion and Jazz and Elena Romero, professor of Advertising and Marketing Communications at FIT, who will lead a conversation about hip hop's influence on the fashion industry with Harlem-based hip hop designer Dapper Dan. Also, models Veronica Webb and Bethann Hardison will discuss modeling and diversity.
     For a full schedule and to register for this FREE symposium go to, or call 2l2.217.4585. Seats are first come, first served with RSVP.
     Ta Ta Darlings!!! PollyTalk will be attending the symposium. Hope to see you there, stop by and say "Hello!!!"  Fan mail always welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at on fashion, beauty, women determined to succeed, visionary men and poetry. Just click on the link in the left-hand column to access the /Blog that resonates with your

Monday, January 9, 2017


VIRTUAL REALITY: Silhouettes in their original setting
Here's a wrap on three exhibits that have made there mark on the cultural scene in New York City.    
PIERRE CHAREAU: Modern Architecture and Design through March 22 at The Jewish Museum proposes a fresh look at the internationally recognized designer and brings together rarely seen pieces of furniture, light fixtures and other major public and private collections.
    Modernism in the period of Art Deco. In the 1920s and 1930s Chareau became one of the most sought-after designers in France. He circulated among Paris's cultural elite creating custom furniture and interiors that were in sync with the requirements of modern life.
      Chareau's oeuvre drew on tradition while looking forward, combining the craftsmanship and materials such as mahogany with the sleek lines and metals of the machine age. However, he
is best known as the creator of the Maison de Verre, a Landmark Modernist architecture carved out of an 18-century Paris townhouse on the Left Bank. The exhibit designers Diller Scofidio + Renfro display Chareau's work in a ground breaking way.  Scenes of shadowy silhouettes of people using the furnishings are projected on screens.
     VIRTUAL REALITY Best part of the show, be sure to take a seat on a swiveling chair and peer through VR glasses and get 360-degree views of select pieces in their original settings. jewishmuseumorg.
Dramatic lifelike figures painted directly from the model
VALENTIN DE BOULOGNE: Beyond Caravaggio Monumental, breathtaking and masterful "Le Valentin," recognized as the leading French practitioner of the Caravaggio style, is currently on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The response to this exhibition has been so engaging that its run has been extended but will close on Sunday, January 22, 2017.
    This is the first monographic exhibition devoted to the 17th-century artist, featuring 45 of his 60-odd extant paintings that cover the walls with lifestyle views. Whether he depicts card players or a Biblical scene, Valentin imbued his painting with humanity. These everyday scenes in their monumental scale, are enticing slices of life that somehow invites the curious viewer to enter and  vicariously become part of the scene.  Valentin's oeuvre style, distinguished by dramatic contrasts between dark and light, shed emphasis on the lifelike figures painted directly from the model.  Sadly Valentin's career was short-lived by his untimely death at age 41.
PIERRE GOUTHEIERE: Virtuoso Gilder at the French Court. The golden hand of genius, Pierre Goutheiere, was a master metalworker who may not have enjoyed the name recognition of 18th-century artists such as Fragonard, but at the height of his oeuvre his work garnered prices comparable to theirs. The Frick Collection showcases 21 of Goutheiere's finest pieces through February 19th.
      His skills as a chaser-gilder earned his a royal clientele and the status of doreur du Roi to Louis XV.  Although, being a favorite of royal court gave Goutheiere an important role as master gilder,   too much of a good thing can go drastically wrong, especially when the King's mistress, Madame du Barry, failed to pay him for years of commissions which eventually drove him into bankruptcy.
     This is the first exhibition devoted to his oeuvre showcasing some 21 of his finest pieces from firedogs and wall lights to mounts for Chinese porcelain vases. Not to be missed: Take time to watch a video in which one of his creations is meticulously reproduced illustrating this master gilder's step by step craftsmanship behind Goutheiere's masterworks of gilt bronze.
      Ta Ta Darlings!!!  AS the chill of winter drives us indoors why not visit these exhibits in warm environments to brighten your cultural interests.  Fan mail welcome at
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