Monday, August 27, 2018

PINK: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color:: Review By Polly Guerin

Stirring up a rich palette the passion for pink provokes exceptionally strong feelings of both attraction and repulsion.  Yet, it is increasingly being regarded as cool and androgynous, powerful and political.  Although pink is popularly associated with little girls, ballerinas, and all things feminine. the stereotype of pink-for-girls and blue-for-boys only really gained traction in the United States in the mid-20th century. It is interesting to note, however, that in ancient heraldic parlance pink (not blue) was designated for boys, because it was determined that the red undertone in pink represented courage and masculinity.

The Museum at FIT presents PINK: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color September 7 to January 5, 2019.  Organized by the museum's director and chief curator, Valerie Steele, PINK features approximately 80 ensembles from the 18th century to the present, with examples by designers and brands such as Elsa Schiaparelli, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Alessandro Michele of Gucci, Jeremy Scott of Moschino, and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcons. Image left: Comme des Garsons ensemble, "18th Century Punk" collection fall-winter 2016, Japan, Museum purchase.
    PINK corrects popular misconceptions, encourages viewers to question cliches and received opinion, and demonstrates that "It is society that 'makes' color, define it, gives it meaning," said
the great color historian Michel Pastoureau.
      Topics will include the significance of pink clothing in Western and non-Western cultures, including India, Africa, Mexico, and Japan, the use of pink in eighteenth century portraiture, associations of pink with politics, gender and sexuality, and the use of pink in cinema. 
        For instance, THE 1950s are notorious as the era of the "feminine mystique" when gender stereotyping was reinforced throughout society and the pink-for-girls, blue-for-boys gender coding took off  Naturally there are many 1950s feminine pink dresses for girls and women, but Brooks Brothers took a leap into the pink phase and sold pink shirts for men.  THE 1960s continued to witness the popularity of many "pretty in pink" dresses, such as a 1960 cocktail dress by Yves Saint Laurent for Christian Dior.
Then, the THE 1970s saw a decline in pink fashion, although fluorescent pink emerged as a stunner. by THE 1980s, pink was back in fashion, although often, as with a 1980 hot pink "power suit" by Claude Montana, it also served to acknowledged women's growing authority.      

In addition to the clothing and accessories on display, there is a fascinating diorama of pink toys and dress-up clothes for girls, dating from the 1950s to present including dolls, "princess" costumes, My Little Pony and other highly gendered commodities. Image Right: Celine dress, spring 2017, France.
Gift of Celine.
    A FASHION SYMPOSIUM, October 19 will be held in the Marvin Feldman Center, second floor Admission to the symposium is FREE. To register go to or call the number 212-217-4585. In addition, Special Programs include THE HISTORY OF PINK, Thursday, September 16th, at noon when author Valerie Steele, will discuss the exhibition and book, THE HISTORY OF a PUNK, PRETTY, POWERFUL COLOR. A book signing will follow the presentation.  
        Reservations are required for all events, as space is limited. To register go to Seats are first come, first served with RSVP.  Family activities EXPLORING PINK will be held Friday, November 9, 4 pm and Friday November 16, 4 pm.
    TA TA DARLINGS!!! Just naming PINK has had its run of amusing colorful names including Lilly Pulitzer pink, Flamingo Pink, Watermelon pink, Persian Rose, Schiaparelli Pink. Fan mail welcome at  Visit Polly's Blogs at It may also interest you to order my latest book THE DYNAMICS OF COLOR, sold on Amazon. 

Monday, August 20, 2018

Brooks Brothers 200th Anniversary: Review By Polly Guerin

Two centuries of remarkable staying power marks BROOKS BROTHERS, 200 YEARS OF AMERICAN STYLE, in a special exhibition tracing the iconic retailer's accomplishments, cultural significance and global influence.            Acclaimed as the oldest men's clothing store in the United States, Brooks Brothers flagship store was opened in 1915 at 345 Madison Avenue at 44th Street, where it remains today. 
        The retrospective exhibition, however, is held at Grand Central Terminal - Vanderbilt Hall, where a sampling of of men's and women's fashion, artifacts and ephemera trace---Brooks Brothers inventions and innovations---such as the ready-made suit and other ready-to-wear tailored clothing in the 19th century. Some visitors will wax nostalgic over the original Polo (r) Button-down oxford, the reverse-stripe rep tie, the polo coat and sporting apparel later adapted as "de rigueur" daily wear.    
Brooks Brothers Exhibit at Vanderbilt Hall
"Our anniversary marks a significant and important milestone not only for Brooks Brothers but also for the retail industry," said Claudio del Vecchio, chairman and CEO of Brooks Brothers. "This is a moment to celebrate 200 years steeped in both tradition and innovation."

200 HUNDRED YEARS: Since opening its doors in downtown in Old New York, Brooks Brothers has held a steady pace of growth from a small family haberdasher to a global brand that has shaped and defined American style.
      On April 7, 1818, at the age of 45, Henry Sands Brooks opened a store on the northeast corner of Catherine and Cherry Streets in lower Manhattan. An astute businessman, he proclaimed that his guiding principle was, "To make and deal in merchandise of the finest quality, to sell at a fair profit, and to deal with people who seek and appreciate such merchandise."
        In 1833, his four sons, Elisha Daniel, Edward, and John, inherited the family business and in 1850 renamed the company, "Brooks Brothers.  Throughout the years, maintaining its reputation as a pinnacle of quality and taste, Brooks Brothers has been associated with New York's historical events. For instance, in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln wore a custom-made Brooks Brothers coat to his second inauguration. He was also wearing it when he was assassinated a month later.  In addition to outfitting Abraham Lincoln, Brooks Brothers outfitted 40 of the 45 American Presidents in the late 19th century and tailored many distinctive uniforms for elite regiments of    
Archival Exhibit Abraham Lincoln
the New York National Guard. 
        The haberdasher's legendary association
with political figures, celebrities, corporate moguls, and their devoted followers, men of style, runs deep into their archival history. In 1957 Brooks Brothers introduced Argyle socks to America and in 1961 they designed the #2 suit--a favorite of longtime customer
President John F. Kennedy. 
       Entering the global market in 2008 Brooks Brothers was one of the first international brands to expand in Japan.
THE GOLDEN FLEECE SYMBOL: The Golden Fleece symbol was adopted as the company's trademark in 1850 and has signified heritage, quality and legendary service ever since. The logo, a sheep suspended from a ribbon, has served as a symbol of fine wool since the fifteen century, when Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy---an area renowned for its woolen fabric---founded the Order of the Golden Fleece in 1430. Reflecting its association to the symbol of fine woolens, the Knights of the Golden Fleece were among the best dressed and most colorful in all of chivalric Europe. When the four Books brothers painted this lamb over their door, they used the icon to symbolize the European tradition on which the company based its early identity. As standard bearers of tradition the Golden Fleece signifies that behind Brooks Brothers' doors, customers find quality, heritage and excellence.
       Ta Ta Darlings!!! It's nice to know that Brooks Brothers is a as modern as modern gets and even has a women's fashion division. Fan mail welcome, email Visit
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Monday, August 6, 2018

BRANCUSI, The Originalist at MoMA: Review By Polly Gueri

Mille Pogany, Version 1 1913 
Constantin Brancusi's risk taking and inventive approach to form changed the course of the art that followed. As such he is often regarded as the most important sculptor of the 20th century.  
       "Simplicity is not the end of art. We usually arrive at simplicity as we approach the true sense of things."   Constantin Brancusi quote           
        The Museum of Modern Art's exhibition celebrates MoMA's extraordinary holdings---eleven sculptures by Brancusi are shown together for the first time alongside drawings, films and photographs. A selection of never-before-seen archival materials shed light on his relationship with friends, sitters, and patrons On view through November, 2018
      Looking back at the first showing of Constantin Brancusi's work in the 1913 Armory Show, one writer reflected that sculptures on view were "disturbing, so disturbing that they completely altered the attitude of a great many New Yorkers towards a whole branch of art." 
       Indeed Brancusi's beguilingly simple forms looked like nothing else, then or since. This sculpture is a portrait of Margit Pogany, a Hungarian artist who sat for Brancusi several times, while she was in Paris studying painting. Shortly after her return to Hungary, Brancusi carved a marble Mille Pogany from memory, then cast four versions, including this one in bronze. The work was a significant departure from conventional portraiture. Large almond-shaped eyes overwhelm the oval face, and a black patina represents the hair. As with other motifs, this was a subject Brancusi would return to and rework in the years to come.
Bird in Space,  1928
His visionary sculptures often exemplify ideal and archetypal representations of their subject matter. Bearing icon titles such as Fish, Princess X and Bird in Space, his sculptures are deceptively single, with their reduced forms aiming to reveal hidden truths. Unlike Auguste Rodin, for whom Brancusi briefly assisted early in his career, Brancusi worked directly with his materials pioneering the technique of direct carving, rather than working in plaster or clay models. 

       Explaining that "The artist should know how to dig out the being that is within matter." Brancusi sought to create sculptures that conveyed the true essences of his subjects be they animals, people, or objects by concentrating on highly simplified forms free from ornamentation. While many regarded his work as abstract, the artist disagreed; he insisted on representational nature of his works, asserting that they disclosed a fundamental, often concealed, reality.
     Brancusi once said, "Do not look for obscure formulas or mystery in my work. It is pure joy that I offer you. Look at my sculptures until you see them. Those closest to God have seen them"
       Brancusi's work was largely fueled by myths, folklore, and "primitive" cultures.These traditional old-world sources of inspiration formed a unique contrast to the often sleek appearance of his works, resulting in a distinctive blend of modernity and timelessness. 
      Rather than modeling in clay like his peers, Brancusi carved his work directly from wood or stone or cast it in bronze. Simultaneously, he rejected realism, preferring that his sculptures evoke rather than resemble the subjects named in their titles.    
Brancusi Installation at MoMA
CONSTANTIN BRANCUSI (1926-1957) was born in rural Romania and moved to Paris in 1904 where he established his studio and quickly immersed himself in avant-garde art circles. In his adopted city, he embraced an experimental modern spirit, including an interest in modern machines and popular culture. With his friend, Man Ray, he made films that captured his life in the studio--working with his materials and muses, activating his artworks through movement and recombination, and revealing his sources of inspiration such as animals at play, light in nature, and dance. Yet, until his death her proudly presented himself as an outsider, cultivating his image as a peasant, with a long beard, work shirt, and sandals.

      Ta Ta Darlings!!!  The contradiction of Brancusi's appearance also informed his art making which was dependent on ancient techniques as much as modern technologies. Fan mail is always
welcome  Visit Polly's other Blogs on