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Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty

Retrospective of  Visionary Fashion Designer

1st March 2015 The Victoria & Albert Museum in London is presenting an extraordinary show of one of the most innovative designers of his generation – Lee Alexander McQueen. Originated by the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the V&A presentation will feature 30 additional garments, including some rare early pieces, lent by private individuals and collectors. McQueen courted controversy – his extravagant catwalk presentations, for which he was renowned, combined storytelling, music, film and theatrical performance.

 

Butterfly headdress of hand-painted turkey feathers by Philip Treacy  for Alexander McQueen

Butterfly headdress of hand-painted turkey feathers by Philip Treacy for Alexander McQueen

The thematic presentation includes the Cabinet of Curiosities, which showcases designs produced by McQueen in collaboration with fellow creatives such as milliner Philip Treacy. In total, the exhibition will showcase more than 200 ensembles and accessories, the largest number of individual pieces designed by McQueen and collaborators ever seen together.

 

Dress of dyed ostrich feathers and hand-painted microscopic slides by Alexander McQueen

Dress of dyed ostrich feathers and hand-painted microscopic slides by Alexander McQueen

McQueen always inspired – he combined a profound grasp of tailoring and eclectic range of influences with a relentless pursuit to challenge the boundaries of art and fashion, blending the latest technology with traditional craftsmanship. He was influenced by his Scottish heritage and the colonial past, plus his fascination with the animal world inspired him throughout his career.  Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty is a landmark exhibition not to be missed! Opens 14 March until 02 August 2015. www.vam.ac.uk JG

Image credits: Top photo Tulle and lace dress with veil and antlers by Alexander McQueen Widows of Culloden A/W 2006 Model: Raquel Zimmermann, Viva London  Image: firstVIEW Butterfly Headress: La Dame Bleue S/S 2008 Model: Alana Zimmer copyright: Anthea Simms Dress of dyed ostrich feathers Voss S/S 2001 Model: Erin O’Connor Image:REX

Enlightenment: Carte Blanche à Christian Lacroix

Enlightenment: Carte Blanche à Christian Lacroix

1st February 2015 The Musée Cognacq-Jay in Paris is absolutely a little gem. Founded in 1928 by the founder of the La Samaritaine Department Store (sadly, now closed) Ernest Cognacq assembled an amazing collection of emblematic eighteenth-century art works. They are on display in a beautifully renovated sixteenth-century townhouse in the Marais. M. Cognacq chose items that would be representative of “the artistic décor of French life”… and include a stunning collection of portrait miniatures, superb paintings, busts, Meissen porcelains and furniture.

 

Lacroix fantasy at Musée Cognacq Jay Paris

Lacroix fantasy at Musée Cognacq Jay Paris Dessins Christian Lacroix Copyright: Monsieur Christian Lacroix

To celebrate the re-opening of the Musée Cognacq-Jay, Christian Lacroix, the peripatetic fashion and interior designer,  was offered a “carte blanche”  – a dual challenge of re-imagining the “guiding narrative” of the exhibition spaces, while exploring a concept which has shaped his own approach to his art – the fascination exerted by the eighteenth century. Lacroix has curated contributions from over forty contemporary artists, invited to reflect upon ten key themes identified in Ernest Cognacq’s collections. Some of the themes include: 18th century taste; Show, balls and sociability; Paris, capital of the Enlightenment; Fables, stories and novels; and Europe’s artistic economy. Lacroix’s selections have been assembled with a view to enhancing our understanding of the Age of Enlightenment, and its continued relevance in our own era.

 

Marie-Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) Portrait de Marie-Louise Adelaide-Jacquette de Robien,Vicomtesse de Mirabeau 1774

Marie-Louise Elisabeth Vigée-Lebrun (1755-1842) Portrait de Marie-Louise Adelaide-Jacquette de Robien, Vicomtesse de Mirabeau 1774

Enlightenment: Carte Blanche à Christian Lacrox is an innovative exhibition, enhanced with Lacroix’s inimitable flair. The exhibition continues through 19th April 2015.

www.cognacq-jay.paris.fr JG

Photo credits: Vigée Lebrun: Musée Cognacq-Jay /Roger-Viollet

All photos: Agence Roger Viollet “Press Photo”

 

 

 

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire

Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire

Victorian & Edwardian Mourning Attire at Anna Wintour Costume Center New York City

1st January 2015 “She was beginning to find that everyone had an air of remoteness; she seemed to see people and life through the confusing blur of the long crape veil in which it was a widow’s duty to shroud her affliction.”  Edith Wharton, “New Year’s Day,” in Old New York (New York; D. Appleton, 1924

Mourning after the death of a loved one was an intricate part of social mores in the 19th Century. Throughout this period, the duty of wearing mourning fell primarily on women, whose sartorial choices were seen as a reflection of the family’s collective grief, as well as their social status, economic standing, and level of respectability. A woman in full mourning dress became the emblematic icon of bereavement in Europe and America. Mourning dress served as a visual symbol of grief and respect for the deceased.

 

Children were often put into mourning as well, participating in their family’s memorialization of the deceased.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York traces the mores and fashions of this period in Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire. The mourning period could be up to a year; however, after being widowed in 1861, Queen Victoria limited her public appearances, and dressed in shades of mourning for the remaining forty years of her life, presenting an image of chast widowhood, in her “widow’s weeds.” The thematic exhibition is organised chronologically and features mourning dress from 1815 to 1915, primarily from The Costume Institute’s collection.

 

Mourning and Fashion coexist - Elegant Harmonization -

Mourning and Fashion coexist – Elegant Harmonization –

Formal rituals of bereavement aided in memorializing the dead, and mourning attire was subject to increasingly complex codes of etiquette and fashion. For Queen Victoria, in her forty years of widowhood, her mourning never lightened. When King Edward, Victoria’s son died in 1910, The Palace issued messages that wedding celebrations should take place as scheduled. The weddings did take place, but most guests still wore black. Even in sadness and grief, fashion played an influential role. Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire continues at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through 1st February 2015. www.metmuseum.org JG

All images: Gallery View Anna Wintour Costume Center, Lizzie and Jonathan Tisch Gallery Copyright: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

Lace, Silk and Ermine

Lace, Silk and Ermine

Highlights from the Wardrobe of Elisabeth of Austria

1st December 2014 She was a European style legend in nineteenth-century Europe, with her imperial wardrobe, and cascades of long flowing hair, often studded with diamonds. Elisabeth of Austria was one of the most beautiful women of the day, and a mysterious, complex personality, who found the rigors of court life in Vienna restricting and suffocating. She was a woman ahead of her time – she believed in rigorous self-control and exercise.

Blue Dress worn by Elisabeth Empress of Austria

Blue Dress worn by Elisabeth Empress of Austria

 

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of The Sisi Museum in Vienna (The Empress was known as Sisi) – Soie, Dentelle et Hermine (Silk,Lace and Ermine) showcases personal items from the Empresses’ wardrobe, as she set the fashion trends of her era. The items shown are very rarely displayed for conservation purposes.

 

Sisi enjoyed wearing gowns that silhouetted her ultra-slim figure

Sisi enjoyed wearing gowns that silhouetted her ultra-slim figure

 

When visiting The Sisi Museum, it is also possible to see parasols, fans, gloves,The Empresses’ travelling medicine chest, and jewellery. On the ground floor of the museum, visitors can view in awe the elegant, luxurious Imperial Silver Collection, plus a magnificent golden dinner service that belonged to Napoleon.

 

Monogrammed Silk Stockings worn by Elisabeth Empress of Austria

Monogrammed Silk Stockings worn by Elisabeth Empress of Austria

Silk, Lace and Ermine is a fascinating glimpse into the private wardrobe of one of the most legendary figures of that time. To this day, Elisabeth of Austria continues to fascinate and charm with her individualism and refusal to conform. Exhibition continues until 1st February 2015. www.hofburg-wien.at JG

Photos: Top: Portrait of Elisabeth Empress of Austria by Franz Xaver Winterhalter Dresses: Alexander E. Koller Stockings: Edgar Knaak Copyright: Schloss Schöenbrunn Kultur-und Betriebs. Ges.m.b.H.

Women Fashion Power

Women Fashion Power

High-Profile Women Celebrated at Design Museum

1st November 2014 Clothes have always been a powerful form of self-expression for women – from Elizabeth 1, to Margaret Thatcher, and Coco Chanel to Lady Gaga –  and an essential part of a sophisticated visual language. An exceptional new exhibition at London’s Design Museum brings together a fabulous showcase of clothing, photography, archive footage and interviews with twenty-five influential women who have used fashion to define and enhance their position in the world.

 

Margaret Thatcher Suit Courtesy of Christie's

Margaret Thatcher Suit Courtesy of Christie’s

Donna Loveday, Head of Curatorial at the Design Museum and co-curator of the exhibition said: “All of the women we invited to contribute to the exhibition were chosen because they are leaders in their field, and they understand that the clothes they wear are a part of the way that they communicate with the world.”

Joan Burstein Founder of Browns London photographed by Billie Sheepers

Joan Burstein Founder of Browns London photographed by Billie Sheepers

WOMEN FASHION POWER examines the last 150 years of women’s fashion from the restrictive boned corsets of the nineteenth century to the statement Louboutin heels of today. Included among the women profiled are: Joan Burstein, founder of Browns in London; Livia Firth, Creative Director of Eco Age; Princess Charlène of Monaco; Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris; Charlotte Olympia, Designer; Dame Zandra Rhodes and Dame Vivienne Westwood, both designers. Archive clothes include a suit worn by Margaret Thatcher when she was elected leader of the Conservative party in 1975; and a dress worn by Diana, Princess of Wales on the occasion of  her 36th birthday, plus items from Elsa Schiaparelli, and Yves Saint Laurent.

 

Anne Hidalgo Mayor of Paris photographed by Jean-Baptiste Gurliat

Anne Hidalgo Mayor of Paris photographed by Jean-Baptiste Gurliat

Fashion commentator Collin McDowell observed: “This exhibition shows how women have used different approaches to dress in order to make statements which are unique to them and their personalities. They create their own wardrobes, not to be fashion plates but to demonstrate who and what they are.” WOMEN FASHION POWER at the Design Museum Shad Thames, London SE1 Through 26 April 2015 www.designmuseum.org JG

Top photo: Dame Zandra Rhodes photographed by John Swannell

Horst: Photographer of Style

Horst: Photographer of Style

Master Photographer Horst P. Horst at V&A

1st October 2014 Fashion icons, Presidents, Hollywood stars, and avant-garde artists were all captured on film by Horst (1906-1999) – one of the leading photographers of the 20th century. A fascinating retrospective of his work – that spanned six decades – is celebrated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Horst’s stylish photos, plus haute couture garments by Parisian couturiers Chanel, Lavin, Molyneux and Vionnet, magazines, film footage, previously unpublished vintage prints, and ninety-four Vogue covers are all on display.

 

Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives 1949

Horst directing fashion shoot with Lisa Fonssagrives 1949

Horst’s illustrious career straddled the opulence of pre-war Parisian haute couture and the rise of ready-to-wear in New York. He photographed – among many others – Coco Chanel, Elsa Schiaparelli, President Harry Truman, Marlene Dietrich, Noël Coward, Merle Oberon, and his photos of Lisa Fonssagrives helped to launch her glittering modelling career.

 

Summer Fashions American Vogue Cover 15 May 1941

Summer Fashions American Vogue Cover 15 May 1941

Born in Weissenfels, Germany, Horst fled Europe just prior to the outbreak of the Second World War. In 1943, he enlisted into the American Army and became a U.S. citizen. He also explored new photography dimensions with nude studies, travel photographs from the Middle East, and patterns created from natural forms, plus work for House and Garden magazine. The scope of his work is imaginatively diverse, and he creatively traversed the worlds of art, fashion, design, theatre and high society – all with superb style. Horst: Photographer of Style continues through 4 January 2015. www.vam.ac.uk JG

Photos: Top image: Muriel Maxwell, American Vogue 1939 Condé Nast/Horst Estate Middle image: Roy Stevens/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Bottom photo: Condé Nast/Horst Estate

 

 

Eyewear and an Avant-Garde Art Collector

Eyewear and an Avant-Garde Art Collector

Safilo Celebrates Anniversary and Peggy Guggenheim

20th September 2014 The launch of a new limited edition of the legendary glasses worn by Peggy Guggenheim celebrates the 80th anniversary of Safilo. Edward Melcarth, an American artist and friend, originally designed the sunglasses for Guggenheim. She traversed Venice’s Grand Canal in her private gondola, wearing the eccentric sunglasses surrounded by her beloved dogs. Peggy Guggenheim was the last private gondola owner in Venice, and onlookers were astonished as they watched the charismatic mistress of modernism float along the canal that she loved.

 

Truly Original! Peggy Guggenheim Glasses

Truly Original! Peggy Guggenheim Glasses

Guggenheim was a renowned collector of 20th century art and gave enormous support to artists that included Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock. Her early childhood was marred by the death of her father on the Titanic, in which he perished. She grew up to live an unconventional, bohemian life filled with artists and travel. In the late 1940’s she bought the Palazzo Venier dei Leoni on The Grand Canal, and made Venice her home for the rest of her life. The Peggy Guggenheim Collection is located in her former residence. Safilo had already drawn inspiration from Guggenheim’s sunglasses in 1994, when it first produced and distributed its Peggy Guggenheim model. Like the pervious version, the sunglasses are on sale exclusively at the museum.

 

Peggy Guggenheim in the'barchessa' o fPalazzo Venier dei Leoni with her collection of African sculptures; Venice late 1960's

Peggy Guggenheim in the’barchessa’ of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni with her collection of African sculptures; Venice late 1960’s

Behind the project is the bond that links the Safilo Group to Venice, where the first eyeglasses were born, and capital of the Veneto, the Region where Safilo was established in 1934. Safilo is further celebrating its 80th anniversary by joining the Intrapresae Collezione Guggenheim, a group of leading Italian and international companies that support the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, promoting the education potential of art, with the conviction that art can inspire business to embrace change and to face global challenges. A gala event to celebrate Safilo’s 80th anniversary was held in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection museum’s delightful gardens. www.safilo.com www.guggenheim.org/venice

Top photo: Peggy Guggenheim with her Lhasa Apsos terriers on the terrace of Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, Venice 1960’s Photo credits: Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, photo Archivio CameraphotoEpoche, gift Cassa de Risparmio di Venezia, 2005

 

Les Années 50

Les Années 50

The Golden Age of Couture

1st September 2014 A celebration of 1950s Paris fashion is the theme for an outstanding exhibition at the elegant Palais Galliera Museum. The world was post-war, and Christian Dior led the way with his cinched waist silhouettes and full skirts that contrasted with previous austerity. The 1950s were a decisive period for French haute couture, which suffered badly in the wake of the 1929 stock marked crash and the war.

 

Jacques Heim 1950/Alwynn about 1950/ Carven 1951

The decade after the war, names synonymous with luxury, originality and beauty elevated French fashion to new heights. In addition to Dior, Coco Chanel, Jacques Heim, Schiaparelli, Carven, Balenciaga, Jacques Fath, Pierre Balmain, Lanvin-Castillo, and Hubert de Givenchy found dazzling success with prestige stores and eager customers. Petticoats, pointed shoes, bright-coloured floral and striped prints, wasp-waist suits and straight skirts, strapless sheath dresses, cocktail dresses: such was the couture of the 50s.

Christian Dior "Marivaux" 1954

Christian Dior “Marivaux” 1954

These remarkable designs illustrate the attention to detail; the passion for sumptuous fabrics that the designers loved; and emphasis on an ultra-feminine form. Echoes of this decade now infiltrate the fashion themes of today. Les Années 50 continues until 02 November 2014. Further information at www.palaisgalliera.paris.fr JG

Photos: Top image: Chanel 1955 photo by Henry Clarke/Galliera/Roger-Viollet Centre image: Collection Palais Galliera Bottom image: Eric Emo/Galliera/Roger-Viollet

The Orient Express

The Orient Express

The King of Trains in Paris Exhibition

19th August 2014 A marvelous vintage steam engine is not a usual sight on Boulevard Saint Germain – but certainly an intriguing one! The gleaming green engine that captures the attention of passers by and motorists is part of a superb exhibition – Il Ètait Un Fois L’Orient Express. The trains are displayed in the outdoor space at L’Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris.

Carriage interiors can be visited, and a nostalgic look at train travel during The Golden Age reflects the amazing grandeur, service, elegance and pampering passengers enjoyed in another era. The “wagon-lits” as they are called in French, are beautifully appointed with fine wood panelling, and carved René Lalique glass insets. Gourmet dining is further enhanced with lovely cutlery and china.

Inside L’Institut du Monde Arabe, visitors can trace the long and fascinating history of The Orient Express – the inaugural voyage was in 1883 between Paris and Constantinople – with letters, photos, film clips and other memorabilia. The allure, mystery, romance and luxury of The Orient Express is indicative of a different way of life and living…and yet can still be enjoyed today! More information at www.imarabe.org www.orient-express.eu JG