As I sit here at my desk amidst a serious case of writer’s block, I must say, I am very much enjoying the view of my nails. My new favorite color, Chimney Sweep, from my longtime favorite brand, Butter London, is a perfect metallic charcoal grey. Butter London is so very appealing, not only in its packaging and gorgeous color range, but also its formula — free of toxins such as formaldehyde, toluene, DBP, parabens and phthalates. Simple pleasures.
Wishing I was in Florence right this minute and LOVING the entire menswear collection presented on Thursday by Marni as guest designer of Pitti Uomo.
|Helena Rubinstein holding one of her masks from the Ivory Coast, 1934. Photograph: George Maillard Kesslere. Helena Rubinstein Foundation Archives, Fashion Institute of Technology, SUNY, Gladys Marcus Library, Special Collections.
I have been waiting for months, with very bated breath, for Helena Rubinstein: Beauty is Power at The Jewish Museum. It finally opened in October, and I just managed to get myself there after a super busy fall. It was indeed worth the wait. I have long been fascinated by Helena Rubinstein, a self-made global cosmetics magnate, entrepreneur, art collector and patron. She had a brilliant 60-year career and, arguably, single-handedly changed the way beauty and beauty products and treatments were perceived and made accessible in the first half of the 20th century. She also significantly set the standard for the salon as experience, hers each uniquely designed and filled with works of art. This stunning exhibition presents some 200 objects from Rubinstein’s personal collection, including paintings, jewelry, and clothing, as well as advertisements and samples from her cosmetics line. She was an early and important collector of African and Oceanic sculpture, which is amply represented in the show. She was also friend to and subject for many European modernists whose work, including a number of portraits of Rubinstein herself, form an essential part of the installation. Standouts for me were the selection of Helena Rubinstein products and packaging and the numerous beauty manuals and books she wrote. And there was something about her Venetian Rococo Mirror that drew me in, so personal and so evocative and reflective of a remarkable life lived, in absolute beauty.
|Mourning ensemble, 1870-72, American, Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; Gift of Martha Woodward Weber, 1930. www.metmuseum.org
I am so pleased that the Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art has once again presented a fall exhibition and that the lower level galleries are firmly back in use! Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire is a fantastic installation and felt very much to me like a total work of art, with gorgeous period music in the background and a 19th-century female silhouette slowly moving along the wall. The years considered are 1815 to 1915 and the dresses are marvelous. I especially loved seeing a mourning dress worn by Queen Victoria herself which, of course, gave one a very real sense of her stature. There are three paintings on silk, one of which is a portrait with embroidery, that I found rather enchanting. But my favorite pieces, however, were the jewelry, stunning and so romantic — rings and necklaces with locks of hair or miniature portraits that quite intimately honored the departed.
Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire is on view through February 1, 2015.
AS A PIONEER OF GLOBAL SUSTAINABLE FASHION, ART MUST IMITATE LIFE. HAVE THESE ETHICS ALWAYS BEEN A PART OF YOUR LIFE AND WAS THERE A PARTICULAR MOMENT THAT LED YOU TO FOCUS YOUR WORK SOLELY ON RESPONSIBLY-MADE, ORGANIC CLOTHING?
My mother and father influenced the way I evolved because they allowed me to do whatever I wanted from a very young age – I’m talking 10 years old – I went to what was commonly known as a “free school” in the 1970s. So NOTHING shocks me – I have pretty much either seen or heard or read about every concept, food movement, political shift of the past 200 years if not more.
Posterity and the cycle of time is of great interest to me. I bought my farm in 1987 after that crash – I’d done the 80s and saw the results – dark streets – failed businesses – very few people who were 25 years old were moving to upstate New York – most people were leaving – so I’m a bit of a contrarian in that way – now they call us the early adapters. I call it seeing the writing on the wall. Abandoned buildings, old unused farms were my catnip and also a huge fashion inspiration – so when I voiced the American Gothic collection September 2008 and said the crash was here, people thought I was nuts as I was planning that – and 2 weeks later all hell broke loose. If people carefully look at each season the message and the intent is clear and obvious.
When the world shifted from 20th century to 21st century and I was at a loss to really comprehend how I could be relevant, I was inspired and directed by a higher power to do what it believed in – and throw caution and planning to the wind. I also knew exactly what I wanted as I slowly thought about the work and designed only what I absolutely believed in.
YOU HAVE RECENTLY BEGUN TO OFFER BEAUTIFUL PIECES FOR THE HOME THAT VERY CLEARLY REFLECT THE SENSIBILITIES OF ORGANIC, EACH DESIGNED, MADE AND SELECTED WITH GREAT INTEGRITY. WHAT’S NEXT FOR JOHN PATRICK AND ORGANIC BY JOHN PATRICK?
I think that we are focusing on talking directly to our community and people who share our values and understand the inherent value of a very plain New York State handmade box that took me half a year to develop – my work tends to be invisible because I am very very stubborn and have a hard time with anything that’s flashy.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU MOST RIGHT NOW?
I am inspired by people who do what they believe in well.
Sometimes sadness brings me joy – fleeting memories of simple conversations. And my partner of 30 plus years Walter and our border collie Kip bring me the greatest joy of all – just being together at home – Kip is getting goats in the spring!!!
I am thankful that I actually was given a name!
FINISH THIS SENTENCE. MY AGE IS…………….
WHAT’S FOR DINNER TONIGHT?
Depends what the fish of the day is down in Pescadero, Baja Sur where I am going today to catch the waves – “Fish taco”!!! 🙂
Inspired by the glorious snow last week, I watched Downhill Racer for the very first time. Filmed entirely in Switzerland, France and Austria, it is so stylish, so raw and so completely of the moment — 1969. And young Robert Redford in the Alps… I loved it.
Monk with a Camera: The Life and Journey of Nicholas Vreeland opens today at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. This fascinating-looking documentary is about Nicholas Vreeland, grandson of Diana Vreeland, who eschewed a life of privilege and glamour in favor of a life of service as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. An Irving Penn-trained photographer, Vreeland’s sublime images of monastic life and life in India preserve, both financially and culturally, the monastery where he lives and studies and the Tibetan community at large. I’m definitely heading to Lincoln Center this weekend.
It’s so cold today, finally! I’ve had my eye on these two beauties for a while now from NEEMIC and The Row. If you don’t already know about NEEMIC, do take a closer look. A leader in the sustainability movement in China since its inception in 2011, NEEMIC sources both certified organic fabrics and also remainder materials from the high-end fashion industry, AND is a co-founder of the Hong Kong organic textile association and AgraChina, an organization that promotes organic agriculture. I’m sold.
I just discovered that John Patrick, one of my favorite designers both stylistically and ethically, now has a home collection. Not surprising, this beautifully curated assemblage is a perfect extension of Organic by John Patrick’s sensibility and integrity. What am I craving right now? These gorgeous Italian linen and cotton napkins.
The Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris’s newest museum of contemporary art, finally opened yesterday to the public. Designed by Frank Gehry and over 12 years in the making, the Fondation Louis Vuitton resides at the edge of the Jardin d’Acclimation in the Bois de Boulogne. Assuming the form of a massive vessel, the structure is made of 3,600 glass panels creating 12 sails. And although the design is fully of this century, the tremendous use of glass is a very intentional nod to late 19th-century garden architecture (think Grand Palais). The glass is also, quite clearly, in reverence for the natural beauty that surrounds it. Its inaugural event was rightly Nicolas Ghesquière’s presentation of the Louis Vuitton Spring 2015 collection during Paris Fashion Week. Opening programs include an exhibition of Gehry’s designs (sketches, models) for the Fondation and the construction of the building itself, a selection of works from the FLV collection, and a stellar series of concerts and live performance. Fingers crossed I’ll get there in 2015…