Friday, April 29, 2016

Cornel Lucas at Fiorentini & Baker

Brigitte Bardot 1955

 Brigitte Bardot 1955

 Diana Dors 1955

 Joan Collins 1952

 Katherine Hepburn 1950

 Lauren Bacall 1958

Joan Collins 1951

Sultry ladies of that oh-so-seductive film-noir chic .. iconic images of Brigitte Bardot, Joan Collins, Katherine Hepburn, Lauren Bacall, Diana Dors and Marlene Dietrich. Intimate portraits revealing the glamour and allure of these beautiful women. 

Cornel Lucas, the legendary British photographer, the only photographer to win a BAFTA in honor of his work with film, will show his work in New York for the first time, celebrating his 92nd birthday with an exhibition at the Mercer Street boutique of Fiorentini & Baker at the invitation of Deborah Baker. The show runs through October 28.

How delicious ... Fiorentini & Baker boots, the playful ladies shown in the exhibition, all those boots! 

Fiorentini & Baker website link here.

Cornel Lucas website link here.

Silver gelatin prints on fiber based paper, all prints signed and stamped by the photographer, all vintage prints printed by the photographer.

$5000 vintage 20x16
$3000 vintage 12x10
$2500 modern 20x16

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Foreward by Anna Piaggi

"A confection herself as an object not to be touched: hats with light bulbs going off and on, a wave of gray-black hair cut to wind its way from the hairline to the eyebrows." Anna Piaggi. 

"A fine poet of clothes." Bill Cunnigham

"Her pages are the reason to read Vogue." Manolo Blahnik

Toasting with champagne is a thing I love and I've always dreamed of being godmother to an Ocean Liner. The christening of this book calls for a special celebration: the deck is prestigious and the cargo exceptional.

Forty Italian designers have gone on board, preceded and followed throughout their journey by a festive fanfare. The press cheers, as they might have done at the arrival and departure of the golden stars of the Hollywood ere; a crowd of fans on both sides of the ocean is ready to swear by their elegant rules.

That's how it is: they are all wrapped in a magic halo of miracles or hard-won achievement, talent or brilliant craftsmanship, professionalism or trance, imagination or high-technology and it all comes in reams of silk, mind-boggling yarns, velvet-smooth leathers and unfathomable patterns. Neatly packed into an army of trunks, it travels around the world under a single, unmistakable label: the Italian Look.

When I think of the glorious and animated history of the Italian Look, a host of episodes and images appear before my eyes: a model standing on top of a Land Rover in the courtyard of the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence, wearing one of Lancetti's military coats, Verushka in a Ken Scott tiger print, on the grand stairway of the Brera, Walter Albini's '40's styles photographed in front of Kafka's home in Prague, in that fateful May of 1968, Ali MacGraw in a Capucci in Tivoli, models in Missoni pullovets waving starter flags, an Emilio Pucci against a sunset in Baalbeck. There were many hours spent with Alfa, sitting at the Biffa Scala cafe or at the Giamaica bar, eagerly flipping through the bibles of fashion: designs by Galitzine and Forquet, perfect graphisms for Scavullo's pictures at the EUR or in Bomarzo; Ferragamo shoes transformed into abstract space-age designs by Hiro's camera. In the reign of pure photography, nothing was more essential or desirable than a crisp Nattier fabric or Simonetta's sculptured look, especially if the model happened to be Isabella Albonico, Iris Bianchi, Tilly Tizziani, Mirella Petteni or Isa Stoppi.

Fashion and the mood that went with it gave the image its impact: an image drawn from a ritual of secrets, inventions and a special chemistry, fluctuating with the ever-changing tide of the fashions, faces and looks of the time. In the great carousel of this improvised replay, I can suddenly see Suzy Blakeley dancing in one of Valentino's Cruise outfits at the photographer Pierluigi's studio in Rome, in front of Chris von Wagenheim's camera, then Silvano Malta's New Orleans style, Caumont's Art Deco, the sexy-exotic-peasant girls, a Rolls Royce and a pair of skates, a cheerleader and a lesbian. Ah! the thrill of the cast, the themes, and dresses of the Italian Look, seen slightly unrealistically, as I have always seen them, through the eyes of a camera.

The ultimate test for dresses really comes when you photograph them: for me they should have a soul, create a mood, leave a souvenir, exude luxury or misery and carry a message from those who designed them to those who wear them. It's like an intimate relationship, technique counts but love and a sense of humor are essential. Designers, then, bear the important responsibility of communicating an idea. Theirs is like a secret society, a special ethnic group made up of pioneers, a few inventors and a few poets. The strongest is the one who can thrill you with a dress, the way Walter Albini's early designs used to thrill me.

When a dress seen through a camera feels void, I often decide to transform it, giving it some meaning, some character.

And for an incurable romantic like myself, who believes that every dress must be a story, things couldn't be better: never as in the past few years, the words, pages and chapters of Italian stories, on racks, runways, jets and in magazines and store windows, stories bought, sold, worn, paraded, shown off, celebrated, have built up such a formidable saga of influential fashion.

And the protagonists of these real stories are the forty designers of dresses and accessories portrayed in this book.

It's important to get to know them: we're in their hands. They hold the key to the past and future of the Italian adventure in fashion. They have created a group image which was once the prerogative of artists and architects.

They are the new phenomenon and the new elite.

Anna Piaggi

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Monday, April 25, 2016

Louboutin, Big Old Lines, Neiman Marcus and Love


Just another designer showing at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills? I think not!!! That 2pm - 4pm signing?  It looked like the line at Studio 54 back when Bianca and Halston were dancing and smoking. Counting the red soles was beyond possible as the perfumed Louboutin-clad ladies and that cool dude (Jackson holding his shoe box lid and yes he wore his basic Loubs, not the spiked leopard spotted ones or his way-mean black and spiked version) visiting the heart of the Loub madness only to discover Neiman's doesn't do mens Loubs (how many times can I stick that in one sentence, oh grammar fairy help). At the very end of the line chatting it up with the coolest Neiman's shoe salesman, that line ended with me being told, since it didn't move at all in the twenty minutes I patiently waited, that it would probably be 6pm before all were signed. Ladies (and a couple of guys) wanting their red soles signed. 

Party time as cute waiters passed out drinks to the line snaking past accessories into cosmetics and perfume. Parking lots and valet completely filled, no more room signs planted. Jackson and I left, sad we'd missed the Manolo Blahnik event in the '90's when he signed shoes there, male models reclining in gigantic fishtanks clad in white Speedos. Events, Disneylandish big things and fun to get the shopper back in the shop.

Graffiti and urban art, gorgeous and impactful in the week that David Choe, link is to my post, cashed out to the tune of $2,000,000.00; after Mark Zuckerberg had him do a few paintings on Facebook walls, David agreed to be paid in Facebook stock not cash. Delicious paydays are what dreams are made of and he can now buy all the Loubs he wants.

Having valet parked, keep the Jeep up front please, at a different Wilshire Boulevard department store, we walked through the mens store and counted three shoppers. A for lease empty shop next door. Not easy days for let's-retail-like-it's-1999.

Urban art is a whole lot like Holga pictures: each is interesting but not all are important. Between Banksy and Marc Jacobs working with Stephen Sprouse on the graffiti-inspired LV pieces, it's here to stay and if you have a teenage boy, chances are you need to check his socks for hidden markers.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The 'Extravagants' Of The Market: A Diana Vreeland Memo

Memo from Diana Vreeland
February 24, 1969
I think that the most completely constructive thing that Vogue can do for its readers is when we show a group of inexpensive clothes for summer — we do a group of really cheap dresses.... for example — JUNE if we can do 10 pages of dresses for under $30.00.
You say it is not possible to dress for under $30.00.......
To put it frankly, everybody wears them — it is just that we don't show it.
Whose market will have these clothes? I am speaking of Banlon houses like Nestroy, etc. I cannot believe that by interesting a certain group of the market — perhaps they are Kezia's houses — please — check — that people would be interested in doing something for us as this special price.
With health, a good figure and brown skin in the summer, people should spend very little money on their clothes.
Could these people investigate at once.... I understand that we are now through with the selection of the extravagants of the market... until we start going into autumn. By through, I mean we are through looking at them though certainly we will put some of the beautiful organzas in, etc....
Nylon, dacron, synthetics, hersey....
I would like to have an answer from each and every one of you as to where these things could be found, and what you are going to do about them....
In the case of Babs and Baron de Gunzburg — they will certainly say "this is not my market". The point is that it is your Fashion Department and you should make suggestions to the girls....
Mrs. Mellon can make suggestions from her shirt collection — the shirts done in cotton this summer.

Visionaire 37: Vreeland Memos [Box Set] [Hardcover]

The mysterious package  of over 400 memos dashed off by Ms. Vreeland to her secretary as she made up for the day, sent anonymously to Visionaire, became the red boxed set of 160 memos of Visionaire 37 in 2002. And made me fall in love with her all over again. Frivolous, imperious, whimsical and extraordinarily pragmatic ... her delicious why don't you's and joyful understanding that perhaps even a color could define a season and all the grand collections. 

Why not a summer dress, a cotton shirt, the "nylon, dacron, synthetics, hersey" ... (I think hersey referred to a particular textile manufacturer, not the name of a new fabric). 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Mick Jagger: Forever Young

David Bowie's 65th birthday, Elvis Presley's 77th birthday and while it's not Mick Jagger's birthday, he is a hardy 68 years old.

Forever young ... but actually getting older. Azzedine Alaia, Rae Kawakubo, Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani, Ralph Lauren ... aging. 

Hogan McLaughlin .. twenty-two. Brilliant and coming up. His website here

Friday, April 15, 2016

Lovely Aesthetic Ghosts

"everyone needs aesthetic ghosts in order to live. " YSL

Ropes of pearls, little black dresses, white gloves, ruby red lips, Shalimar perfume, khaki and plain white T's, corsets, ballet flats, languid silk flowers, charm bracelets, Levis 501's fragile from so many washes, crisp white blouses, pencil skirts, black faille mules, armloads of bracelets, over-the-knee boots, smoky smudged eyes, a Kawakubo intricate skirt, a Rick Owens cardigan, crocheted shawls, black bad-ass skintight jeans ... the images don't change.  Always the things I bring home to fondly place next to others very like them.

My mother asked for extra butter on her popcorn and we always sat in the last row at the movies. I have to remember to ask others where they want to sit having come to understand that not everyone likes extra butter or the last row. When she was very weak and drifting away, those last days of hers, I showed her pictures of glamorous women in opulent evening dresses. She thought they were too revealing and she frowned. I sat on the carpeted floor of a store dressing room when I was small listening to her stage-whisper to another woman that she shouldn't chew gum in public. I looked away, not knowing that decades later I'd notice a woman chewing gum in the car next to me and those memories would rush back.

Life wasn't grand, not when you're wearing a navy school uniform with a (terrible) white blouse with an anemic Peter Pan collar and aren't allowed to roll your white socks down below your ankle and your saddle shoes are scuffed. I followed my mother through the basement at Ohrbach's where the copies from the Haute Couture hung and wondered whether she'd scowl at loose buttonhole threads or worse. It pleased and surprised me that salesladies were more eager to please my mother, bringing armloads of dresses for her consideration, than some of the other women shopping. She thanked them graciously, telling them she would think about a dress or two. 

It's a sunny day and perfect to see a movie, wander into a shop. I could use a white T, maybe black jeans, All Saints skinny black jeans that is.

Popovers ... Really

Neiman Marcus popovers are served hot from the oven, risen maybe 4" and accompanied by the most decadent amount of butter whipped with fresh strawberry preserves.


3 1/2 Cups of Whole Milk

4 Cups of All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 Tsp Salt

1 Tsp Baking Powder

6 Large Eggs, at room temperature

Place milk in bowl and microwave on high for two minutes or until warm to the touch (yes, of course you can gently do this in a saucepan but it leaves a scummy film that I hate cleaning)

Sift flour, salt and baking powder in a large mixing bowl

Crack eggs in another large bowl with an electric mixer  and whisk on medium for about three foamy frothy minutes (or whisk forever by hand, satisfying in a peculiar way but your arm must ache terribly before it's done). Turn down mixer speed to low and add warm milk

Gradually add flour mixture and beat for two minutes. Let batter rest at room temperature for about 1 hour

Preheat oven to 450 degrees

Spray popover pan generously with nonstick spray (yuck, really .. you can wipe with a nice light oil with a towel, what are nonstick sprays made of ???). Fill popover pans almost to the top with batter and place popover pan on cookie sheet. Transfer to oven and bake for 15 minutes before turning oven down to 375 and bake for 30 to 35 minutes more, until popovers are deep golden brown.

Remove from oven and pop out popovers on a cooling rack.

Serve with Strawberry Butter, yum.

To make the strawberry butter, place 1 1/2 cups of butter at room temperature in a bowl and beat in 1 cup of strawberry preserves. That's it.

Drag out gorgeous crisp white napkins and admire.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Exoticism of Rifat Ozbek

“Four or five years ago, if you were lucky enough to meet Robert Forrest, the marketing director for Rifat Ozbek, he would give you a ticket to see the fashions of the Turkish-born designer. The small showings were held in a loft in the unlikely-sounding Haunch of Venison Yard, an alley between Claridge's and Bond Street. Buyers and reporters would ascend four flights of stairs and enter a Turkish fantasy, where tea and fruit were served while models paraded Mr. Ozbek's exotic styles.
Now Mr. Ozbek has been in business for five years, and his shows have become the hot ticket in British fashion and one of the more compelling reasons for the fashion faithful to come to London at all.
He still operates out of Haunch of Venison Yard, but as a measure of his success this season Mr. Ozbek held two heavily attended fashion shows in a West London television studio.
The intensity of the debate over his fall collection - split down the middle between lovers and haters - is another index of his importance.
Mr. Ozbek has had to grapple with many of the problems that confront young American designers, as well as some that are peculiar to London. ''When our volume increased, we couldn't get the right commitments from our English contractors,'' Mr. Forrest said. ''They pushed the collection through in half the time, and it just wasn't made as well. It's part of the fashion malaise in English factories.''
The designer clothes are now produced under a licensing arrangement with Aeffe, an Italian manufacturer that also produces the Franco Moschino line. Mr. Ozbek's company, a partnership between him and Gulf International, expects to have about $4 million in sales this year of his designer clothes and his casual line, called O and made in Turkey.
Unlike other London designers, however, Mr. Ozbek is selling more and more to the United States, Mr. Forrest said. His largest accounts are Saks Fifth Avenue and Madeleine Galley, a Los Angeles store.”

Rifat Ozbek. British Designer of the Year  '88 and '92.
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