Tuesday, April 7, 2015

High Style Exhibit & Tim Gunn Speaks!


High Style Exhibit

Last year I was excited to learn that the High Style exhibit was coming to the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. This exhibit contains garments from the Brooklyn Museum's (apparently extensive) costume collection.

A friend, Nora (my former Bus Buddy from Google), arranged an outing, with another former Googler, Joanne, to check it out. I don't get to the Legion of Honor too often, and this was the day before Easter Sunday. The Legion of Honor is perched high on the western end of San Francisco and enjoys breathtaking ocean views, at least when the weather permits. And it was cooperating on Saturday. (Sunday, however, was another story.)

Staircase at California & 31st. These gorgeous mosaics were added to these steps since the last time I was here several years ago.

Overlooking the Pacific Ocean

A Legion of Honor lion

Legion of Honor

I'm ready!

This exhibit fills several rooms and offers a survey of the history of fashion. It starts with dresses from the flapper era by the Callot Soeurs and Lanvin, and then moves through time, ending with Scaasi in 1985. A highlight was Charles James' work from the 1950s. Two rooms were dedicated to James, with special focus on the architecture of his Cloverleaf Dress, as well as some of his drawings and muslins. He bequeathed much of his in-process work to the Brooklyn Museum.

Here are some of the photos that I took, using my iPhone in poor lighting conditions. (Sorry they aren't better. If you catch any errors in the comments beneath the garments, please let me know and I'll correct them. I took photos of some of the placards, but not all, and I might have gotten a few facts mixed up.) There is an accompanying book for the exhibit, which I did not buy. (So let me know if you have it and love it.)

An unattributed French evening dress from 1925. "Pink silk georgette embroidered with pink bugle beads, iridescent shell-shaped palettes, gold metallic sequins, and rhinestones."

Jeanne Lanvin, Evening Dress, Summer 1923. "Silver lame; red, pink, blue, green, and chartreuse ombre ribbon embroidery; blue satin; silver gauze; and egret feathers."

You can easily see the Japanese (Geisha) influence on this dress.

This looks like a Fortuny, but I didn't photograph the card.

House of Worth, Evening Dress, 1907-1910. "Cream silk satin, silk tulle, and lavender silk chiffon embroidered with rhinestones, pearls, and crystal beads." Is this very Downton Abbey or what?

These wonderfully whimsical shoes (and the next two pair) are by Pietro Yantorny (1879-1936), the Manolo Blahnik of his era.

One of my favorite historical designers is Elsa Schiaparelli. She was famous for her Trompe d'oeil ("fool the eye") and highly whimsical designs. This day dress looks is decorated with seed packet motifs. "Dress, 1939-1941. Powder-blue plain-weave cotton and polychrome seed-packet appliqués."

This beautifully tailored, close fitting, rather severe-looking suit, also by Schiaparelli, is decorated with grand piano buttons.

My attempt to get a close-up of the grand piano buttons on Schiaparelli's suit under dim lighting.

My favorite Schiaparelli piece in the exhibit. Necklace, Autumn 1938. "Clear Rhodoid and metallic green, red, pink, blue, and yellow painted pressed metal ornaments. Rhodoid (cellulose acetate plastic) was a newly developed material that suited Schiaparelli's intent for this necklace, perhaps for her most macabre and certainly one of her most iconic designs. The work's transparent foundation creates the illusion that the insects are crawling directly not he wearer's neck. Yet Schiaparelli was not too heavy handed: the bright colors of the toylike ornament temper the repugnant effect." REPUGNANT?!?!? I'd wear this piece in an instant!

Another necklace by Schiaparelli. Necklace, Autumn 1938. Gilt metal with rust and green plastic enameling.

Christian Dior, Evening dress, 1952-1953. "Ivory silk net embroidered with plastic sequins, palettes, and pale pink horsehair."

Gilbert Adrian, "The Tigress" evening ensemble, 1949. "Black, beige, and orange silk taffeta chine and gold lame."

Sorelle Fontana, Evening ensemble, 1954. "Pink duchesse silk sating, black velvet appliqué, and pearlescent and iridescent sequins and beads. The Italian Fontana sisters worked in the same couture traditions as their French counterparts and, like them, they produced extravagant evening wear for society women and celebrities. In the 1950s, their work epitomized the decade's aesthetic for wasp-waisted bouffant gowns fashioned in luxurious fabrics. This dress was designed for the actress Ava Gardner to wear in the 1954 film The Barefoot Contessa, in which she plays a woman of humble origins who becomes a movie star and then a countess."

Coco Chanel, Cocktail dress, 1965. "Black silk chiffon, black satin ribbon, black silk crepe de chine, and black lace."

Shoe prototypes by Steven Arpad, 1947. I'd wear these in a heartbeat.

Another view of the Steven Arpad shoes. <swoon>

Steven Arpad, Shoe prototype, 1939. <double swoon>

Steven Arpad, Evening s hoes, 1939. "Black silk satin and patent leather, black painted and carved wood, and Baroque scroll shapes."

Hat by Sally Victor, 1952-ish.

More hats by Sally Victor. The hat on the left: "Matisse" hat, 1962. "The large upturned brim of this hat provides an ideal canvas for Victor's interpretation of the French artist Henri Matisse's century with cut paper forms affixed to canvas or paper."

Another hat by Sally Victor: "Designed in 1937, when Surrealism was at its peak, this hat imitates an elaborate braided hairstyle most likely inspired by coiffures from Africa, one of the parts of the world Victor referenced throughout her career. To steer the design from a too-literal interpretation, Victor used navy blue straw and white pique, which were traditionally stylish colors and materials for spring hats."

Middle dress: Madame Eta Hentz, dress, spring/summer 1944. "Navy and white rayon"

Look at the intersecting detail on this Madame Hentz dress!

Vera Maxwell ensemble, 1958. "Black-and-white wool jersey and charcoal-gray brushed wool."

The details on this Vera Maxwell ensemble are stunning. All of those buttonholes are bound buttonholes. The 3D cargo-style pockets, the tailoring... beautiful!

Bonnie Cashin, Evening dress, 1945. "Pink and cherry pink loose plain-weave raw silk and gold sequins."

I didn't photograph the placard for this one.

Mainbocher, Evening dress, 1950. "Purple sari fabric brocaded with a gold metallic leaf-and-paisley pattern." Mainbocher was known to enjoy working with unusual fabrics, such as this silk sari.

Another Mainbocher cocktail dress.

Arnold Scaasi, Evening ensemble, 1961. "Cream and silk satin dress printed with red and black polka dots; coat of red silk barathea."

Arnold Scaasi, Evening ensemble, 1983. "Brown and pink silk taffeta; pink silk organza." Scaasi is a whimsical designer, but I prefer the clever whimsy of Elsa Schiaparelli over the in-your-face whimsy of Scaasi.

Geoffrey Beene, Evening dress, 1965. "Purple-and-white printed plain weave silk."

I love the neckline on this Geoffrey Beene neckline...

... and the red scalloped hemline which is lined in red silk!

Halston, Evening dress, 1975. "Silk chiffon tie-dyed in yellow to orange ombre grid pattern with a green diagonal stripe."

Charles James, "Tree" ball gown, 1955. "Dark pink silk taffeta and red, pink, and white nylon tulle"

Charles James "Clover leaf" ball gown, 1953. "Pink silk faille, copy silk shantung, and black silk lace with ivory silk faille backing."

The exhibit opened several weeks ago and I've been surprised I haven't seen more chatter about it on the inter webs from other local bloggers. Either they haven't made it over there yet or maybe, since it encompasses such a wide range of history, it has less general appeal. I was more enthralled with the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit, for example, from several years ago, which really dived into the output of a single designer. But it was a nice outing and I enjoyed checking out the pieces and then comparing notes with Nora and Joanne (neither one sews) to see what they liked and why. Afterward, the museum cafe is a great place to sit, nursing a decaf soy latte, and catch up with friends.

Tim Gunn Speaks!

Last night, the Commonwealth Club hosted Tim Gunn as a guest speaker at The Castro Theater in San Francisco. I went to watch it live with fellow blogger, Jilly Be.

The ceiling of the Castro, an art deco masterpiece, and my favorite theater in San Francisco.

Tim was introduced by former Project Runway contestants: Alexandria von Bromssen, Emily Payne, and Richard Hallmarq.

It was a casual conversation between Tim Gunn and interviewer, Brad Rosenstein.

It was a fabulous evening! Tim was witty, thoughtful, insightful, candid, vulnerable, and tremendously entertaining. He sure enjoys calling Anna Wintour out on her diva behavior.

But you don't have to take my word for it, listen to the podcast!

Miscellaneous Updates

Vogue came out with their Spring 2015 patterns today. There are several that I really like, though I really don't have time to do a proper round-up. I am so happy to see Kathryn Brenne is now designing for Vogue, as it gives us more interesting options! Check them out!

On Sunday, I finished my current Britex project. mem took photos yesterday, but I haven't uploaded them yet. Stay tuned!

As usual, I'm having a heck of a time choosing my next project, and I have some big deadlines coming for work, but I am really excited about doing more spring sewing. (We finally had some proper rain today, and the weather has cooled a bit, but it still feels very much like springtime!)

Have a great week!