Olivier Saillard has struck again. For Papier Glacé, the second exhibition he has curated at Paris’ newly renovated Musée Galliera, Saillard riffled through one hundred years of Condé Nast’s photography archives, pulling mainly from a handful of international Vogues (American, British, German, French, and Italian), to spin a selective history of fashion-as-dialogue. The 150-image show scans like a who’s who of 20th-century lensmen: Images by De Meyer, Horst, Clark (above, right), Schatzberg, Penn, Man Ray, Parkinson (above, left), Beaton, Blumenfeld, Lindbergh, Meisel, Turbeville (below), and Weber, among others, feature in the show. The snaps are accompanied by a dozen or so dresses and accessories, such as an evening coat by Doucet (1913), a Mondrian cocktail dress by Yves Saint Laurent (1965), and a red molded bustier on loan from Issey Miyake (1980).
“Fashion-related exhibitions so often tend to run chronologically, looking toward the past,” offered Paris Vogue editor Emmanuelle Alt, “whereas a magazine comes out every month, it’s life, and it’s constantly changing. [With this show] you see what each brings to the other.” Saillard concurred, noting that fashion magazines are akin to archeologists.
For Alt and for Paris Vogue, the eighteen months spent collaborating on Papier Glacé was far from an end in itself. Rather, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the nearly one hundred-year-old publication, with the establishment of the Vogue Paris Fashion Fund—a new initiative that will allow the Galliera to make new acquisitions, be they photographs, garments, accessories, or beyond. Launched with a contribution of 100,000 euros, the fund will be renewed annually and receive additional backing via fundraising.
When asked for his wish list, Saillard offered names ranging from Margiela to Corinne Day, Comme des Garçons, Junya Watanabe, Iris van Herpen, and Jurgen Teller. “I am always interested in auteurs. To look at our archives, you’d think that everyone has always worn Balenciaga,” he quipped. “I plan to shop myopically: Sometimes the exceptional can be found in an ‘ordinary’ shirt.”
It’s a fair bet that spending the Galliera’s first windfall won’t be too difficult for Saillard, but new acquisitions will be kept under wraps until July 9, the night of the first Vogue Paris Fashion Fund gala event, during haute couture.
The Creative Force Behind an Extraordinary New Book on Veruschka Discusses Fashion Film, Fashion Egos, and Fashion Icons
A friend of mine likes to say that the name of the greatest art director in the world begins with an A—by which he means “A” for Accident. He insists that it is often a chance impulse or encounter that produces the most interesting work. Such is certainly the case with the latest project from Antonio Monfreda—another exceptional art director whose name begins with an A. At a dinner party in Rome, Valentina Moncada told Monfreda that she had discovered a cache of old photos taken by her father, Johnny. The cache in question, stored in dusty boxes, turned out to be three thousand early pictures of Vera von Lehndorff, the German model who would later come to be known to the world simply as Veruschka. A week later, Monfreda walked out of the offices of Rizzoli in New York with a book contract in hand. The resulting volume, Veruschka: From Vera to Veruschka, is a showcase for some very modern-looking sixties Italian fashions, Florence and Sardinia when they were still mostly undiscovered, and—above all—the transformation of Von Lehndorff from an angular young ingenue into the icon who would later entrance photographers like Avedon and directors like Antonioni. “She is the most mysterious model of the sixties,” says Monfreda, analyzing Veruschka’s appeal. “She has the kind of beauty that is chameleonic. It’s the same kind of quality you find nowadays in Kate Moss, the ability to transform in a very natural way in front of the camera.”
If serendipity played a part in the book, it has also been a theme in Monfreda’s career. He started out as an art dealer, but he was looking to switch to the creative side when he had a meeting of the minds with Patrick Kinmonth, the opera director, exhibition designer, and artistic polymath. In short order, Monfreda found himself in New York, codesigning the Anglomania show at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum. Together, he and Kinmonth have conceived and installed some of the most memorable fashion experiences of the past decade, including the museum exhibition that accompanied Valentino’s forty-fifth anniversary celebration in Rome and Making Dreams: Fendi and the Cinema, a magically immersive show that took over an abandoned theater in Milan last fall and that will be resurrected in New York next year. And how does Monfreda, who divides his time between Rome and London, deal with the outsize egos he must encounter in his line of work? “That’s a good question,” he says with a laugh. “But sometimes it’s not just a question of power or egoism or nonsense. Egos sometimes have good things to say, and I listen.”
Along the way, Kinmonth and Monfreda’s interest in filmmaking has grown, and they recently established their own production house, The Visual Clinic, to address the needs of their luxury clients. Monfreda believes they can bring a “new energy and a new vision” to the field. In other words, we can look forward to many more happy accidents in the future. In the meantime, enjoy this exclusive short film that accompanies the book (above) and a slideshow of photos from the book that traces Veruschka’s journey as she emerges from a world of black and white into vivid color.
To me, the most telling event of Milan fashion week did not take place on a runway. It happened on the corner of Via Montenapoleone and Via Pietro Verri, and the news was relayed by a simple printed sheet of paper in the window of a shuttered store. G. Lorenzi has closed, it announced. “Permanently.”
Why should that matter? If you weren’t familiar with Lorenzi, how can I begin to tell you what it did? Well, here’s what it did. Lorenzi sold nail clippers. Lorenzi sold hairbrushes. It sold knives. It sold shoehorns. It sold shaving kits. It sold corkscrews. Downstairs in the basement, it even sold items of less quotidian usefulness, cigar cutters and the like.
But, trust me, this was not your everyday array of nail clippers. Lorenzi offered everything from the most basic stainless-steel model to the most exquisite horn-handled variety. Every item in the store was either made by Italian artisans or sourced carefully from around the world and then often given a unique finish in an Italian workshop. And it was all displayed in a way that was both straightforward and reverent under the watchful eye of a stern whited-bearded patriarch and a team of sales assistants who combined the humility of lab technicians with the seriousness of art curators. Look, I know the world has bigger concerns, but at a certain level, it’s high art to take the most mundane of tasks—my nails need cutting, I could use a shave—and elevate it into the most refined of pleasures.
Located on a prime corner of Via Montenapoleone, Milan’s Madison Avenue, Lorenzi seemed as much a part of the city’s fabric as the Duomo. Carla Sozzani, the proprietor of 10 Corso Como, the forward-thinking Milanese concept store, remembers the ritual of going to Lorenzi to buy Christmas gifts. The line would extend around the corner from the tiny shop, and she would see and chat with everyone she knew in Milan as they waited their turn. A little Internet sleuthing sent me to a Lorenzi in the Brera neighborhood that claims affiliation with the original, but it did not have the same charm, selection, or staff. It did not seem like the kind of place that would inspire queues.
I’m surprised that Milan’s textile tycoons, who have given millions of their own money to restore the nation’s monuments, haven’t stepped in. At a time when there is so much soul-searching going on about the country’s place in the fashion firmament and all the talk is of “Made in Italy” and the unique heritage encapsulated in that phrase, why let a place that represents the pinnacle of local craftsmanship disappear from the main drag? Why not follow the example of the Wertheimers, the owners of Chanel, who have saved specialized Parisian houses like Lesage from oblivion? Perhaps it’s not too late. Even if the economics of that particular spot no longer make sense, it seems the tradition should be preserved in some form.
In any event, the space that Lorenzi occupied for so long will not go unused. In due course it will begin a new chapter in its existence—it’s reportedly been leased to the Swatch group.
“It’s an opportunity to blow everyone’s minds,” grinned Costume Institute curator Harold Koda at the new (and very much so, as the paint was still drying) Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art yesterday morning. Koda was referring not just to the physical space, but the forthcoming inaugural exhibition, Charles James: Beyond Fashion. “He is generally acknowledged to be one of a handful of designers to have changed the métier of design,” said Koda of the innovative couturier. “Christian Dior has credited James with inspiring his New Look. And Balenciaga said, ‘James is not America’s best couturier; he is simply the world’s best.’ When you have the two perhaps most important male designers of the mid-20th century endorsing you, you can understand that it’s something of a lack that the general public is not aware of this man’s work.”
Yesterday’s press conference provided a small window into what to expect in May’s exhibition. There was a curated collection of James’ original pieces on display: The deep red, seamlessly movable silk taffeta Tree dress he created for Marietta Peabody Tree (Penelope’s mother) in 1955 and the renowned Four-Leaf Clover ball gown, made for Austine Hearst and worn with a live-gardenia-covered jacket in 1953, were two. The jacket was re-created with the tech-ready help of architecture firm DRS. Elettra Wiedemann slipped into the 10-pound, strapless, curve-highlighting creation to give the attendees a sense of its ballroom twirl.
“[James was the] originator of the spiral-cut taxi dress. Advocator of the strapless. Inventor of the figure-eight shirt and puffer jacket. A waist that expanded after a meal. The no-cup bra,” asserted Koda, later telling Style.com, “[He] was really radical. He was an early proponent at a point where he made something that was difficult to understand very desirable. He treated the creation of clothing as an art. Even some of the greatest designers have said, ‘Oh, this is not an art. It’s a craft.’ Vionnet said, ‘I’m a dressmaker.’ Balenciaga, who used conventional tailoring and pushed it to the extreme, was still reliant on history. James wasn’t like that at all.”
The exhibition will open May 8 and run through August 10. It’s a move away from recent mass read, overtly pop culture, sexy Costume Institute shows—punk, the model, the supermodel, etc. A lesson in the underappreciated, indeed.
The Fall ’14 Ready-to-Wear collections are under way in New York, and will be followed by the shows in London, Milan, and Paris. Before the new clothes hit the runway, we’ve asked some of the most anticipated names to offer a sneak peek. Per usual, it’s a busy time for all—designers and fashion followers alike—so we’re continuing our split-second previews: tweet-length at 140 characters or less. Our entire collection of Fall ’14 previews is available here.
WHO: VPL, designed by Victoria Bartlett
WHERE: The World Wide Web
WHEN: Saturday, February 8
WHAT: “PROACTION is VPL’s movement toward performance and high-tech design. Continuing a dialogue true to VPL, examining what is commonly hidden.” —Victoria Bartlett. The designer sent us a detail shot of a Fall ’14 fabric, above.