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September 3 2014

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11 posts tagged "Cecil Beaton"

Christian Dior in Black, White, and Color

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Cecil beaton dior

Christian Dior may have been reserved in person, but he left volumes of quotable lines about his work. One example: “Black and white could be enough.” Apt for this particular season, and also for the Christian Dior Museum in Granville, Normandy, where it is writ large on the wall at the exhibition Dior: The Legendary Images: Great Photographers and Dior, open through September 21.

“Museums are almost replacing books. [An exhibition is] like a living book, and that’s especially true for [ones about] fashion,” noted the show’s curator, Florence Müller (Though it should be note that Rizzoli has released a book corresponding with the show, and the tome is pretty impressive in and of itself.) “What’s beautiful about fashion photography is that beyond an iconic piece like the Bar jacket, you have the makeup, the look, and all the refinement of a time that makes you dream. In the end, it’s like a film. It’s magnified beauty.”

Black and white might well have been enough: Hollywood-worthy moments abound in the exhibition. Alongside the Bar suit is Pat England’s original shot of the ensemble at Dior’s first presentation of the New Look, which made the designer a star overnight in 1947; there’s Richard Avedon’s Dovima and the elephants; a Marc Riboud shot of Audrey Hepburn exuberant over a dress in 1959; an early fashion series by Irving Penn; house images by Willy Maywald; iconic images of the model Renée by Henry Clarke, Beaton, Blumenfeld, Newton, Demarchelier, and beyond—all in black and white. Then comes vibrant color, from the first fashion shoots in exotic locales by Norman Parkinson, Corinne Day, Sarah Moon, Steven Klein, Bruce Weber, Mondino, and Inez & Vinoodh, the duo behind the house’s current Secret Garden campaign. But rather than present Dior’s photographs chronologically, Müller sought to bridge past and present thematically, which led to a few surprises—not least a trove of color negatives freshly unearthed from the Elle archives.

Dior

“It’s always thrilling to rediscover something you thought you knew by heart,” notes Müller, who started by leafing through sixty years of fashion magazines—the French editions of Elle and Marie Claire and the archives of Vogue Paris and American Vogue. “In the case of the Bonbon dress from Dior’s winter 1947 collection, we found an image by Emile Savitry we’d never seen before—and then we realized we actually had the dress,” she notes. The Chantecler dress from the controversial 1954 ‘H’ collection is echoed in a vintage photograph by Clifford Coffin, a star lensman in his day (one of his photographs headlines the exhibition). The Trapeze dress from Yves Saint Laurent’s triumphant 1957 debut at Dior is front and center in one display. Another archival picture of a last-minute fitting of a dress once worn by Rita Hayworth finds an incarnation upstairs, in a 2012 iteration by Raf Simons.

“Exhibitions should be a spectacle—beautiful, strange, curious, bizarre,” said Müller, citing John Galliano’s Tibetan-inspired creation and his 1997 Masai-inspired outing. “When you stand back, you realize that a fifties dress could be contemporary, or that the contemporary creation was completely in the spirit of what M. Dior liked. You realize that fashion is not a museum,” Müller concluded. “It’s an ongoing conversation.”

Photo: Courtesy of Christian Dior 

Charles James Then and Now: An Artistic Interpretation

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Modern Day Charles James
Eight models wearing Charles James gowns, in French & Company's eighteenth century French paneled room

Not everyone at last night’s Met Gala knew the story of Charles James—not by a long shot. “He’s a new person for me,” admitted Hailee Steinfeld, who was utterly adorable in Prabal Gurung. “He’s someone I don’t know. I’m 25!” laughed a Michael Kors-clad Ming Xi when quizzed on the couturier. The evening’s DJ, Diplo, referred to Charles James: Beyond Fashion as “Fashion and the Thingamajig.” And when we asked Katie Couric about James, she jokingly replied, “I think he’s from the forties, isn’t he? Don’t ask me any more hard questions!” However, while not everyone was familiar with the details of James’ career, most everyone had seen the iconic 1948 Cecil Beaton photo, which features eight women in pastel James gowns. Or, as Hedwig and the Angry Inch‘s Lena Hall called it, “that Cecile photograph.” She made up for the slip with her charm, and by looking divine in a Jamesian Zac Posen number. “I’ve seen that photograph a lot. In fact, I think my mother has it on her wall. So when I saw that, I was like, ‘Oh, I guess I know more about him than I thought.’”

Gala chair Aerin Lauder had an even more personal story about the famed snap. “I own the Cecil Beaton photograph, but I didn’t know much about [James] before working on the event for a year.” It would seem many a starlet and socialite looked to said image for sartorial inspiration—so much so that we were able to re-create the photograph with some of the ladies from yesterday evening’s red carpet. Here, for your viewing pleasure, we give you a modern-day mockup of Beaton’s photo, starring TV chef and girlfriend to Governor Andrew Cuomo Sandra Lee’s gargantuan dress (a questionable blend of a James ball gown and his Butterfly design), Hall, Amy Adams, Katie Holmes, Liu Wen, Sarah Silverman, and more. You’re welcome.

Photos: Getty Images; Cecil Beaton, courtesy of the Met

Paris’ Musée Galliera Gets a New Show, More Dough

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Parkinson and Clarke

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.

Turbeville

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.

Photos: courtesy of the Musée Galliera

Draw Something: Fashion Illustration Takes the Spotlight

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Illustrations by David Downton, Gary Card, Zoe Taylor, and Antonio Lopez

Last night in London, Christie’s South Kensington auction house played host to an exhibition and discussion orchestrated by the Fashion Illustration Gallery (FIG). And while the audience sat through the Issa London-sponsored talk, whose panel included Christie’s Meredith Etherington-Smith, illustrator David Downton (whose work is pictured above, top left), and Style.com’s Tim Blanks, they were left wondering: Should astute art investors buy up fashion illustration in the same way the world should have snatched up early Basquiat or Koons? “Before Andy Warhol was Andy Warhol, he was a fashion illustrator,” said Etherington-Smith. “Fifty years ago, the art world debated whether photography was a bona fide art form, and the same is happening now with fashion illustration. I believe there is no doubt fashion illustration is an art, but a vastly underappreciated one.”

The art on display last night represented the old guard like Cecil Beaton, Antonio Lopez (above, bottom left), and Andy Warhol, as well as such new talents as Gary Card (above, top right), Zoë Taylor (above, bottom right), and Tanya Ling. Strange bedfellows? Not according to Downton. “Some of the younger fashion illustrators out there are the most skilled draftsmen,” he said. “They very much should take their place alongside the great artists of days gone.”

Among the questions thrown out to an audience that included Suzy Menkes, Camilla Al Fayed, and Susie Bubble: Will fashion illustration ever be accepted as an art form? And will magazine editors ever replace celebs for illustrations? Downton, perhaps, answered these queries best. “The illustration I did a few years back of Cate Blanchett for Australian Vogue was, against all odds, the fastest-selling issue of the year. It also won the Maggie’s Magazine Cover of the Year. After that, there was no doubt for me that there is a place in the art world for fashion illustration.”

FIG’s exhibition at Christie’s South Kensington runs through December 19.

Illustrations: David Downton, Gary Card, Zoe Taylor, and Antonio Lopez

Gaby Aghion to Receive the French Legion of Honor

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Gabi Aghion Following last year’s much-touted Chloé Attitudes retrospective in Paris, not to mention the world tour of its 60th anniversary book, Parisian house Chloé has achieved yet another milestone, or rather, its founder, Gaby Aghion has. The 92-year-old Egyptian-born designer, who launched Chloé in 1952, will receive France’s prestigious Legion of Honor in Paris on December 17, reports WWD. Previous recipients of the award include Azzedine Alaïa, Cecil Beaton, Josephine Baker, and Valentino Garavani.

Photo: Raymond Aghion