May 29, 2014

Couturier Engineer

“Creation is simply a problem and design is the way out.”—Charles James

The Charles James show at the Met is a consummate marriage of resplendently architected gowns and other high fashion garments, and computer visualization. The latter truly adds value in revealing James’ brilliance as not only a designer but as an engineer of fabric, draped and contoured to feminine form. See his cloverleaf and tulip gowns. He was a multidimensional talent, who imbued his work with a sophisticated knowledge of materials, mathematics (tessellation and even fractals), and a respect for the inner sensuality—his gowns, especially—could evince from his high society female subjects.

“What, after all, is the true function of fashion but to be a rehearsal for propagation? Rehearsals, we might better say.”

The exhibit, set in nocturnal light, is also illuminated by some of James’ colorful bons mots.

imageTwo things that I rued about the show: Photography was forbidden and so was throwing myself all over the gowns to touch and be enveloped by their splendor.

May 13, 2014

Brimfield, Opening Day

imageA return to the Woodstock of the antiques and collectibles world, Brimfield in mid-Massachusetts. Today, the first day, the dealers were blissful, the buyers so sated. A sensorial all-you-can-eat buffet that spans perhaps a mile, it is exhilarating to take in the profusion of stuff, amusing to see the absurd combos of items in arbitrary tableaux, and inspiring to experience the exploding encyclopedia of textile prints and typography. Warholian spores wafted and pervaded the fields of booths. What popped out for me thematically were needlepointed items, giant versions of things, vintage military, work and sports uniforms, technical tools, stripes, jewelry from all eras and countries, gardening decor and vessels, beaded and non-beaded handbags, and barkcloth. Even though there were enterprising porters dragging rickshaws of choice hauls, many attendees had to sit, retreat and regroup from the long day of stimuli and transacting.

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