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Tag Archives: Vogue

 

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  • Arts & Culture

    Edith Wharton by Design

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    800px-The_Mount,_view_from_Edith_Wharton_bedroom

    The Mount, Lenox, Massachusetts. View from Edith Wharton’s bedroom. Photograph: Magicpiano.

    People who live in New York might agree that there is very little reason to find yourself between Fourteenth and Forty-Second Streets unless you absolutely have to. Go past Union Square, and you’re liable to bump into everything from confused tourists to people selling knockoff Louis Vuitton and Fendi bags worse than the ones you can purchase on Canal Street in Chinatown. The twenties into the thirties can look like a never-ending row of scaffolding at certain stretches, with C-grade delis and fast food chains hidden beneath, leading you finally to the terrifyingly bright lights of Times Square.

    For the better part of the decade in which I’ve lived in New York, this experience is probably what has kept me from the middle of the city. But when I moved from Brooklyn into Manhattan, and started taking daily walks up the various avenues from the West Village to an office on Twenty-Eighth,  I began to learn the history of certain buildings I passed along my way: admiring the townhouse at 28 E. Twentieth Street where President Theodore Roosevelt was born; the splendor and history of Gramercy Park; the row of buildings in the Flower District that seems unremarkable, until you realize that this block of Twenty-Eighth between Fifth and Sixth was once known as Tin Pan Alley, and filled the American Songbook. With each block, the twenties became more and more magical, especially on the days when I managed to avoid the crowds scuttling down the sidewalks—those less hectic New York days when I could look up and admire the various gargoyles and the golden dome of the Sohmer Piano Building. The architecture of the twenties distracted me from my daily grind, but it was on an evening trip to the grocery store that the area I once shunned suddenly took on an entirely new meaning. That night I noticed the red plaque on a doorway next to a Starbucks at 14 W. Twenty-Third Street that read, “This was the childhood home of Edith Jones Wharton, one of America’s most important authors.” Read More

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  • Fashion & Style

    Subversive Chic: Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada

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    Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada use girlish sensibilities to subvert expectations of age-appropriate dressing.

    With fashion, true love isn’t about the money. It’s about the conversation. By that I mean decoding the statements on the runway each season and bringing them into culture simply by going about my everyday life. Conversing with someone on the street using the lines and proportions of our clothing: “Nice denim rip. You layered two T-shirts? That collar/hemline/texture is slightly off, and I like it.” I learned how to read these cues and appreciate making odd bits look chic from studying the work of Miuccia Prada.

    The other day, I tried explaining to a friend whose primary associations with Prada are 1998 Jay Z lyrics (“I like a lot of Prada, Alize and vodka”) why this summer I took pleasure in making a boys lacrosse penny elegant for evening. I picked it up in a Maryland thrift store for two dollars. To most, a practice jersey is as far from a fete like the MoMA’s Party in the Garden as one could get. In that crowd, if you say P.S. you mean Proenza Schouler, and Stella is followed by McCartney more often than Artois.

    I wore it underneath a silk blazer, with a skirt of tiered fringe. The empowerment I felt was real—there is something about taking a garment of unexpected origin and making it reference something completely new (look at Alexander Wang’s brilliant athletic-inspired collection this season) that excites me.

    I think of Prada as being synonymous with intelligence and controlled tension; the pith of confidence. Her clothes remind me that I haven’t seen everything, and even on a Hannah Horvath budget, I try to maintain allegiance to her pursuit of self-defined beauty. I feel strong taking a risk, and every morning I try to assemble a look that would make Miuccia say, This is right.

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  • Fashion & Style

    At the Bazaar

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    Ralph Gibson, Caroline Winberg (Harper’s Bazaar, May 2005).

    It’s easy to overlook that Vogue, seemingly eponymous with the word fashion, debuted after Harper’s Bazaar, America’s first fashion magazine. Steeped longer in the Victorianism that defined the nineteenth century, Bazaar set about cataloguing the changes that an era of colonialism and industrialization brought to women’s dress. The original weekly (titled Harper’s Bazar) saw its first printing in November of 1867, as a slim, sixteen-page newsprint volume featuring drawings and articles on every aspect of fashion. The news item “Colors” reads more like an issue of political importance. (“Bismarck, or gold-brown, is the prevailing shade, and reappears in some guise almost every where. The new shades of green are its only formidable rivals. The deep green known as ‘Invisible,’ now called ‘Mermaid,’ is in great favor.”) An early cover from an 1868 issue shows hand-drawn hairstyles alongside paper-doll-like figures, nodding at French sophistication with hairdo trends like the “diadem of curls” and the “fleur de lis coiffure of braids.”

    Harper’s Bazaar: A Decade of Style” at the International Center of Photography catalogues the transformations that technology of a different sort wrought on women’s bodies. The collection of more than thirty images—vivid color photographs from the past decade under editor Glenda Bailey—features work by famed fashion photographers such as Patrick Demarchelier, Terry Richardson, and Peter Lindbergh, as well as art-world luminaries like Nan Goldin and Chuck Close.  Read More

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  • On Design

    Fashion Week, 1947

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    Gertrude Stein and model in Pierre Balmain’s salon, with Rosamond Bernier in the background. Photograph by Horst P. Horst.

    When the French fashion houses began to open again in 1946–47 after World War II and the occupation, American magazines thought it worthwhile to send people over to report on them. I was one of those people. I edged into the fashion world almost sideways. I thought I was going to write art features when I was recruited by Vogue. But Mrs. Chase thought otherwise, and her word was law.

    I found myself on one of those first transatlantic flights that stopped over for the night at Gander, Newfoundland, to refuel. You rested, fully dressed, in one of a line of cots in a kind of barracks. My immediate neighbors were a group of Dominican monks—Italian, no English. I had studied Italian a long time ago in college but had had no opportunity to practice. I could only remember a few lines of Dante, about returning from hell, not much of a conversational opener. I tried it out, anyhow, and got a gratifying response.

    My traveling companion was a small, angelic, and gifted artist who was the magazine’s dessinateur. He went under the name of Eric. My entire professional training was a hissed injunction as I left for the airport: “Keep Eric sober.” Keeping Eric sober turned out to be a major project, but if his gait was sometimes unsteady, his line never wavered.  Read More

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