NY trip report!

Discussion in 'PUBLIC Vintage Fashion Q & A' started by Jonathan, Apr 8, 2004.

  1. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    Well, back from our quickie New York trip and before I forget, here is the rundown of some must sees when you are in NY.

    1) Christopher Dresser exhibition - Cooper Hewitt
    Wonderful museum -- in the old Carnegie mansion, and always a treat to visit. THeir exhibition until mid July is a show about Christopher Dresser, mid - late Victorian ornamentalist/designer heavily influenced by Japanese design, and one of the first designers to propel Art Nouveau into the forefront. No clothing, and not too many textiles, but there are some wonderful samples of Art Nouveau fabric he designed amidst his Victorian Deco silver teapots and brightly coloured pottery vases.

    2) Neue Gallery - the newish Neue gallery in New York! German and Austrian designs mostly from the turn of the century, including a lot of Weiner Werkstatte jewellery in an original case from a fashion atelier in Vienna. Really wonderful objects and a superb museum, with a special exhibition of German Expressionist art on loan from the Berlin museum. An absolute must is the cafe Saborsky - a turn of the century style Austrian cafe in the building that is so good even New Yorkers patiently wait in line to get in!

    3) Museum of Sex - yup, you heard me right! Its the newest museum in New York, done on the cheap, but is an art gallery/museum approach to the taboo topic. Not for the faint of heart. Full frontal and suggestive imagery is not spare. On the top floor is a superb exhibition on the history of Chinese eroticism and sex. How sex was viewed under Taoist, Confuscist, Buddhist, and Maoist beliefs. The role of sex in the emperor's palace, concubines, Beijing opera rent-boys, Shanghai sex trade and even homages to the Cheong-sam as a modern, sexy but demure form of clothing for the modern Chinese woman of the 1920s and 30s. Of course, about 1/4 of the exhibition focusses on the history of the binding feet and its erotic implications. Well done exhibition that is cleverly mounted with little money spent on fancy presentation. My only problem with the exhibition is that it ends on a whimper, not a bang (never a good thing in a sex related topic...)

    4) FIT - Well, I don't know how much I can rave about two exhibitions on display at the moment at FIT. The throw-away upstairs exhibit curated by students is a history of perfume called "Joy, Scandal, and Temptation" It is mostly from the collection of one woman who has acquired virtually every known perfume bottle and related packaging from 1850 to 1950. There is a BIG hole in the exhibit in the 1950s - 1990s, and then one case to end off the exhibition of modern products. It is overwhelming to say the least, but the collection just keeps giving and giving! Of interest are a number of perfume bottles with hat lids by Rose Valois, a Parisian milliner of the 1930s - 1950s (I didn't even know she had a perfume!), every example of Schiaparelli's fantastically bottled perfumes, and scads of gorgeous Victorian scent bottles including Imperatrice - the perfume made for Empress Eugenie in 1850. I believe every perfume from every major PAris couturier is on display. The exhibition actually suffers from having too many artifacts! As they would say in the perfume industry - there are too many notes!

    The other exhibition, in the basement, is the WOmen COuturiers between the wars exhibition. The premise is that between Poiret and DIor, there was nearly 3 decades of fashion dominated by powerful, talented female designers, something that has not happened before, or since. While there is some truth to the statement, the premise of the exhibition is explored no further than an opening statement, but consists of essentially just many examples of great clothes, including two examples I recognized as having been sold on ebay in recent years. The first dress is a Harem dress from Poiret, looking rather costumey and unimpressive, then a couple of garments from the leaders of this female group (Chanel and Schiaparelli), and finally a dress from Dior's 1947 New Look collection. The first gallery pays homage to some of the early female deisgners of the pre 1920 period, like Callot Souers and Boue Souers, and the second gallery shows a further 79 examples of dresses from Alix, Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin, Augustabernard, Louisboulanger, and others. I counted 17 examples from Vionnet, 8 of Chanel, 3 of Shiaparelli, and I forgot to count how many from Jeanne Lanvin (including a black ruffled evening dress from the 1930s recently sold on ebay). But some of these better known designer's clothes are outshone by even more spectacular examples from lesser known designers like Madeleine et Madeleine, Yteb, Ceruit, and others whose names I have already forgotten. An absolutely spectacular Madeleine et Madeleine Isis evening dress from 1923 that is floor length, almost hobbled in effect from the way the skirt is draped is set off by flying bands of beads in turquoise, coral and gold as well as a loop of beads running from shoulder to shoulder but extending to the buttocks in the same are set off by a HUGE winged god motif beadwork panel right on the crotch -- this was vamp to the extreme -- total Theda Bara!

    BOth these exhibitions seriously lacked one major thing - a catalogue. And the woman's designer exhibition could have used something else to make it just a titch more monumental - perhaps more interpretive labels, or some accessories to set some of the plainer dresses off better. These are very minor points, the actual garments were superb.

    So those were the only museums we managed to squeeze into our 4 day visit this time. As usual, upon return from New York, my feet hurt, my bank account is empty, and even though I ate like a king I still lost 4 pounds from all that walking. Speaking of which the cafe in the men's store of Bergdorf Goodman is delightful and not terribly expensive. We checked out what was being pushed for spring, and for men it includes a lot of bar code striped shirts, hip length trench or Burberry style beige raincoats, pastel satin ties, almond shaped toe shoes (the square toe seems to be finally dyeing out). We didn't look too closely at women's clothing, but pink and mint green are definatley "IN".
  2. pastperfect2

    pastperfect2 Trade Member

    whoa - that's great report! An it sounds like a fabulous trip!

    Since my next two trips out of town will have no fasion involved, I must live vicariously through other's!

  3. bartondoll

    bartondoll Guest

    Great report Jonathan! Like Hollis, it is great to live vicariously through
    other's sharing!

  4. When (if ever) are some of these exhibits closing? (don't have to give exact dates, but will they be there for days, weeks, years? Not all of us have trips to NY scheduled, but maybe it would be worth adding to an itinerary if one happens to be planning an excursion to the NE, or "just because."

  5. bigchief

    bigchief Alumni

    Thanks for the teriffic reviews, Jonathan! Not teriffic as in 'rave' (obviously), but it's always a pleasure to read a concise, fluent review written by someone with actual <i>point of view</i> :)

  6. Jonathan

    Jonathan Trade Member

    The Christopher Dresser show was in until July 25, the Neue gallery is permanent, although the German Expressionist exhibit was on loan, I can't remember for how long, sorry, FIT rotates their exhibitions 2 or 3 times a year I think, so the present couturier exhibition, which just opened, is on until the end of the summer (I think), the perfume one, I don't know. And the Museum of Sex exhibit on CHinese eroticism just opened last month, so I suspect it will be there for the summer.
  7. Beehive Vintage Goods

    Beehive Vintage Goods Trade Member

    Thanks for sharing. You've provided a fantastic run down of some interesting exhibits!!

    Sounds like you had a wonderful trip despite sore feet - but the sorer the feet the better the trip I say!
  8. ourbabyroo

    ourbabyroo Registered Guest

    I read this thread while I have the baby fussing in the background and the other kids squabbling and saying they are "bored" (on DAY #1 of a 10 day spring break, mind you!!)....and how I wish I could go to New York for the weekend and see all you have seen, Jonathan!!

    Another one who is living vicariously through others. :)


    P.S. Did you ever see Justine???
  9. Agree, here--fantastic report! A+ AND a smiley face. :) Tee hee. Very educational and fun! I'm not sure which is making me salivate more--the exhibits or the descriptions of the food! :)

  10. schoolsgirl

    schoolsgirl Registered Guest

    I need an emoticon that is GREEN with jealousy
  11. fuzzylizzie

    fuzzylizzie Trade Member

    I'm a real museum geek, so I really enjoyed your trip, Jonathan.

    I think it would be nice if we had a place for museum reviews.


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