15.4.08

hit the ground running

Started off flying in a tiny plane from Toronto Island to New Jersey (much more fun than the direct route- it's cheaper, includes free cappuccinos, and the flight attendants wear blue pill box hats).

Landed at Newark and spent half an hour humming "Woke Up This Morning" by A3 while passing through the N. J. Turnpike and into the Lincoln Tunnel (Sopranos fans will understand).
Upon arrival in Greenwich Village, I dump my bag in the hotel room (perhaps more aptly described as a closet + sink, but who sleeps in NY anyway?) and dash out to explore the shops around Lower Fifth Avenue and Nolita. I restrict myself to window shopping only in Soho, but one day I'll treat myself...
After completing the annual spring stock up, I settle into a cafe by the very funky Parsons New School for Design, where I meet "Jamie the Giraffe" (below), admire the Vibskovish jumpers and colourful sneakers worn by male and female students alike, and pull out my notes to do some review for imminent finals.
Next on the list is Central Park to visit the horses, followed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The blog.mode exhibit caught me by surprise- I was saving it for last, but as I turned away from an immense stone sarcophagus in the Egyptian Wing, I found myself looking at Junya Watanabe's enormous honeycomb ruff, and a set of stairs leading downward.
Halfway down the stairs, past Galliano's crocodile dress, and Rei Kawakubo's highland getup (above), stood gowns by Yohji Yamamoto and Madame Grès (red and neutral) in all their exquisite, hand pleated glory. The two silver dresses are by Yeohlee Teng and Issey Miyake, respectively.
At the bottom of the stairs, I was notified that anyone taking pictures would be escorted out, so after getting busted trying to photograph the bodice of this Worth gown, I wandered around as innocently as possible, taking quick snaps whenever the maniacally anti-camera security were occupied elsewhere. As a result, there aren't as many photos as I had hoped (the hooded Alaïa sheath for example, and the Champs Elysées gown worn by Denise Poiret were stunning in person), but at least you can get an idea of the exhibit.
One of the earliest gowns was a blue Robe à la Française c. 1765, rumoured to descend from an Austrian lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette (15 years earlier, and it might have looked like this!).
Next is my favourite of the two; a similar design from c. 1775. I can just see Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, wearing this (minus the modest neckerchief) and taking tea with Valmont: "I've always known I was meant to dominate your sex and avenge my own..."
The simple cotton day dresses at right are from one of my favourite periods in fashion history, the 1820s - 1830s. The summer dress with bustle is from the 1870s. I can't imagine how stifled those women must have felt. A steel crinoline with bustle pads in addition to a corset must have been unbearable in hot weather.Moving away from angelic and into sinful, here are the Parisian fetish boots that were second on my Met list next to the Oyster Gown. I wish I'd found something similar in my great grandmother's keepsake trunk! (alas Finns have a very different sense of style than the French). These thigh high boots are particularly exciting to fashion historians because of their avant garde stilletoe heel. High, tapered heels weren't introduced to mainstream women's fashion until after the War.
Detail of Philip Treacy's elaborate "Chinese Garden" headdress...
I'm not sure if she wore this particular Treacy creation, but it immediately brings to mind the late, irreplaceable Isabella Blow.
Vivienne Westwood's famous platforms...
The display case opposite showcased Olivier Theysken's swirling "L'Air du Temps" gown, one of the first he designed for Nina Ricci, and Vivienne Westwood's equally impressive pink "Propaganda" dress, which is constructed from one long, unbroken piece of silk, expertly draped around a boned bodice.
The L'Air du Temps gown looks very dark, but the crinkled ruffles are actually multiple shades of grey.
Last, but certainly not least, the Pièce de Résistance for this visitor: Alexander McQueen's Oyster Dress from 2003.
Sigh... The first McQueen gown with a "mille-feuille" layered skirt I ever saw was the pale pink one below worn by Liv Tyler in 2002. I was 15 then and I'm still obsessed with it (although I prefer the rough Oyster bodice to Liv's custom satin corset).
Next stop was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
I'd just walked in when Natalia caught my eye. Her crocheted necklace and matching sweater were made by an aunt in Poland.
The museum cafe was like a German food market.
After tea with friends visiting from England, I set off to explore...

Around 6 o'clock, I met up with a friend to check out the discount department store Century 21 down in the Financial District (I'd heard the rumours and didn't have the stomach to go alone at the end of the day!).
The rumours were correct- the store was a packed, chaotic mess with rude staff, but the stock is worth a dig. I had to pass on a gorgeous Narciso Rodriguez bodice because even the discounted price was out of budget, but I ended up with a silk/cotton Filippa K top with geometric cutouts for $100 that I'd previously passed up in Copenhagen due to its $300 price tag. My friend commented that it reminded her of Aeon Flux, which made me very happy, not because the futuristic anti-heroine appears to have inspired the fall collections, but because 3 years on, I'm still a hopeless Aeon addict.
Very hungry at this point, we cabbed up to Kenka on St. Marks Place for grilled eel and ramen noodles (we considered, but passed on the bull testicles), and stocked up at a Japanese supermarket.
A day well spent!
For more photos, please check my flickr.

16 comments:

Bombay Beauty said...

Well, it turns out the people do sleep in NY... But this is the trick -- the answer to the question " Does any one [blank] in NY" always has the answer yes... Delighted you are enjoying one of the cities I enjoy.

Chapter one.

"He adored New York City. He idolised it all out of proportion."

Uh, no. Make that "He romanticised it all out of proportion."

"To him, no matter what the season was, this was still a town that existed in black and white and pulsated to the great tunes of George Gershwin. "

Uh... no. Let me start this over.

"Chapter one. "

"He was too romantic about Manhattan, as he was about everything else. "

"He thrived on the hustle, bustle of the crowds and the traffic. "

"To him, New York meant beautiful women and street-smart guys who seemed to know all the angles."

Ah, corny. Too corny
for a man of my taste.

Let me... try and make it more profound.

"Chapter one. He adored New York City. "

"To him, it was a metaphor
for the decay of contemporary culture. "

"The same lack of integrity to cause so many people to take the easy way out... ... was rapidly turning the town
of his dreams..."

No, it's gonna be too preachy. I mean, face it, I wanna sell some books here.

"Chapter one. He adored New York City, although to him it was a metaphor for the decay of contemporary culture. "

"How hard it was to exist in a society desensitised by drugs, loud music, television, crime, garbage..."

Too angry. I don't wanna be angry.

"Chapter one. "

"He was as tough and romantic as the city he loved. "

"Behind his black-rimmed glasses was the coiled sexual power of a jungle cat. "

I love this.

"New York was his town and it always would be. "

Gracie said...

definitely love the sopranos song lol
great pics!

geekigirl said...

God, I'm so jealous of your trip to the Costume Institute. When I was in NYC for the spring 2008 collections I went to the MET. I was sooooo fucking excited to goto the Costume Institute. It was closed, I was hearbroken. The real bitter pill to take is that it would open the next day, and I was flying back to T.O. Sigh

I hope to fly Porter down there very soon though.

Ailsa said...

Sigh... sounds incredible, except the bull testicles.

la femme said...

bb: quite right.

gracie: thanks.

geekigirl: The same thing happened to me, Anita! On a Monday during Fashion Week. I was so attached to seeing the gallery, I just cried on the steps. Went to the Frick instead and it was closed too! Mondays in NY are not cool gallery-wise.

ailsa: it was!

On Track said...

Wow what an amazing collection of pictures, I am dying to travel the USA (i live in Aus) and this just makes my urge even stronger.

I am in love with that ladies crochet necklace, that is one of the sweetest things I have ever seen :)

susie_bubble said...

Those image of that A McQueen Oyster gown are beautiful...

simplyolive said...

i am quite envious of your trip.
the costumes look amazing!

simplyolive said...

ps: especially envious that you got to see the oyster dress in person.
mcqueen is my absolute favorite!!

Lola Is Beauty said...

the blog.mode exhibit looks like it was amazing! I went on their site though and it seems a little silly not to let people take pics (sans flash of course) if the point of it is to encourage discourse about it online!

maitresse said...

my goodness, what an exhausting day!

that oyster dress looks like the one carrie bradshaw napped in when aleks let her alone in the hotel. no?

la femme said...

Equally dreamy... Carrie's was Versace couture though.

Bobble Bee said...

what a shame i wasn't there to meet you!! but i see you had a wonderful time :)
kenka is probably one of my fave japanses restaurants in the world!!! it's not that i have visited all the jap rest on earth but it's THAT good!!
xx

Sonja said...

Your trips sounds amazing! And the pics of the blog:mode exhibitions are so beautiful! I really want to go to NYC, too! Hopefully this year!!

Sigrid said...

wonderful dresses!

Gry said...

travelling is all about the little details. I love how you see it all!