A Fashionable Art Tour

As summer wanes to an end, it begs the question – what did you do?  Where did you go?  And how you will spend the next few weeks? The summer of 2013 was blessed with an endless array of fashion exhibits.   Major cultural institutions around the world put fashion front and center.  What’s your pleasure?  Designer retrospective?  High end costume jewelry?  Queer fashion?  If you happen to be in any of these cities before the end of September, you’re in luck. 


Friends of mine recently stumbled upon the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity at The Art Institute of Chicago.  This internationally acclaimed exhibit lets you stroll through late 1800’s when Paris was the style capitol of the world. 
The exhibit’s description expands on the state of affairs in Paris: “In the second half of the 19th century, the modern fashion industry was born: designers like Charles Frederick Worth were transforming how clothing was made and marketed, department stores were on the rise, and fashion magazines were beginning to proliferate.”
Luscious life-size figure paintings by Monet, Renoir or Tissot are juxtaposed alongside the period costumes, and in some cases the actual clothing, that inspired them.  Through September 29.

The Design Exchange states the Christian Louboutin exhibit celebrates “20 years of design, artistry and magic.”  And if you need to ask, what’s magic got to do with it?  Then you don’t know Loubs.  Undoubtedly, if you love shoes you remember your first pair of red soles.  I hit the opening night (wearing my pink Loubouties, right) back in June and loved it, so this particular show comes personally recommended.

You can check out photos from an event FGI Toronto hosted at the DX just after the exhibit’s opening, but time is ticking.  You only have until September 15 to see the master’s magic before poof! – it’s gone.  Fret not Toronto, there’s more star power coming: if you like the intersection of music and fashion, then mark your calendar; the AGO opens David Bowie is on September 25.


There’s a reason why the Museum at FIT fancies itself the Most Fashionable Museum in New York City. Because it’s the most fashionable museum in New York City.  Right now you can take in RetroSpective, an exhibit exploring the historical connections to contemporary fashion.  See what influenced McQueen, Balenciaga and Schiaparelli (through November 16). 
If you time your trip right, you can also catch A Queer History of Fashion: From the Closet to the Catwalk (September 13 – January 4, 2014).  It is a remarkable undertaking to honor the contributions to fashion made by the LGBTQ community over 300 years.  FIT is the first museum to do so.  (Fashionable and socially conscious, go FIT!)
Meanwhile, for accessories fans, New York’s Museum of Arts and Design hosts the Collection of Barbara Berger.  Don’t know Barbara?  She is the daughter of an American diamond merchant and a hoarder of the most lovely kind.  Berger (still alive) has amassed one of the largest and finest collections of couture jewelry in the world.  Over 450 pieces of her 4,000 personal collection of “bijoux de couture” will be on display.  A portion of the exhibit closes September 22. 


photo by Getty Images
If you happen to find yourself in Little Rock, Arkansas — and who am I to suggest you wouldn’t? — by all means check out the Oscar de la Renta retrospective American Icon at the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.  Born in the Dominican Republic, de la Renta moved to the States in the 1960’s where he quickly became a legend for his ready-to-wear designs.  He has been a favorite of Mrs. Clinton, particularly during her First Lady years.  Nothing personal Arkansas, but I pray this exhibit travels north for easier viewing.  Through December 1.


Helmut Newton: White Women • Sleepless Nights • Big Nudes (need we say more?!) is on at the Annenberg Space for Photography. Through September 8. 

Also through September 8, Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion at the Seattle Art Museum.
Club to Catwalk: London Fashion in the 1980’s explores the relationship between catwalk and clubwear and how experimental designers of the day like Betty Jackson, Wendy Dagworthy and John Galliano helped reinvent British fashion. Through February 2014 at the Victoria and Albert Museum.
The Mona Bismarck Center for Art and Culture features an exhibit curated by American Vogue contributing editor, Andre Leon Talley called The Little Black Dress.  Through September 22.

“Austerity Chic” rules First Lady fashion

This morning I am celebrating four more years for Barack Obama and, four more years for fashion. 

During the Obama’s first presidential term, the fashion industry lapped up every detail of Michelle Obama’s wardrobe daily. There’s even a blog dedicated to her outfits. She possesses the power to wow and woo us by embracing young designers like Jason Wu or Prabal Garung, her clever accessorizing and constant mix of high and low labels.

Michelle is a poster girl for the mantra, “you can buy fashion, you can’t buy style.” A fashion “icon” the media calls her, proving it’s not the labels alone but how you put it together.  Yadda yadda yadda. And yet there she was last night, the second biggest night of her husband’s life, in a recycled Michael Kors dress she first sported three years ago for a White House holiday party. The fashion world cooed a quiet, almost inaudible, “You go girl.”

photo courtesy Hello Magazine

And to think, people in my circles seriously worry over wearing something that’s already been seen in photos by all of their Facebook friends. Yes, really.

In fact, many of Michelle’s outfits on the campaign trail weren’t straight off the runway, but rather straight out of her closet. Her “austerity chic” choices with an emphasis on American lines like J. Crew, BDBG, Diane Von Furstenberg and even Jason Wu’s forthcoming contemporary line Miss Wu (not in stores until 2013) were a smart move, intended not to alienate voters with her fashion choices. 

While Ann Romney presented ladylike style throughout the campaign – ever elegant in labels like Reed Krakoff, Alfred Fiandaca and Oscar de la Renta – the mass-market, approachability of Michelle Obama’s choices were a stark contrast

But after last night, it’s clear that Barack Obama has another problem brewing on the horizon. His daughters, Sasha and Malia, are becoming fashionable figures in their own right. It won’t be long before the public turns their constant gaze to these two. So don’t be surprised if the sisters have to slug it out in online “who wore it best” polls before the inauguration.

photo courtesy Yahoo.com