May 20, 2012
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
“The Tarot Reader”, a photo by Irving Penn, sits not too far from me.
It is always in my office because I like to think on the fascination people
have with la fortuna and forecasting the future.
This picture was published in Vogue in 1949 when fashion, and Vogue,
were posting the forecasting trends of the new post war creativity.
Today, upcoming trends, consumer trends, trend analysis, street fashion trends,
color trends and even reports on trend reports has made fashion
forecasting a multi million dollar global business.
But the real challenge that has nothing to do with la fortuna is to create the trends;
not follow them.
A famous Penn picture I wish I had in my office is “After Dinner Games”
taken in 1947. It is filled with many symbolic elements of la fortuna
and reminds me when, many years ago, it seemed everywhere I went I kept
finding single playing cards in the street. I have a whole collection
now. While I have yet to discover it, I am sure there must be a code to
their meaning but since people now play only computer games and no longer
card games I have not found any more in years. Dommage, to find an Ace of
Hearts would bring good fortune.
Cats do not need to look for the Ace of Hearts to be lucky.
They deserve to have the lazy lucky cat life they have. With all of their good
qualities cleanliness, patience, affection and courage they make their
own luck. And, if they could speak, I am sure they would know not to
talk too much about lady fortuna, it might jinx it.
Nothing makes a cat happier than hunting a mouse, what a trophy! Here the mouse as seen by an Italian artist, Domenico Gnoli who is now having a retrospective of his work in New York at Luxembourg and Dayan through June.
On the right a Kris Ruhs’ Cat and Mouse drawing.
During my years at Vogue, the references when we discussed still life layouts would always include Domenico Gnoli. His subject matter varied but he did the best close ups ever seen in paintings. Apprenticing in Rome to a printmaker at 16, he was in exhibitions around the world from his teens until his early death at 36. The famous unbuttoned button, the collar and the apple and shoes shown here give a glimpse of his technique and vision.
This week I went on a visit to a beautiful shoe factory. Seeing the master cobblers and the scale of this amazing and precise work en situ makes me realize the value of the apprentice. We should support and preserve the transfer of these skills to future generations and value and appreciate the results.
When one is speaking of shoes, the name of the French master André Perugia
will always come up. He started a revolution in shoe design. Known for inventing the stiletto in the 1930’s, he too had apprenticed in his family’s shoe business. In homage to the great artists of his day, there are designs for Picasso shoes, Léger and Mondrian shoes and here, the fish shoe inspired by Braque’s painting
of black fish (here in the picture).
The fish as a still life subject was a chief preoccupation for Braque and
he painted it in various ways and styles for his entire career.
Braque and Picasso, like many artists then and today, experimented with textiles, costumes and clothing. Here, one of the several costumes Braque designed, together with the scenery, for Serge Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes, in 1925.
A white cotton dress by Picasso? Yes! In the 1960’s, an American sportswear company, White Stag, acquired the exclusive rights to reproduce Picasso works on their clothing. This dress from 1963 shows the clown from Picasso “Suite de 180” seen here. This early adventure in cobranding was one of the best kept secrets in American fashion and…now you know!