October 21, 2012
SUNDAY FROM MY DESK
I have just returned from Tel Aviv, and a visit to the Design Museum Holon. This museum is only two years old, but this vibrant new organization is working hard to present an international face and has just wrapped a successful solo exhibition of Yohji Yamamoto. Yohji did not make it to his party, a pity, but I was able to meet with both upcoming and established Israeli designers and found that beauty in art and fashion is always joined one with the other.
The Yamamoto exhibition at Holon reminded me of the Victoria & Albert Museum exhibition two years ago and the Wapping Project installation with the big white wedding dress right in the middle of the water filled gallery in London. Here again, his work is as much an exercise in exploring light as in fashion. Each room was installed with a distinct environmental effect and presented even his most iconic and recognized pieces with fresh eyes. I was delighted to listen to the FIT Deputy Director Patricia Mears do a thoughtful presentation on the exhibition and to have another chance to explore his work. Ten years ago I had the privilege of working with Yohji on his book, “Talking to Myself” where we covered many elements, but his work is constantly evolving and always a wonder.
There are so many wonderful documentaries about fashion now! Last month Diana Vreeland, now Versailles 73, directed by Deborah Riley Draper.
An amazing episode in fashion history. In 1973, five American designers (Oscar de la Renta, Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston, Stephen Burroughs) and five French designers (Yves St.Laurent, Pierre Cardin,Givenchy,Ungaro, Marc Bohan for Dior), joined together to raise money to save Versailles from ruin by throwing a fashion show in Paris where the guests will pay to come. An admirable idea but as the plan develops, it becomes more and more a contest. America the brash, the casual, against France the fashion pinnacle of taste and style.
France goes first and takes 3 hours to stage their presentation. America claimed the international fashion stage with a very loud bang. With Liza Minelli singing, 11 black models including the astounding Pat Cleveland (who had begun working with Jacques Tiffeau and Stephen Burroughs in New York as a teen ager), walked, danced, strutted and stole the show in 35 minutes.
A fashion page had turned.With all the amazing clothes, the amazing guests – Andy Warhol, Grace Kelly, Baroness de Rothschild – and the amazing black tie glamour of the 1970’s – this is one party I am sorry that I missed.
“Israel Fashion-Art 1948-2008” by fashion journalist and curator Nurit Bat-Yaar published by Resling, is a fashion book I did not know. It opens up an understanding of Israel and its wider influence in fashion and shows how glamorous and edgy was and is its fashion tradition. Surely it will make a great addition to our bookstore at 10 Corso Como. The book is a comprehensive history of Israeli fashion including not only the most famous designers of the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s but also the creations of former students of the design college Shenkar, from where Alber Elbaz launched his worldwide success.
Here from the book, on the left, harem pants with a very daring top by Peter Hertgog in 1969, on the right, large pants by Miri Shafir. Photo by Ben Lam.
I was always hearing about a “desert coat”, but never really saw one, except Yves Saint Laurent’s famous Moroccan capes. Here in the picture , the hand woven wool Beduin “desert coats” by Finy Leitersdorf. Made under the Israeli label Maskit in the 50’s, it was said to be a favorite coat of Katherine Hepburn, always known for her practicality, because it was durable and comfortable.
Is the title of this Katherine Hepburn exhibition at the New York Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center until January. Hepburn always had a sure sense of what worked for her and this display of her famous trousers and “rebel chic” including several of her coats are all on exhibition, along with costumes by Valentina who had also designed for Garbo, and Cecil Beaton.
It is always exciting to find out about a talent or in this case talents, I had not ever known. The designer Finy Leitersdorf and her husband, artist Yonatan Simon – lived with elegance and grace in Jerusalem in the 1950’s – it was a life filled with art and beauty. Finy for four decades made clothes inspired by native colors and wools for the local elites of Jerusalem and her creations could be found in salons in Paris and New York. I received a beautiful exhibition catalogue from Finy’s granddaughter who generously invited me to see the house and gardens where they lived. Finy’s designs are now on permanent display in another family house in Savyon. Here, a photo of a dress designed by Finy with a painting of Yonatan’s in the background.
Gottex swimwear, still a brand on the international market, was founded by Lea Gottlieb in 1958. Arriving from Hungary with her husband and two daughters, she opened a raincoat factory. They soon found the weather was bankrupting her – it was always sunny – so she started making swimwear outfits for resorts using as inspiration, art and nature. For decades women like Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Onassis and Diana Princess of Wales would wear her suits.
While two different points of view, both Lea and Sonia Delaunay were seamstresses and both artists. Delaunay played with fashion design using her beautiful and unique paintings, Lea traveled the world seeing inspiration in art that would compliment her designs.
The Israel Design Museum in Holon was designed by Ron Arad.
In itself it is a scupture to be admired, of five monumental bands of steel lying coiled on the ground and was finished and opened to the public in 2010.
Robert Indiana’s sculpture LOVE is recognized by young and old all over the world. As a scupture, the piece has been at the Indianapolis Museum since 1970, and the Museum of Modern Art sells replicas even today. In 1977, Indiana was commissioned by the museum to translate this piece using the Hebrew alphabet. Here, AHAVA LOVE,the most popular destination in the Museum.
This monumental scupture by Pablo Picasso is situated on the right side of the Noguchi Art Garden in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem.
Called “Profile”, it was carved in 1967 from stone. Here, on the right, a 1961 scupture of sheet metal also by Picasso, called “Mujer”.
In 1965 Isamu Noguchi designed the almost Zen like scupture garden of the Israel Museum, making it a destination and a delight.
Rising up a hillside,designed going against the natural descending cliffs of Israel, you come to a large open space and view at the top this wonderful Henry Moore bronze. The gardens are named for Billy Rose who commissioned the work to Noguchi and personally attended the opening ceremony.The New York theatrical producer , having lost a great collection of art in a fire, only collected bronze or stone sculptures. At his death, he left the entire collection to the country.
On the right, a bronze of 1951 “Working model for reclining figure”.
Only when I saw that the books of Moore’s textile drawings made in 1943 were auctioned recently at Christies for 250,000 USD did I even realize that Moore had also done textiles! He worked for several years for Ascher Fabrics doing designs in wax crayons, pen and ink, or pencil on paper in bold bright colors you do not imagine in his later work.
His designs were commissioned by a Czech textile manufacturer, Zika Ascher, a visionary, who commissioned many artists who had difficulty finding work during the war to create designs for scarves from 1944 through 1947. Here, Reclining Figure 1949, Fabric by Ascher.