January 28, 2006

Paul Poiret and French Fashions

I was riding the bus up Sixth Avenue today and I noticed a lot of big white tents being installed behind the New York Public Library in Bryant Park. This can only mean one thing - we are about to host another Fashion Week in New York City! And I started thinking about how the fashion industry has changed and commercialized since Paul Poiret published the very first catalogue of fashion designs in 1908. It was called "Les Robes de Paul Poiret" and featured the illustrations of Paul Iribe. It was a huge success and brought instant fame to both designer and illustrator. In fact, the designer felt the illustrator's head became too swelled and hired another illustrator, Georges Lepape, to do the follow-up catalogue "Les Choses de Paul Poiret" in 1911. These were not catalogues the way we think of them today. They were very fine quality hard covered publications produced in limited quantities for the very wealthy customer. One outstanding feature of these catalogues was that they were printed using a method called "Pochoir", a stencil technique of hand coloration popular in France at the beginning of the 20th Century. The fashion plate illustrated here is from the later album and is typical of both Poiret's fabulous fashion sense and Lepape's artistic genius.

January 15, 2006

"Paris in the Fifties"

Has anyone read Stanley Karnow's "Paris in the Fifties"? He was an American who went to Paris shortly after WW2 and later became a correspondent for Time. His descriptions of life in France at that time are really wonderful. I especially enjoyed the chapters on food "The Prince of Gastronomes" andfashion "The Glass of Fashion". Of particular interest to me is his description of the couturier Paul Poiret and his immense impact on style in the early1900's. Hugely influenced by Diaghilev's Ballet Russe, Poiret was the creator of a very exotic look, and, amazingly was the first designer to free women from corsets. His costume ball "la mille et deuxieme nuit (the thousandand second night)" was one of the social events of the 20th Century. He lived life to the fullest, but sadly died without a franc to his name in 1944. However, his legacy continues and we are still blessed with his fabulous designs for theatre, costume and fashion. I encourage you to check out Poiret's fantastic creations, and to read Mr. Karnow's memoirs of a remarkable time.

January 09, 2006

Dada Statement

Did anyone see the story of the Neo-Dadaist who attacked the Marcel Duchamp "Urinal" at the Centre Pompidou "Dada" exhibition in Paris? The show closed yesterday in preparation for travel to the National Gallery in Washington DC, where it opens, in a reduced form, next month. This artist decided to make a statement and took a hammer to one of the most famous, important pieces of 20th Century Art! Managed to chip the sculpture and they are assessing the damage. It certainly brought some added publicity to an already extremely popular exhibition. Wonder what the real Dadaists think?

January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I'm looking forward to sharing some art adventures with you this year as I launch a new website at the end of January and officially begin a new business. The art market has changed so much in the past few years - no longer such a stodgy, antiquated, or rarefied profession, there is a new energy and accessibility that makes owning art something anyone with an interest in it can do!

And there's always so much going on! For instance, have you seen the Van Gogh Drawings exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art? Or the fantastic show of Egon Schiele drawings and watercolors at the Neue Galerie on Fifth Avenue and 86th Street? Truly a must-see event, and while you're there, have a coffee and a piece of cake at the Cafe Sabarsky. You'll thank me!

See you soon!