COCO Chanel and Salvador Dali chatting on the steps. What do you think they are discussing?
Gianni Versace (Italian, 1946–1997), for Versace Couture. Polychrome printed silk with multicolored rhinestone and glass bead embroidery.
I’m in Pittsburgh for the long holiday weekend, and what could be more Pittsburgh than a Warhol-inspired dress? Warhol is perpetually in vogue—the Pop icon’s influence can be seen in a current makeup collection by Mac, a T-shirt line for Uniqlo, and in recent high-fashion collections from Marc Jacobs (who channeled Warhol muse Edie Sedgewick for his spring runway show of black-and-white stripes) and Raf Simons (whose latest Dior extravaganza featured body-skimming dresses and leather handbags embellished with the artist’s early fashion illustrations). But few have captured Warhol’s exuberance and wonderful garishness as Gianni Versace did with his candy-colored Marilyn-Monroe-and-James-Dean evening gown, from 1991.
Here’s a description from the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s website:
Widely influenced by the florid shapes and colors of print artists like Sonia Delaunay and Raoul Dufy, both of whom collaborated with fashion artists during the course of their careers, Gianni Versace frequently referenced art historical and various cultural aesthetic phenomena. His classical allusions range from the inclusion of the Medusa as part of the Versace logo to the Greek key pattern as a frequenter of both men’s and women’s collections, though an attraction to both Surrealism and Pop Art is equally obvious in his fabric manifestations. This piece, printed with the iconic faces of Marilyn Monroe and James Dean, is a testament to Versace’s fascination with the ironic and sometimes morbid depictions of Andy Warhol inasmuch as it is an exclusive signifier of Versace’s self-proclaimed personality as the celebrity couturier.
I love this quote by avant jeweler Art Smith: “A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a ‘what is it?’ until you relate it to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form.”
Also, I saw that exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum in 2008, and it was fantastic. You could wear everything today.
A model wears Art Smith’s “Modern Cuff” Bracelet, circa 1948. Art Smith (1917-1982) was a modernist jeweler born in Cuba to Jamaican parents who eventually emigrated to Brooklyn. He opened his first shop on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village in 1946 - no small feat. According to the Brooklyn Museum (host of a 2008 exhibit of his work) he was one of the leading modernist jewelers of the mid-twentieth century. Along with being covered by magazines like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, Smith, an avid jazz lover, once made cufflinks for Duke Ellington which included some notes from Mr. Ellington’s “Mood Indigo.” Mr. Smith was also a supporter of early Black modern dance groups and an active supporter of Black and gay rights. Art Smith was quoted in the 1969 catalog for his one man exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Craft: “A piece of jewelry is in a sense an object that is not complete in itself. Jewelry is a ‘what is it?’ until you relate it to the body. The body is a component in design just as air and space are. Like line, form, and color, the body is a material to work with. It is one of the basic inspirations in creating form.”
Happy birthday to filmmaker Akira Kurosawa! (Also I want that jacket.)
24 of Akira Kurosawa’s best films, free on Hulu this weekend!
Le train fantôme
Claude Monet: “Madame Louis Joachim Gaudibert,” 1868, courtesy of the Musee d’Orsay, currently at “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” at the Met.
“One sees that the painter loves his own time, like Claude Monet, and that he thinks one can be an artist even if one paints frock coats.” - Zola