Of all the tourist attractions, local attraction, or any other leisurely activities that I might engage in while travelling, there is one thing that I never omit, the contemporary art museum. It’s New York equivalent is MoMA, short for the Museum of Modern Art, and since it was also hosting a Tim Burton exhibition, it was on the top of my To-Do list while in NYC. With artworks spread, or better yet packed, over 6 floors, the museum also features two theaters, stores, restaurants, cafés, even its own garden, transforming this cultural space into an all-day activity. To be quite honest, it was more of a three days activity for me, since I went back twice, and I’m sure that if I wouldn’t have had other items on the ‘Should List’, it would have taken me even longer to visit it. Because visit it I did since there was so much to see, read, experience, that even in those three days I only managed to scratch the surface of what is MoMA and what it has to offer. Still, I discovered new, to me, artists, rediscovered already known ones, and rejoiced in seeing some favourite ones. It is a fact that all of them were uterly inspiring, and so you will see mentions of their artworks, along with interpretations of it, in future posts.
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Looking across the city in between two museum visits. I’m wearing a Zara Tshirt and a pair of navy inspired earrings that I got at a vintage shop in NY, Screaming Mimis. The store has a great selection, all  clothing and accessories organised by dates with awesome styling. The headpiece is a braid made from my hair which I extended with the help of two scarfs in order to be able to wrap it around.

I suspect you’re waiting to hear about Tim Burton. The exhibition was indeed beautifully curated, yet it was allocated a rather small space. Of the three days I went to the museum, it was sold out every time, and for the few that managed to get in, the ones who where devote enough to get there early, or the ones who possessed a MoMA membership card, it turned out to be extremely crowded. For an event that was so mediatised as this one and promoted to the extent of having a gigantic inflatable Tim Burton character in the main lobby of the museum, the actual exhibition space was minuscule. Therefore, I can’t really say that I managed to really examine any of the works on display, or write down any relevant thoughts, only one tiny page in my pocket size moleskin under a TIM BURTON written in capital letters. I do remember some of the posters he did while in high-school, some papers with his notes and thoughts on characters or movie plots and the Funhouse installation created out of a series of materials, including a carousel, clowns and a rather funny-looking light bulb. There where mentions of the beautifully designed costumes from ‘Big Fish’, created by Colleen Atwood, a ‘Sleepy Hollow’ costume and an ‘Edward the Scissorhand’ costume. Speaking of which, silent cinema and German Expressionism influences in Burton’s movies where also mentioned, with various masks and armour on display. Notable was also his use of fluorescent paint in some of the artworks, and of acrylic on black velvet in some others. The colours are his trademark black and white, but also bright reds and greens. The way in which he manages to transform the morbid into fun and entertaining, and to find beauty in the grotesque continues to amaze and impress me. His Santa Claus is a rather sinister one, the walls of his Christmas house are splattered with what seems to be blood, and as for Stainboy, his superhero’s, his main, and only superpower is, as you might have guessed, to leave a stain wherever he goes. Consistent as always, in a note for the ‘Corpse Bride’ Burton suggests: “maybe they use her dried up organs for furniture” which in my mind paints such a vivid Burtoneque image, that I regret it not having been actually used in the movie. One more thing before I wrap up, in case you haven’t seen them, do check out some of Burton’s early cinematic creations, such as ‘Luau’ from the 80s, not something to be missed.

But Tim Burton wasn’t the only engaging event.  One of the ongoing exhibitions was named ‘The artist is present’, and indeed she was. Marina Abramović was a stunning presence in a floor-length red dress in a live performance that involved viewer participation. Visitor-Art/ist interaction was also possible with an artwork create by Yin Xiuzhen, the Collective Subconscious minivan. The installation consisted of a minivan enhanced with the help of used garments from friends, family or strangers, as the artist states, as she believes that “clothing retains traces of human experience.” The viewer interacts with the installation as he is asked to step into the van in order to participate in a now obsolete collective experience.

And speaking of fashion in a museum, the museum at FIT, the Fashion Institute of Technology, is not to be missed. The current exhibition, Day & Night reflects how boundaries between what is appropriate day wear, respectively evening wear have been defined in history, with an emphasize on American one, and how these boundaries are being redefined nowadays. More than 100 items, including clothing and accessories are on display, also featuring vintage magazine covers and illustrations. As Director and Chief Curator, Dr. Valerie Steele, states: “By exploring fashion’s past we can better understand its present and future.” And so we do  with the visual aid of pieces created by some of fashion’s some talented and respected designers. Beautiful 50s pieces from Dior are on display, featuring the iconic draped fichu scarf, soft drapery and green as a predominant colour. And we should not forget the fact that the 50s Dior lady was also very well accessorized. A Chanel knit suit reminiscent of her schoolgirl uniform is on display, along with creations from Charles James, Elizabeth Arden, Yves Saint Laurent, Dries Van Noten. Works from Alexander McQueen and Calvin Klein are both presented to illustrate the disappearance of boundaries between what is day or evening appropriate in contemporary fashion.

What should not be left out are the people how made all of these designs possible, more specifically, the fabric designers. Jerry Brown Inc was established by a World War II émigré who had a Lower East Side shop and imported couture fabrics from France, in order to sell it to New York dressmakers.  There is also Forster Rohner AG, a Swiss firm which specialises in embroidery, and Lawsen Design Studio which does hand-woven and intricate textiles. The Italian company Pizval SRL specialises in lace, with a bit of influence from the Goth subculture. And Zibetti e Orsini SRL have patented a fabric, if we could still call it that, named Luminex, which is made out of polyester, optical fiber, nylon and requires batteries. You have to trust me that it’s difficult to actually describe the sight of it in words. A more traditional, but in my view equally innovative, even if not as recent, fabric, was an imitation of knitter wool jersey, the effect was created with mechanized chain–stitch embroidery on a net backing.

Yet, what I found more interesting that the strict rules of dressing that date back 200 years ago and how American fashion has evolved transforming New York into a fashion capital of the World, is the fact that clothes had more meaning and purpose. Fashion was not regarded as the frivolous affair that it is generally considered to be nowadays. Fashion was respected and its meaning was acknowledged, and it should be so. Dresses had volume, or had voluminous details, such as a bow on a 1955 Christian Dior evening dress, which was meant to “keep the wearer’s dance partner at a respectful distance.” The description of an afternoon dress from mid 1800 offers the following information: “a woman of advanced tastes would have appreciated the influence of the Aesthetic Movement, which sought to revive Renaissance fashion.” Current political and social affairs where also illustrate in clothing. Regarding a 1939 Day suit with big front pockets that she created, Elsa Schiaparelli remarked that the pockets “take the place of handbags which are clumsy when one is already burdened with a gas mask.” Nowadays, for the general public, fashion has little acknowledged meaning and that is easily seen in the reduction of the number of outfits that society regards as necessary to be worn per day. If in the 1800s one needed several outfits per day even the number steadily declined. Even in the 50s Dior still presented around five outfits that a lady should own and wear during the course of a day. Yet Betsey Johnson’s proclaimed “fast fashion” was indeed fast, and nowadays a pair of sneakers, even if they are Alexander McQueen ones, are considered appropriate for any time of day and virtually any event, except for the most formal of them.

As it is, I do believe the all of us fashion bloggers, fashion supporters and fashion creators alike, are re-empowering fashion in the search for its original meaning, aside from its aesthetic values, and working at re-establishing it, not as a necessity, but as an art form and as an universal and unique form of individual expression.

Enought talk for today, it’s time for some visual stimulation. This one’s for all you lovers  🙂

City lovers . . .

Window lovers . . . (stunning windows displays at Bergdorf Goodman)

Nature lovers . . .

Book lovers . . .

Carousel lovers . . .

Animal lovers . . .

News lovers . . .

Urm . . . YMCA lovers . . .

Sailing lovers . . .

Yellow cab lovers

Other means of transportation lovers . . .

Advertising lovers . . .

Triangular shaped building lovers . . . (that would be mostly me, I guess)

Beautiful stations lovers . . . (yes, if it wasn’t clear until now, I just started making it up)

So till next time . . .

With love,

. . . clicking away