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July 2017

fashion Fashion exhibit History The Metropolitan Museum of Art The Museum at FIT Uncategorized

The Met Museums Irving Penn Exhibit

Irving Penn met museum

In the world of fashion photography certain names are known for their iconic work. Present day photographers like Annie Leibovitz and Patrick Demarchelier are known as “Vogue “ photographers. Known for their ability to capture a model or celeb in artful and transcendent picture. Irving Penn knew how to capture the iconic supermodels of the time in bold fashions and celebs like Audrey Hephburn in a clean and humanizing manor. Although he was known for his portiats of famous people he also enjoyed still life photography. A global photographer, he introduced different cultures to anyone who viewed his work. As a celebration of his centerian birthday the Irving Penn Foundation has gifted many of the prints showcased in the exhibition to the Met. The following are prints of Penns work covering fashion models, Vogue Covers, artist, designers and  actors and more.

 

Early street photography

Pens first camera was a twin-lens-reflex 2 &1/4 inch square format Rolleiflex. He used it while working as an assistant for Harper’s Bazaar graphic designer and art director,  Alexey Brodovitch. Penns work included photographs of shops, hand written ads and street signs in NY and Philly. His photography documented the time period of depression the U.S. was in. His techniques consisted of focusing and extreme cropping each picture. He also used this technique while on a trip to the southern U.S. in 1941 and again on a photo and painting trip in  Mexico.

irving penn, met museum

Rolleiflex 3.5 E3 Twin- Lens Reflex Camera with 75mm Carl Zeiss Planar Lens, 1961-64. Penn bought his very first Rolleiflex in 1938. This one he bought in 1964 and used it for portraits.Modified to Penn’s desire.

 

Still Life

Still life photography was his  favorite topic to photograph. The subject required discipline and creativity at its most challenging point for Penn. In still life photography he had to compose an image that could tell a story. He would often use traces of human interaction like a a lipstick stain on a glass to help interpret the story. The purpose was to make the viewer of this photography focus on the signs of life and the possible story behind the pictures.

Irving Penn

After- Dinner Games, New York 1947

Existential Portraits 1947-48

After serving in WWII Penn once again worked for Vogue. Art director Alexander Lieberman gave him the job of taking self portraits. The goal was to introduce culture to the pages of Vogue and broaden Penn’s career. Vogue picked the clients that would be photographed while Penn controlled the set. This job was a first for him as he never photographed famous people. His technique included positioning them at an angled corner. His sets had an unfinished feel to them which conveyed the feeling of deception that he believed self portraits could have.

Irving Penn Met museum

Truman Capote, New York, 1948

Vogue Covers 1934-2004

In total Penn photographed 165 Vogue covers, eclipsing any other photographer to date. He photographed many Vogue models and even married one. Lisa Fonssagrives was the equivalent of a super model in her time. She was also the highest paid model of that time period and her ability to pose effortlessly caught Penn attention and admiration. After they married they continued their work relationship as Vogue model and photographer. Their collaborations produced some of the most famous Vogue covers in fashion publication history. The extravagant changes in fashion during the 40’s and 50’s allowed Penn to create stare worthy photographs. Wide brimmed hats, cinched waist and billowy skirts created dramatic silluhotues for photography.

Irving Penn

Vogue Covers

 

 

Vogue Years 1947-51

After conquering portraits Penn’s mentor Lieberman wanted him to get a full education on what it meant to be a fashion photographer.  In Lieberman’s eyes he was still rough around the edges. Lieberman sent him to Paris to watch all the couture fashion shows to familiarize himself with the fashion scene. The massive thrall of fashion photographers vying for perfect shots in between editors and the rest of the fashion pros was overwhelming for Penn. He preferred a quiet and private studio, so one was appointed for him while in Paris. There the collections and models were brought to him to shoot, leading to his meeting with wife Lisa. In his Paris studio he shot the latest fashions by designers such as Balenciaga.

Irving Penn met museum

Women in Chicken Hat 1949-Wife Lisa Fonssagrives-Penn

Irving penn, the met museum

Dior dress 1949

Print Making

Penn liked to see what his worked looked like in different forms of prints. The first process included taking one photograph and printing it via a gelatin silver print in 1949.  Forty years later he printed the same picture on the newest gelatin silver print. He then printed the pictures in the 1960’s through the method of contact printing. Contact printing was considered an antique method of printing at this time. His method included enlarging negatives to his desired size and mounting each version to aluminum and coat them with layers of platinum and palladium. His experiments with types of print, tones, shadows, colors, scales and papers gave him freedom as a photographer. While other photographers strived for consistently perfect photography Penn searched for the interesting in each version.

Irving penn met museum

Girl Drinking (Mary Jane Russell) 1960-2000

Cusco 1948

In November of 1948 Penn went on a fashion assignment for Vogue to Lima, Peru. After  he completed the assignment he traveled Peru on his own. He found himself in Cusco’s Andes mountains where he rented a studio for portrait taking. There he photographed the locals and passing visitors in their traditional wool clothing. These portraits  introduced a deeper physiological affect to his photography. So much so that Vogue ended up printing these pictures in the story “Christmas in Cuzco” in their 1949 December issue. This publication helped bring images of people and cultures America knew little to none about. Although Penn shot the pictures in black and white, Vogue published them in color. Giving the vibrant local clothing an opportunity to shine.

Irving Penn, the met museum

Many Skirt Indian Woman, Cuzco, 1948

 

the met museum ,irving penn

“Christmas in Cuzco” Vogue, December 1949

 

Small Trades 1950-51

During July of 1950 Penn was once again shooting couture collections for Vogue in Paris. While there he took on a new project of photographing trade workers. He continued the project making it his longest series ever by capturing the trade workers of London and New York City. His techniques included photographing the small trades workers in their work attire and tools on the same studio he shot models and famous clients. The set, lighting and backdrop for his small trade series were the exact same in his fashion photography. He felt that doing so equalized the workers to the elite that he photographed. Vogue once again published these pictures in their 1950’s publication.

Met museum, irving penn

Marchande de Ballons-Balloon Seller, Paris 1950

irving penn,the met museum

Potissiers or French Pastry Chefs, Paris 1950

Nudes 1950-51

During this time period Penn experimented with the silver process of printing and overexposing his pictures. After this process he then bleached them which produced different prints.

Classic Portraits 1948-62

At this point in Penn’s career he was one of the most sought out photographers in fashion and beyond. He worked for Vogue while also working in advertising. People who were asked to sit for Penn no matter how famous or wealthy considered it an honor. To prepare himself for the task of these portraits Penn studied the art of Goya, Daumier and Toulouse-Lautree. Their work conveyed focus, lighting and immediacy that Penn hoped to convey in his portraits. For Penn the toughest part about photographing a famous person was getting them to drop their persona.  Penn did so by meeting them in simple blue jeans and talking over coffee before beginning. During the session Penn would encourage his client to be as comfortable as they wanted to be. In the end their relaxed nature gave Penn the exact picture he wanted.

Irving Penn, the met museum

Audrey Hepburn, Paris, 1951

Met museum, Irving Penn

Pablo Picasso at La Californie , Cannes 1957. This was taken after Picasso pretended not to be home, so Penn climbed over the gate. Penn patiently worked with the moody artist,

Cigarettes, 1972

In the 1950’s Penn worked on ads for cigarette ads, although he despised the act of smoking. His cigarette series was a look at how society was in a disruptive time in history. Riots, Vietnam war, police corruption and New York City in bankruptcy and the governments willingness to promote cigarettes inspired the photos. Around this time his mentor Alexey Brodovitch died of cancer in result to his smoking habit. The smashed cigarette buds in gutters signified a painful moment in time not only for Penn but for the country.

irvirving penn, the met museum

Cigarette No. 82, New York 1972

 

Worlds in a Small Room

After serving in WWII Penn was inspired to travel the world and take pictures of different cultures. During 1967-71 he did just that for Vogue. With only a tent to serve as a studio Penn photographed locals of the Pacific and Africa. Although he did not intend on it, these pictures are reminiscent of invaders colonizing a newly conquered world. Vogue once again published the pictures, focusing on the local clothing and jewelry that were already inspiring the fashion of the 60’s.

Irving penn the Met museum

Man With Pink Face, New Guinea, 1970. Published in color for the Vogue 1967-1971 issues.

Time Capsules

The photos in this collection range from the 60’s to the 21st century. Inspirations include the youthquake and modern fashion of the 60’s. Theses pictures also explore the notions of nostalgia, fantasy, lost innocence and vanity. Penn was also inspired by the death of his wife in 1992 and his own aging. For Penn there was beauty in death and this inspiration was used in his late fashion photograph.

 

Designer Issey Miyake New York, 1988. Miyake and Penn were friends and creative collaborators for fourteen years. Both equally inspired by each others work.

 

 

Late Still Life

Throughout the years working at Vogue Penn not only did many creative jobs for the magazine but also shot still life photography on his own time. From 1975- 2007 he produced four series of still life. Street Material, Archaeology, Vessels and Underfoot were the titles of these four projects. The subjects were rags, metal parts, old bottles and other miscellanies items. He liked to sketch these items and find a way to bring the items to life in his photography. He achieved this through his positioning or pairing of the items.

the met museum, irving Penn

Three Poppies ” Arab Chief”, New York 1969

I always knew of this iconic photographer due to his revered fashion photography but it was so interesting learning about Irving Penn the man. He was a constant student of his craft willing to push himself past the norms. His work brought different cultures and fashions closer to western civilization. His ability to transcend a persons personality and give life to a still object is what made him the most revered photographer of his time.

Had you heard of Penn? What are your thoughts, let me know in the comments and on social media.

Learn More Here!

T.S.

fashion Fashion exhibit History The Museum at FIT Uncategorized

The Museum at FIT’s Force of Nature

Mueum at FIT

Currently on display at the Museum of FIT is the exhibition “Force of Nature”. It explores the inspiration nature and science lends to fashion designers. The animals, weather, plants and foreign landscapes that were discovered in the 18th and 19th centuries inspired not only the scientists and writers of the day but the designers as well. Some designers took literal interpretations of nature while others simply referenced it. It also takes a look at how the fashion industry has made and is making changes that respect the environment.

Through the collection of garments, textiles, accessories and prints viewers can see how men and women’s fashion was and is inspired by nature. During the time of Enlightenment there was a surge of botanic gardens in society. This inspired designers to create textiles and fashions inspired by flowers. While the discovery of different animals also changed the way people used prints. In the wild animals use their spots to camofloufge themselves but designers use them in bold designs.

Animals like caterpillars and butterflies that have the ability of transformation which also inspire designers. Fashions that transformed women into flower or bird like forms are the result. The theory of attraction in the wild also stirred up new ideas for creators of the arts.

The Network of Nature

Naturalist and father of ecology Alexander von Humboldt realized how nature was intertwined with society. He also believed that an artists interpretation of nature was paramount in understanding it. Forms of diversity and creativity were created and inspired because of nature.

Museum at FIT

Dress: Circa 1888, Mrs. M.A. O’Connell. During this time period Ferns were a popular plant. Being so the collection of ferns as a hobby and clothing with fern prints like this dress were very popular.
The mens vest consist of a print of coiled Ferns. Waistcoat circa 1870.

Museum at FIT

Robe a la francaise 1760-1175. This print consists of bouquets of carnations and peonies. While the fringe detail resemble flower buds. These French robes were known for their floral textiles. They became metaphors for women as flowers.

Museum at FIT

Alexander McQueen, Evening Dress from the Irere Collection 2003. Birds and their symbolism of transformation were inspiring for McQueen. For this dress the colorful Scarlet Macaw and its feathers are what inspired him.

Museum at FIT

Early 1960’s, Milliner unknown.
The hat is created with flexible feathers. Inspired by exotic birds.

Museum at. FIT

Arzu Kaprol Evening ensemble Fall 2014. The graphic print of charges of electricity and the sculptural form of the gown and jacket all invoke power and strength. Inspired by the power of a lightning storm.

 

The Botanic Garden

Enlightenment and the discovery of exotic plants in foreign lands introduced the creation of the botanic garden in Europe. The public became fascinated with the new plant life and were curious to learn more. The botanic garden was a place were all social classes could view these new discoveries. By the 19th century these gardens became known as laboratories for scientific discoveries as well as beautiful gardens.

FIT Museum

Dress 1830-1833. This dress translates the connection the public made with women as flowers. The theme of romanticism and flower metaphors were trending topics in 19th century literature.

Mueum at FIT

Bonnet 1845, USA
The flowers are purposefully placed around the wearers face. Creating the feeling of being surrounded by nature.

Museum at FIT

Circa 1790 Mens Jacket and Waistcoat. The floral embroidery is meant to invoke the sensual spirit of reproduction in plants. Inspired by the Poem “The Love of Plants” (1789).
Circa 1775 Women’s Robe a l’anglaise wool and linen dress with silk embroidery. Fabric designer Anna Maria Garthwaite was inspired by plants and was considered just as educated in natural sciences as her male counterparts.

 

Investigating Nature

The discovery and study of nature was intensive for people of the Victorian era. The use of cataloging and the organization of all findings was important. With the invention of the microscope naturalists like Ernst Haeckel and scientists educated and influenced the public and arts. Haeckel, also an artists created prints and art inspired by his discoveries.

Museum at FIT

Left Bill Blass 1975. Inspired by the symmetry in plants like flowers.
Oscar de la Renta 1992. Inspired by coral reefs.
ThreeASFOUR :Dress 2016. Inspired by fractual patterns in nature.

Museum at FIT

Left: Jeanne Lanvin Evening Dress circa 1930. The scalloped overlays resemble fish scales. Asian culture like the Arowana fish inspired Lanvin.
Right: Christian Dior Spring 1954. This dress is inspired by the symmetry of organisms.

 

The Aviary

Birds symbolize transformation, freedom, honor and grace amoung other things. Throughout history they were used in art, literature and folklore in many cultures. While their feathers were seen as mysterious for people of the past, they are inspirational for today’s designers.

Museum at FIT

Alexander McQueen 2009
Horn of Plenty Collection. The pattern resembles feathers, while the bustle a tail.

Museum at FIT

Cape and hair comb 1960’s courtesy of Photographer Bill Cunningham.
Balenciaga evening dress 1967. Balenciaga minimalist style of the time is evident in the form of the dress while the ostrich feathers create an abstract element.

Museum at FIT

Gabrielle Chanel (Chanel) 1927 evening cape. Although feathers were already being used in extravagant forms such as hats, Chanel chose to remain more subdued with this cape of silk made feathers.

 

Metamorphosis

The discovery that caterpillars turned into butterflies was in 1830’s Chile by German naturalist Renous. Because he did not get a chance to unveil his findings he was arrested because people did not believe him. The butterflies were not seen as a natural transformation but a trick. The act of transformation and the ability of fashion to transform a person has inspired designers.

Museum at FIT

Left :Elsa Schiaparelli 1937
Butterflies were a surrealist symbol for deaths and transformation. As a surrealist designer Schiaparelli used metamorphosis to translate beauty emerging from the ordinary.
Right: Thierry Muglerr : Evening dress 1989. Mugler known as the “master of metamorphosis” created his 1989 collection based on the city of Atlantis and mermaids.

Museum at FIT

Charles James “La Sirene” evening dress 1940. Known as the Lobster dress the tucks and folds resemble a spine like that of a lobster.

 

 

 

 

Into the Wild

The patterns that camouflage animals in the wild for their self preservation inspire designers to create bold prints that attract the eye. The exotic and at times sensual appeal of animal patterns come from ancient folklore.

museum at FIT

Rudi Gernreich 1966. These patterned outfits were meant to be like second skins. The complete transformation included gloves, underwear, hoods and shoes.

Museum at FIT

 

 

 

Physical Forces

The study of nature and energy both in small particles and entire galaxies known as physics has inspired society and the arts. These studies lead to the creation of meteorology, astronomy, electromagnetism and many other fields of scientific study.

Museum at FIT

Left: Yvonne May Evening Coat circa 1920. The inspiration for his coat was comets. The sparkle adds to the look of movement.
Right: Saks Fifth Ave cocktail dress 1953. The rhinestones on the dress imitate a galaxy of stars.
Behind: Rodler upholstery fabric 1928. This fabric used for the seats on an airplane showcases the theory of the Big Bang.

 

Fashioning a Future

In the past fashion was created with little to no knowledge or realization on how it was affecting nature. However over the years designers and fashion companies have begun to create sustainable fashion. Kering the parent company of the brands Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Stella McCartney, Puma and more has made it their mission to reduce the environmental impact their brands have. With guidance from the UN Sustainable Development Goals Kering has created reachable targets of positive global environmental and social impacts by 2025. With their three strategies of Care, Collaborate and Create these brands can change the way fashion is created. Among other streams of creativity and science these brands can care for the planet through cleaner supply chains. They can collaborate with craftsmen and leading universities that identify sustainable solutions. Lastly they can create using innovative technology like biotech.

Museum at FIT

Speedo Fastskin II 2011. This suit mimics sharkskin to increase speed in the water. The ridges in the suit imitate sharks dermal denials.
The Last Explorer: Black Magic suit. The suits waterproof technology allows water to roll off the material like a ducks feathers.
Bolt threads necktie 2017. Made of synthetic spider silk, the first of its kind ever created. The first one created was given to Spider-Man creator Stan Lee.

Museum at FIT

Stella McCartney dress Resort 2017. Made of sustainable viscose.
J-Crew t-shirt, 2017. This shirt was created to raise awareness on the diminishing population of bees. Part of sales went to the Xerces Society an invertebrate conservation system.

 

 

 

The Science of Attraction

In 1859 Charles Darwin published “On the Origin of Species”. This controversial theory of evolution and his later work ” The Descent of Man” which focused on sexual selection and beauty influenced the arts. In the end one of his conclusions was that both animals and humans loved beauty.

Museum at FIT

Right:Mme. Pauline Hat circa 1955. This Women’s hat is created with male bird feathers.
Left: Commes des Garcons 1985. The hat is inspired by a nest created by weaver birds. These birds construct elaborate nests to attract female mates.

Museum at FIT

Hat 1939.
Halston Ensemble 1965.
Inspired by the Scarlet Tanager bird whose red communicates sexual desire to the female bird.

Museum at FIT

Helene hat circa 1953 feathers and wool. This hat was inspired by Peacocks. Female Peacocks select males based on their feathers and usually pick mates with the most amount of feathers.

 

The Language of Flowers

During the 19th century books were published that explored the “language of flowers”. They surmised that specific species and colors held symbolic meanings. This influenced the exchange of different colored bouquets as coded meanings to and from lovers and couples. As a reproductive organ flowers also represented human sexuality.

Mueseum at FIT

Dress circa 1905- France.
Hand colored Irises were applied to the cut-work of the dress. Irises were a popular design in the Art Nouveau time period.

Mueum at FIT

Charles James : “The Tree” evening dress, 1955. With “The Petal” evening stole.
The petal like stole is meant to transform the wearer into a flower. Charles often thought of his clients as sensual flowers and believed fashion should evoke that emotion.

It was interesting to learn about all ways in which nature and science have influenced fashion. As we look at today’s fashion we don’t realize how influential nature has been. This exhibition is a great reminder of how much nature has and continues to inspire us. Stay tuned to my Instagram for more pictures throughout the week. Force of Nature is on display at the Museum at FIT through November 18th.

T.S.

fashion Life Lifestyle Uncategorized

Fourth of July Outfit

4th of July

I love dressing  for specific occasions. I’m a lover of history, and one of my favorite aspects of the past is the fact that people dressed for every occasion. Perhaps because it is so much easier for us to get our hands on the latest fashion that I appreciate how people  kept up with the trends in the past. For example in the 18 and 19th centuries people of the upper class were accustomed to changing their outfits 3-4 times a day or more! Perhaps their was a day outfit for a stroll in the park and then a day dress to have tea with friends. If they went hunting or riding  their outfit usually consisted of a tweed riding suit, hat and boots. Dinner time was an affair no matter who they were dining with. You can be sure ladies wore gowns and gloves while men looked polished in a tux or at the very least a dinner jacket.

4th of july

Dress: Mac+Jac
Jacket: Bitten by Sarah Jessica Parker
Shoes: Payless Shoesource

4th if July

 

So do I long for the days of corsets? Well not particularly, what I do love is people respected fashion and what it can do. They understood the way you look is the very first impression you give. So when their is an occasion like a holiday I always like to put on something  that I wouldn’t wear everyday. Sure you can throw on a t-shirt and jeans, but why not punch it up a bit in a nice dress? Holidays and vacations are the days where you can wear that bright dress and actually have a reason for it!

4th of July

For the Fourth of July, I do NOT like to look like the American flag. But I do love putting together a red, white and blue outfit. Now as a rule I normally pick one color and subtly add others. When you do this you are allowing the eye to ability to focus. Just think when you see a bright colorful pattern, you normally want to look everywhere to take it all in. But by focusing on one color and bringing in others softly your eyes cans adjust easily. For this outfit my main focal point was the red dress with an embossed animal scale like print. Touches of blue came in with the always Americana blue jean jacket and bright blue nails. While white tied in with a clutch, faux pearl bracelets and clear sunnies.

4th of July

Red Lipstick: Shiseido in Rouge Rouge
Sunnies : Strawberry accessory store in NYC. Courtesy of blogger friend Lillie Morales’s sunglasses drawer.

fourth of July

Faux pearl bracelets
Rings: Stella and Dot
Clutch: Press gift from Bandelettes
Nails: Sinful Colors in 951 Why Not

PC: Lillie Morales of Jerseyfashionista

So what are you going to wear this Fourth of July? I hope I’ve inspired you to get festive with your outfit. Put something on that is going to make you feel extra beautiful even if it is casual! For more outfit inspo for this weekends festivities check out blogger friend  Jerseyfashionista’s latest post!

As always I look forward to your comments here and on social media.

P.S. If you are into historical drama’s like I am particularly for the fashion, let me know! Although that is for an entirely new post.

T.S.