Tale of two museums

January 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

About two weeks ago, I was able to visit two museums that could not be more different from each other. The Museum at FIT was featuring an astounding exhibit of some pieces from Daphne Guinness’s large collection of haute couture fashion (unfortunately photos were not allowed). In addition to being heiress to the Guinness brewery fortune, she has always been known for her eccentric taste, obsession with eye-popping jewelry, close friendship with the late Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow (she bought Blow’s entire collection after her death to prevent it from being fragmented), and penchant for sky-high heel-less shoes.

Photo courtesy of PopSugar

The exhibit itself was divided into six parts – Dandyism, Exotic, Armour, Chic, Evening Chic, and Sparkle – each of which explored a certain aspect of her style. For example, Dandyism featured some of the most beautiful, well-fitted men’s coats (many of them custom-made by McQueen or Chanel) that I’ve ever seen. And there were displays for just her standout shoes, spiky and studded or velvet and everything in between. It was crazy to imagine all of these gorgeous clothes belonging to a single person, but at the same time, you had to at least respect that such a woman didn’t give a s*** about going with the mainstream and dressed however the heck she liked.

Although the exhibit ended January 7th, I’d highly recommend stopping at FIT if you’re close to Penn Station nonetheless. Admission to the museum is free and there is a permanent exhibit called “Fashion: A – Z” which takes you through different styles (from Mainbocher to the latest Givenchy collection) without being boring.

The second museum I visited was the Cloisters (owned by the MET) all the way up at 190th Street. A bit of a trek, for sure, but well worth the 30 minute subway ride. Although I don’t know too much about medieval art and architecture, I found all the different courtyards and displays (ranging only from the 12th to the 15th century) to be awe-inspiring and peaceful when considering how old these buildings were. There was also a monk’s garden, which I can’t wait to see in spring and summer when I visit again, as well as an interesting exhibit called “Game of Kings” about the Lewis chessmen (the oldest chess set known to be in existence).

However, I have to say that my favorite pieces at the museum were the “Hunt of the Unicorn” tapestries, which covered an entire room, as well as the beautifully made Belle Heures¬†illuminated manuscripts, owned by the Duc de Berry and made by the Limbourg Brothers. I’d studied these pieces in my art history classes in undergrad and didn’t even know they were housed at the Cloisters until I looked over the museum map. So it just goes to show that some treasures are much closer than you may think.

Yes, 190th Street is further away than most would like and fashion isn’t something that catches everyone’s eye, but if you have some spare time one weekend, I’d highly recommend visiting either one of these places and maybe, just maybe, you’ll surprise yourself.

Museum at FIT
7th Avenue at 27th Street
New York, NY 10001

The Cloisters
99 Margaret Corbin Drive
New York, NY 10040


Snapshots from the Met

June 7, 2011 § Leave a comment

Aside from the amazing McQueen exhibit (photos, especially haphazard ones taken to best avoid yelling from the guards, don’t do the displays justice) and the somewhat underwhelming Antony Caro exhibit, it was nice to spend time exploring some of the newly-renovated Greek and Roman and Colombian wings. The perfect weather, sunny but not too humid, was a definite plus as well.

Stairs to the Met

Wing to Greek and Roman Antiquities


Entrance to a packed McQueen exhibition

Plato's Atlantis

Ensemble, the last collection

Ensemble, the last collection

Bird's Nest head dresses: see how they were made here

"Spine" corset

Pieces from "The Girl in the Tree"

Jellyfish dress and Plato's Atlantis

Antony Caro


Little golden men in Colombian wing


“Wild Ones”

May 19, 2011 § Leave a comment


Yesterday, I spent all day guiltlessly catching up on my television shows and looking at jewelry that I can’t afford, including these cute and sleek MANYMAL necklaces hand-sculpted and polished by Markus Diebel in San Francisco. Originally, to celebrate the end of 1L year and reward myself for not having a neurotic breakdown, I was contemplating another tattoo, but now I think I might shell out the money (some of the proceeds go to WildAid) to buy either the koala or bat version. Thoughts?

Alexander McQueen’s Bird Nest Headdress

May 11, 2011 § Leave a comment

The McQueen obsession continues, this time with a short film about Philip Treacy (Irish milliner who also created 36 hats worn to the recent royal wedding) and Swarovski’s work on the Bird’s Nest headdress for the Fall 2006 Collection.

Alexander McQueen and the romantic mind

April 30, 2011 § Leave a comment

One of the highlights of each summer is visiting the Metropolitan for the annual Costume Institute and rooftop displays, and this year promises to be the best yet. Even before Kate Middleton wore a perfectly executed Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen wedding dress for her marriage to Prince William, I was extremely excited about the “Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty” exhibition, which opens May 4 and continues to July 31 and looks back on the career of a highly mercurial and memorable designer who died much too young.

From "The Girl who Lived in the Tree"

Oyster Dress from "Irere"

Curators Hamish Bowles and Andrew Bolton promised that it would be unlike any other exhibition before it and tried to stay as true to McQueen’s flair for the romantic and dramatic as possible. And from the looks of the renderings on the Metmuseum blog, “Savage Beauty” is going to be absolutely breathtaking. There are pieces ranging from the controversial “Highland Rape” show, the Sarabande dress that was adorned with fresh flowers, the Jellyfish dress that Lady Gaga rocked in her “Bad Romance” music video, and ¬†gorgeously romantic ensembles from “The Girl who Lived in the Tree.”

From "Sarabande"

From "Plato's Atlantis"

If you are in NYC any time this summer and even remotely interested in fashion, I highly, highly recommend making your way to the Met for this truly special exhibit. Not all of us can afford couture in our closets, it doesn’t mean we ¬†should miss out on a chance to see some pieces up close and in person.

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty
Metropolitan Museum of Art
May 4 – July 31, 2011

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