This Galanos dress would be hanging in my closet this very moment but merde! alas it does not fit me. I even tried it after skipping lunch... but no luck. It was purchased at Martha's in New York back in the day. Martha's was owned and run by Martha Phillips and her daughter Lynn Manulis. Miss Martha and Miss Lynn as they were called, were also called "the doyennes of haute couture in America". Martha's had its own workroom for alterations and fittings.
Martha opened her first store in the 1930s and her first clients included Marjorie Merriweather Post (who brought in her jewels to be certain the clothes complimented them properly), Doris Duke, Brooke Astor and Gloria Vanderbilt. She eventually moved the store to 58th Street and Park Avenue. Clients would sip tea and nibble on cookies while models showed the clothing. It is a world, as Rhett Butler said to Scarlett O'Hara, that is gone with the wind. (Except for here at RARE vintage of course! Though you are more likely to get champagne and chocolates then tea and cookies.)
The dress is a classic sheath in the most beautiful lace and softly textured fabric - this is certainly couture material that Galanos would have purchased in France. The lace has an illusion of nudity but, ahem, Galanos dressed ladies and this is an only illusion as there is a nude silk lining. It is extremely elegant and extremely sexy at the same time.
Galanos little black dress with lace bodice. Size 4.
The Musée Galliera, the museum of costume and textile in Paris, is fortunately closed for renovation. I say fortunately because yesterday, I went to see the Madame Gres exhibit at the Musée Bourdelle and the setting was an ideal and unexpected place to exhibit the extraordinary work of Madame Gres.
"La perfection est l'un des buts que je recherche."
It is a meandering museum as is the show. At first, I thought the exhibit was only a small number of dresses but you keep walking and you discover in the artist's studio, two beautiful gowns, then hidden behind a partition is another group of extraordinary dresses, then all of the sudden there is a room filled with original sketches from the Maison Gres archives which Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent bought and donated to the museum. So it is really very thrilling to turn a corner, walk through a garden, enter a room and each time, you think to yourself: this is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. But then you walk along, come upon another dress and you think: no, this is the most beautiful dress I have ever seen. But then you think: well, that other dress was so beautiful...
The museum is dedicated to the sculptor (we all know that Madame Gres considered herself a sculptor) Antoine Bourdelle. I think exhibiting the dresses amongst Bourdelles' massive and monumental sculptures which were classical but not literally from ancient Rome or Greece added to the sense of timelessness to the clothing. I saw one dress that was very similar to a Madame Gres dress we had at RARE vintage and a sketch that looked very similar to another dress we had - it is an extraordinary honor for me to have and have had some superb examples of Madame Gres' work at RARE vintage. Here are some photos from the show. Enjoy!! I know I did!
and a detail of the dress that will break your heart: the last dress Madame Gres ever did. There was an old and fragile woman waiting to see Hubert de Givenchy in his atelier. It was Madame Gres. She gave him the last dress she did as a thank you for supporting her work.
all photographs by my most wonderful and ever so patient husband, Andrea Cairone
Madame Gres: Couture at Work. Musée Bourdelle. Through 24 July.
I am always interested in purchasing Madame Gres dresses and accessories for RARE vintage from those who can bear to part with her pieces.
In 1970 La Musée des Arts Decoratifs had a show of automobiles dedicated to speed. Speed is also the theme in Ralph Lauren's astounding collection of cars. Form and function. Style and substance (which is always an underlying theme at RARE vintage). Yesterday it was a great treat to see seventeen of Ralph Lauren's cars from his collection in the magnificently restored Musé des Arts Decoratifs.
"Collecting is always done by someone obsessed." Ralph Lauren
Sound familiar RARE vintage blog readers?? ☺ Obsessed? Who me? Who? You? I won't mention names, but you know who you are. But we are in good company. Like Ralph Lauren, we take in beautiful and rare examples of fashion and sometimes we need to restore them, like Ralph Lauren did to his Alfa Romeo 8C from 1938. A two year restoration. Everything done perfectly. The car went on to win at Pebble Beach. I think, perhaps, my favorite car was the Jaguar XXK from 1958. My husband said Steve McQueen had the same car. Now, that is what I would call two hotties and that is hot enough for lil' ol' me.
Steve McQueen with horse and horsepower.
"Sell it because it is hot and uncomfortable."
My husband's grandfather had a Mercedes Benz Gullwing 300SL similar to the one Ralph Lauren owns and was on display. His wife made him sell it because it was hot and uncomfortable. (Cue: smacking sound on forehead.)
1955 Mercedes Benz 300 SL from the Art of the Automobile.
The Art of the Automobile: Masterpieces from the Ralph Lauren Collection
Musés des Arts Decoratifs
28 April- 28 August, 2011
In the afternoon I made a usual pilgrimage to Colette on Rue Saint-Honoré. There were many, many pilgrims there. And the collection, as always, was cutting edge, interesting, entertaining and there was temptation everywhere you looked. I opted for a few things: a bracelet by Gaia Repossi, a Maison Michel gold, feathered hair comb and hair pins by Odile Gilbert. The Gaia Repossi bracelet was made by women in Rwanda from organic banana and bamboo leaves. They are left untreated to avoid the use of harmful chemicals. The golden finishing touches are done at Gaia Repossi's studio in Paris.
For the past few months, I have noticed in magazines that every time I fall in love with a pair of shoes they are always by Gianvito Rossi. Barneys sells a few pairs but a very limited selection. I knew I had to see the full collection. The store is on a little side street, not far from a very! expensive vintage store. (I found the prices to be completely fou! and makes RARE vintage seem like a bargain - you know we are not the most inexpensive -TLC asks for a higher price.) The shoes at Gianvito Rossi are cool, classic, modern and keepers. You will wear them forever. You know, the kind of shoe you like so much, you keep having it resoled. I have not decided yet which I will buy... but I am very tempted by the white patent pump (don't ask me why, but I feel like it is the shoe that will go with everything) and a stiletto in black suede and plexiglass. Very wicked, very sexy. Then there were a pair of canvas buckled boots... well, I could go on and on... Good thing they are all on sale.
Great Galanos! I cried when I saw this beyond beautiful cream cotton lace dress. It is so simple yet crafted so brilliantly by a studio of artisans put together by Mr. Galanos in Los Angeles. Mr. Galanos is as close to couture as ready to wear can come. His fabrics were sourced in France - and often the same were used in the Paris couture collections. But the works was all done in California. This dress, a sheath shape is actually tiers of lace, but very flat (not flouncy) and the hem is cut around the lace. Really beautiful.
As perfect as this dress is for sunset cocktails with a high strappy heel and a summer glow, or a romantic dinner, it would also make a modern and sleek wedding dress for a bride not looking for the great big princess gown.
I am in Paris and I thought besides posting some amazing vintage pieces, I would write about a few things I see, do and maybe eat in Paris. I have not twittered about food yet, but in Paris it may be hard to resist...
And what could be more French, more perfect to start the RV travel diary with then...
Coca Cola Light. But not any Coke Light. Karl Lagerfeld Coke Light. Mais bien sur! And so tasty too. (Actually, I have not tried it yet but I love the bottle!)
When I travel, there is nothing I find more depressing then going to all of the same stores that we have in New York. I will go to Celine though. I can't help myself! And besides Celine has not yet opened in New York. Yesterday's shopping destination was, besides Bonpoint (Soldes!) for the children (and the playground at Jardin du Luxembourg - have to make everyone happy!) was Deyrolle. Deyrolle is an incredible store full of taxidermy. Yes, my RV friends, taxidermy. And why you might ask? Because I have been obsessed with getting a flamingo since I saw one in the apartment of Vanessa Traina on the wonderful and highly addictive blog, Into the Gloss.
Carved from a single piece of rock crystal is this extraordinary Tina Chow cuff. The words extraordinary and quiet come to mind when describing Tina Chow's jewelry. The words: perfection, healing, fine and rare also come to mind. Tina Chow was photographed wearing a similar cuff with her Kyoto bracelet.
It is not for the faint of heart jeweler to attempt to carve a cuff from a single large piece of rock crystal so I think the words audacious and undaunted also describe Tina Chow's work as a jeweler. But then the words delicacy and tenderness come to mind as well. Tina Chow's jewelry was collected by men and women who loved her work when it was originally crafted by Tina and a talented group of artisans and by new clients who also love and covet her designs. Thank you Tina. Your talent and legacy endures.
A rare and beautiful Tina Chow rock crystal cuff. The cuff has a wonderful large Tina Chow signature. Please note there is an extremely small chip on one corner of the cuff which does not at all distract from the beauty and wearability of the piece. The cuff measures nearly 7 1/2" around. Opening is 1". Cuff is 1 3/4" wide.
"I should love to see Venice." "You may before long be able to gaze at the marvelous stuffs which they used to wear. One use to be able to see them only in the works of the Venetian painters. But I hear that a Venetian artist, called Fortuny, has rediscovered the secret of the craft, and in a few years time women will be able to wear brocades as sumptuous as those that Venice adorned her patrician daughter with."
Marcel Proust In Search of Time Lost, 1919
What immediately struck me about this Patricia Lester gown when I was shown it, is the amazing color and how the color is used. It is timeless and very modern at the same time. The hand pleated silk ranges in color from a mocha to a deep brown. A row of tiny beads adorns the neckline. The dress buttons on the side by beautiful thin loops of silk.
1980s Patricia Lester hand pleated silk gown. Size 4/6.
My yoga teacher, Jodi, otherwise known as O Wise One, pointed out that today is the Summer Solstice and I thought, well, ain't that a coincidence! because I just posted the ever so sunny Bob Mackie cropped jacket with an embroidered sun! Sun Salute, here I come... right after this sunset cocktail...
One of my favorite things about my so called job (is it still a job if it doesn't seem like work??) is a phone call or an email from someone who has vintage. It could be anything. It could be something quirky (more on the quirky next week), it could be something magnificent, it could be something fun and fabulous, it could be something so beautiful it takes your breath away. It could be something historically important. It could be about a collection of Madame Gres or Tina Chow (those rank pretty high on some of my most special RARE vintage moments).
I love not knowing what I will find but knowing it as soon as I find it. I especially love being shown a collection that belonged to someone who obviously enjoyed fashion. Someone who had an eye for special pieces. Someone who loved whimsy and beauty. I myself am drawn to beautiful and fun pieces. Clothing is a part of enjoying life. To me it would not be much fun to wear a grey boxy suit with a drab black handbag and sensible shoes. I want to put things on that make me feel good, make me feel happy, or make me feel pretty. Clothing is in a way a journal, a diary of our past and who we were and who we have become. It is one of the reasons, I feel so honored when someone invites me into their home - you see the private and the public person.
So when I was shown this cropped Bob Mackie bolero it was a moment of not knowing what I wanted until I saw it. I definitely do not seek out Bob Mackie - Cher's aesthetic is just not my aesthetic - but never say never. This piece besides being so much fun, is really beautifully crafted. It has it all: color! beading! embroidery! but is has it all in a small jacket and if I was Beyoncé or Rihanna, I would wear it with black tap pants and call it a fabulous day. But since I am not Beyoncé or Rihanna, I would wear it super casual with a slouchy tank and a pair of really old and much loved jeans. And I would feel happy and beautiful.