#39: Day Off in New York City
Happy Presidents Day. For those living in New York with the day off and any interest in American fashion, might I recommend a visit to the Museum of the City of New York up on 103rd and 5th. On Saturday they opened a new exhibit and first ever retrospective on American couturier Valentina, titled Valentina: Couture and the Cult of Celebrity.
Couture, not to be confused with prêt-à-porter, is extremely rare in American fashion. Couture is the practice of designing made to order pieces for specific clients that have one or more subsequent fittings. Each piece therein is one-of-a-kind and inherent perfection on the person wearing it. That said, her pieces also truly capture the imagination of everyday living. Valentina said, as I scribbled in my notebook off of the exhibit wall, “The designer must know what life is today. He must go everywhere, even to the moon. He must know the ways, the manners, the culture, the literature of every country. For fashion reflects, as a mirror, the whole life of a people. Designing clothes in no nonsense.” She also said, “Fit the century, forget the year,” a testament to the evil of current trends. Agreed!
My heart almost stopped when I came upon a jumpsuit designed for one of my (top three) personal style icons Katharine Hepburn up at the museum yesterday, designed for the stage version of one of my favorite movies of all time, The Philadelphia Story, for which Valentina also designed the costumes. And I had to sneak my camera out of the bag for this one, thinking to myself “I have to remember that…”
Anyway it’s nearly impossible to find photos of her designs on the Internet, and what I wouldn’t give to be able to show you how charming Valentina was on Edward R. Murrow’s Person to Person, displaying the functionality of her “convertible dress”. She was an incredible artist much deserving of this restrospective that I hope many people will see and appreciate.
As for me on my day off from work, I’m headed to some top secret vintage stomping grounds to see what I come up with…