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#39: Day Off in New York City

February 16, 2009

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…

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 16, 2009 10:45 pm

    Wow, this looks amazing. And Judith was right, we do have a lot in common! I remember talking about movies with my grandpa as a kid and he told me Katherine Hepburn was the most beautiful and smart women he’d ever seen. When I heard her voice and learned she wore only pants, I was hooked. Jim and I are taking a break from Bringing up Baby right now!

  2. Judy permalink
    August 6, 2009 1:52 pm

    Hi: Just wanted to say that the Hepburn costume in the exhibit was from the stage version of Without Love, not from The Philadelphia Story. Great fun to see, though.

  3. Christine permalink
    February 2, 2012 4:43 pm

    I agree with you “Days of Heaven” is the perfect movie. Loved it! Seen it maybe twenty times, and looking for it on either VHS or DVD. Another good one is “Black Beauty”. The horses stole the show from the human actors. Loved the book when I was younger, now I love the movie.

  4. Christine permalink
    February 2, 2012 4:43 pm

    Actually it is Christine

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