Pink

When my sister and I were kids, my mom was dismayed that our favorite colors were purple and green, respectively. Isn’t part of the fun of having two little girls dressing them in pink?

Maybe her love of pink sank into my penchants subconsciously, because as an adult I found my wardrobe becoming pink and red.

The first time I realized that I had developed a style was around sophomore year of college. I bought a sleeveless red shirt with a lacy crocheted trim around the neck in a secondhand store. When I got home, in my closet I saw my dark red sleeveless dress with lace for the neckline. Without realizing it, I had bought an item I basically already had.

Since then, I have gone through other color phases—black, gray, navy blue—but I still have a lot of pink and red in my closet.

Naturally, when I heard about the Museum at FIT’s exhibit “Pink: The History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color,” I emailed several friends I thought would be interested and asked if they’d like to join me. Being the kinds of friends I have, they were enthusiastic, and we planned an outing.

Several of us had been to the museum together for “Fairy Tale Fashion” a few years ago when our friend was visiting from Boston. Since then, I keep the Museum at FIT’s exhibits, which are free, on my radar.

This time I got in the spirit of the exhibit, wearing a pink coat, pink scarf, and pink purse, which wasn’t too far a stretch from my normal outfits.

After viewing the exhibit “Fashion Unraveled” on the ground floor, we went downstairs for pink, pink, pink.

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Does anyone remember this dress? I saw it at Sotheby’s pre-auction exhibit in Paris a few years ago! Now I know who bought this John Galliano. I wouldn’t say I’m particularly knowledgeable of high fashion, but I guess I do get out there. I would not have thought that not only would I see the same dress in Paris and New York, but also that I would remember it.

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Speaking of connections, I was surprised to see a caption featuring the book Pink Sari Revolution, which was sitting at home waiting for me to read it. A few weeks earlier, I had borrowed it from my local library after a quick browse of the nonfiction shelves and finding the book flap summary interesting. When I picked it up, I had no idea whether it was well-known. Now I was even more intrigued to read this book about a women’s movement in India.

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There was also some vintage children’s clothing to illustrate that in the early 1900s, pink was actually seen as masculine, a boy’s color.

I remember that in grammar school, most of my classmates, boys and girls, said their favorite color was blue (or were some of them pretending in order to fit in?). Mine is still green, but from my wardrobe, you’d think it was pink.

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Wondrous Worlds

How about traveling without traveling?

The Newark Museum in New Jersey currently has an exhibit up called “Wondrous Worlds: Art & Islam through Time & Place.”

I am drawn to art that combines image and word. These two blue beauties are by Hassan Massoudy, who was born in Najaf, Iraq and now lives in Paris. They feature poems from centuries ago and bright wide strokes of paint.
165.newarkmuseum.2016a“Travel, if you aspire to certain renown, it is in roaming the heavens that the crescent becomes the full moon.”
– Ibn Qalaqis, an 11th century Egyptian poet

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“Oh friend, don’t go to the flower garden. The flower garden is within you.”
– Kabir, a 15th century Indian poet

This prayer cloth from Iran has mihrab, gate, and flower motifs.

100_9965Some of the museum’s permanent collection amused me, such as this “teapot goblet” from 1989 by Richard Marquis.

100_9971This glass and metal sculpture is called “Firebringer” and was made by Jon Kuhn in the early 2000s.100_9973

And the teapots, the teapots, the teapots!

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The Ballantine House is a section of the museum that features American period rooms. This dining room had so many pieces on the table, from silverware (three forks for each setting), plates, and goblets to cherubic figures and tiny fancy salt shakers.

100_9976100_9978100_9979I have a time and space machine in driving distance from my house. The Islamic world and Victorian America can be done in an afternoon.

Tale as Old as Time

Why do fairy tales possess such enduring popularity? I think it’s the element of fantasy, of neat division between good and evil, of dreaming of that happy ending. For me they have more of a nostalgic appeal. I grew up on Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin,” and their songs unfailingly make some kind of feeling swell up within me. I haven’t seen the more recent animated films such as “Brave,” “The Princess and the Frog,” and “Frozen,” though many of my peers have enjoyed them. I did recently read a collection of Hans Christian Andersen’s tales, which like the Grimms Brothers’, are usually darker than their Disney renditions. In any case, fairy tales old and new take us to places where odd and extraordinary things happen.

High fashion has that same fantastical allure. Everyday clothing’s primary function is to cover us per societal convention, but sweeping skirts add drama and architectural lines turn fabric into sculpture.

The current exhibit “Fairy Tale Fashion” at the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York combines story with finely draped mannequins. The outfits, some darkly elegant, some whimsical, are each footed by a concisely told fairy tale.

Sleeping Beauty’s dresses were dreamy. The beautiful piece on the right fluffs out on top, then perfectly hugs the body before fluting out like an inverted daffodil. As for the Marchesa gown on the left, I usually prefer cinched waists, but even I was taken by the soft uninterrupted layers of what I imagined to be moonlit fabric as Briar Rose made her way through the forest. 100_9838

This intricate dress and headpiece by Dolce and Gabbana had a harder edge. I think I’d enjoy wearing this armor of tough femininity while stomping through the hectic subway environment in New York. Who would get in my way?

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This gold and black dress in the Alice in Wonderland set shone under the muted light. I see it at an evening version of the Mad Tea Party. 100_9845In the Beauty and the Beast group, I honed in on two pieces: a pretty, printed long-sleeved dress with heaps of material suspended in the air from designer Mary Katrantzou’s fall 2012 collection, and a white dress from Rodarte’s 2007 spring collection that would have been prim if not for the bold roses down the front. Both are not over the top but inch right to the edge.

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And then you’ve got the wolf in his nightgown…

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These three dresses were paired with a disturbing story by the Brothers Grimm about a girl whose father wants to marry her after her mother’s death. From left to right, they embody the stars, moon, and sun.

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A literal representation can be too much, but I found this dress littered with stars quite lovely with just the right amount of clustered and scattered stars. It was designed around 1930 by Mary Liotta, on whom a brief internet search yielded nothing.

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Cinderella’s dresses of gold and silver were accompanied by shoes that included a subtly-colored, butterfly-adorned pair by Christian Louboutin.

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This is just a taste of the exhibit, which is up until April 16 and free to the public. I highly recommend it if you happen to be in New York and seek a little enchantment.