Landed at Newark and spent half an hour humming "Woke Up This Morning" by A3 while passing through the N. J. Turnpike and into the Lincoln Tunnel (Sopranos fans will understand).
Upon arrival in Greenwich Village, I dump my bag in the hotel room (perhaps more aptly described as a closet + sink, but who sleeps in NY anyway?) and dash out to explore the shops around Lower Fifth Avenue and Nolita. I restrict myself to window shopping only in Soho, but one day I'll treat myself...
After completing the annual spring stock up, I settle into a cafe by the very funky Parsons New School for Design, where I meet "Jamie the Giraffe" (below), admire the Vibskovish jumpers and colourful sneakers worn by male and female students alike, and pull out my notes to do some review for imminent finals.
Next on the list is Central Park to visit the horses, followed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.The blog.mode exhibit caught me by surprise- I was saving it for last, but as I turned away from an immense stone sarcophagus in the Egyptian Wing, I found myself looking at Junya Watanabe's enormous honeycomb ruff, and a set of stairs leading downward.
At the bottom of the stairs, I was notified that anyone taking pictures would be escorted out, so after getting busted trying to photograph the bodice of this Worth gown, I wandered around as innocently as possible, taking quick snaps whenever the maniacally anti-camera security were occupied elsewhere. As a result, there aren't as many photos as I had hoped (the hooded Alaïa sheath for example, and the Champs Elysées gown worn by Denise Poiret were stunning in person), but at least you can get an idea of the exhibit.
One of the earliest gowns was a blue Robe à la Française c. 1765, rumoured to descend from an Austrian lady in waiting to Marie Antoinette (15 years earlier, and it might have looked like this!).
Next is my favourite of the two; a similar design from c. 1775. I can just see Glenn Close in Dangerous Liaisons, wearing this (minus the modest neckerchief) and taking tea with Valmont: "I've always known I was meant to dominate your sex and avenge my own..."
The simple cotton day dresses at right are from one of my favourite periods in fashion history, the 1820s - 1830s. The summer dress with bustle is from the 1870s. I can't imagine how stifled those women must have felt. A steel crinoline with bustle pads in addition to a corset must have been unbearable in hot weather.Moving away from angelic and into sinful, here are the Parisian fetish boots that were second on my Met list next to the Oyster Gown. I wish I'd found something similar in my great grandmother's keepsake trunk! (alas Finns have a very different sense of style than the French). These thigh high boots are particularly exciting to fashion historians because of their avant garde stilletoe heel. High, tapered heels weren't introduced to mainstream women's fashion until after the War.
Detail of Philip Treacy's elaborate "Chinese Garden" headdress...
I'm not sure if she wore this particular Treacy creation, but it immediately brings to mind the late, irreplaceable Isabella Blow.
Vivienne Westwood's famous platforms...
The display case opposite showcased Olivier Theysken's swirling "L'Air du Temps" gown, one of the first he designed for Nina Ricci, and Vivienne Westwood's equally impressive pink "Propaganda" dress, which is constructed from one long, unbroken piece of silk, expertly draped around a boned bodice.
The L'Air du Temps gown looks very dark, but the crinkled ruffles are actually multiple shades of grey.
Last, but certainly not least, the Pièce de Résistance for this visitor: Alexander McQueen's Oyster Dress from 2003.Sigh... The first McQueen gown with a "mille-feuille" layered skirt I ever saw was the pale pink one below worn by Liv Tyler in 2002. I was 15 then and I'm still obsessed with it (although I prefer the rough Oyster bodice to Liv's custom satin corset).
Next stop was the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA).
I'd just walked in when Natalia caught my eye. Her crocheted necklace and matching sweater were made by an aunt in Poland.
The museum cafe was like a German food market.After tea with friends visiting from England, I set off to explore...
Around 6 o'clock, I met up with a friend to check out the discount department store Century 21 down in the Financial District (I'd heard the rumours and didn't have the stomach to go alone at the end of the day!).
The rumours were correct- the store was a packed, chaotic mess with rude staff, but the stock is worth a dig. I had to pass on a gorgeous Narciso Rodriguez bodice because even the discounted price was out of budget, but I ended up with a silk/cotton Filippa K top with geometric cutouts for $100 that I'd previously passed up in Copenhagen due to its $300 price tag. My friend commented that it reminded her of Aeon Flux, which made me very happy, not because the futuristic anti-heroine appears to have inspired the fall collections, but because 3 years on, I'm still a hopeless Aeon addict.
Very hungry at this point, we cabbed up to Kenka on St. Marks Place for grilled eel and ramen noodles (we considered, but passed on the bull testicles), and stocked up at a Japanese supermarket.A day well spent!
For more photos, please check my flickr.