In the 1970s, an unusual and now-nonexistent film genre known as 'porno chic' flourished in a handful of New York cinemas. These films were essentially surprisingly well-produced updates of film-noir classics (think Sunset Boulevard), their sexual tension manifested so as to become porn. Actors of the X-rated sort donned raincoats, lurked in the shadows, delivered minimal lines, and otherwise did the things porn stars do. Porn noir or roughies, these films were also called.
Anthology Film Archives has done the work no one else will do and located four of these gems — which, we might add, have excellent posters. They're slated to screen at the East Village institution, as part of its In the Flesh series, from clean 35mm prints, presented by special guests who'll provide charmingly lascivious details from behind-the-scenes.
Expose Me, Lovely
March 27, 8:00 PM
The Double Exposure of Holly
March 28, 8:00 PM
March 29, 8:00 PM
March 30, 8:00 PM
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A little exhibition at the Costume Institute is opening soon (about someone named Charles James?). Here are others worth a gander...
Musée du Quai Branly, Paris
March 4 - May 18, 2014
- In 1934, the shipping heiress and avowed avant-gardist Nancy Cunard published Negro Anthology — a radical 858-page book tracing the fragmented history of African-Americans, African-Europeans and Africans — in a scathing indictment of colonization and racism. This exhibition reexamines the revolutionary book and its lasting influence on politics, art, and pop culture.
Robert Mapplethorpe: Both Left Bank and Right
Grand Palais, Paris
March 26 - July 13, 2014
- The 200 or so photographs in this retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe represent two powerful forces at work in his oeuvre, his pursuit of explicit homoerotic subject matter and his quest for classical perfection. Outside influences are also given their due, including his close relationship with Patti Smith and the heady days 70s New York.
National Portrait Gallery, London
February 6 - June 1, 2014
- Over 250 of David Bailey's photographs, personally selected by the artist and spanning 50 years, are arranged thematically across a range of subjects: actors, artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers. An architect of the 60s mod look, Bailey has also included his portraits of supermodels past and present, from Jean Shrimpton to Kate Moss.
The Glamour of Italian Fashion 1945-2014
Victoria and Albert, London
April 5 - July 27, 2014
- Nowadays, Italian fashion could use a boost, and V&A is happy to provide it. A comprehensive survey at the London museum pays homage to the golden decades of the hot-blooded peninsula, from its lean post-war years through the subsequent eras of Pucci, Gucci, Armani, Valentino, and Prada, and on to the present-day age of outsourcing.
Halston and Warhol: Silver and Suede
Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh
May 18 – August 24, 2014
- To kick off The Warhol’s 20th anniversary, Silver and Suede examines the interwoven lives and practices of two great American friends and icons, integrating photos, dresses, paintings, and two of the artists' materials of choice. Organized by Halston's niece, Lesley Frowick.
Papier Glacé: A Century of Photography at Condé Nast
Musée Galliera, Paris
March 1- May 25, 2014
- Mining its own pages, publishing house Condé Nast culls the work of more than 80 fashion photographers, from Richard Avedon and Cecil Beaton to Inez & Vinoodh and Mert & Marcus, who made the likes of Vogue and Vanity Fair what they are today.
Feathers have the unique ability to signify angelic innocence or devilish glamour, and any number of traits therein. A new exhibition at Antwerp's MoMu fashion museum, Birds of Paradise, will shed light on the power of plumage in fashion, couture, and film from the 20th century to present. In collaboration with Maison Lemarié of Paris, the exhibition explores the craft of the plumassier and the art of feather embroidery.
For the most part, feathers have been used to signal upper-class sophistication and luxury. Belle époque garments emphasized refinement through ostrich, pheasant and marabou feathers. Soon, flappers of the Roaring Twenties embraced feathers with mainstream gusto, fashioning them into boas and hats. Couturiers from Cristóbal Balenciaga to Christian Dior began working extensively with feathers, which also worked their way into films of the early and mid-1900s. It was on the big screen that Marlene Dietrich's white swan-down coat gained notoriety. Nowadays feathers have taken on a more diverse role, denoting dark glamour (Alexander McQueen) and poetic esoterica (Ann Demeulemeester).
Birds of Paradise: Plumes & Feathers in Fashion, March 20 - August 24, 2014, MoMu Fashion Museum Antwerp, Nationalestraat 28, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium
Who can blame Patti Smith for going googly-eyed in the presence of Tilda Swinton and planting a wet one on her cheek as the two strolled into a New York screening of Tilda's latest, Only Lovers Left Alive, sponsored by the Cinema Society and W editor-in-chief Stefano Tonchi?
But there was plenty more the marvel at. In addition to Tilda, the vampire romance — written and directed by her old pal Jim Jarmusch, and nominated for the Palme d'Or at Cannes last year — drew out ageless stunners Pat Cleveland, Christy Turlington, and Michelle Hicks. Are we absolutely, positively sure they're not in fact vampires?
It's universally accepted that Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro is the greatest show on earth, borrowing the language of Barnum & Bailey. The fashion set, as always, takes it a mince further, describing it as the greatest fashion show on earth. Certainly both are true. Yet neither seems to adequately convey the unbridled pageantry, grandeur, and intensity of the shiny, happy spectacle that compels all of Rio to grab a caipirinha and sway to the samba beat that permeates the city and beyond.
Lasting from dusk to dawn over four nights, Carnaval is without a doubt the ultimate party (even the subways pitch in, operating all night, but only for Carnaval). Just before Lent each year, a holy time of abstinence and one killer hangover, the neighborhoods, beaches, and favelas of Rio erupt in song and dance, a bouncy blend of African (the word samba originates in Angola), Amerindian, and Portuguese influences — which is to say, Catholic on paper, bacchanalian in practice. Interestingly, the masquerade aspect derives from haughty Parisian balls of the 19th century.
But among the hedonistic chaos, there is order. Namely, the parade — a slow-rolling, extravagant display of towering floats strewn with gyrating samba dancers bursting out of their elaborate, beaded, gilded costumes. It's an explosion of color, cheer, wit, civic pride, and fanciful storytelling rivaled only by the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games, which, incidentally, will call Rio home in 2016, following the World Cup later this year. In fact, the most celebrated of Carnaval's artistic directors, Paulo Barros, consults for the Olympics. So, clearly, for the foreseeable future, Rio is where it's at.
At Carnaval, everyone dances the samba, both on the floats and in the stands, which makes the Sambadrome (Sambódromo) — a runway designed by the late, great Oscar Niemeyer exclusively for this purpose — a shimmying, caroling mass of humanity. Like a linear stadium, the Sambadrome stretches as far as the eye can see. It's estimated that two million people congregate here over four nights and five days. On top of that, countless street festivals spring up across Rio and throughout Brazil. The tropical frisson and sex appeal can be intoxicating. Little wonder that those drawn to carnal visions of inner-city heroism, like Givenchy's Riccardo Tisci, make the pilgrimage each year. Never mind that the majority of Carnaval falls prohibitively during the Paris collections.
Strictly speaking, Carnaval is a competition among local samba schools. Except they aren't exactly schools, at least not in the traditional sense. They're the likeminded residents of the various districts of Rio, banding together to celebrate and represent their community in as unique a way as they can — as has been done for over two hundred years. In Rio alone, there are 200 samba schools, each given one hour to strut their stuff from end to end of the Sambadrome, in the high hopes of winning a very robust cash prize and major bragging rights. To someone who (sort of) remembers the early 90s in New York, samba schools are reminiscent of ball culture and vogueing houses, as in Paris Is Burning. There is a similarity in the movements, the resourcefulness, the deceptive athleticism, the absolute devotion — but with none of the internecine 'reading.'
As guests of TexBrasil, the country's equivalent of the CFDA, we were given generous behind-the-scenes access to the floats a day before the merriment was to begin. Everywhere we looked we saw last-minute welding, hammering, painting, and assembling of fantastical creatures and personages that, a day later, would be cobbled together into teetering allegories on wheels. Usually these allegories, or themes, are loosely interpreted from Brazil's history, i.e. the discovery and settling of this corner of the New World, with plenty of respectful nods to its indigenous tribes. But sometimes they veer into zanier, campier territory. We craned our necks into massive hangars filled to the ceiling with oversized dragon heads, spaceships, geishas, music boxes, Hindu gods and a larger-than-life Mother Teresa — all waiting patiently for their big reveal. Floats used to consist of papier-mâché attached to an iron frame and were thus rather flimsy. These days they're crafted — probably computer modeled — from polystyrene foam and high-tech plastic resins, costing in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The winner of Carnaval 2014 is the samba school Unidos da Tijuca, employing a theme based on the life of Ayrton Senna. The Brazilian race-car driver, who won three Formula One world championships, was killed in 1994 while racing in Italy. Upon his death, three million mourners flooded the streets of his hometown of São Paulo — thought to be the largest impromptu display of grief in the world. To the jury of Carnaval, the mix of celebrity, youth, dashing good looks, tragedy, piousness, and the millions of dollars he gave to Brazil's poorest children, often anonymously, proved a winning combination.
Dries Van Noten needs no introduction. As a member of the legendary Antwerp Six, he took London by storm in the 80s with a menswear collection that was bought by Barneys as women's. The rest is history. And he continues to make history every season, going from strength to strength. Last night saw the unveiling of his first major retrospective, Inspirations, at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The private view was fittingly hosted by Barneys and it was a fabulous affair, with fashion designers Claude Montana, Rick Owens, Phillip Lim, Kris Van Assche and many more in attendance — proof that Dries has an unrivalled appeal among his peers, no matter their age.
Alongside curator Pamela Golbin, Dries Van Noten has created a uniquely experiential show, with some very personal insights into his life and inspirations. It started with a room full of names and corresponding cabinets full of mannequins wearing legendary pieces by the likes of Claude Montana and Kansai Yamamoto set against a backdrop of record covers ranging from Grace Jones to David Bowie — like a glimpse into Dries’ teenage bedroom. Pieces from his graduate collection are shown alongside these greats, setting the tone for the show.
His work is beautifully presented in glass cases, with paintings by Francis Bacon and Damien Hirst alongside them, and pieces from Elsa Schiaparelli, Vivienne Westwood and Karl Lagerfeld, emphasizing his insatiable appetite for culture, his love of fashion and art, and his finger on the pulse. One room has a wall of videos showing craftsmen in India, beading the most intricate pieces by hand, and we were told that Dries keeps a entire factory busy with this.
The show seamlessly crescendoed into the current spring collections, making it clear that Dries’ designs are timeless and here to stay. It was poignant to watch editors pointing out the pieces in the glass cases that they had themselves, and even more fun in this final room to see people beaming, looking at the outfits they were wearing behind the glass. It's an unmissable show that we couldn’t recommend more.
Two of Los Angeles' better-known fine artists, Barbara Kruger and Sterling Ruby (he of Raf Simons fashion fame), are tiptoeing into the world of dance, designing the sets for the opening of LA Dance Project's residency at the Ace Hotel Theatre, a lavish Spanish Gothic space dating from 1927.
Of the two productions, Kruger's larger-than-life and atypically romantic typography stole the show. The words "Think of Me Thinking of You" were emblazoned across the stage and backdrop, which the company's founder Benjamin Millepied (former face of Yves Saint Laurent's L'Homme Libre fragrance) staged his piece, Reflections, following its debut last year at Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet. Speaking of Paris, Millepied will soon decamp for the City of Light with his wife, Natalie Portman, to become director of the Paris Opera Ballet.
Ruby's visual concept accompanied a piece called Murder Ballades, choreographed by Justin Peck and based on folk songs of the deadly and cautionary sort from the early 20th century. They were reworked into chamber music by Bryce Dessner, guitarist from The National. In typically dark fashion, Ruby contributed a color-field backdrop of rectangles painted in splotchy colors, reminiscent of a tattered Stars and Stripes — not unlike his couture tie-dyes for Dior.