Shopping in New York- Brands

The second in my series of New York post focuses on something I love to do; shopping. Now, I’m not normally one for buying new, but whilst in the states I thought I should at least *investigate* some different brands (I.e. I spent a good few hours aimlessly wandering up and down 5th avenue and Madison avenue trying on silly amounts of clothes). One great thing I found whilst doing this was that there were actually lots of really well made clothes to be found by brands I had never come across. This is often one of my big bugbears about buying new; poor quality but a lot of the All-American brands seemed to be producing very high quality pieces (Yes, the prices were high, but the quality made them seem fairer).

One of the best brands I discovered was Lilly Pulitzer. This brand was SO up my street. Beautiful novelty print garments in bold bright colours. I particularly loved the bustier dresses and shift dresses. Best of all their sizes went to a 00 which was a perfect fit. I so nearly purchased a dress in the store on Madison avenue but managed to just about hold myself back.

Here are a couple of my fave pieces.
Blossom Dress

Blossom dress

Franco Dress

Franco dress

Callahan Short

Callahan shorts

Another brand was Banana Republic, I know we have this over in the UK now, but the selection in the US is just soooo much better. I have very short legs, so I loved their petite stuff which actually doesn’t require me to either turn up the hems or pretend that cropped trousers are actually full length.

(website isn’t great but check out their stuff in stores as it looks much netter in the flesh)

In New York I also found TONS of really great denim. Whatever fit of jeans you’re after, whatever waist size or leg length you can certainly find great jeans in any of the big department stores. A number of the big stores had crazy selections of levis at great prices and I also particularly liked buffalo jeans. Their brightly coloured jeans were some of the nicest I’ve seen and the brand also had some ace western style shirts that would look great tied.

                                                    Buffalo jeans

                                                     Buffalo jeans

And finally going a bit more upmarket (and even further out of my price range) Carolina Herrera. I’ve seen stuff by this brand before but never had I dared tried anything on! Anyway I was in one of those moods and tried on some amazing stuff by the brand in Bergdorf and Goodman . The novelty dog print (apparently of her dog called Gaspar) skirts and blouses were simply amazing. Oh if only for that funny thing called money…

                                           

Museums in New York

Hello all!

I’m back from my whirlwind trip to NY and I just wanted to share some thoughts from my travels. Today New York’s museums. Here are a run down of the ones I visited.

Ohhh…. And this is my attempt at taking poncey shots from the top of the empire state building.

Museum @ FIT

The museum galleries of the fashion institute are only quite small BUT a rarity for New York they are actually free! This is a must visit for any fashion history fan and currently on display are some amazing highlights from the collection including gorgeous pieces by Charles James and Alexander McQueen. My only issue was the heavy shaking you could feel from the subway whilst in the galleries.

Charles James at Museum at FIT

The Frick

This is what you call a personal collection! The Frick collection was formed by Henry Clay Frick
And is still kept in the building that was originally his house. What I like about this collection is you get a real sense of Fricks personality as you wander round the museum, and you actually see the paintings where he originally chose for them to be hung. This is definitely what I would call a relaxing museum to visit. My highlight was the Fragonard room, which was seen as a ladies room; ethereal and light. The Fragonard panels honestly transport you to a different, dreamlike world.

Guggenheim museum

This was my least favourite of the museums I visited. I’m not the biggest modern art fan and a lot of the pieces here were too abstract for my liking. I feel that you get a lot more for your money at the other museums, as even for a student entry to the Guggenheim is $18. If you are interested in modern art check out the contemporary galleries at the Met or MOMA instead which I feel offer more. Needless to say the Frank Lloyd Wright building the museum is housed in is sensational.

Neue galerie

I didn’t make it to this museum, but I did pick up the brochure and I have to say it looks fantastic. I think if you are into your German and Austrian artists this is the museum for you. Lots of art nouveau here, I will definitely be visiting the next time I am in New York.

MOMA

Another amazing museum filled with absolute delights. I went on a Friday afternoon which is free. This does mean it is incredibly busy, but very much worth it. Here are a few of my personal highlights from the museum.

The MET

The MET is THE New York museum. As much as I enjoyed the other museums the met just has everything one could want (like the V and A only bigger). I was so excited to get to see some of my favourite pieces of art in the flesh. Especially the John Singer Sargeant works. Madame X has always been one of my absolute favourite paintings and to see it up close I have to admit moved me. I also really liked seeing the works by Signac and Monet and really getting to understand their brushwork up close.

Not only does the met have wonderful art, but there is also wonderful design. The museum has amazing room settings allowing you to truly understand how furniture would have fitted together. I liked this Art Nouveau room setting the best.

Then of course there is the costume collection (currently closed, another reason I need to go to New York again). The current major exhibition is Schiaparelli and Prada: impossible conversations. Schiap is my favourite designer of all time, so of course I was going to enjoy the exhibition, but I really appreciated the thought process and the thematic approach to the display. Items were really well displayed to allow you to get close enough (but not too close of course) and see both back and front of items. From an exhibition design point of view it was one of the best exhibitions I have ever been to I think.

Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations


One thing that New York museums made me think is how lucky we have it here in the UK with so many of our museums being free. New York museums are pricey, and I actually think we get too much here for free. I mean everything you get at the V and A and not to pay anything for it??? Personally I think there should be a charge, but that is just my two penny worth : ).

In my following blog posts shopping in New York AND getting to hear Tavi Gevinson and Iris Apfel speak.

Future vintage

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about a concept which as a wannabe fashion historian is hugely important. That of future vintage. I’m taking about what recent pieces may one day become collectible, or even just become interesting to future generations. 
So, what got me thinking about this all? A few weeks back the vintage festival declared that the 90s is now vintage. I started to think about what defines the 90s fashion wise and then it got me What ten years from now will we look at and go that SO defines the noughties (apologies I hate this word and will use it repeatedly through this piece but there is no better way to describe the years 2000-2010).
This also applies to museums too. What I find fascinating is when a museum accessions something that is new, or only a few years old with the scope of it capturing the zeitgeist. When I worked at Hampshire museums service there was one piece that stuck in my mind that particularly exemplified this. A Bus Stop dress which if memory serves me correctly was from 1974 and accessioned in 1978. This was an incredibly clever accession by the then keeper of collections, as at the time it would have been simply a piece of second hand clothing but can now be viewed as an important piece.

The bus stop dress in question. Terrible picture, but this picture was taken in the days before i had my SLR. It looked much better on a mannequin in the LBD exhibition i worked on but i can’t seem to find a picture!
So if I had the chance, what would I pick from the last 10 years as pieces of importance?
I’m thinking less high end and more high street. What might we look at  50 years from now and think THAT caused a fashion buzz, or rather that is what everyday people wore.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but is more my starting point. Feel free to comment and I’ll do an update of this list with other suggestions : )
– An item from Kate Moss’s first Topshop collection. The press went mad over it, and as an employee of Topshop at the time I remember the secrecy that surrounded the launch (not being allowed in the stockroom namely!)

This dress was a blatant copy of a Bus Stop dress but nonetheless is instantly recognisable as being from Kate’s first collection


(btw if someone wants to give me an item of first collection kate moss with tags on I want a piece for my collection…drop me an email ; ) )

– Something worn by Kate Middleton. I.e. something achievable to many, like one of the L.k. Bennett dresses she has worn? I have a pair of LK sledge shoes that Kate is often seen in that despite nearly crippling me in the time I worked for L K Bennett I might just keep hold of.

– A bodycon skirt.  In my first year of uni I have distinct memories of these. I had at least four : / (looking back, not such a great look )
– A velour tracksuit. I hate to admit it, aged 12 (2002) I owned one.

– The boho look (c 2005). For this I would have to pick a good white cheesecloth gypsy skirt to really define the look I think.

– A piece from Primark at its peak ( I think im talking 2006 or 2007 here) when EVERYONE had identekit Primark floral dresses in a slightly vintage style.

– Distressed jeans so distressed that you might as well not have been wearing trousers at all (early 2000’s- I think Christina Aguilera might have been partially to blame for this)

– A pair of leggings- but worn as trousers (I only see this getting worse and worse. I have horrid memories from my first year at uni and walking behind girls whose knickers I could see through their leggings *shudders*)
– Lumberjack/check/tartan shirts 2007/2008. 

– Skinny jeans so tight you feel you may cut off circulation to your legs ( c.2006 when this all started if memory serves me correctly)
– High waisted shorts. I had my first pair in early 2007. I remember the hilarity these caused at the time, when everyone was wearing decidedly low waisted garments and there was confusion as to why I would be CHOOSING to wear the waistband of my shorts above my waist. 
It’s funny that during the noughties so many fashion fads seem to have centered around Topshop.  Maybe I felt like they did just because I worked for them. I’m not sure but I have a funny feeling that at some point in the future I will be writing something rather substantial about the importance of Topshop on the British high street in the noughties. Watch this space… its probably a good 10 years off yet, but I can see it happening : )
Trying to think since 2010 though I am really struggling because everything is SO vintage at the moment. Most people I know will happily inject some level of vintage into their wardrobe whether it be crazy novelty jumpers from charity shops (ahem, I look at my housemates on this one ; ) ), cut off levi shorts or genuine 50s dresses. We are currently in a period where the past IS present. Maybe fashion has just got too fast for its own good. Maybe we are about to reach the ceiling of how fast fashion can get? Stores that once dominated seem to have lost their way rather (topshop I look primarily at you here), so maybe the fast fashion bubble is about to burst… I’m certainly interested to see what happens.