Wednesday, February 29, 2012


The front and back of a photograph that ran in The New York Times on Oct. 16, 1970, accompanying a story about a mannequin warehouse sale. The annotated print has lived in The Times's physical photography archive for over 40 years. It was brought back to life on The Lively Morgue on February 27, 2012.

Photographs are timecapsules, are beauty on paper, are storytellers. The fact that people do not generally print them and hold them dear as tangible objects anymore keeps me up at night. How is it that my grandchildren will never know the distinct pleasure of sitting next to me on a couch with a photo album between us, peeling back a thin plastic layer from a thick cardstock page, unsticking a rectangle of glossy paper, and holding it in close view to laugh at what I was wearing and how my hair was longer on one side than the other back then? How will that never happen? I fully embrace the unbridled innovation of my digital present, but no photos? Perhaps this all bothers me more than others because I am an aspiring archivist, but if you are also phobic of a photo-less world, The New York Times has just begun a project that I suspect will help stave off the full-blown panic you may be experiencing. With an aptly named Tumblr The Times is opening up their physical photo archive to a world wide audience. The Lively Morgue is a simple and beautiful project that mines the unfathomable, unknowably large collection of printed photographs and photographic media that by best estimation includes
“five million to six million prints and contact sheets (each sheet, of course, representing many discrete images) and 300,000 sacks of negatives…at least 10 million frames in all…[and] 13,500 DVDs, each storing about 4.7 gigabytes worth of imagery.”
Just how vast is that collection? If the Tumblr feed featured
10 photos every weekday, just from the printed portion of that collection alone, it wouldn’t have the whole thing online until the year 3935! The thing that is stunning is that this is not unique (although admittedly The Times holds a comparatively large collection), there are untold numbers of rooms filled with boxes of photographs and negatives and slides. So much treasure remaining unseen.

The emergence of the paper dress trend! Originally published March 4, 1968.

Enough with the sad news, let's get back to the happy Morgue project. The site will feature a few photographs a week; a selection of timely or just simply breathtaking subject matter. The lovely and amazing part of the project is that the editors have had the foresight to satisfy at least some aspect of the photophile's desire to see a physical object: they have scanned the back of the photographs, presenting each image recto and verso. Thus they retain all of the little handwritten and hand-stamped details that tell the photo's life story. They have even included an annotated key to help you decipher the information scrawled, stamped, or pasted onto the photograph. It is a beautiful moment of analog and digital hybridization. And, as with any photo archive anywhere in existence, it includes fantastic fashion information, from high fashion subject matter to documents of popular dress.

A dress form hollowed out and refilled with liquor bottles at a speakeasy posing as a tailor shop. The photograph originally ran on January 9, 1930.

The Lively Morgue (so named after the nickname bestowed on the storage room itself) is a new project, having just begun two days ago. Bookmark/RSS/Feed it now and watch it come alive.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Going up?

I joked with my friend once that I would love to ride the elevator at the Conde Nast building (after feasting in the cafeteria of course) up and down for a day just to see what happens in the world's most fashionable shafts. Well, now I can have that experience and still hang on to my dignity.

Introducing @CondeElevator's Twitter feed. It's every bit of crazy goodness that 4 Time Square employees overhear on their way up the building. It's fantastically full of all the fashionese and fat phobia you would expect.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Couture Is In The Details

Claire Shaeffer shows-and-tells a Dior Couture gown's secrets.

Claire Shaeffer isn't fooling around. Her love of couture is serious; it's obsessive even. She ran away from home at 17 to literally join the circus. Literally. When acrobatics failed her and she wound up a doctor's wife, her performer shoulders kept her out of a lot of the fashion she loved, so she taught herself how to sew. In the manner of anyone who would run away to join the circus, she didn't just start with easy Simplicity pattern shift dresses, nope, she started a life-long practice of astutely dissecting garments to gain knowledge of their construction. Combing the aisles of vintage stores, she picked up pieces by big name designers and analyzed their every stitch to see the hows and whys and ins and outs of their form. She never stopped. Today Claire is one of the premier authorities on fashion's most fine, skillful sewing techniques. She has penned over 15 books on sewing and leads workshops for those hungry for the knowledge of just what goes into those high-priced couture garments (it's actually worth the money!). To learn more about Claire and her secrets, check out a post I did on her recent visit to the FIT campus for Pins and Needles, FIT's Fashion and Textiles MA program's blog.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Good Face

Artist Jen Mann gives good face. Her print work and paintings are the love children of a high fashion magazine and the prime of the pagan planet. Her pretty subjects have the bone structure of perfect creatures, and the animals she sometimes coaxes out of their ethereal surroundings (or their skulls) are equally perfected.

While the imagery elements (howling wolf, pretty woman) could easily have come from that hippie/suburban spirit shop on Main St., Manning's soft renderings of bold features keeps her work well in the realm of higher art. You can see more of her work at her website and on her blog.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

I like my goddessses shaved.

Ah, the '90s were forever ago, but with one quick flash of that dragon furled on a buzzed tete, they were only yesterday.

Shaved-headed model Eve Salvail made a return to the catwalk at Jean Paul Gaultier's couture show yesterday, and it looks like she hasn't missed a beat. Need a reminder of Eve? Here she is featured on House of Style, with an appearance by JPG himself:

Now, where are my clippers? And, my tattoo gun? Maybe Eve will let me borrow hers...

And because one good shave deserves another, watch Grace Jones get a 13 minute haircut in a video piece by Anton Perich.


Love, worn.

Riccardo Tisci's contribution to couture is beauty realized. The spareness with which he presents his collections speaks to a rare level of restraint in the fashion industry by a clearly capable and highly talented individual. His ten looks for this season are phenomenal in their craft, and rather than glut the runway with three times as many ensembles, he lets them each stand alone like understated lines of poetry, clearly meticulous in every detail. Behold the beauty, front and back:

I'm waiting with bated breath for some detail shots. This collection makes me want to impose a rule that any designer still showing couture must present a video of the handwork that goes into each look. If we only could witness the finesse and skill represented in these creations. I hear there was also a scent diffuser misting the presentation with the aroma of roses. See? Meticulous.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Historical Hotness

Single subject Tumblrs have me at hello. This one had me at hot. The genius behind My Daguerreotype Boyfriend has begun combing the annals of historical photography for the men who melted the lens, even way back when. I think the site makes an awfully good case for you guys out there to dust off your cravats and join something that requires a uniform. I'm going to share a few photos with you, but you'll have to visit the site for your boyfriend's stats. Some are criminals, some are soldiers, some are imports...all are hot. (Except one or two with muttonchops...)

Gosh, something about those sepia tones make the brooding even broodier.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Surf the Pavement

I'm a fan of tough girls. The thing about being a tough girl is that you have to do your dirty work with grace. Here the ladies of the Longboard Girls Crew shred Madrid mountains with a style so sweet, it makes the bloody work look like a dip in the ocean.

I mean, really, the pretty little synchronized ditty at 3:45? That's money. I'm also a fan of how they skim their fingertips along the passing road the way a girl on a boat might touch the surface of the water, leaving a wake. Their clothes are classic skater gear with softened edges. It's all so breezy.

via The Daily What

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Opie x Rodarte

Image of a Rodarte gown by Catehrine Opie.

The photographer Catherine Opie is known for her portraits of gender. She takes photos of "men" and "women" in ways that show you the confusion of those terms, the identity they impose, and the ways they are expressed. She also photographs the body as a platform for thought and or pain. Self-portraits of the artist are disturbing and beautiful documents of self harm, or of love. It's this mix of the rough and soft, of the dark and the warm, that makes her pairing with Rodarte a natural fit. As a satellite to their MoCA show (which they call a case study of their still young work) Rodarte is releasing a book of photographs by Catherine Opie and Alec Soth. Californian landscapes of interest and inspiration to Kate and Laura have been photographed by Soth, while Opie has taken photographs of the Mulleavy sisters' clients and favorite models in their gorgeous American couture pieces.

The photos above are all included in the book which is available for pre-order on Amazon.

Monday, March 28, 2011

On With His Head!

Cick above for video via the SHOWstudio site.

It never ceases to amaze (and utterly relieve) me that some of the most genius artists in the fashion world are also fantastic people. I've grown up with a ridiculous, inexplicable inner itch to make fashion my life. There was no cure for that strange condition, so now I'm devoting myself to it with a drive I didn't know I had. Every day it takes courage to show up as myself to a dream that I never thought I could really do without being reincarnated into some other human form with longer legs or a keener style sense. The fuel for my fire are the ever-so-talented and delightfully humble fashion folk who also do what they love simply because they must. Philip Treacy is one of those people. His work is poetic in its perfection. Every piece that I've ever seen come out of his millinery shop in his decade plus career has been witty, expertly crafted, and pointedly beautiful. Every single one. In an old SHOWstudio video piece I just caught for the first time, Treacy makes one of his "Feather Salads," or so he calls them. You get to watch him craft one of his gorgeous hatworks from mold to mannequin with the skill and eye he has in excess. He also answers questions at the same time, speaking candidly about his initial fear of Lady Gaga, the only two "machines" that he uses to make hats (his hands), and the beautiful feathers he curls to perfection with a hair iron. The video is only available through the SHOWstudio site, but please click through the photo above and watch; the video is phenomenal.

It Girl

Clara Bow was the first screen star to be branded an "It Girl." What was It? Words defy what only 20 minutes of Bow's story can tell. Watch this fantastic documentary from a few decades ago (and and a big pond away) to learn more about the Bow. Also, revel in watching Louise Brooks talk about her contemporary.

I personally think It was the hair. Love it.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Street Ladies

Artist Katy Grannan has a keen eye for the pretty that exists in the odd. Her work is a body of mostly photographs that shows viewers what they may not think to look at in a way that makes it so they can't stop staring. The artist's latest work centers around a decidedly older group of subjects. In a two part solo exhibition entitled The Happily Ever After at Salon 94's Bowery and Freemans locations (see the site for details) Grannan presents The Believers and Boulevard. The Believers is an unscripted video work featuring a cast of faces familiar to Grannan's cannon; and Boulevard is the artist's rendition of street style photography. In her characteristic way Grannan stopped and snapped an intriguing (beautiful, unsettling, maybe unhinged) set of strangers against a stucco wall, as bright as the California sun.

The photos of Boulevard are of a varied set of passersby that present with their own peculiarities. Each subject carries out some form of visual delusion, whether a dyed mustache masking grays, a teeny tank top defying calendar age, a masculine jawline, or a host of ill-fitting clothing relaying an ill-fitting persona. The thread between them is a molding of reality to match the mind's life, the one that the subjects are living happily ever after. The photos themselves are saturated with sunshine, and glisten with brightness. The shots of older women, in their outfits and with their smiles, are most intriguing. Age is such a taboo in our culture, that we associate it with demented minds and feeble bodies, rather than a mark of life well lived and well spent. Grannan's photos raise that point without any pointedness, just great sitters and a stucco wall.