On a grey and misty day in Manhattan last week, the mister & I went on a lovely visit to the Cooper-Hewitt, bringing us tons of inspiration, not to mention a few extra pounds, after noshing on decadent corn arepas and plantains afterward at Caracas, one of our all-time favorite cafes in the East Village (which we always try to keep secret, but I feel so guilty not sharing the culinary love with you).
Above: Rhthme Coloré by Sonia Delaunay, (France, c.1946)
Currently on display are two gorgeous exhibits . . . Color Moves: Art & Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, and Set in Style: The Jewels of Van Cleef & Arpels. For many moons I'd been awaiting the debut of Delaunay's exhibit, being that she is a muse of mine. . . both for her commitment to live an unconventional life as colorful as her creations, and the harmonious creative partnership she shared with her husband, painter Robert Delaunay.
(L) Sonia in her studio on boulevard Malesherbes (Paris, c.1925), and (R) a printed silk satin dress with metallic embroidery (Paris, c.1925-28)
Sonia was an abstract painter whose rainbow-hued art flourished in the otherwise cold & grey machine age. She applied her modern sensibility to textiles, clothing (including costumes for films and theatre), book bindings, and interior design. In the 1920s, she and Robert, with whom she frequently collaborated, began designing dresses described as "poems in motion", sewn of prints featuring controversial prose by Dadaist poets.
(L) Cover of La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France written by Blaise Cendrars and illustrated by Delaunay (France, c.1913), (R) sketch of Robe Poemè no. 1328 (France, c.1923)
Above: Film still from Le P'tit Parigot (which must have been a huge influence on Klaus Nomi, as well as Bowie), directed by René Le Somptier and costumed by Delaunay (France, c.1926)
Her controversial brand of couture led to much success and a storied Paris boutique, Maison Delaunay, which sold Sonia looks from top-to-toe, every time featuring her avant-garde patterns and textiles, and collected by stylish stars such as Gloria Swanson and Nancy Cunard.
A wool embroidered coat (so amazing in person, it had me entertain the thought of becoming a professional cat burglar) handmade for Gloria Swanson, (Paris, c.1923-24)
Looking at her work today, one can't believe how fresh and modern it all feels . . . there were whimsical embroidered cloches that felt totally Anna Sui, and other pieces in the exhibit that if you told me were designed by Marni or Rodarte, I wouldn't doubt it for a second.
Above: Models in Delaunay beachwear (France, c.1928), Sonia and her models in Robert's studio (Paris, c.1924), and design #253 in gouache and ink (France, c.1928-30)
And then there was the crazy ice on display in the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibit, featuring très dazzling pieces worn and loved by Elizabeth Taylor, Marlene Dietrich, Princess Grace, Jacqueline Kennedy, Doris Duke, Eva Péron, et al. Here are some choice pieces I'll be placing on my birthday list this year . . .
Art Deco Anneau (ring) brooch (Paris, 1919), and Art Deco compact (Paris, c.1928)
Stunning Lamartine bracelet, given as a gift to Dame Elizabeth Taylor (along with matching earrings, naturally) by husband Richard Burton, during a romantic visit to Geneva, c.1971. Le sigh . . .
Diamond lapel clips, inspired by the Egyptian and Mayan pyramids (Paris, c.1920)