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Stephen Sprouse, never made it from Cult Figure to Legend (Part two)

10 Jan

Stephen Sprouse

In May 1984, when Sprouse showed his latest collection at the Ritz, a former club downtown, 2,500 people attended, including Andy Warhol. He loved Sprouse’s sixties-inspired clothes and afterward traded two portraits for the whole collection. “Sprouse was definitely one of Andy’s ‘children,’ ” says Benjamin Liu, who worked as Warhol’s assistant. “So much of what Andy was brilliantly known for—the neon colors, the Pop imagery, the association with musicians—Stephen brought into his own work.” Warhol, in turn, brought Sprouse into his life, inviting him for dinners at Odeon or Indochine that would lead to after-dinner excursions to Area, at the time the city’s hottest club.

Jean Pagliuso for American Vogue, November 1984Jean Pagliuso for American Vogue, November 1984
Steven Meisel for American Vogue, March 1988.Steven Meisel for American Vogue, March 1988.
Spanish VogueSpanish Vogue, Stephen Sprouse in the middle
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Sprouse had been in business only a short time but had quickly become a cult figure, his clothes prominently featured in major department stores and on the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. He was part of Warhol’s coterie. Rock stars, like Madonna, wanted him to help style their images. But there was one way in which success eluded him: He was running out of money. From Halston, he’d developed a taste for expensive materials, but since no one was making Day-Glo fabric at the time, he turned to Agnona, the Italian luxury cashmere manufacturer. As a result, his clothes were priced too high for the youthful customers who gravitated to them. Then there were the production problems, as Sprouse insisted on doing things like hand-painting the graffiti on the clothes himself. By the spring of 1985, he owed $600,000 to creditors; that summer, Sprouse shut down his business. 

The press had a different kind of field day, and stories appeared with headlines like SPROUSE: HOW SUCCESS TURNED TO FAILURE. Sprouse, for the most part, kept his feelings private.

In September 1987, six months after he’d designed costumes for the New York City Ballet’s premiere of Ecstatic Orange—and after the sudden death of Warhol, who was buried in a Sprouse suit—Sprouse returned to fashion with the opening of his own store in a converted firehouse on Wooster Street. He was now in business with 24-year-old Andrew Cogan, whose father, Marshall, was chairman of GFI-International. At last, he had big money behind him. But the store was a risky venture—he would be the first designer to have a full-scale emporium in Soho. “There was nothing like this downtown,” says longtime friend Candy Pratts Price. “It was a real happening. A living environment.”

19841984
stephen sprouse, 19871987
'87 '88 ss1987-1988
met Museum, 19881988
ss 19881988

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Sprouse controlled almost every aspect, designing the interior, picking out the music, selecting the images for the massive video wall on the first floor. He created three different clothing lines, including a cheaper one for younger customers, as well as gloves, fishnets, hats, shoes, jewelry, even makeup. “The opening was unbelievable,” says Jamie Boud, Sprouse’s longtime assistant. “Debbie Harry played on a stage formed by a big red X. Stephen knew a lot of people, and they all showed up for him.”

He did two shows that year, one grown-up and sophisticated, with prints done in collaboration with Keith Haring, the other a Sprouse phantasmagoria, with models stumbling down the runway chewing capsules that gushed fake blood. “That show was critisized harshly ,” says Boud. “But Stephen thought it was the best one he’d ever done. He was into the showbiz of it all. The clothes were just costumes for the ‘show.’ ”

By 1989, Sprouse, in what was now becoming a familiar pattern, was once again unemployed. He lost his stores—he’d opened a second one in L.A.—and his wholesale business. “We were too crazily, overly ambitious,” admits Cogan. “At the end, we were doing close to $10 million worth of business, but it wasn’t enough. The clothing, particularly after that last show, which was a spectacular bomb, didn’t sell. Telling Stephen we couldn’t continue was the worst day of my life.” “After the store closed, Stephen was a little lost,” says Boud. “He was just a freelance guy at that point. He realized fashion was what he was best known for, but nothing about his career had ever been calculated.” He spent more time on his art, creating giant silk screens of rock stars, like Iggy Pop and Sid Vicious. He made costumes for Mick Jagger, Axl Rose, Trent Reznor, Courtney Love, David Bowie, and Duran Duran, and designed numerous album covers and backdrops for sets.

In 1996, Sprouse won the rights to use Warhol’s imagery on his clothing, which led to a deal with Staff International, an Italian company whose stable of designers included Vivienne Westwood. Sprouse returned to the runway in the fall of 1997 with a collection that paid homage to Warhol: Models wore the artist’s vivid Pop images on dresses and baggy raver-style pants. But when Staff was later bought out by another company, Sprouse’s license wasn’t renewed—a cruel irony, as fashion was then experiencing a retro-eighties moment and Sprouse’s designs were fetching high prices at vintage stores.

grafitti bag

Stephen Sprouse for louis VuittonIn the summer of 2000, Marc Jacobs asked Sprouse to go to Paris to help with his spring collection for Louis Vuitton. Jacobs, who’d known Sprouse from his own club days, had long been a fan, and arranged for him to stay at the Ritz, where Sprouse, staring at TV static one night, came up with the idea of creating floral prints using huge digitized cabbage roses. But it was Sprouse’s graffiti bag, on which he’d written, in raw painted lettering, louis vuitton paris, that became the big hit, with long waiting lists. Sprouse confided to Boud that even he couldn’t get one. Months later, he could—on Canal Street, where counterfeiters were selling them by the hundreds. “At least the knockoffs were expensive,” says Boud. “Other bags by other designers were selling for $20; his were $90.” Friends bought the standard LV knockoffs and asked Sprouse to paint graffiti on them.

stephen-sprouse-graffiti-tee-by-louis-vuitton

louis vuitton

Stephen Sprouse backstage with designer Marc Jacobs at the Louis Vuitton spring, 2001 fashion show in Paris where they first debuted their collaboration.Backstage with Marc Jacobs at the Louis Vuitton s/s 2001 show
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The experience with Marc Jacobs disillusioned Sprouse on fashion; instead of coming away envious of Jacobs’s lucrative LVMH deal, he realized he’d never be able to work in such a rigid corporate structure. Though Sprouse was then in his late forties, he was still very childlike and loved sitting in Washington Square Park, watching the kids skateboard.

In 2002, Sprouse designed a lower-priced line of red, white, and blue clothing and accessories for Target. Everything had usa written on it in graffiti print. While some people viewed it cynically as a cheap way of cashing in on 9/11, Sprouse, who’d lost a friend in one of the plane crashes, felt an uncharacteristic surge of patriotism. 

Stephen Sprouse for Target

Stephen Sprouse for Target

For years, friends had noticed that Sprouse, who smoked three packs of cigarettes a day, seemed frequently out of breath. At the end of 2002 Sprouse asked around for rehabs for cigarette smokers. He wanted to go to a place where they’d lock him up. Finally, Sprouse quit cold turkey, but in spring 2003, he was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Sprouse kept his diagnosis a secret from all but a few friends. Andrew Cogan, who by then had become CEO of Knoll, had hired him to do textiles, and Renzo Rosso, the founder of Diesel, wanted him to design T-shirts and jeans. He was very concerned about losing those contracts.

A friend took him to the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston and managed to get him admitted into an experimental drug trial, but when his breathing worsened, doctors wouldn’t let him continue with the protocol. Over the next eight months, he visited numerous oncologists and took various drugs, hoping to improve enough to be readmitted into the Dana-Farber program. One drug gave him such bad acne he didn’t want anyone to see him. In September 2003, though, he had to put in an appearance at the opening of the new Diesel store he’d helped to design on Union Square.

Yet he had his optimistic moments, as if cancer were just another business reversal from which he could stage a triumphant comeback. He put his energy into painting portraits of his friends and nephews. He was even working on a painting of the space station for NASA.

In January 2004, he took a six-week trip to Buenos Aires to visit a friend. A few days after his return, Sprouse couldn’t catch his breath. He called a friend, Sean Bohary, who took him to St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital, where he died early the next morning.

In Paris, the fall 2004 shows were in full swing, with people saying an emotional farewell to designer Tom Ford, acting as if he’d died when he was only leaving Gucci. On Sunday night at the Vuitton show, tucked inside the program, people found a slip of paper that read, “This collection is in loving memory of our friend Stephen Sprouse.”

On March 10, 25 friends gathered in New Jersey for the cremation. With pens and Magic Markers, they covered his wooden coffin in graffiti, writing messages to him on the inside and outside surfaces of the box. Then, before closing the lid, someone placed a Magic Marker in Sprouse’s hand, so he could write the last words himself.

Stephen Sprouse

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Book

The Stephen Sprouse book

The Stephen Sprouse Book

Inventive, enigmatic, and supremely creative, Stephen Sprouse made art and clothing that captured the mood of the eighties. One of the first American designers to mix graffiti and a punk aesthetic with fashion, Sprouse manipulated conventional notions of style, and his unique sensibility has inspired designers from John Galliano to Raf Simmons to Marc Jacobs. Sprouse’s career started in the late seventies, when, after working for Halston, he migrated to a warehouse on the Bowery and started making outfits for his neighbor, Debbie Harry. The fashion world quickly embraced his innovative, culturally relevant sensibility and downtown edge. But Sprouse’s inability to compromise his artistic vision for the rigid fashion business compromised his commercial success. The Padilhas possess the largest private collection of Sprouse’s work, and were given exclusive access to his archives by his family for this project. They also obtained never-before-published images from photographers such as Steven Meisel, Bob Gruen, and Mert and Marcus. The book features a foreword by the novelist Tama Janowitz, one of Sprouse’s closest friends. The release of this book coincides with a retrospective at Deitch Projects. The book will be available with four different jackets, each featuring a different Day-Glo color, an homage to Sprouse’s iconic album cover for Debbie Harry’s Rockbird.

 

http://www.thestephensprousebook.com

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info: WikiPedia

http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts  by Patricia Morrisroe

Stephen Sprouse, never made it from Cult Figure to Legend (Part One)

3 Jan
Stephen Sprouse by Andy warholStephen Sprouse by Andy Warhol, 1987
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When Stephen Sprouse was working for Halston in the early seventies, he liked to tease the designer. “Okay, here we go,” he’d say. “Another shirtdress for the old ladies.” Sprouse loved Carnaby Street and miniskirts. He wanted to see women’s legs again, and pestered Halston constantly about it. Finally, two days before a major New York show in 1974, Halston let Sprouse have his way. “We rolled a big fat joint,” says the actor Dennis Christopher (another of the designer’s “Halstonettes”), “and Halston said, ‘Do it!’ Stephen picked up a pair of giant shears and began cutting off the bottoms of the dresses.” Christopher soon joined in, and with Halston crying, “Skimp it, skimp it!,” they created what became known as the Skimp.

the Skimp

Stephen Sprouse was born in 1953. Being the oldest son of Norbert and Joanne Sprouse, he spent his first two years in Dayton, Ohio, where his father was stationed at the Air Force base. After the family moved to Columbus, Indiana, Norbert Sprouse pursued a lucrative manufacturing career; the family lived comfortably in a white, columned house a friend describes as something out of Gone With the Wind. Sprouse’s artistic talent emerged when he was a toddler. “Stephen was wired the way he was from the time he was 2,” his mother says. “He was totally unique.”

He was rarely without a pen, churning out pictures with such intensity that his mother worried that her shy son was relying too much on his art to do his talking. Sprouse was assertive only when wielding a pen or pencil—and then so much so that teachers nicknamed him the Art Supervisor. At 9, he drew a series of four self-portraits, in which he imagined his future career choices. “I might be a hobo,” he printed beneath one. “Or a movie star . . . or a father.” On the last picture, as if acknowledging his special gifts, he wrote, “Now I know who I better be—ME!”

When Sprouse was 12, his father showed his portfolio to someone at the Art Institute of Chicago, which led to an introduction to the designer Norman Norell. Sprouse’s father took Stephen to New York to meet both Norell and the Indiana-born Bill Blass, who later hired the aspiring artist as a summer apprentice. Sprouse was then only 14. “He was cool, my dad,” Sprouse told the late fashion editor Amy Spindler. “I mean, this was in Indiana. He could have beat me up if I didn’t play football, and he didn’t.”

Four years later, Sprouse enrolled at the Rhode Island School of Design, where a teacher introduced him as “the designer of the future” to a class that included Nicole Miller. For Sprouse, however, the future couldn’t come soon enough, and he left after three months to come to New York. He was totally fascinated by Andy Warhol and the people who hung around him. Sprouse loved Edie Sedgwick. For him, she was like the sixties Kate Moss.

Sprouse, lower right, assists Halston with a fitting on actress Anjelica Houston in the early seventiesAssisting Halston with a fitting on Anjelica Houston, 1970s
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Sprouse immediately got a job with Halston, who was then at the height of his fame as America’s top fashion designer, and a reigning prince of Manhattan’s nightlife. Sprouse as a “total drawing machine.” Halston frequently designed by draping fabric, and Sprouse, sketchpad in hand, would have to visualize the architecture of his draping and then translate it to paper. Other times Halston would simply say, “Now, give me a dolman sleeve,” and Sprouse would instantly create one. From Halston, whose strength as a designer was in the purity and simplicity of his forms, Sprouse learned about shape and luxury. 

Sprouse left Halston after two and a half years, and in 1975, he moved to a loft in the Bowery, where he shared a bathroom and kitchen with singer Deborah Harry. The beautiful ex–Playboy Bunny, and former art student Chris Stein had recently formed Blondie, and they were beginning to gain a following at Max’s Kansas City and CBGB. At Halston, Sprouse had loved playing dress-up with the designer’s favorite model, Karen Bjornson, who personified the cool Upper East Side blonde. He transformed Harry into a kind of Bowery Bjornson, creating clothes from ripped tights, T-shirts, and objects he picked up off the streets. In London, designer Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren, manager of the Sex Pistols, were already making the conceptual link between fashion and punk with their Kings Road boutique, Sex. It sold slashed T-shirts and bondage gear. Sprouse’s vision was less hard-core, more glam. He may have created a dress with razor blades dangling from the hem, but it was beautifully designed.

Deborah Harry lead singer of Blondie wearing Stephen Sprouse circa 1979Debbie Harry wearing Sprouse, 1979
Debbie Harry & Stephen SprouseDebbie Harry & Stephen Sprouse
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Art, rock music, and fashion were the central themes of Sprouse’s life. When he wasn’t designing clothes, he worked on his art, doing giant silk-screen paintings of rock stars, and painting pictures over the Xerox copies he made with his large industrial copier. With the advent of music video, rock and roll was becoming a bigger part of mass culture. In 1978, he photo-printed a picture he’d taken of TV scan lines onto a piece of fabric, which he then designed as a dress for Debbie Harry. She wore it in the video for her No. 1 hit “Heart of Glass,” giving Sprouse the kind of exposure it had taken Halston years to get.

Sprouse found many of his design ideas on the downtown club scene. He was a regular at the Mudd Club, where the “theme parties”—the equivalent of happenings in the sixties—attracted both an art and a music crowd. It was viewed as the antithesis of Studio 54, which, in Sprouse’s mind, was more Halston’s territory. One thing both places had in common, however, was the copious quantities of drugs being consumed on their premises. Pot was Sprouse’s drug of choice during the Halston years, but he later moved on to heroin. Friends say that if he hadn’t stopped, it would have killed him, but he went into AA. He wasn’t about to become a drug victim. His work meant too much to him.

Debbie Harry in early Stephen Sprouse dressDebbie Harry in early Stephen Sprouse dress
Keith Haring, Stephen Sprouse and Teri Toye.
Keith Haring, Stephen Sprouse & Teri Toye
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For years, Sprouse had been adorning his hands and arms with friends’ phone numbers—his version of a Palm Pilot. Graffiti, both an essential element of punk and an outgrowth of subway art, had already been incorporated into the works of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. Sprouse decided to use it his way.

“Stephen told me that he was wandering around the East Village one day,” says Beyer, “and suddenly went home and began sketching graffiti-covered motorcycle jackets and sequined miniskirts.” He showed them to his friend Steven Meisel, then an aspiring photographer, who brought them to fashion producer Kezia Keeble. In April 1983, Sprouse’s clothes appeared in a show of young designers that Keeble produced and were such a hit that Bergdorf Goodman and Henri Bendel immediately ordered ten dresses. He was suddenly a bona fide fashion designer—something he wasn’t entirely sure he wanted—and with $1.4 million from his parents, he set up his business.

muse teri toye modeling stephen sprouseMuse Teri Toye modeling Stephen Sprouse
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Eight months later, at his silver-painted showroom on 57th Street, he introduced his first, groundbreaking collection, a synthesis of sixties and eighties pop culture, which merged all the visual references he’d picked up on during his thirteen years in New York. The models wore big Jackie O sunglasses, impish stocking caps, and graffiti-covered white motorcycle jackets, while punk rock and the Rolling Stones boomed from speakers. “I remember being totally overwhelmed,” says Kal Ruttenstein, now Bloomingdale’s senior vice-president for fashion direction. “It was the first time I’d seen Day-Glo clothing. You had very loud rock-and-roll music, which you just didn’t have before in shows. You had boys and girls walking together down the runway, which wasn’t done, and you had Teri Toye, a man who lived as a girl. It was a very powerful moment.” (Ruttenstein says that when Bloomingdale’s started carrying the line, Karl Lagerfeld and Claude Montana always wanted to see Sprouse’s clothes.)

Fall 1984 sequined graffiti dressesFall 1984 sequined graffiti dresses
Stephen Sprouse.
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Debbie harry in Stephen Sprouse, 1988Debbie harry in Stephen Sprouse, 1988
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Next Week:

Stephen Sprouse, never made it from Cult Figure to Legend (Part Two)

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info: WikiPedia

http://nymag.com/nymetro/arts  by Patricia Morrisroe

Thea Porter, Godmother of Bohemian Chique

13 Dec

Thea PorterThea Porter reflected in her dining table.  Ph. Jim Lee for the Sunday Times , 1971
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Once, towns strewn across Turkey and Afghanistan owed their economies to the western appetite for the kaftan. During the 1970s travellers on the hippy trail brought back pottery, soft furnishings and piles of clothes to remind them of their spiritual adventures.

More than 40 years on, the kaftan has had several revivals as a key fashion piece. And, like Indian cuisine, it now seems to have been adopted as a British staple. It is the late Thea Porter, who is credited with bringing the bohemian look to London catwalks…. 

Although Thea Porter is not as famous a name as Mary Quant or Laura Ashley, her influence on the look of her era is just as potent. Her loose, draped shapes and fabrics helped create the style of stars such as Faye Dunaway and Elizabeth Taylor in the 1970s, and they have since become forever entangled with the idea of rock-star self-indulgence.  Vogue UK, June 1971.Vogue UK, June 1971Maudie-James-1970-Photograph-by-Patrick-Hunt-Courtesy-of-the-Venetia-Porter-collection-Image-VA-Photographic-Studio_426x639Maudie James, ph. Patrick Hunt 1970

Thea Porter, Mode Avant Garde, September 1978. Photograph by Jacques d’AlvaAvant Garde, September 1978, Ph. Jacques d’Alva

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Short Biography

Thea-Porter-in-her-work-room-Thea Porter in her work room
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Thea Porter was born Dorothea Noelle Naomi Seale, on 24 December 1927, in Jerusalem and raised in Damascus. She was the daughter of Morris S. Seale, the Arabist and theologian, who was a Christian missionary in Syria, and his French wife, who was also a missionary.  

Thea was educated at the Lycée Française in Damascus, Fernhill Manor, then for a short time studying French and Old English at Royal Holloway College, London, before being expelled.

Following her studies in England, she worked in the library of the British embassy in Beirut, where she met her future husband, Robert Porter. Together they travelled to Jordan and Iran, and had holidays in France and Italy. She studied painting during the day, and “went to nightclubs every night and had millions of clothes.” In June 1961 Thea had her first solo painting exhibition at the Alecco Saab Gallery, Beirut. Together they had a daughter, Venetia.

Thea-Porter-Vogue-1975-April-Barry-LateganVogue April 1975, ph. Barry Lategan
Thea-Porter-Vogue-1970-November-May-Barry-Lategan_426x639Vogue November 1970, ph. Barry Lategan
Thea Porter British Vogue 1969Vogue 1969
Thea-Porter-Vogue-Oct69-Guy-Bourdin_426x639Vogue October 1969, ph. Guy Bourdin
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After she separated from her husband, Thea moved to London in May 1964. Her first job was in interior design, working for Elizabeth Eaton. She opened her first shop, an interior decorating business offering imported cushions, fabrics and hangings called Thea Porter Decorations Ltd, in Soho at 8 Greek street on July 27, 1966. She realised that rather than just cutting up her imported kaftan to use the fabric for cushion covers, they were fashionable in their own right, and began making up her own in mixed fabrics and antique trimmings.

From 1967, she expanded internationally; her first wholesale client was Henri Bendel in New York in 1968. 

Gypsy-dress-Liz-Goldwyn-Collection-Photograph-by-Amanda-Charchian_426x639

Thea Porter 1970-1973

Gipsy-dress-Courtesy-of-the-Venetia-Porter-collection-Image-VA-Photographic-Studio_426x639

Thea Porter

Thea Porter '70-'72

Thea Porter

In 1971, Thea opened a store in New York financed by Michael Butler, the producer of the hit Broadway musical Hair. It closed after six months, but she continued to sell very successfully at high-end boutiques across the United States; Giorgio Beverly Hills sold approximately $300,000 worth of Thea Porter designs per year in the mid-1970s. On April 1, 1977 she opened a store in Paris, on the Rue de Tournon; this closed in 1979. Thea Porter Decorations Ltd went into receivership in February 1981; she subsequently worked from ateliers on Avery Row and Beauchamp Place. Zandra Rhodes has stated, “Sadly, one didn’t hear of her after that“.

In 1994 Thea was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Thea Porter died in London on 24 July 2000.

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Though she’s no longer a household name, Thea Porter basically owned the boho look from the late 60s onwards. 
Outside the Greek Street shop in 1977. Ph. Tony McGrath, the ObserverFacts about Thea Porter:

Growing up in the Middle East had a lasting influence on her designs

Thea was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Damascus and studied in Beirut. Eventually settling in London in the mid-60s, the influences of her upbringing made her designs feel new. She brought the flowing robes and rich textures that she’d seen as a child to a London crowd who had been dressing in the Op Art and modernist styles of the early 60s. Moroccan djellaba robes, Iraqi Samawa carpets and 17th-century Persian paintings were all inspirations. A shirtdress made from the Damascus tablecloth fabric, aghabani, became a bestseller.

She started out with interiors, and menswear followed

Her first shop, on Soho’s Greek Street 8, was quite the hangout. It opened in 1966, and sold Thea’s ornate, colourful furnishings, including wall hangings and curtains. The Beatles snapped them up to decorate their short-lived Apple Boutique. Rock royalty liked her menswear designs, too. Elton John was an early fan and Pink Floyd wore her embroidered jackets and vibrant shirts on the cover of their appropriately trippy debut album The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn in 1967.

Piper AlternatePink Floyd album cover  'The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn'

She also excelled at womenswear

Thea fitted into the floaty, feminine mood of the time that other designers – Bill Gibb, Ossie Clark, Laura Ashley – were also exploring, but made it her own with several signatures. Along with the aghabani shirtdress, her so-called “gipsy” dress – layers of vibrantly printed chiffon, with a tight bodice and flowing sleeves – had the requisite wild romanticism, especially when worn with swashbuckling boots. 

She had a good business brain on her chiffon-clad shoulders

By 1969, Thea had expanded overseas, with a concession in New York department store Henri Bendel. A stand-alone store followed in 1971, and she sold her designs successfully in LA, too. Her success partly came from an ability to evolve her aesthetic. The very ornate designs gave way to simpler pieces in the 1970s, influenced by the classical lines of 30s fashion. At this time, she also hired a young Katharine Hamnett who worked for Thea while still studying at Central Saint Martins.

Her clothes were loved by a well-heeled crowd

A regular in the pages of British Vogue – where luminaries including Lauren Hutton, Penelope Tree and Rudolf Nureyev modelled her clothes – the likes of Barbra Streisand and Faye Dunaway were clients in the Greek Street store and Elsa Peretti modelled in her shows. While Thea’s name faded into obscurity in the 1980s and 90s, it’s since become a cult favourite on the vintage scene, with original pieces fetching more than £1,000 on eBay. 

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Book

book cover

Thea Porter: Bohemian Chiq

Thea Porter (1927–2000) came to epitomize bohemian chic in the 1960s and ’70s, using an eclectic mix of luxurious fabrics for her signature flowing dresses that became favorites of stylish women everywhere. Faye Dunaway, Joan Collins, Barbra Streisand, and Elizabeth Taylor were fans; Vogue’s Diana Vreeland championed her clothes; and today vintage Thea Porter is worn by Kate Moss, Nicole Richie, and other fashionistas. This first  book devoted to the UK-based fashion designer features new photography of her fabulous clothes and jewelry as well as press clippings, sketches, and excerpts from an unpublished memoir she wrote about her aesthetics, philosophies, and work.

Photo’s of the Thea Porter exhibition in the Fashion &Textile Museum, London

Greek-Street-shop-2

Thea Porter exhibition

Thea Porter exhibition

Thea Porter exhibition

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info:

http://www.ftmlondon.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/TheaPorter-press-release.pdf

WikiPedia

http://www.theguardian.com

http://fashion.telegraph.co.uk/

Barbara ‘Babe’ Paley, the Ultimate Trophy Wife

22 Nov
Erwin Blumenfeld, Portrait of Barbara "Babe" Paley, 1947Ph. Erwin Blumenfeld, 1947
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Barbara Cushing in Boston (July 5th, 1015), she was the daughter of world-renowned brain surgeon Dr. Harvey Cushing, who was professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, Harvard and Yale universities, and Katharine Stone Crowell Cushing. 

A student at the Westover School in Middlebury, Connecticut, she was presented as a debutante in October 1934 in Boston, with Roosevelt’s sons in attendance. Her debut drew great attention during the Great Depression, and marked the beginning of her social career. 

In 1934, she was disfigured in a serious car accident and underwent re-constructive surgery that turned her into a beautiful woman.
1939 horst p horst Babe Paley is wearing a be-winged marten hat and jabot revers on a natural marten hat by John FredericsPh. Horst P. Horst, 1939
John Rawlings ca. 1941John Rawlings ca. 1941
Vogue 1939 babe paleyVogue, 1939
photographed by Erwin Blumenfeld for Vogue, 1946.Ph. Erwin Blumenfeld for Vogue, 1946.
Babe Paley for Vogue, February 1941Vogue, February 1941 Horst P. Horst (Babe Paley on the right)Ph. by Horst P. Horst (Babe Paley on the right)

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Babe met and married oil heir Stanley Grafton Mortimer, Jr., in 1940. Though her mother preferred that she marry a powerful man with a title, she generally approved of the union. She and Mortimer had two children: Amanda Jay Mortimer  and Stanley Grafton Mortimer III. Their marriage ended by 1946. Several retrospectives have claimed that Babe neglected her children while in pursuit of social status and depended upon the wealth of her husbands to support her lavish lifestyle. Her daughter Amanda has admitted that their relationship was “virtually nonexistent” and that the distance “was her choice, not mine”.

Wedding Gown by Mabel McIlvain Downs.Babe in her wedding dress when she married Stanley Mortimer.Ph. Horst P.Horst,1940

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In 1938, Babe began working as a fashion editor for Vogue in New York City. Her position at Vogue gave her access to designer clothes, often given in exchange for Babe’s high profile and glamorous image. In 1941, Time magazine voted her the world’s second best dressed woman after Wallis Simpson. In 1945 and 1946 Babe appeared on the best-dressed-list again. Upon her second marriage in 1947 to William S. Paley , she left her job at Vogue.

Apartment at the St. Regis

Babe Paley
Babe Paley
b22e87f1fa003c587dc3d9258ad41782

Babe set about to cultivate and create a picture-perfect social world. The couple took an elegant apartment at the St. Regis and hired noted interior designer Billy Baldwin to decorate. She and Paley lived there during the week, while weekends were spent at Kiluna Farm, on 80 acres (320,000 m2) in Manhasset, Long Island, where a succession of landscape architects and garden designers beautified the grounds.

In addition to lavish entertaining, Babe maintained her position on the best-dressed list fourteen times before being inducted into the Fashion Hall of Fame in 1958. She regularly bought entire haute couture collections from major fashion houses like Givenchy and Valentino SpA. Her personal style was inspirational to thousands of women who tried to copy her, but as Bill Blass once observed, “I never saw her not grab anyone’s attention, the hair, the makeup, the crispness. You were never conscious of what she was wearing; you noticed Babe and nothing else.”

Babe Paley John Rawlings for Vogue February 1946Ph.John Rawlings, Vogue February 1946
Babe Paley shot by Clifford Coffin for British Vogue December 1946Ph. Clifford Coffin for British Vogue December 19469.-babe-paley-by-lord-snowdon-300x300Ph. Lord Snowdon

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Her personal, unconventional style was enormously influential. A photograph of Babe with a scarf tied to her handbag, for example, created a trendy tidal wave that millions of women emulated. She often mixed extravagant jewelry by Fulco di Verdura and Jean Schlumberger (jewelry designer) with cheap costume pieces, and embraced letting her hair go gray instead of camouflaging it with dye. In a stroke of modernism, she made pantsuits chic. Her image and status reportedly created a strain on her marriage to William S. Paley, who insisted that his wife be wrapped in sable and completely bejeweled at all times.

By many biographers’ accounts, Babe was lonely and frustrated as William Paley carried on a chain of extramarital affairs. This psychological battering took its toll on her and her family. She was constantly under the scrutiny of society and the media, who pressed her to maintain the unrealistic image of a social and fashion goddess. These external pressures, as well as a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit, finally affected her health.

Babe Paley & Truman CapoteBabe Paley & Truman Capote


Babe Paley had only one fault, she was perfect. Otherwise, she was perfect. 

Truman Capote.
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Truman Capote was Babe Paley’s close friend and confidant until he did the unforgivable: In “Answered Prayers” he depicted a character apparently based on her husband in an extramarital tryst with someone said to be modeled on Happy Rockefeller, which ended up in a big mess. Literally. When she read the excerpt from the book, Babe dropped him and never spoke to him again.

(Babe Paley) wearing a Creation of Traina-Norell, photographed by Horst P. Horst from American Vogue in 1946.Ph. Horst P. Horst
photo by Norman ParkinsonPh. Norman Parkinson
Babe Paley
photographed by Alexander Liberman, 1942.Ph. Alexander Liberman, 1942
Babe Paley

A heavy smoker, Babe was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1974. She planned her own funeral, right down to the food and wine selections that would be served at the funeral luncheon. She carefully allocated her jewelry collection and personal belongings to friends and family, wrapped them in colorful paper, and created a complete file system with directions as to how they would be distributed after her death, which happened on July 6, 1978.

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JOHN RAWLINGSPh. John Rawlings

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Info:  Wikpedia &

http://video.vanityfair.com/watch/the-best-dressed-women-of-all-time–babe-paley

Donyale Luna, the real First Black Supermodel

25 Oct
Charlotte March's shoot for Twen magazine, 1966Donyale Luna, ph. Charlotte March, Twen magazine, 1966


.Donyale Luna was the first black Supermodel, though many long established fashion-watchers don’t even know her name.  At the height of her career, the New York Times called Luna “a stunning Negro model whose face had the hauteur and feline grace of Nefertiti.” The designer Stephen Burrows recalled that “she was just one of those extraordinary girls.” And in 1966, when Beatrix Miller, the editor of British Vogue, chose her as the first-ever black model for that magazine’s cover, it was because of “her bite and personality.” Bethann Hardison, another ascendant model, remembers that “no one looked like her. She was like a really extraordinary species.”

Donyale Luna, first black model on cover of Vogue. ph. David BaileyPh. by David Bailey 
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David McCabe, known for photographing celebrities like Twiggy and Andy Warhol, recognized that Luna had something special the first time he saw her in 1963. “I was on a photo assignment in Detroit, photographing Ford cars [and] there was a school nearby,” he recalled. “I was struck by this almost 6-foot-tall beautiful girl – around 14-years-old at the time – wearing her Catholic uniform. She stopped to see what was going on.” He told her that he was a photographer for magazines like Mademoiselle and Glamour and that, if she was ever in New York, she should call him. In 1964, he got that call, and sent the ensuing photos to various agencies. “I also called Richard Avedon,” he remembers. “I said you’ve got to see this girl. She’s just unbelievable. Soon Avedon began photographing her, too, eventually signing her to a one year contract.

Harper's bazaar, Donyale Luna

In the mid-sixties, “the magazine world really wasn’t ready for photographing beautiful black women,” McCabe says. Luna’s first major cover, for Harper’s Bazaar in 1965, was a sketch in which her racial identity remained ambiguous. Luna’s face, most notably her lips and nose, are also obscured on her British Vogue cover, also somewhat hiding her race.

Despite all that, Luna’s role as a trailblazer is largely forgotten. Luna’s name is still a rarity on many “black firsts” lists. And Beverly Johnson is routinely referred to as “the first black woman to appear on the cover of Vogue,” for her turn on the American edition eight years after Luna’s British cover.

Donyale Luna

Short Biography

Donyale Luna (August 31, 1945 – May 17, 1979) was born Peggy Ann Freeman in Detroit, Michigan, to Nathaniel A. and Peggy Freeman (née Hertzog). She was the youngest of three daughters. In January 1965, her mother fatally shot her father in self-defense as he was reportedly abusive.

Despite the parentage stated on her birth certificate, she insisted that her biological father was a man with the surname Luna and that her mother was Indigenous Mexican and of Afro-Egyptian lineage. According to Luna, one of her grandmothers was reportedly a former Irish actress who married a black interior decorator. Whether any of this background is true is uncertain. Luna’s sister later described her as being “a very weird child, even from birth, living in a wonderland, a dream”. She would routinely create fantasies about her background and herself (like Coco Chanel did).

As a teen, she attended Cass Technical High School, where she studied journalism and was in the school choir. It was during this time that she began calling herself “Donyale”. She was later described by friends and classmates as being “kind of kooky”.

After being discovered by the photographer David McCabe, she moved from Detroit to New York City to pursue a modeling career. In January 1965, a sketch of Luna appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. She became the first black model to appear on the cover of a Vogue magazine, the March 1966 British issue, shot by photographer David Bailey.

Luna was under exclusive contract to the photographer Richard Avedon for a year at the beginning of her career.

Photographs by Richard Avedon

Donyale Luna, shot by Richard Avedon, 1966.

Donyale Luna by Richard A vedon

Donyale Luna by Richard A vedon

Donyale Luna, ph. Richard Avedon, HARPER'S BAZAAR APRIL 1965

Donyale Luna, ph. Richard Avedon, HARPER'S BAZAAR APRIL 1965

Donyale Luna, ph. Richard Avedon, HARPER'S BAZAAR APRIL 1965

Donyale Luna, ph. Richard Avedon, HARPER'S BAZAAR APRIL 1965

Donyale Luna, ph. Richard Avedon, HARPER'S BAZAAR APRIL 1965

Donyale Luna by Avedon

After being discovered by the photographer David McCabe, she moved from Detroit to New York City to pursue a modeling career. In January 1965, a sketch of Luna appeared on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar. She became the first black model to appear on the cover of a Vogue magazine, the March 1966 British issue, shot by photographer David Bailey.

Luna was under exclusive contract to the photographer Richard Avedon for a year at the beginning of her career.

Photographs by David Bailey

Donyale Luna, Peggy Moffit and Moyra Swann by Bailey. UK Vogue 1966

Donyale Luna, Peggy Moffit and Moyra Swann for UK Vogue 1966

Donyale Luna, Peggy Moffit and Moyra Swann for UK Vogue 1966

Donyale Luna and Moyra Swann by David Bailey, 1966.

Donyale Luna, Peggy Moffit and Moyra Swann by Bailey. UK Vogue 1966 2

Donyale Luna by David Bailey, 1966

Donyale Luna , photo by David Bailey , 1966

An article in Time magazine published on April 1, 1966, “The Luna Year”, described her as a new heavenly body who, because of her striking singularity, promises to remain on high for many a season. Donyale Luna, as she calls herself, is unquestionably the hottest model in Europe at the moment. She is only 20, a Negro, hails from Detroit, and is not to be missed if one reads Harper’s Bazaar, Paris Match, Britain’s Queen, the British, French or American editions of Vogue.

By the 1970s, however, Luna’s modeling career began to decline due to her drug use, eccentric behavior and tendency to be difficult. A designer for whom Luna once worked said, “She took a lot of drugs and never paid her bills”. Fellow model Beverly Johnson later said, “[Luna] doesn’t wear shoes winter or summer. Ask her where she’s from—Mars? She went up and down the runways on her hands and knees. She didn’t show up for bookings. She didn’t have a hard time, she made it hard for herself.”

‘Fur on Ice’, Twen magazine, 1966, ph. Charlotte March

Ph. Charlotte March, 'Fur on Ice', Twen magazine, 1966

Ph. Charlotte March, 'Fur on Ice', Twen magazine, 1966

Ph. Charlotte March, 'Fur on Ice', Twen magazine, 1966

During the late 1960s Luna appeared in several films produced by Andy Warhol. These included Screen Test: Donyale Luna (1964), Camp (1965), and Donyale Luna (1967), a 33-minute color film in which the model starred as Snow White.

In the 1969 Federico Fellini film Fellini Satyricon, she portrayed the whitch Oenothea, and Luna also appeared in The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus, the Otto Preminger comedy Skidoo, the documentary Tonite Let’s All Make Love in London and  starred as the title character in the 1972 Italian film Salomé by director Carmelo Bene.

Donyale Luna on the set of SatyriconDonyale Luna on the set of Satyricon
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Donyale Luna was married, engaged or romantically involved many times, like to Austrian-born Swiss actor Maximilian Schell and in 1969 with German actor Klaus Kinski. This relationship ended when Kinski asked her entourage to leave his house in Rome: he was concerned that their drug use could damage his career. Another one of her liaisons was with Rolling Stone Brian Jones

Luna married the Italian photographer Luigi Cazzaniga. In 1977 they had a daughter, Dream.

At the age of 33 the drug-taking finally caught up with Donyale Luna. Estranged from her husband, she died in a Rome clinic in the early hours of 17 May 1979 of an accidental heroin overdose. She left behind her 18-month-old daughter, Dream.

Luigi Cazzaniga.Donyale Luna, ph. Luigi Cazzaniga

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Rootstein mannequin

Donyale Luna & her Rootstein mannequin

Donyale Luna, the first notable African American fashion model and cover girl, was also the first African American to have a mannequin created in her likeness. It was produced in 1967 by the leading mannequin manufacturer, Adel Rooststein, as a follow-up to their famous Twiggy mannequin of 1966.

 

eBook

Beauty’s Enigma – Donyale Luna – The First Black Supermodel

Beauty's Enigma

They called her “the reincarnation of Nefertiti,” and “a girl of staggering beauty and magnetism.” She was Donyale Luna, the startling, owl-like beauty who crashed through fashion’s apartheid system in the mid-1960s to become the world’s first black supermodel, and the first to grace a Vogue cover. In a short but action-packed career, she worked with Salvador Dali, Frederico Fellini, Andy Warhol, David Bailey, Helmut Newton and Richard Avedon, before her untimely death from a drug overdose in 1979. This new biography by Ben Arogundade, author of Black Beauty, details her amazing life story in all its dramatic glory.
eBook
ISBN: 978-0-9569394-4-9.

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Donyale Luna

 

Info:

Wikipedia &

http://nymag.com/thecut/2013/07/first-black-supermodel-whom-history-forgot.html