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Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Living in a Material World

It’s the summer of fashion. In New York, in Denver, and in Vienna, special exhibits and events spin yarns about the history of fashion and its connection to the world of art. Even non-fashionistas will cotton to the presentations.

Starting May 10, the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute stitches together common threads from the material of two famous Italian designers. Schiaparelli and Prada-Impossible Conversations focuses on the correlation between two influential, eccentric, and innovative female designers of eras past and present.

The exhibition showcases more than 100 designs and accessories by Elsa Schiaparelli  (who worked mainly in France from the late 1920s to the early 1950s) and by Miuccia Prada (late 1980s to the present). Signature objects by both designers will be arranged in seven themed galleries: "Waist Up/Waist Down," "Ugly Chic," "Hard Chic," "Naïf Chic," "The Classical Body," "The Exotic Body," and "The Surreal Body."

In conjunction with the exhibit, Kimpton’s 70 Park Avenue Hotel has a Vintage to Vogue package including a room night, two tickets to the exhibit, and two Italian-inspired cocktails upon arrival. The deal starts at $309 a night, excluding taxes, and runs through August 19, when the exhibit closes. For details, visit http://www.70parkave.com/ and use the code PVOGUE.

The Met notwithstanding, the country’s biggest fashion exhibit this year is Yves Saint Laurent: The Retrospective, making its only U.S. appearance at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). The fabric of The Retrospective features a stunning selection of 200 haute couture garments along with numerous photographs, drawings, and films illustrating the arc of Saint Laurent's career from the late 1950s to the early 2000s.

Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) was the first designer to use menswear as an inspiration for women's clothing--from the safari jacket to the tuxedo. The 1960s fashion innovations both reflected and sparked the growing power of women during that decade. 

The designer was also influenced by exotic costumes from the Maghreb, Russia and China. Artistic influences ranged from Degas to Picasso to Mondrian.

Many fashion snobs are hemming and hawing about the fact that this show, which was the talk of the town in Paris a couple of years ago, ended up in Denver. To paraphrase YSL representatives, it seams (sic) that DAM sewed it up simply because it made the request. Plus, the museum does have an extensive collection of European and American 20th Century design and textiles are a growing focal point. So, the Saint Laurent show was a natural fit. 

There’s a great deal more to do in Denver than the DAM. So, spend a night or two with one of a dozen hotel packages featuring VIP front-of-the line tickets and other special amenities. Visit http://www.ysldenver.com/ for full details on Yves Saint Laurent hotel packages. The show only runs through July 8, so book your tickets to Denver soon.

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, fashion struts its stuff in Vienna's Museum Quarter. The city's Summer of Fashion, taking place from mid-June through mid-September, is filled with  exhibitions, fashion shows and markets, and exclusive tours weaving the worlds of style and art.

The flagship exhibit is "Reflection Fashion" at the Museum of Modern Art. But other Viennese institutions are jumping onto the catwalk as well. For example, The Architecture Museum is hosting city tours on Architecture, Fashion & Design, while the Natural History Museum is actually staging a fashion show.  And the Vienna Museum is offering exclusive tours through its extensive fashion collection, which is generally not open to the public. 

 For more details on these stylish goings-on, check out the May 10 edition (@ 44 minutes in) of Around the World.

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