Category Archives: FASHION

NICK MAUSS — TRANSMISSIONS CATALOG

I came upon the word transmissions while thinking about how the ethereal, corporeal, and technical dimensions of ballet resonate in the artworks and souvenirs it produces. Transmissions are subject to interference and interruption. Ballets are conveyed to us through mediations, anecdotes, and bodies. And often when I’m watching ballet in its contemporary manifestations, I wonder how these transmissions have occurred.

I started looking into the history of ballet in the twentieth century… Through a web of genealogies, I eventually arrived at the flamboyant intersection of ballet and art in New York, beginning in the 1930s. There the avant-garde experiments of the previous decades in Europe incited a particularly intense cross-contamination, an overt articulation of homosexual erotics long before the emergence of a public language around queerness. Looking at modern American art of this period through the prism of ballet reveals a tangle of interrelationships, collaborations, derivations, and hybrid aesthetic programs that still feel surprisingly contemporary. Nick Mauss*

Two years after the close of TRANSMISSIONSNick Mauss’ multimedia installation at the Whitney Museum of American Art—the museum and Dancing Foxes Press have published an exhibition catalog that beautifully extends the show, combining performance and exhibition images from the Whitney with an extensive selection of new illustrative and textual documentation.

Essays by Mauss, Joshua Lubin-Levy, and exhibition organizers Scott Rothkopf, Elisabeth Sussman, and Allie Tepper—as well as a conversation between Mauss and the dancers who performed during the run of the show—round out this essential volume, a complement to and in dialog with recent catalogs by Jarrett Earnest (The Young and Evil—Queer Modernism in New York 1930–1955) and Samantha Friedman and Jodi Hauptman (Lincoln Kirstein’s Modern).

I drew multiple webs of interrelationships, elective affinities, and echo waves of influence, focusing as much on the social, professional, sexual, and collaborative points of contact as on transhistorical resonances that were in some cases perhaps fantasy—eschewing standard mappings of modern art… [embracing] anachrony and distortion over apparent objectivity…

My decision to insist on ballet as the fulcrum in TRANSMISSIONS was also a response to the ubiquity of postmodern dance derivations within the contemporary museum environment and the reductive version of modernity that these prequalified dance idioms signify and cement. Contemporaneity is reduced to a “look” of modernity. Modernist ballets make for engaging historical documents precisely because their own relationship to history is a kind of suspension of disbelief; they are intrinsically modernist, even if they don’t “signal” modernity to contemporary eyes.— Nick Mauss*

The world of the spectator, the receiver, was a primary lens through which I constructed TRANSMISSIONS, and the flux of the exhibition’s daily audience over the course of two months took on a central role within it. This book is similarly directed at the wholly different—private, rather than social—negotiations of the reader. — Nick Mauss*

NICK MAUSS, TRANSMISSIONS (Brooklyn: Dancing Foxes Press; New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2020).

See Benedict Nguyen on performing in Transmissions.

Listen to Fran Lebowitz and Nick Mauss in conversation on the occasion of Transmissions at the Whitney, 2018.

*Nick Mauss text—from the catalog essay “Gesturing Personae” and TRANSMISSIONS jacket copy—courtesy and © the artist.

Nick Mauss, Transmissions, Whitney Museum of American Art, March 16, 2018–May 14, 2018; exhibition catalog, Whitney and Dancing Foxes Press, 2020, from top: installation view, Whitney, 2018, photograph by Ron Amstutz; Carl Van Vechten, Janet Collins in New Orleans Carnival, 1949, Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts; George Platt Lynes, Tex Smutney, 1941, Kinsey Institute, Indiana University , Estate of George Platt Lynes; Transmissions performance photograph of Quenton Stuckey, March 13, 2018, by Paula Court, with Gaston Lachaise, Man Walking (Portrait of Lincoln Kirstein), 1933, at left; Dorothea Tanning, cover of Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo’s 1945–1946 program, Artists Rights Society, New York / ADAGP, Paris; installation view, Whitney, 2018, images on scrim, Lynes, Ralph McWilliams (dancer), 1952, Lynes, Tex Smutney, Carl Van Vechten slideshow on rear wall, dancers Brandon Collwes, Quenton Stuckey, and Kristina Bermudez, photograph by Amstutz; dancers Arthur Mitchell and Diana Adams, and (seated) George Balanchine and Igor Stravinsky during rehearsals for Agon, 1957, choreographed by Balanchine for New York City Ballet, photograph by Martha Swope, Jerome Robbins Dance Division; Bermudez (left), Burr Johnson, Nick Mauss, and Fran Lebowitz, May 9, 2018, at the Whitney, photograph by Court; Pavel Tchelitchew, Portrait of Lincoln Kirstein, 1937, oil on canvas, collection of the School of American Ballet, courtesy Jerry L. Thompson; Louise Lawler, Marie + 90, 2010–2012, silver dye bleach print on aluminum, Whitney, courtesy and © the artist and Metro Pictures; (Mauss printed Lawler’s image of Marie, Edgar DegasLittle Dancer Aged Fourteen, circa 1880, on the Transmissions dancers’ white leotards); Lynes photograph of Jean Cocteau, Bachelor magazine, April 1937; Transmissions performance photograph by Paula Court; Paul Cadmus, Reflection, 1944, egg tempera on composition board, Yale University Art Gallery, bequest of Donald Windham in memory of Sandy M. Campbell, courtesy and © 2019 Estate of Paul Cadmus, ARS, New York; Cecil Beaton, photograph of poet Charles Henri Ford in a costume designed by Salvador Dali, silver gelatin print, collection of Beth Rudin DeWoody; artworks by Pavel Tchelitchew, John Storrs, Elie Nadelman, Gustav Natorp, and Sturtevant, and photographs by Ilse Bing, arranged in front of Mauss’, Images in Mind, 2018, installation view, Whitney, 2018, photograph by Amstutz; Mauss’ re-creation of costume designed by Paul Cadmus for the 1937 ballet Filling Station (choreographed by Lew Christensen), fabricated by Andrea Solstad, 2018, and Nadelman, Dancing Figure, circa 1916–1918, installation view, Whitney, 2018, photograph by Amstutz; Man Ray, New York, 1917 / 1966, nickel-plated and painted bronze, Whitney;, courtesy and © Man Ray 2015 Trust, ARS, New York / ADAGP, Paris; Mauss and Lebowitz in conversation at the Whitney, 2018, photography courtesy and © Izzy Dow; Murals by Jared French exhibition brochure, Julien Levy Gallery, 1939; Transmissions performance photograph of Anna Thérèse Witenberg, March 13, 2018, by Court; Dorothea Tanning, Aux environs de Paris (Paris and Vicinity), 1962, oil on linen, Whitney Museum of American Art, gift of the Alexander Iolas Gallery; Maya Deren, The Very Eye of Night (1958, still), 16mm film, Anthology Film Archives, New York.

MARTIN MARGIELA — IN HIS OWN WORDS

There are different needs in the fashion world and I’m not sure I can feed them… I don’t like the idea of being a celebrity; anonymity is very important to me… I pushed myself constantly to extremes. I always wanted to have my name linked to the product I created, not to the face I have. — Martin Margiela*

Martin Margiela began his career as an assistant to Jean Paul Gaultier and was the creative director at Hermès from 1997 to 2003. He and business partner Jenny Meirens opened Maison Martin Margiela in 1989, and for the next twenty years—through 41 collections—revolutionized fashion.

Margiela left the fashion world in 2008. Ten year later, Reiner Holzemer—director of an acclaimed 2017 documentary about Dries Van Noten—persuaded the designer to commit, on audiotape, a reflection of his archive and legacy. The resulting film—MARTIN MARGIELA—IN HIS OWN WORDS, featuring on camera interviews with Gaultier, Cathy Horyn, Olivier Saillard, Carine Roitfeld and others—premiered last year at Doc NYC and is available for streaming now.

See link below for details.

MARTIN MARGIELA—IN HIS OWN WORDS*

Written, directed, and co-produced by Reiner Holzemer.

Soundtrack by Deus.

Above and below, from top: Reiner Holzemer, Martin Margiela—In His Own Words (2019), film stills (9), courtesy and © Maison Martin Margiela, Paris, the filmmaker and Dogwoof Sales. Bottom: Maison Martin Margiela label, courtesy and © Maison Martin Margiela.

MICHAEL WINTERBOTTOM — GREED

Last night, longtime collaborators Michael Winterbottom and Steve Coogan joined Film Independent artistic director Jacqueline Lyanga at the Arclight Hollywood following a screening of GREED, Winterbottom’s new satire.

The film follows the money and the clothes as a London-based mogul builds a fast-fashion empire on the backs of overseas workers, working elaborate (but legal) self-enrichment schemes by stripping his companies of their assets just before filing for bankruptcy. To celebrate (and distract competitors), he hosts an over-the-top party in Greece.

In a filmmaker’s letter, Winterbottom explains GREED’s genesis and what he hopes audiences will take away from the experience:

In 2016, Britain’s most famous and flamboyant retailer—Sir Philip Green, owner of Topshop and Topman—was hauled before the House of Commons select committee and quizzed about his business practices. That was the starting point for making GREED.

Retail fashion is a huge industry, which employs tens of millions of workers in low wage economies like Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Vietnam—the vast majority of them women.

The brands are owned by some of the richest men in the world. Stefan Persson, the owner of H&M, is worth about $20 billion; Amancio Ortega, the owner of Zara, is worth more than $60 billion.

GREED is a fiction, a satire on the world of Sir Richard McCreadie [played by Steve Coogan], a retail fashion tycoon, the “King of the High Street.” His reputation has suffered a blow as one of his brands has gone bankrupt. He has been hauled over the coals by the Select Committee of the House of Commons and they are threatening to take away his Knighthood.

So he decides to throw a lavish, Roman-themed party on the Greek island of Mykonos, and invite his celebrity friends. But it all goes horribly wrong.

One of the attractions, and challenges, of making the film was to show the real connections between the billionaire relaxing on his super yacht in Monaco and the women we filmed with in Sri Lanka, who are being paid $5.30 a day making clothes for international brands, and living in accommodations with no running water. They seem to live in different worlds, but they are in fact intimately connected, as the clothes that these women make have created the wealth of Sir Rich and his real world counterparts.

I hope our film is funny, and I hope you enjoy it, but I also hope it makes you angry. No matter how ludicrous our fictional world is, it pales in comparison to the real world. When we walk into a high street store we see images of powerful, beautiful people endorsing the brand, or modeling the clothes. We aspire to be like them, and we think of them when we buy the t-shirt or the dress, when really we should be thinking of the women who have made our clothes and the lives they lead. The world doesn’t need to be like this. We can change things. Doubling the wages of women garment workers would hardly make any difference to the price of the clothes in our local store—so why don’t we do something about it? Michael Winterbottom

GREED

Now playing.

ArcLight Hollywood

6360 Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles.

The Landmark

10850 West Pico Boulevard, West Los Angeles.

Michael Winterbottom, Greed (2020), from top: Steve Coogan; Michael Winterbottom (second from top) and Coogan (above) on February 27, 2020, at the Film Independent Screening Series of Greed at the ArcLight Hollywood, photographs by Amanda Edwards / Getty Images; film poster; Coogan (below, photograph by Amelia Troubridge) in Greed. Images courtesy and © the filmmaker, the actors, the photographers, Sony Pictures Classics, Getty Images, and Film Independent.

THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM

I’m not talented. Wee Gee was a real photographer… I’m lightweight stuff… I think of myself as a fashion historian… [Street photographer] Harold Chapman was the biggest influence on me… He taught me to be invisible. “Stop waving that camera around like a fan,” was his expression… 

I’m strictly interested in the way women dress in their own lives. — Bill Cunningham*

Cunningham—New York City’s greatest postwar documentarian of street style—was incredibly self-deprecating, claiming that his New York Times colleagues dismissed his regular columns “On the Street” and “Evening Hours” as “filling around the edges of the ads.”

Arriving in New York in 1949 at age 19, Cunningham went to work as a milliner at Bonwit Teller and the high-end boutique Chez Ninon, where Jacqueline Kennedy and Babe Paley shopped for line-for-line copies of couture originals. While Ninon’s proprietors valued his contribution, they did their best to push him away from fashion and into “straight” journalism—above all keeping him away from Diana Vreeland, fearing the eccentric editor would irrevocably seduce/corrupt the impressionable young man.

(Of course, Cunningham and Vreeland eventually met, and the photographer went on to document nearly every show the doyenne of fashion staged at the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute.)

In the new documentary THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM—directed by Mark Bozek, and constructed around a long on-camera interview he shot with the photographer in 1994—Cunningham tells his tale: making hats under the name “William J,” sharing a loft at the Carnegie Hall studios with Bobby Short, Marlon Brando, and Norman Mailer, decamping to Paris for the shows during his U.S. Army stint in Rochefort-sur-Mer.

In the early 1960s, Cunningham wrote a column for John Fairchild’s Womens Wear Daily, and in 1967 was given a small Olympus-Pen by David Montgomery, who worked with Antonio Lopez. A Cunningham street photo of Greta Garbo was published in the Times in 1978, and his career at the paper began.

The year of the film’s interview is key. 1994 was at the height of the AIDS epidemic, and several times during the second half of the film, Cunningham breaks down in anguish at the loss of loved ones, including Lopez and his partner Juan Ramos.

THE TIMES OF BILL CUNNINGHAM

Now playing.

Royal

11523 Santa Monica Boulevard, West Los Angeles.

Playhouse 7

673 East Colorado Boulevard, Pasadena.

Town Center 5

17200 Ventura Boulevard, Encino.

From top: Bill Cunningham in Paris in 1970, photograph by Jean Luce Hure. All other images by Cunningham: street views, New York (3); Grace Coddington, New York; Anna Piaggi; Josephine Baker, surrounded by models including Pat Cleveland and Bethann Hardison, at the “Battle of Versailles” fashion show, 1973; Kay Thompson, who choreographed Halston’s segment of the show; Diana Vreeland, New York, at the Costume Institute in the 1970s; André Leon Talley, Vreeland’s then-assistant, at the Costume Institute; Vreeland and Marisa Berenson; Sonny Bono, Cher, and Ahmet Ertegun (in glasses); Gloria Swanson, New York; Greta Garbo, New York; street scene, New York; Gay Pride Parade, New York, 1970s; Juan Ramos (left) and Antonio Lopez; James Kaliardos (second from left), Stephen Gan (second from right), and Cecelia Dean (right) in 1991, displaying issue #1 of Visionaire. Below, Cunningham in Paris. Images courtesy and © the estate of Bill Cunningham and Greenwich Entertainment.

RAF SIMONS TO PRADA

On April 2, Raf Simons will join the Prada brand as co-creative director, working in partnership with Miuccia Prada with equal responsibilities for creative input and decision-making. The first Prada collection designed by Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons will be the Spring/Summer 2021 womenswear show, presented in Milan in September 2020. 

This partnership, encompassing all creative facets of the Prada label, is born from a deep reciprocal respect and from an open conversation—it is a mutual decision, proposed and determined by both parties. It opens a new dialogue, between designers widely acknowledged as two of the most important and influential of today. Conceptually, it is also a new approach to the very definition of creative direction for a fashion brand—a strong challenge to the idea of singularity of creative authorship, whilst also a bold reinforcement of the importance and power of creativity in a shifting cultural landscape. 

As times change, so should creativity. The synergy of this partnership is far-reaching. It is a reaction to the era in which we live—an epoch with fresh possibilities, permitting a different point of view and approach to established methodologies. It can also be seen as the first step towards broader scopes of interaction—an initiation of free exchange and collaboration, a questioning of creative conventions. 

Innovation is an inherent facet of the identity of Prada: a willingness to push boundaries, to experiment, to take opportunities to advance. If the notion of a partnership is to work jointly, the result of that conversation may not only be product but also the propagation of a thought and a culture. A pure vision of creativity, with the product a vehicle for these thoughts. 

The distinct values and ethos of the Prada brand remain unchanged: this radical creative dialogue, indeed, is a reiteration of the philosophies of both Miuccia Prada and Raf Simons. It is perfectly in tune with each designer’s individual history of reinvention, provocation, brave exploration, and the power of ideas—now, brought together. — Prada

From top: Raf Simons 1970s passport photograph, courtesy of the designer; Miuccia Prada at the finale of the Prada fall 2020 show in Milan, photograph by Matteo Bazzi / EPA, via Shutterstock, courtesy and © the photographer and his agency.