Category Archives: Fashion

What the Well-Dressed Manneken Pis Will Wear

Garderobe MannekenPis

A few blocks away from the famous Manneken Pis statue and fountain is a little one-room museum dedicated to the toddler’s extensive wardrobe. It contains about a hundred of the costumes that have been presented to Manneken Pis over the last three centuries.

What Started It All

This is a replica of the gentleman’s costume that King Louis XV sent to Brussels after French soldiers stationed in the city tried to steal the statue of Manneken Pis. The King also made Mannekin Pis a Knight of the Order of Saint Louis, which meant that French soldiers had to salute the statue when they paraded past the fountain.


I also found this video, which shows the statue in action, dressed in dozens of its colourful costumes.

Advertisements

The Breathtaking Brilliance of David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum

David Bowie is at the Brooklyn Museum is the most exciting, dynamic, and fascinating show you’ll see this year.

Here are some of the things you can see or hear at the exhibition:

“Highlights of the exhibition include more than 60 custom-made performance costumes…85 handwritten lyric sheets, including those from “Fame” and “Fashion”… drawings, including a sketch for the Young Americans album cover; and oil paintings, including two of musician Iggy Pop, all by Bowie…more than 40 pioneering music videos, television clips, and filmed roles as well as a multimedia presentation of international tour footage…custom audio mix made up of snippets of Bowie’s songs…”

—from the exhibition’s web page

 

The show originated at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, in 2013. Since then, it has been on a tour that took it to 10 cities on five continents. David Bowie is has been seen by more people than any other show in the V&A’s 166-year history.

These reviews, from Vogue (“Go. Just go.”) and Rolling Stone (“Stunning”), describe parts of the show, and explain why it’s the Must See exhibition of 2018.

It runs through 15 July 2018. This is the last stop of the tour, so once it’s gone, it’s gone.


Souvenirs

Even if you can’t get to the exhibition itself, you can buy the David Bowie cotton tote bag ($10) or the lavishly illustrated David Bowie is exhibition catalogue ($45 softcover, $55 hardcover). All available at the Brooklyn Museum’s shop.


(Photography wasn’t allowed, so all these pictures are from the museum’s website.)

Brideshead Downton Abbey ReVisited

After years of relentlessly mocking the looniness of Downton Abbey while never missing an episode of the series, there was no way that I could pass up a chance to spend an afternoon at “Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” while I was in New York.

It was a treat.

Throughout the New York show, you’re greeted by some of the principal Downton actors, in costume and in character, via HD video. The exhibition covers three floors and contains hundreds—or, more likely, thousands—of props, costumes, and furnishings from the TV series. Snippets of dialog from the series play at related parts of the exhibition.  The use of technology to enrich the experience is flawless.


The first floor of the exhibition focuses on the servants and the “Downstairs” portion of the house, starting with the kitchen.

The informative signage that explained the roles and duties of the various members of the household was particularly good.

The servants’ dining table.

Mr. Carson and Mrs Hughes in Mr. Carson’s Office.

Mr. Carson’s Desk shows an attention to detail that’s typical of the exhibition.

If you looked closely at the pictures, you might have noticed something peculiar about the representation of the servants. I think that it must allude to a particularly dark episode in the Crowley family history. During the 1926 General Strike, Lady Violet was left in charge of the Abbey while the Crowley men went off to shoot some random strikers. As the hours wore on and her consumption of sherry grew apace, she became increasingly unhinged, until, fearing a violent revolution was about to bring down the Abbey and all it symbolized, she had the entire Downton underclass decapitated and stuffed.

The next morning, in the cold light of day—cold, because she’d offed the servant responsible for seeing that the rooms were warmed before the family awoke—she expressed extreme regret for her impetuous actions, once she realized there was no one left to prepare her morning tea.

Churchill helped the family cover up the incident, and the TV series tactfully ignored it.


Leaving behind the Morlocks who labour below the earth, we ascend to the golden, carefree world of the Eloi….

Oh, wait.  Wrong story,

The second floor is all about The Family and everything here—the clothes, the furniture, the people—is brighter, richer, and more colourful.

The Dining Room was a show-stopper.

Lady Violet has a little display area entirely to herself, where the audio features some of her better-known witticisms, including the one that has always seemed to me to be an excellent example of the series getting things hopelessly, unforgivably wrong.

Viewing a well-set dining table like the one in the picture above, she says, “Nothing succeeds like excess”, at which point I’ve been known to shout “No. No. No!” at the TV screen. A tacky sentiment like that would never come from Old Money. It’s something a Trump would say.


The third floor has a small display of miscellaneous costumes. After the richness of the rest of the show, it’s a bit anticlimactic.

Wedding Gowns.


So that was my afternoon at Downton. The show is beautifully put together, and I had a delightful time.

David Bowie is…in Brooklyn

Big News

I’ve been waiting for this for five years.

“David Bowie is”, the Victoria and Albert Museum’s magnificent exhibition chronicling the life of Ziggy Stardust, has returned to North America. It opened at the Brooklyn Museum last Friday, and will run through 15 July 2018.

I’ve already got my ticket.

I saw “David Bowie is” in 2013, in Toronto, the first stop of what was to be a five-year, five-continent, 10-city tour. It ran at the Art Gallery of Ontario, and it was possibly the most brilliantly staged museum exhibition I’d ever seen.

It was worthy of Bowie.

Here’s what I wrote at the time.

“Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition” — Now at a New Low Price

Wanna visit Downton Abbey: The Touring Exhibition in New York, but can’t afford the $35 admission? The Crawley family has a deal for you!

As you probably know, Downton Abbey is perpetually in danger of being sold to satisfy the creditors of the gullible and financially incompetent Earl of Grantham, who falls for the machinations of card sharks and Ponzi schemers with clock-like regularity. (On a recent trip to New York, he stumbled across a three-card Monte set-up in Times Square. The dealer now owns Downton’s East Wing.)

But Downton’s loss can be your gain! Even though the Crawleys are loath to admit commoners ne’er-do-wells poor white trash those awful people the general public to Downton’s hallowed halls, money is money, and needs must.

Travelzoo to the rescue! The site is offering tickets to the exhibition for $20, and the offer is good for the rest of the show, which is now scheduled to close on 2 April 2018. (No word yet on where it will turn up next.)

The Earl of Grantham—his given name is “Robert”, but grifters around the world call him “Mark”—will appreciate your patronage, particularly now, since he’s lent his daughters’ dowries to a former Nigerian Treasury official, and the rascal seems to have dropped out of sight.

Meanwhile, enjoy these pictures from the exhibition.


Downton Abbey — Party Like It’s 1925

Downton Abbey: The Exhibition, which I’ve previously mentioned, has extended its New York run, and is now offering a new, interactive feature:


It’s 21+, and tickets are $225. The package includes:

  • A three-hour cocktail soiree with Edwardian inspired passed hors d’oeuvres and passed small plates menu
  • Unlimited bar featuring a Downton Abbey inspired cocktail
  • Access to the Exhibition
  • Exclusive screening of rarely before seen cast footage
  • A complimentary Downton Abbey: The Exhibition keepsake book
  • A complimentary media guide for touring the exhibition

“Guests are welcome to dress in their best Downton Attire. All waitstaff will be in period costume, providing service of which Carson would be proud.”

“Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” at the NGA

Meanwhile, back in Washington, I finally made it the National Gallery of Art for the brilliant “Vermeer and the Masters of Genre Painting” exhibit.

The show included almost 70 works by Vermeer and his fellow painters of the Dutch Golden Age. Some, like Jan Steen, were familiar names, but many were new to me. I was unaware of Gabriël Metsu, for instance, who created the sublime “Man Writing a Letter” painting at the top of this item.

The exhibition runs through 16 January 2018. All images came from the NGA.