FIT Paris Refashioned Party

The original cocktail reception for the opening of Museum at FIT’s new exhibit, “Paris Refashioned- 1957-1968”, curated by Colleen Hill was to be held several weeks ago but had to be cancelled (along with the morning press preview) because of the snowstorm. It was rescheduled for last evening, and luckily, the weather, a spring like and balmy 67 degrees could not have been more ideal. It was certainly ideal for one guest, Suzanne Bartsch, who was not wearing very much!

Not that the welcoming weather had anything to do with the wonderful, innately timeless, modern and appealing clothes on view, or the marvelous way in which the designs were exhibited (spread out in two rooms in the sprawling gallery space on the lower level). One of the first things I noticed when I walked downstairs was the openness of the entering space. What had once been divided by a curtain, was now wide open. I wondered why they hadn’t done that before.

Coats by Courreges and Yves Saint  Laurent
Photo: courtesy FIT

In the larger exhibition space, grids were set up to divide and display the haute couture, ready-to -wear, and accessories by such as Christian Dior, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Givenchy, Louis Feraud, Pierre Cardin, Chloe, Courrèges, Paco Rabanne, Emmanuelle Khanh; great clothes that for the most part are not stuck in a time warp, and to this day remain modern. Since we are currently ensconced in fashion month, with the Fall/Winter 2017 collections currently going on in Milan (and Paris beginning next week), it also served as a reminder of the way in which great fashion endures and doesn’t have an expiration date. I had to wonder how many of the designs being presented right now, will have this kind of staying power.

(FYI, I had a conversation with a seasoned and highly respected fashion figure who was there last evening, and who shall remain nameless. When I asked what he/she thought of the New York Collections, the response was: “I didn’t like ANYTHING!” Just saying.)

Marilyn Kirschner
Laurel Marcus

By contrast, I liked pretty much everything I saw last night. Disclaimer: the 60’s are my favorite era. I came of age in the 60’s – – it was a wonderful time of discovery and growth for me personally and I loved the fashions of that time. Ladylike yet youthful, it’s hard not to look chic, elegant, and pulled together. Because I am thin and small boned (and stand at approximately 5’6 ½”), they didn’t over power me. I find myself always gravitating to the silhouettes that are short, neat, narrow shoulders, and tight armholes. In looking around at the fashions on display, there were more than a few that I would have loved to take right off the mannequins and wear right now. And that also goes for the accessories, particularly the shoes from elegant and classic Bonwit Teller pumps on ‘sensible’ high heels, and Chanel cap toe slingbacks, to the iconic Roger Vivier pilgrim buckled pumps that are fortunately still being produced and never lose their appeal.

Jean Shafiroff in Courreges jacket & skirt
Photo: Randall Stempler

Paris Refashioned concludes in 1968, the year Courrèges opened his first ready-to-wear boutique in New York and coincidentally, some of my favorite pieces are my beloved vintage 60’s Courreges cropped vinyl jackets and coats. For the occasion, I wore one of the latter: in black vinyl with pronounced logo which I  accessorized with a red patent Courreges wristlet. And I was not alone: Jean Shafiroff, who has an enviable collection of Courreges jackets (not vintage), perfectly channeled the 60’s in her cropped neon yellow Courreges jacket perfectly punctuated with a mod Lisa Perry lime green circular bag. Fortunately, since the Courreges label has now been revived, versions of this iconic jacket are currently available at Bergdorf Goodman.

Stacey McKenzie & Victor de Souza
Photo: Laurel Marcus

It was not lost on me when I interviewed Bill Cunningham for our “Masters of Fashion” interview series back in 2003, I asked him what the three most memorable moments of his career were, Courreges was right up there. His answer: 1 – Dior’s New Look in 1947 “feminine romance” 2 – The “totally pure designs” of Andre Courreges (“something you never saw before…he invented the third sex”) 3 – The birth of French ready-to-wear.

Julie Macklowe & Robert di Mauro
Photo: Laurel Marcus

It’s impossible to not think of the late beloved photographer, especially when I attend certain events that he always frequented. The Museum at FIT’s receptions, in honor of the opening of their exhibitions, was one of them and he gleefully captured both the clothes on display along with the attendees.

Roxanne Lowit and Susanne Bartsch
Photo: Laurel Marcus

Certainly he would have aimed his camera at Suzanne Bartsch (who was honored with her own Museum at FIT exhibition a few years back), portraitist Ike Ude, Julie Macklowe and Laurel Marcus in their 60’s get ups, photographer Roxanne Lovitt, Victor de Souza (with Stacey McKenzie wearing one of his designs), Dr. Valerie Steele, Gisele Roman (who is currently working on a James Galanos documentary), Freddie Leiba, Fern Mallis, Maggie Norris, Rosemary Ponzo. And he most probably would have loved taking a picture of Jean and myself in our coordinating Courreges.

Marilyn Kirschner

I am a long time fashion editor with 40+ years of experience. As senior market of Harper's Bazaar for 21 years I met and worked with every major fashion designer in the world and covered all of the collections in Paris, London, Milan and New York. I was responsible for overall content, finding and pulling in the best clothes out there, and for formulating ideas and stories.

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