Let’s “Face” It – by Marilyn Kirschner

Jil Sander Picasso inspired intarsia sweater Spring 2012
(Photo: firstView.com)

I cannot recall at what point in my life I began to obsess over expressive, Picasso like faces. Though it makes perfect sense since I have long been a fan of Pablo Picasso’s abstract, Cubist work: specifically, his portraits. About the only thing I love more than fashion, is art. Especially, the merging of art and fashion. So it was not surprising, I took note when Raf Simons sent out a group of intarsia sweaters for spring 2012 which were emblazoned with Picasso inspired faces.

Katy Perry wearing Jean-Charles de Castelbajac’s Obama Dress, Spring 2008
(Photo: Courtesy WireImage)

He’s not the first designer to put pronounced faces on clothing and he won’t be the last. During the course of his approximately 45 year career, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac (best known for his designs which mix pop culture, bright colors, and humor), has used famous faces to decorate his designs: everyone from Mickey Mouse (Spring 2012) to President Obama (Spring 2008).

Chado Ralph Rucci Buddha Dress Fall 2009
(Photo: Style.com)

Ralph Rucci (http://www.ralphrucci.com/ ) is not only a world class, award winning fashion designer, but an accomplished artist in his own right. His work is inspired by famed artists like Cy Twombly, Franz Kline, and Louise Nevelson among others. His global aesthetic, passion for collecting treasures from around the world, exotic world travels, and appreciation of diverse world cultures (specifically far Eastern cultures and Japanese symbolism), routinely find there way onto the surfaces of his designs. This was exemplified by several gowns from fall 2009, which were screen printed with images of the Buddha, (including one of his blown up face, which all but covered the entire surface of the dress).

 Lisa Perry’s Roy Lichtenstein “No Thank You Dress”

Lisa Perry (http://www.lisaperrystyle.com/ ), is not only an avid art collector, but a fashion designer (FYI, she is the wife of Richard Perry, the hedge-fund tycoon who recently took a majority stake in Barneys New York). She has successfully combined her clean lined, space age, 60’s aesthetic, with iconic pop art, as exemplified by her Limited Edition Artistic Collections which have featured the wearable art of Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons and Roy Lichtenstein. One of my favorite products is the eye popping Roy Lichtenstein “No Thank You” dress, $2000. Her flagship is located at 976 Madison Avenue, tel: 212 431 7467. She also has a store in Sag Harbor, located at 63 Main Street, 631 725-7467.

Marc by Marc Jacobs top Resort 2013
(Photo: firstView.com)

For resort 2013, Marc Jacobs included several sweaters emblazoned with his own face. But let’s “face” it, not everyone may want to wear an item of clothing emblazoned with the likeness of another person (no matter how attractive, talented, iconic, important, or legendary he or she may be). You can always satisfy your urge (should you have one) for incorporating faces into your life via products for the home.

Vintage Desimone mug from 1965

 Giovanni De Simone, who passed away in 1980, was one the greatest Italian ceramic artist who studied under Pablo Picasso. I began buying and collecting colorful Desimone pottery: mugs, espresso cups, plates (and love that no two are alike). His hand painted artistry of true Majolica pieces are famous and now produced by his daughters Susanna and Margherita De Simone. I prefer the vintage versions, especially the ones from dated 1965, and if you keep looking, you can get lucky and find them on EBay.

Carrol Boyes plates

Along those same lines, on a recent Soho jaunt, I was immediately drawn to the window display at Carrol Boyes, 126 Prince Street, 212 334 3556, http://www.carrolboyes.com/ . It featured white porcelain bowls, mugs, and side plates (ranging in price from $20 – $90) decorated with black line drawings of quirky, Picasso esque, faces. It turns out that these drawings are Ms. Boyes’s personal renditions, (attesting to her passion for the human body), that have been accumulated in her archived sketchbooks. It was her daughters who encouraged her to make the sketches public.

Fornasetti Theme 2526 Variations decorative plate

Piero Fornasetti, was an Italian painter, sculptor, interior decorator and engraver. He created more than 11,000 items, many featuring the face of a woman, operatic soprano Lina Cavalieri, as a motif. Fornasetti found her face in a 19th century magazine. “What inspired me to create more than 500 variations on the face of a woman?” asks Italian designer, Piero Fornasetti of himself. “I don’t know,” he admits, “I began to make them and I never stopped.” The “Tema e Variazioni” (theme and variation) plate series based on Cavalieri’s face numbered more than 350. Other common features in his work include heavy use of black & white, the sun and time. His style is reminiscent of Greek and Roman architecture, from which he was heavily influenced.

Fornasetti Eclessi de Luna Pillow

His son, Barnaba Fornasetti, continues to design in his father’s name and the company’s signature face adorned products are readily available at Barneys New York (http://www.barneys.com/ ). Among the items that have recently caught my eye: the Eclessi de Luna Pillow, $160; the Viso bookends, $270, an assortment of Theme & Variations Decorative Plates, $185, and a Theme & Variations Umbrella $260 (a distinctive way to stay dry if ever there was one)

Last, but not least (thought certainly least expensive), are the malleable Picasso Head Morph Notepads, available at http://www.thelibraryshop.org/ , $15.

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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