From Photos to Footwear — “Avedon: Something Personal” Book Launch & Trippen Shoe Store Opening

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Richard Avedon (1923-2004) was arguably the most in-demand fashion and portrait photographer of the past century. If you were anyone, he had taken your picture. From memorable advertising campaigns, to iconic fashion photographs for Harper’s Bazaar and later Vogue, Avedon was the lensman.

Right: Barbara Tober

I attended the launch of “Avedon: Something Personal,” to be released on November 21, yet available here at the Museum of Art and Design (MAD) fleetingly while supplies lasted; which was for about the first hour of a two hour long event. The dishy book featuring excerpts from those who knew and worked with Avedon along with his comments on various celebrities, is authored by his longtime collaborator and business partner Norma Stevens and writer Steven M.L. Aronson. Judging by this event, Avedon can still draw a killer guest list even from the great beyond. Patrick McMullan himself was there snapping away — other attendees included Barbara Tober (the hostess of the event), Jean Shafiroff, Lauren Lawrence,  John Guare, Joan Hornig, Betsey McCaughey, Scott Corzine, Pia Lindstrom, Richard Johnson, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, Diana Mellon, Joanna Mastroaianni, Pamela Taylor Yates, and Pat Hackett.

Marsha Herman, James Kaliardos, Pat Cleveland, Norma Stevens, Tony Spinelli
Photos: Laurel Marcus

I got a chance to speak with one of Avedon’s subjects, namely the lovely and multi-talented Pat Cleveland. I introduced myself by telling her that her June 2016 launch party for her book “Walking with the Muses,” (See my article) has gone down in my limited history of attending fun soirees as one of the best ever (but more on that later). She informed me that she is a painter now with a show of her “small paintings” happening in London — perhaps an exhibition in New York on the horizon.

Center: Diane Mellon;
Right: author Steven M.L. Aronson

“I was interviewed for the book,” she says. “People ask me what I remember of Avedon. We were always jumping around and being happy…he had so much energy. His assistants would try to keep up following behind with the umbrella.” I mention the relative dearth of photos featured in the book: “It’s a story book, everyone already knows the photos,” she says.

Jean Shafiroff

Pat also lamented the demise of other photographers such as Bill Cunningham and how the New York Times has not really replaced him (not that he is replaceable) . Her husband Paul van Ravenstein joined us which calls for a recounting of how I enjoyed her party. It turns out that he was instrumental in making some of that happen because “she deserved a big party” and apparently her publisher was being a mite stingy. We reminisced about how Pat “serenaded” everyone a la Josephine Baker which led Paul to conclude “I’m a lucky guy.”

Trippen boot collection

After the books were all sold and the room began to thin out, I made a break for my second destination of the evening — the Trippen shoe store (243 Mulberry Street) opening in Noho. This little known sustainable company has been producing and manufacturing their unique product (since the early ’90s) outside of Berlin and in Northern Italy. The brand only recently came onto my horizon when I saw a very limited selection of their boots in a store in Tribeca. Trippen prides themselves on creatively meeting the challenge of presenting shoe designs that have nothing to do with traditional shoe patterns. My curiosity having been piqued due to their extremely quirky designs (they have an ugly/cool aesthetic), I ordered a pair of boots on Farfetch only to receive an invite to the opening of their first store in New York almost immediately. Up until then I had no idea that they were opening their first US store here! Shoe Karma works in mysterious ways.

Co-designer Michael Oehler hugging customer

In store I had the pleasure of meeting Michael Oehler, the co-designer of Trippen (along with Angela Spieth) as well as the chance to try on some amazing new boot designs. The comfort of slipping out of my heels and into these boots is like coming home and putting on bedroom slippers. After a glass of champagne and some up tempo beats from the DJ Wallah, how could I resist indulging in a little retail therapy? After all these wildly original boots had traveled a long way to meet me — so I returned the favor by taking them on the long subway ride uptown.

– Laurel Marcus

Laurel Marcus

OG journo major who thought Strunk & White's "The Elements of Style" was a fashion guide. Desktop comedienne -- the world of fashion gives me no shortage of material.

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