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About Rachel Wolff

Rachel Wolff is a Brooklyn-based art writer and critic. Her work has appeared in New York Magazine, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Town & Country, Condé Nast Traveler, ARTnews, Modern Painters, Art + Auction, and The Daily Beast. Originally from Chicago, Rachel is cooking, eating, or talking about food when she’s not writing or thinking about art.

Miuccia Meets Her Match

SaksPOV previews Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at the Met

Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and its venerable Costume Institute) confirms what many of us have known all along: that fashion designers can be nuanced, intellectually rigorous and masterfully skilled artists too. Last year’s revelation came via the late great Alexander McQueen’s fiercely inventive and hauntingly elegant avant-garde creations. This year, the Met has opted for a duo of talent that spans decades of style, glamour, innovation and a bevy of iconic, well-heeled patrons: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.” The exhibition opens on May 10 (three days after the tonight’s hotly anticipated, star-studded “Met Ball”) and features some 90 ensembles and 30 accessory pieces by the two groundbreaking designers. The show is meant to simulate a dialogue of sorts, organized into themes like…

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Every year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art (and its venerable Costume Institute) confirms what many of us have known all along: that fashion designers can be nuanced, intellectually rigorous and masterfully skilled artists too. Last year’s revelation came via the late great Alexander McQueen’s fiercely inventive and hauntingly elegant avant-garde creations. This year, the Met has opted for a duo of talent that spans decades of style, glamour, innovation and a bevy of iconic, well-heeled patrons: “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations.”

The exhibition opens on May 10 (three days after the tonight’s hotly anticipated, star-studded “Met Ball”) and features some 90 ensembles and 30 accessory pieces by the two groundbreaking designers. The show is meant to simulate a dialogue of sorts, organized into themes like “Ugly Chic,” “Hard Chic,” “Naïf Chic,” and “The Exotic Body” with Prada and Schiaparelli’s archival creations playing off of each other as if the designers themselves were engaging in a rigorous game of show and tell.

Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) is primarily known for her affiliation with Surrealist maestros like Salvador Dalí (their collaborations include Schiaparelli’s famed “Lobster Dress,” a dainty white evening number studded with a bright red crustacean). But this presentation offers a more varied and comprehensive look at her ultra influential career — from 1920’s-era geometric shifts to studded blazers and pleated, ethereal gowns. Miuccia Prada’s equally striking offerings seem a more familiar trip down memory lane, including the spring/summer 2006 collection’s girlish embellishments and to a sexpot-ready stunner from spring/summer 2004 in liquid gold.

Shop Prada on Saks.com:


Helmut Head

The fashion designer-turned-artist has new models in mind

He may be best known for the pioneering urban minimalist fashion aesthetic, but Helmut Lang has devoted the past seven years of his life to a different form altogether: art. The fashion designer-turned-artist’s sculptures have been shown in Hanover, Frankfurt, Moscow, and, last summer, in both Venice (where he was included in a Biennale group show) and East Hampton (where he is largely based). Now, the designer-turned-artist is getting his first major local exhibition. Lang has quite a vote of confidence from the art world as well —the show is timed to coincide with the opening of the Frieze Art Fair’s first New York edition and is being organized by art advisor Mark Fletcher and peripatetic independent curator (slash art-world darling) Neville Wakefield. “Helmut Lang:…

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He may be best known for the pioneering urban minimalist fashion aesthetic, but Helmut Lang has devoted the past seven years of his life to a different form altogether: art. The fashion designer-turned-artist’s sculptures have been shown in Hanover, Frankfurt, Moscow, and, last summer, in both Venice (where he was included in a Biennale group show) and East Hampton (where he is largely based). Now, the designer-turned-artist is getting his first major local exhibition. Lang has quite a vote of confidence from the art world as well —the show is timed to coincide with the opening of the Frieze Art Fair’s first New York edition and is being organized by art advisor Mark Fletcher and peripatetic independent curator (slash art-world darling) Neville Wakefield.

“Helmut Lang: Sculptures” opens at 24 Washington Square North on May 5 and remains on view to the public through June 15. The 20 or so totemic pieces tread the line between found-object mash-ups and inventive sculptural abstraction. They are composed of readymade rubber discs (bumpers, of a sort) that are stacked into freestanding compositions that mirror, in some sense, a languid silhouette. They look like precarious, barely held together and on the verge of succumbing to gravity like an avant-garde Jenga tower, or, perhaps, a model teetering down the runway in heels.


Here Comes the Sun

Philip Lim and artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi on their in-store collaboration

As far as collaborations go, this has to be among the most organic. Phillip Lim’s team presented the designer with an inspiration board for his spring/summer 2012 collection and there they were: several examples of Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi’s dreamy film and photographic installations. “I really connected to the emotional quality of his work,” Lim says. “There is something very similar in our approach. He has this hand which is a ‘simple complexity,’ something that is inherent in my designs too.” The decision from there was a fairly simple one — Nakanishi’s work would adorn Lim’s spring/summer shop-in-shop at Saks. Nakanishi’s 44 photo-printed transparencies hang equidistant in an orderly row, fusing together to create the effect of a hazy, atmospheric landscape suspended mid-air. They are…

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As far as collaborations go, this has to be among the most organic. Phillip Lim’s team presented the designer with an inspiration board for his spring/summer 2012 collection and there they were: several examples of Japanese artist Nobuhiro Nakanishi’s dreamy film and photographic installations. “I really connected to the emotional quality of his work,” Lim says. “There is something very similar in our approach. He has this hand which is a ‘simple complexity,’ something that is inherent in my designs too.”

The decision from there was a fairly simple one — Nakanishi’s work would adorn Lim’s spring/summer shop-in-shop at Saks. Nakanishi’s 44 photo-printed transparencies hang equidistant in an orderly row, fusing together to create the effect of a hazy, atmospheric landscape suspended mid-air. They are a natural fit, dangling among Lim’s own creations which, this season, take their inspiration from “the freedom and fragility of kites.”

Nakanishi was not familiar with Lim before he was approached to collaborate on this project. (It’s not his fashion first, though: Nakanishi has worked with Comme des Garçons as well). But the artist was immediately impressed. The idea for the artwork itself came from his previous explorations of the passing of time. “For this work, I took pictures of sunrise at several intervals of time early in the morning for approximately two hours,” he says. And printed all 44 of them on transparent films. “I tried to express the link with the collection of Phillips Lim, about the freedom and fragility of kites, so the images needed to be more abstract and modern than my usual works.”

Projects like this, he adds, are key to his personal practice as well. “There are possibilities and potentialities for creating new things by sharing ideas, even when their vehicle is different. These kind of opportunities influence me too and have an impact on my forthcoming artworks”— many of which will be on view at Zurich’s Kashya Hildebrand gallery come October.


Goude Times

A new tome on Jean-Paul Goude has us inspired!

Even though Jean-Paul Goude’s stunning retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris just ended, a new tome dedicated to the cutting edge French artist and designer’s oeuvre is set to be released stateside in early April. And let us assure you dear readers: the “Goude”-ness, so to speak, lives on. Like the show, Jean-Paul Goude (Thames & Hudson; $49.95) collects Goude’s staggering output from sketches and paintings to storyboards, layouts, and some of the ultra fab fashion photography shot under his shrewd art direction. Born and raised in France, Goude started his career as an art director at Esquire magazine in 1970’s New York. Shortly thereafter he met the avant-garde model and performer Grace Jones, who would go on to become his muse….

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Even though Jean-Paul Goude’s stunning retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris just ended, a new tome dedicated to the cutting edge French artist and designer’s oeuvre is set to be released stateside in early April.

And let us assure you dear readers: the “Goude”-ness, so to speak, lives on. Like the show, Jean-Paul Goude (Thames & Hudson; $49.95) collects Goude’s staggering output from sketches and paintings to storyboards, layouts, and some of the ultra fab fashion photography shot under his shrewd art direction.

Born and raised in France, Goude started his career as an art director at Esquire magazine in 1970’s New York. Shortly thereafter he met the avant-garde model and performer Grace Jones, who would go on to become his muse. In the 1980’s he composed groundbreaking ad campaigns for companies like Kodak, Orangina, and Citroën. By the 1990s his work was in demand by every major fashion magazine and label — Chanel, Hermès, Elle, Vogue among them. The images themselves range from sexy to cheeky to wonderfully strange (think Jones in a cage, Jones as an abstract sculpture, Jones shouting at minstrel performers from a towering black pedestal…) and are second only to Goude’s remarkable preparatory sketches, many of which are wall-worthy artworks in and of themselves. They demonstrate his laser-sharp eye, fanciful imagination, and knack for color and composition, not to mention his impeccable draftsmanship—especially in a little-known series of early nudes.

In a fawning introduction — penned by another famous Jean-Paul: Jean-Paul Gaultier — Goude is noted for is role in bringing high-fashion androgyny to the fore. “The subtly stylized image of androgyny that he has created is fascinating to me, and I like to think that I could almost have imagined it myself, but I didn’t,” Gaultier writes. “I may have had the vocabulary, but I could barely string together a sentence—he can write a whole book from it.”

MORE: See more images from Jean-Paul Goude in the gallery.


Terry Richardson: Hot in Hollywood

West Hollywood gallery OHWOW platforms the famous photographer

Photographer Terry Richardson may be best known for his gritty shoots with tabloid favorites Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, and Paris Hilton (not to mention his editorial work for such publications as V, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar). But a buzzy new L.A. gallery has put the bespectacled shutterbug’s more artistic pursuits front and center. TERRYWOOD, on view at West Hollywood’s OHWOW through March 31, includes 25 recent photographic musings on life in Tinseltown. The gallery was founded in Miami but relocated to the West Coast just last year. Many of the images included in TERRYWOOD focus less on L.A.’s glitz and glam and more on its genetic make-up — the signage, buildings, and purple-haired punks that make the city far more unique than it is typically…

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Photographer Terry Richardson may be best known for his gritty shoots with tabloid favorites Lindsay Lohan, Lady Gaga, and Paris Hilton (not to mention his editorial work for such publications as V, Vogue, and Harper’s Bazaar). But a buzzy new L.A. gallery has put the bespectacled shutterbug’s more artistic pursuits front and center. TERRYWOOD, on view at West Hollywood’s OHWOW through March 31, includes 25 recent photographic musings on life in Tinseltown. The gallery was founded in Miami but relocated to the West Coast just last year.

Many of the images included in TERRYWOOD focus less on L.A.’s glitz and glam and more on its genetic make-up — the signage, buildings, and purple-haired punks that make the city far more unique than it is typically given credit for. Other works get cheeky with several Hollywood pitfalls and clichés as well: in Richardson’s shot of the iconic “Hollywood” sign, most of the letters in the blocky white sign have been cropped out so all that’s left is “Ho”; a close-up of a blonde’s parted hair reveals her dark brown roots; and a pair of plump and lacquered Rocky Horror Picture Show-esque red lips could belong to any number of wannabe, emerging, or established ingénues.

Also worth a gander: Richardson’s blog, Terry’s Diary, a frequently updated consortium of photographs and videos documenting Richardson’s work, life, and frequent A-list encounters.

TERRYWOOD at OHWOW through March 31; 931 North La Cienega Boulevard, Los Angeles; 310-652-1711; oh-wow.com.

Click ‘VIEW IMAGES’ at right to see full descriptions of selected art.