See Jacqueline de Ribes' Spectacular Wardrobe At The Costume Institute Starting Today

The best result of the Anna Wintour Costume Center being built at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is that we can now regularly expect two exhibitions a year from the Costume Institute instead of just the one blockbuster show in the spring. Last November, it presented a scholarly show about mourning dress traditions the 19th and 20th Centuries which was fascinating and beautifully exhibited if a bit inherently morbid. Starting today, the Costume Institute has spun 180˚ in the opposite direction with Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, (pictured above and below) featuring highlights from the (mostly evening) wardrobe of the French countess turned designer who remains one of the best dressed women in the world, and a representative of the generation when fashion media celebrated stylish women who bought their own clothes and dressed themselves without the help of stylists. De Ribes is not an eccentric or trailblazing dresser in the way that we see other prominent women of distinctive style. While we have seen splashier, more extravagant gowns at the Costume Institute, we have rarely seen a collection of them as refined and representative of one person's singularly impeccable taste.
JacquelineDeRibesMetmuseumRaymundoDeLarrainTo fully understand the show, one must understand a bit about The Countess de Ribes herself (pictured at right). Born into aristocracy, she became the Vicomtesse de Ribes when she married her husband at 19. Fascinated as a child by fashion from watching her grandmother's haute couture fittings, she became as expert in design as the great couturiers she patronized including, well, most of them, but most notably Yves Saint Laurent, Emanuel Ungaro and Marc Bohan of Christian Dior. to supplement her haute couture purchases, she had her own designs made and, unable to draw, found a young sketch artist to assist her in bringing her ideas to life. That was Valentino Garavani for whom, like many of Europe's designers, she became a muse, or something more, really. Recognizing her flawless eye, designers allowed de Ribes to adjust and edit their designs to the point where they would occasionally just turn over their ateliers to her whims. Ironically, it was her privileged station in life that for many years kept her from going into business herself. It would have been considered unseemly for her to have her name on a business, even a luxurious one, so she quietly found work advising designers and producing theater and ballet projects. Finally, shortly after her husband inherited his title as Count in 1981, she was allowed to start her own luxury Prêt-à-Porter business which lasted until 1995. Many of her own designs are included in the show, showing up beautifully next to gowns from more celebrated couturiers, and if they seem to recall the style of designers like Bohan or Saint Laurent, it is hard to say if it is because she was influenced by them or, more likely, they were inspired by her for so many years. At the press preview earlier this week, outgoing Curator in Charge of The Costume Institute Harold Koda noted that it would be easy to breeze through the show and gaze at the elegant gowns, but the exhibition bears lingering scrutiny pointing out that de Ribes the designer always saw her work in three dimensions often resulting in sophisticated spiral cut creations meant to flatter from very angle. He even broke his own strict rule against showing re-creations of older designs when she presented him with a reproduction of a Dior gown by Saint Laurent from the 1959-60 season that was realized perfectly under her strict instruction. It only took Dior's contemporary atelier about six tries to meet her exacting standards.
Ultimately, the exhibition, probably unintentionally, serves as a satisfying companion to another current fashion exhibition focusing on another woman of unique individual style. If Jacqueline de Ribes represents the ultimate in rarefied taste, then FIT's Fashion Underground: The World of Susanne Bartsch, shows a deceptively complex woman at the other end of the style spectrum. Taken together, Bartsch's no-holds-barred costumes and de Ribes' supreme elegance seem like two different sides of the same coin with each one using fashion as a a form of expression in windy different ways. FIT's show runs through through December 5th, and seeing them together makes for a fascinating double header.

Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style through February 21, 2016 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side


Watch Tomorrow's Balmain x H&M Launch Event On Periscope
. . . Of Course

The Balmain x H&M promotional machine will kick into high gear tomorrow night at 23 Wall Street when the chain and designer Olivier Roustieng will throw what is expected to be a glittery, celebrity studded runway show. Of course, it would make sense to live-stream the event on the internet and it will be.
On your phone.
The event will be streaming through Periscope, mainly because it is the new thing that every likes to talk about. Is it better than a regular live-stream on your laptop or tablet? Not really, but the show should be entertaining with all the new supermodels, so it's worth giving it a shot, and perhaps a more polished video will show up online if your tolerance for extended, shaky hand-held video streaming is as low as ours is. If you are unfamiliar with the app, just download it to your phone (it's not available for iPads, unfortunately), follow H&M and wait for the alert sometime tomorrow evening. The line launches on November 5th and, realistically, you should probably start camping out outside the store right about now.


Apple Hits The Met As The Costume Institute Plans A Tech-Inspired Show For Next Spring

IrisVanHerpen-JBMondino-MetMuseumWhile the next Costume Institute exhibition isn't expected until next month, The Metropolitan Museum of Art has already announced its Spring 2016 blockbuster show, manus x machina: fashion in an age of technology (lower case specified). The exhibition will explore how designers are negotiating the impact of all sorts of technological advances on the still artisanally-based business of creating high fashion.
In a statement announcing the upcoming exhibition, Andrew Bolton, Curator in The Costume Institute explained, "Traditionally, the distinction between the haute couture and prêt-à-porter was based on the handmade and the machine-made, but recently this distinction has become increasingly blurred as both disciplines have embraced the practices and techniques of the other. manus x machina will challenge the conventions of the hand/machine dichotomy, and propose a new paradigm germane to our age of digital technology."
To support the exhibition, the Met has landed the perfect major sponsor, Apple, who will be represented at the Met Gala that always launches the show by its celebrated Chief Design Officer Jonathan Ive who has his own point of view on the marriage of design and technology, "Both the automated and handcrafted process require similar amounts of thoughtfulness and expertise. There are instances where technology is optimized, but ultimately it's the amount of care put into the craftsmanship, whether it's machine-made or hand-made, that transforms ordinary materials into something extraordinary."
The exhibition will include examples dating from the 1880s to designer offerings from 2015 that show the impact of technology on fashion starting with the invention of the sewing machine up to 3-D printed clothing which will be demonstrated in workshops where visitors will see garments being created. Like recent spring Costume Institute exhibitions, manus x machina will utilize the entire gallery space of the Anna Wintour Costume Center as well as another section of the museum, in this case, The Robert Lehman Wing galleries. A long list of designers featured includes big names like Chanel, Alexander Wang and Prada as well as technical innovators of the past like Mary McFadden, Issey Miyake, Pierre Cardin and Paco Rabanne as well as contemporary envelope pushers like Iris van Herpen (dress, pictured above) and Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.
And, oh yeah, there's the big Met Gala.
In addition to Apple's Jony Ive, the ever fascinating party will be co-chared by Anna Wintour, actor Idris Elba and general media phenomenon Taylor Swift (this was bout to happen, obviously). Miuccia Prada, karl Lagerfeld and Louis Vuitton's Nicolas Ghesquière will serve as honorary chairs, so look for lots of celebrity guests to be wearing in Prada, Chanel, Fendi and Vuitton.
The exhibition is set open on May 5, so make your plans early. The Museum is offering advance ticket purchases to avoid long waits. Recent costume Institute shows have wildly exceeded expectations even without singular designer subjects. the recent China Through The Looking Glass broke records and featured a spectacular exhibition design that manus x machina is sure to top.
In the meantime, you have only a little over a month to wait to see the Costume Institute's next show, Jacqueline de Ribes: The Art of Style, which opens on November 19th and runs through February 21st.


Adam Lippes x Target, Uniqlo And Lemaire & Gap x GQ's Best New Menswear Designers In America All Hit Stores This Week

In a particularly bountiful season for designer collaborations, this is a big week for a good portion of this fall's most anticipated collections. Adam Lippes for Target, Gap x GQ's Best New Menswear Designers in America 2015 (pictured above) and Uniqlo and Lemaire all arrive on store racks this week. Let's review them below so you can prepare yourselves for a potential stampede to the mall.

ADAM-LIPPES-x-TargetFirst up is Adam Lippes's plaid infused line for Target which dropped yesterday morning in stores and online. Oddly, it has not caused the kind of excitement that some of the popular chain's other collabs have. Perhaps it is because it is only a component of Target's larger tartan-promotion for the fall season, or maybe it is just because the chain hasn't really invested in the same level of advertising for it as they have for other past collaborations —seen any TV ads?. Regardless, it looks great in photos and a few pieces appear to have already sold out online. The collection includes both men's and women's apparel including plus sizes as well as accessories and items for the home and even pets. It has a luxe, casual feeling, and it looks like a sleeper, so don't put off an in-store visit.

Over the past four years, Gap x GQ's Best New Menswear Designers in America has become one of the most highly anticipated collaborations of the year thanks to some stylish, fast-shopping men who cleared the racks of last year's crop in record time. It officially drops tomorrow, but if you text "GQ" to 36888 to sign up, then you can shop online starting right now. You will want the head start. This year's group of official up-and-comers- includes NSF, The Hill-Side, David Hart and STAMPD, each one filling its own separate niche in the range of men's fashion. Some potential fast sellers (pictured above) include NSF's washed leather hoodie with sherpa lining for $450, STAMPD's black leather backpack with a white stripe for $195, master tailor David Hast's tweed sport coat and trousers for $150 and $98 respectively, and the Hill-Side's quilted camo-print bomber for $130. There are tons of great items to be had from each designer, and online shopping is recommended for the best selection. We don't have an official list of NYC stores, but typically, the Gap locations with the best selections are the Fifth Avenue flagship, which usually devotes the little side-store to the collaboration, the Flatiron location on lower Fifth Avenue, The Herald Square and Times Square stores and the Upper West Side location near Lincoln Square. As always, shop early for this one.

Finally, Uniqlo and Lemaire (above) will be released online and in stores this Friday October 2nd. This luxurious looking collaboration for men and women has been generating an enormous amount of online anticipation, particularly for those who have been waiting for a sophisticated follow up to the chain's much loved +J collection. The knitwear pieces for men and women look especially enticing, but the stylish basics throughout the line all look like winners. While a fraction of the collection will be available in every Uniqlo store, only a very select group of stores worldwide will have the complete line in stock including the Fifth Avenue Flagship and West 34th Street locations exclusively in the entire United States. Chicago shoppers will also have the complete line at their upcoming store on Michigan Avenue, but not until it opens later this month. As far as we know, those stores will have regular hours on Friday, but look for the lines outside the doors that we used to see on the +J launch days of years past when the SoHo Uniqlo was the only one in America.

Of course, there are still big collaborations coming from Carine Roitfeld and Uniqlo and, probably the 800 pound gorilla of the season, H&M x Balmain coming in late October and mid-November, so shoppers may want to pace themselves, but the season is getting off to a strong start right now. Plan carefully.


The Chelsea Barneys Warehouse Sale Appears To Be Done For Good

Does it feel like there's something missing?
Have the relatively few still fairly decent sample sales going on right now felt like not much of a satisfying offering?
That's because, as far as we can tell, this will be the first the first Labor Day Weekend that there is no Barneys Warehouse Sale somewhere in Chelsea since they started having them.
Yes, we know.
The Shophound has been bitching and moaning about how bad the Warehouse Sale has gotten over the years for quite some time now, and it had become but a shadow of the former basement full of bargains that it was in its heyday. Yet, somehow, we almost always found something there worth our journey downtown. Some shiny bargain, undiscovered by others always managed to get into our hot little hands to complete even a marginally satisfying shopping trip. We have vague memories of walking out of there just a year ago with some once pricey shirts from Michael Bastian and Brioni that ultimately totaled less than $100 —nothing to complain about.
But yes, we had complained repeatedly that the sale had gotten so pathetic that Barneys should just cancel the whole brand-sullying event once and for all and focus on its Warehouse website, and it looks like that is exactly what they have done. While the Warehouse online experience often presents merchandise that is less discounted than what you'll find on the main luxury website's own final end-of-season sales, it still offers some good deals, especially on holiday weekends, like the one that is upon us. That's when extra discounts are applied to certain categories as well as clearance items bringing them close to the best deals that one might once have found in the Chelsea store's basement. Still, online browsing can't compare to intently rummaging through the bins under the original Co-op store on 18th Street (now a Room & Board), and we can't help but miss the late summer routine of deliberately finding a reason to walk down 17th or 18th street to see if any additional markdowns had been posted. Well, things will change. It's the nature of the universe, and  at times over the past few years, it has looked like Barneys was ready to cancel the Warehouse Sale, so it shouldn't be too surprising to discover that it may actually have happened.
R.I.P. Warehouse Sale.
Even though we complained all the time —and you were far from perfect— it turns out we really loved you all along. You are already missed.


Reservations For In-Store Apple Watch Purchasing Start Today

ApplewatchbagConcluding one of the most excruciatingly protracted product rollouts we have ever witnessed, Apple has finally opened up its reservation system for making Apple Watch purchases in its U.S. stores. Created to avoid the outsized queues of shoppers clamoring to buy the coveted timepiece on a first-come-first-served basis, the system now allows customers to choose a model on the Apple website and then choose a store based upon availability along with a designated time to stop buy in pick it up in a specially designed paper bag. While the watch has been available to be shipped directly through Apple for a few weeks now, buyers would have generally had to make the purchase before seeing the item in person and would also have been precluded from paying in cash if they so desired. Customers will now be able to walk out of a store with them starting today. Shoppers will be required to bring I.D. and will be able to try on the model before making a final decision and purchasing in the store.
The new system should mollify the amazingly cranky neighbors of the newest Apple Store at 74th Street and Madison Avenue who are still fearful that the store will disrupt their peaceful neighborhood with long hours and even longer lines of customers on the sidewalks there for product launches. The real test will come in September when the next iteration of the iPhone will presumably become available, but by then we are betting that the furor over the new store should have died down.

Apple opens up US Watch retail reservations, shoppers get unique bags (AppleInsider)


China: Through The Looking Glass
Is Another Costume Institute Hit

You have seen all of the slinky, see-through gowns and crazy headpieces from the Met Ball, but sometimes the actual exhibition that is being celebrated can get lost in all that partying. Not this year. While it is a challenge for the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to keep topping itself with its blockbuster spring shows, this year Curator Andrew Bolton has pulled out all the stops with China: Through The Looking Glass, its collaboration with the Met's Department of Asian Art which opens this Friday. The Shophound got a preview on Monday, and we can't wait to go back to see it again. Since being announced last year, the show has undergone a title change (formerly Chinese Whispers: Tales of the East in Art, Film & Fashion) and expanded to 30,000 square feet including both the Anna Wintour Costume Center galleries as well as the entire Chinese galleries on the museum's second floor. The whopping show, unprecedented for the Costume Institute, is about three times the size of the department's typical spring shows according to Bolton, and its expansiveness is justified by some of the most striking installations the museum has ever seen. The celebrated Chinese director Wong Kar Wai served as the show's creative director, and his input is felt in the mesmerizing, cinematic way the exhibition unfolds with a deliberately disorienting "Through The Looking Glass" sense of fantasy. Each section is punctuated with carefully selected film clips ranging from Cinema's first Asian screen goddess, Anna May Wong, who had to move to Europe to escape steroptyped roles in American movies, to Bernardo Bertolucci's The Last Emperor, to clips from Mr. Wong's own classic films like The Grandmaster and those of his contemporaries like Zhang Yimou's House of Flying Daggers and Raise The Red Lantern to a jaw dropping clip from Vincente Minelli's 1946 Ziegfeld Follies featuring Fred Astaire in a Chinese inspired dance number that is only slightly less offensive than his famous blackface "Bojangles" tribute in Swing Time —but that's really what the show is about. It's not just the spectacular Chinese-inspired gowns and jewels that are the showpieces, but the ongoing interplay of Chinese aesthetic filtered through Western sensibilities that creates a fantasy of China that has been constructed by both sides equally. Rather than seeing a bastardization of pure Chinese culture, which has been a common point of view of politically correct scholars in recent decades, Bolton and his collaborators take the often highly commercialized fantasy vision of China as its own form of artistic expression that leaves room to discuss things that have rightly raised the hackles of many Chinese like Fred Astaire in truly dreadful "Oriental" makeup, or the controversy created when Yves Saint Laurent named his blockbuster perfume Opium, romanticizing not just addiction but the Opium Wars of the mid 19th Century.
Ultimately, it's doubtful that Saint Laurent's perfume got anyone addicted to narcotics, and the curators leave the abundance of dazzling images they present up to the viewers' own interpretations —and dazzling they are. In some ways, the show focuses on some of the usual suspects, devoting an entire room to Saint Laurent's lavish 1977 Chinese-inspired Haute Couture collection and filling the now darkened and spooky Astor Court with pieces from John Galliano's extravagant 2003 Haute Couture collection for Dior. There is plenty from those two, who may have the most pieces in the show along with famous looks from Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Valentino, BalenciagaRalph Lauren, and several pieces by Tom Ford YSL that paid homage to the '77 Haute Couture collection. Vivienne Tam's ironic Mao-printed dresses are also given prominent exposure (pictured in the gallery below), but the real discovery is Chinese designer Guo Pei whose gilded ballgown commands a room full of Buddha sculptures all by itself, and who has already been lifted to a new level of cultural significance by dressing Rhianna at the ball on Monday night.
Ultimately the exhibition is more than the sum of its parts. British designer Craig Green's black and white warrior outfits might not mean quite as much if they weren't placed in a breathtaking forest of perspex stalks meant to represent bamboo in a room devoted to Wuxia or "Martial Hero" films (pictured above). Over that past few years, the Costume Institute has tackled themes like Punk and Superheroes with mixed results that often seemed either forced or facile, but this time, they hit the right balance of breathtaking images with depth and history underneath for visitors to find. Plan your visit carefully, and prepare for some long lines. China: Through The Looking Glass has raised the bar again for the Costume Institute's annual blockbusters.

China: Through The Looking Glass starts Friday May 7 through August 16th at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue at 82nd Street, Upper East Side

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The Pop-Up Flea Makes A Spring Appearance Next Month

PUFSUN_Square-1For those of you tired of scrounging around sample sales for menswear inspiration, mark your calendars for next weekend when the now bi-annual favorite, The Pop-Up Flea makes it's spring appearance at the Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. The collection of heritage, artisanal and just plain great quality brands will include some of the old favorites we have become accustomed to rediscovering like Alexander OlchFred Perry Laurel WreathErnest AlexanderLeather Head SportsRancourt & CoFreemans Sporting Club and TUDOR along with some fresh entrants to add some new blood to the proceedings just in case you have enough handmade raw leather belts. look for Dom VetroCorridorCanvas Bag MachineMartenero and Accompany to liven up the place. A full roster of participants will be published soon, but in the meantime, be sure to pick a time next weekend, after you have taken care of any Mothers' Day obligations to do some more shopping for yourself. See all the current details below.


Wading Through Lauren Bacall's Vast Collection

In the picture above is a pile of Lauren Bacall's Louis Vuitton and Goyard luggage, which is, in fact just a small sampling of the extensive luggage collection belonging to the late actress. Over the weekend, potential auction buyers and movie fans streamed into Bonhams' Madison Avenue showroom to check out her stuff, and there was a lot of it. We aren't sure how much room she had in her apartment in the Dakota, but it seems apparent that she filled it to capacity. The walls were covered with framed pictures and surfaces were covered with any number of objects from African tribal figures to small sculptures from friends like Henry Moore and Robert Graham (the artist and late husband of Anjelica Huston, not the maker of colorful shirts). Combing through her possessions was less like entering Elizabeth Taylor's mind boggling vault of treasures at Christie's a couple of years ago, than examining the taste of a woman of great means who lived a big life with luxury, but not necessarily ostentation. There were some beautiful jewels including some fine Jean Schlumberger pieces, but compared to the rest of her stuff, it was a more smaller collection of more modestly scaled pieces as Hollywood glamor goes. Bacall was known to have a huge, spectacular wardrobe, most of which was reportedly donated to the Fashion Institute of Technology, which has its own, small Bacall centered exhibition running through this week. Bonhams still had a small sampling of clothes available from Bacall's favorite designers including an Yves Saint Laurent couture cape which looked like it came from his 70's heyday, a glittering black beaded Halston cardigan and two versions of a Jean Muir jumpsuit in different colors. Ever practical, she tended to favor sleek Giorgio Armani and Ralph Lauren pantsuits and sweaters for everyday, so the draw here is not so much the clothes and personal adornments, but all the rest of her home furnishings including an eclectic collection of antique furniture , mostly from Europe and Scandinavia and Asia. She was a fan of American quilts as well, and clearly favored more rustic antiques over sleek, modern style. Of the art, there was an abundance of smaller pieces, mostly prints and lithographs from Moore, Graham and others, and while she seemed to have few large, statement making paintings, she had a penchant for huge, framed antique posters. There was silver both decorative and practical including a damaged oil Hannukah menorah waiting to be purchased by a true fan. For the casual shopper looking for a souvenir, there were collections of books and less valuable knickknacks like bookends and whose main value may be that they belonged to a great star. At times, it seemed like Miss Bacall may have been amassing such items just so fans could one day get a piece of her possessions at a reasonable cost. And then there was all that luggage. At the center of it was a pair of Hartmann steamer trunks that appeared to date from the mid-century days when people of a certain class traveled with such things, but surrounding them were stacks of Vuitton and Goyard, and even a humble little Prada carry-on with wheels that made one wonder exactly how many suitcases one person —even a famous Hollywood star— could need to travel with at one time? Three, four, maybe five, but thirty? That's a mystery that only her family might be able to answer. For the rest of us stargazing shoppers, Lauren Bacall's collections will be Auctioned off tomorrow and Wednesday.

The Lauren Bacall Collection (Bonhams)


The Time To Visit Macy's Herald Square Is Right Now When It Is Full Of Flowers

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It is true that for a lot of New Yorkers, Macy's Herald Square, the city's most famous retail landmark, is generally to be avoided at all costs. It is the city resident's natural aversion to attractions that are bound to be clogged with slack-jawed tourists, and Macy's remains one of New York's top attractions for visitors.
However, the immense store's ongoing renovations have made the once dingy store brighter, more pleasant and easier to shop despite all the tourists, and if you ever plan to venture to the World's Largest Store, go before the end of next week when it is stuffed with lushly arranged flowers. Yes, it's time for Macy's Flower Show. For over 40 years, the store has heralded the arrival of Spring by festooning the main floor with blooming blossoms and greenery, and now that the main floor has been upgraded and refreshed it looks all the better as a temporary botanical garden. In addition, the store offers all kinds of workshops and special events.
Still need a reason?
Spring. Flowers.
It's actually Spring right now, even though we can hardly tell. After yet another dreary, seemingly endless winter, we could all do with a taste of warmer months to come, so it's worth a little detour to Herald Square even if it's just for a few moments to lift your winter-numbed spirits.

Macy's Flower Show Through April 4 at Herald Square, Midtown