London Fashion Umbrella: My Own Private New York “Fashion Week”

Installation view of Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible conversations at the Costume Institute

I’m back in my hometown of New York City this week, and despite the extreme heat and humidity (no need for my London umbrella here – except to shield from the blazing sun!) I’m sticking to a full schedule of fashion and dress-related sightseeing, visits and appointments.

The trip over has also provided the rare opportunity for a number of Worn Through contributors to meet up outside the virtual and conference worlds.  Over a lovely French meal that started with an appetizer enticingly called a “beggar’s purse,”  Tove, Lisa, Mellissa and I caught up on each other’s projects and shared opinions about topics including New York street fashion, the prevalence of tattoos and the differences between mass fashion in London and New York.

Today I’m off to the Staten Island Historical Society at the Richmondtown Restoration, to visit curator Sarah Clark and learn more about their dress collection and the creation of their online database.

With curator Sarah Clark at the Staten Island Historical Society at Richmondtown Restoration. Photo by John E. Rossi, 2012

Tomorrow, I’ll be visiting the Tiffany archives to have a look at umbrella handles – which came about after my video post on umbrellas last month. In both cases, the opportunity to liaise with colleagues in the museum world here in New York here has arisen via writing for Worn Through, and it is an honour and a pleasure to be meeting some of our distinguished readers face to face.

Before going behind the scenes today and tomorrow, I had a chance to catch up on some public museum exhibitions on offer this summer in New York including Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations at the Costume Institute, Beauties of the Gilded Age: Peter Marie’s Miniatures of Society Women at the New York Historical Society, and Fashion A-Z Part II at the Museum at FIT.  Seeing all three in one day is not advisable – but do go at your leisure as they are all meritorious and engaging displays.

Lastly, it wouldn’t be a proper trip to New York City without a little bit of shopping, although the bargains I picked up on this trip come on the heels of the sad news that Betsey Johnson LLC has filed for bankruptcy and are closing all of their stand-alone boutiques. Although the bright colours and funky styles of Betsey’s stores and runway shows will be sorely missed, the sales associate who helped me to purchase two dresses assured me that Johnson is not retiring and there is more to come!

Although the New York runway shows are weeks away, I’ll soon be returning to London with heavier luggage and more knowledge about what’s going on in museums and archives here in the Big Apple!  With so many exhibitions, people and sights to see, this has truly been a sort of New York Academic Fashion Week for me, and I can only hope that it can become a regular part of my itinerary.

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