Facades: Bill Cunningham for Architectural Digest online

March 29th, 2014

imgresBill Cunningham is one of Manhattan’s all-time great characters. Facades is an exhibit of his images of historical costumes paired with important architecture at the New York Historical Society. Don’t miss it! The new editor of AD Online assigned, and it was a completely joy to work with him and my editor, Elizabeth Stamp (we just click). I’ve picked up Bill in my car when he was on side of the road walking to Bridgehampton Polo in beating down sun. Last season at the Marc Jacobs show, he was snappy away in the snow and ice out front. At the premiere of Factory Girl, out of curiosity, I asked if he had met Edie Sedgewick. “Child,” he told me, I’ve been working in this town since the 40s.” He started out making hats. And he wasn’t just a little bit talented. Notice the hat in the picture, he created it to go with the ornate sculpture atop Grand Central. He took these images at a time, beginning in 1968 through the mid-70s, when Manhattan was in a serious economic slump. Hippies hated high fashion. And he he would dress up his neighbor, the Duchess of Carnegie Hall, and they would get on the subway (so as not to wrinkle the dresses; they were also broke), and you kind of won’t believe the gowns they found and the buildings they rediscovered. He published a book of these images. But it is little seen, because the Duchess bought most of the copies, because she thought they’d be valuable some day. It caused a rift between them. I found a copy twenty years ago at the flee market and had him sign it at a party in 1994, and he wrote, “With Love to You Kids”. . . I just loved that. Andy Warhol used to call us all kids at the office. I think in the 60s, ascribing youth must have been the highest compliment.
And I still call everyone kids just to try to act cool.
Bill and the Duchess would find Revolutionary War fashion at thrift shops back in the day. A true Empire frock came as wrapping on a statue sent from Paris. They bought them for nothing, and then sold one Civil war gown to pay for the next. Cunningham gave scholarly notes on the back of each image. He said women would wear the Empire frocks like a second skin and that they would soak in water and then let them cling to their bodies to get the shape, and they got some horrible disease they called the muslin disease, and he claimed that some 30,000 people died in Paris. True or not, Firbank couldn’t have come up with characters as rich and colorful as Cunningham and the Duchess. She died in 2013 at 101. Bill is still running to every last event. It doesn’t even seem possible. I repeat. Run to this exhibit! And thank you for the assignment AD. Link on Architecturaldigest.com

Welcome back to JeffreySlonim.com

March 17th, 2014

Wow. I got hacked. And it wasn’t pretty. But thanks to my friend Shruti’s brother, I am back in and all my Oscar material is back up. . . Phew!!!!! Akshay Dhalwala is a brilliant with computers. . .