What becomes a legend most? How are those cultural superstars chosen, the ones whose very names invoke awe, wonder, or at least a gasp? Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, the comprehensive retrospective of the late designer’s ravishing raiment now on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art certainly provides a clue. With an hour and a half wait to enter (on a good day), a de facto gala in his honor and almost unanimous praise from critics, the McQueen legend continues to thrive in the eerie, operatic halls of the exhibition space. He may have a spectacular artistic output, and he may have defined an era of rising fashion stars, but the question remains how his deification came to be, how he came to define 21st century fashion with a short, tragically romantic career.
When fashion impresario Yves Saint Laurent was once asked to name his favorite poet, he paused for a moment, smiled and spoke Pierre Bergé’s name in a soft tone. This “poet” was the designer’s devoted companion for over fifty years. He was also the impresario that ran the logistics of the Yves St. Laurent Couture House from day one in 1961 until its final bow in 2002. But his was probably his knack for finding the right word at the right time that enabled both their business and romance to last.
You may have seen him on a bike somewhere in Manhattan, a flashing presence in a blue coat. Maybe he was at a gala or a fundraiser, if you happen to frequent those kinds of events. But where it’s easiest to find Bill Cunningham these days is in the pages of the New York Times, with his weekly fashion photo column On the Street picking up on the prevailing trends of that week in New York City dress. On the street, the 83-year old fashion photographer and aesthetic documentarian is tough to spot, much less pin down. It is Bill Cunningham’s own elusiveness that makes Richard Press’s new documentary Bill Cunningham New York so fascinating: the 92 minute movie is defined by its attempt to get to know a character and an artist whose work and life are completely inseparable.
Fashion, as it so often does, just caught a rash from the art world. The color spreading through the cheeks of this season’s clothes is none other than International Klein Blue (IKB), the same unique hue dreamed up by the proto-postmodernist bad boy Yves Klein in 1962. Now, IKB is on your mom’s purse.