Summer is getting back to sketchbooking and drawing my @maccosmetics Marilyn Monroe lipstick.
From a Busby Berkeley number, “Keep Young and Beautiful”, in Roman Scandals (1933).
Richard Brody remembers the legendary actress:
“She was meant to play Presidents and C.E.O.s, editors-in-chief and visionary directors. How many such roles existed for actresses—for women in real life—in her heyday? Bacall was bigger than her career. She started young and stayed ahead of her time, and her greatness—her mighty personal presence and her diverse body of work—carries a shadow of unfulfillment, and even tragedy.”
Photograph by Ralph Crane/The Life Images Collection/Getty
THE DAILY PIC: This is a 1948 gown by Charles James, from the stupendous show of his fashions about to close at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. I didn’t rush to see it earlier, even though I take fashion to be serious art, because the work seemed to have too much to do with the high-end, high-class, high-yawn aesthetics of the eternal One Percent. In fact, the gowns on view are very radical art, involving some of the most astounding shape-making of the 20th century. These dresses also turn out to have more than simply formal virtues. Today’s Daily Pic shows a gown that was inspired by a Georgia O’Keeffe show at MoMA, and that can only be described as frankly clitoral. (Resorting to hilarious euphemism, the Met wall text prefers to speak of an “O’Keeffe-like allusion to the primary site of feminine sexuality and procreation” while the catalog’s hedge is that the gown has “a rather explicit libidinous allusion”.)
This brings us to one of most fascinating aspects of James’s gowns. For all their radicalism, James was able to get them worn and desired by a high society not otherwise known for its artistic daring. His clitoral gown was bought by the socialites Millicent Rogers and Mrs. William Randolph (Austine) Hearst Jr.
So James’s greatest artistic accomplishment may have been that he made the radical stand for the elegant and chic – something none of his greatest colleagues in fine art had fully managed to do. Fashion spreads of the era show editors and photographers trying to tame these clothes into a semblance of standard ballware; the Met exhibition lets out their inner anarchist. (Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art; gift of the Brooklyn Museum, 2009; gift of Arturo and Paul Peralta-Ramos, 1954; ©The Metropolitan Museum of Art)
For a full visual survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive