arts 12.13.05

Fashion in Colors

Flounce for flounce, you won't find a more thrilling fashion show this season than the one that just opened at the Cooper-Hewitt.

The sixty-eight garments from the past 300 years that comprise Fashion in Colors are divvied up by colors, so there's a red room, a white room, a yellow room, and so on.

Brief explanations of how and why colors have been used by designers makes for revelatory viewing and imply a strong case for fashion as art form.

But you can also go just to see a beautifully conceived and executed exhibition of some fab clothes. The eye-popping selections range from a 1750 British silk taffeta dress, through Chanel, down to Viktor & Rolf, including dresses by Dior, Dolce and Gabbana, Pucci, Armani, Gaultier, Schiaparelli, and Watanabe.

Most of the clothes come from the Kyoto Costume Institute, which organized the exhibition. "Fashion in Colors" runs through March 26 at the Cooper-Hewitt, 212.849.8400. Admission is $12.
Reading the Times Book Review picks of the 10 best books of the year, we puzzled a bit over the description of Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking: "harrowing" — which it surely is — but "exhilarating"? As you probably know by now, the memoir chronicles the year following the death of her husband, John Gregory Dunne, and illness of their daughter, Quintana. The writing is vintage Didion, which means an miniaturist's selection of details are combined with piercing insights precisely rendered. It is endlessly moving. Looking at the book's jacket photo, we can't stop seeing late Rembrandt self-portraits in the deep pools of sorrow that seem to have flooded Didion's eyes. Exhilaration would seem worlds and eons away.

Then some of Didion's own words came back to us, and we did what the author does herself frequently in The Year of Magical Thinking: we tracked down the reference. It was from the essay "Goodbye to All That," the final piece in Slouching Towards Bethlehem.
That was the year, my twenty-eighth, when I was discovering that not all of the promises would be kept, that some things are in fact irrevocable and that it had counted after all, every evasion and every procrastination, every mistake, every word, all of it.
As Ms. Didion describes her relationship with her husband and with her daughter in Magical Thinking, the reader can take solace that the young woman who had that revelation at age 28 appears never to have forgotten it; that it is possible to make every word, all of it, count. Seen in that way, we began to understand how to find the exhilaration in the relationships she describes. However complicated and perhaps imperfect, they were never taken for granted.

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We were AWOL yesterday because our host company had such a humongous systems failure that even their phones crashed.

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