Are you interested in contemporary art? Do you consider Barack Obama the second coming? Do you have $9,000 burning a hole in your pocket? If your answer to all three questions is yes, we have the painting for you. The online gallery Mixed Greens is offering this 63" x 63" acrylic portrait of the Illinois senator. It's by rising San Antonio artist Zane Lewis, who created it as part of his ongoing "Apostles" series. (Other subjects in the series include Charles Manson, Kim Jong Il, Pope Benedict and Paris Hilton.) When I spoke with someone at the gallery yesterday, I learned that the Obama painting had until recently been on hold, but that it was now back up for sale.
On the other hand... if you have less than a grand to spend but still want to plaster your walls with charismatic candidate, there's the work of Sonja Shaffer. The Missouri artist and fervent Obama supporter has painted eight portraits of the senator that will be on exhibit starting May 2 in Kansas City. Ten percent of her total sales (the painting above is $550) will go towards the Obama campaign.
Cut acrylic paint
63" x 63"
oil on canvas
24" x 36"
Last week, I ran into Liz Goldwyn at the opening night gala of the Metropolitan Opera's new production of Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment." The Los Angeles heiress and filmmaker, who owns a near-legendary collection of vintage clothing—that night she was wearing a pale blue couture Yves Saint Laurent gown from 1979—has been designing fine jewelry over the past several years. (Her pieces go for prices up to $6,500). Goldwyn told me about her newest fashion world venture, a gently-priced accessories collection that is being sold at Opening Ceremony. The line, called Springtime Romance, consists of vintage headpieces and sweater guards (the bejeweled clips that girls used to wear to hold their cardigans in place) from the 1940s and 1950s that Goldwyn found at estate sales and flea markets. (Because the items, priced between $150 and $350, aren't actually reworked in any way, she served as more of the line's curator than designer.)
"I'm so excited because Kylie Minogue bought one of the headband hats," she told me giddily. "I'm going to look for photos of her to see if she wears it!"
Photo of Goldwyn by Steve Eichner
I'm not usually one to stray from my same few pairs of tried and true blue jeans, even with—especially with —the rapid frequency of denim launches these days. But after recently checking out the new designs of Allureblues, I've decided to move on and change my ways.
Created by a team of young female designers, the collection delivers just what women like myself want in a pair of jeans: minimal details and great washes without the all the bells and whistles. (No crazy embellishment! No over-the-top whiskers!)
The raw indigo washes actually feel soft and the waxed black denim is chic with a polished edge. The line also comes in various shades of grays, navy, and a style with buttons at the ankles. Arriving in New York this July at stores like TG-170 and Blush, the jeans will surely make getting dressed more difficult. Something else to love—the cuts are meant the flatter a woman's curves. Basically, why wouldn't you want a pair...or four?
A more adorable-than-usual piece of mail landed in editors' mailboxes last week: A wind-up plastic Hello Kitty figurine that serves as an invitation to artist Tom Sachs's opening at Lever House. In typical Sachs D.I.Y form, the missive is artfully distressed—the plastic-covered package looks slightly dusty and is printed so that the artist's name appears to be tacked on with Scotch Tape.
The centerpiece of Sachs's show, "Bronze Collection," will be a 21-foot-tall bronze-cast, all-white Hello Kitty, which will be installed in Lever House's courtyard, where Damien Hirst's nude Virgin Mother recently resided. While Sachs' cartoon character might be a bit more PG-rated, the lawn on the building's 53rd Street side will feature some potentially nightmare-inducing figures: oversized bronze Hello Kitty and Miffy (she's the bunny counterpart to Hello Kitty) fountains that spurt water from their eyes. The exhibit opens on May 8 and be on display through September 6.
New Yorkers are typically not very impressed with celebrity sightings. But that was certainly not the case Thursday night at Morandi, Keith McNally's latest establishment. While dining with a friend at the trendy Italian trattoria, the one and only Madonna graced us—and the entire restaurant—with her presence. Dressed in a slinky dark dress and sporting her signature wavy tresses, Madge was seated right next to us in the back alcove. Joined by a large entourage (sans Guy Ritchie) that included fifteen stylish friends and two bodyguards, the ultimate queen of reinvention appeared to be having a private celebration: She toasted, sipped wine, nibbled on tomatoes and mozzarella, and seemed generally unfazed by the chaotic fanfare surrounding her. One enraptured diner in particular, who was sitting nowhere nearby, actually made several laps around the area, eventually stopping at the superstar's table in a silent stare, prompting a hostess to tell him to "sit down or leave." Obviously unable to contain himself, he chose the latter option.
Wednesday night, I caught indie duet She & Him, the collaboration between actress Zooey Deschanel and Portland, Oregon-based singer-songwriter M. Ward, at the Skirball theater at NYU. It was their second and final show in New York on a brief bi-coastal tour—now, they're off to L.A. for two more sold-out dates.
Their new album, Volume One, features songs written by Deschanel and produced by Ward, along with Beatles and Smokey Robinson covers. At Wednesday's show, they also performed Maxine Brown's "Oh No Not My Baby"—a perfect fit for Deschanel's sound. Vocally right at home with the soulful, imperfect female country and blues voices of the 1940s and 50s, Deschanel's influences also include other actors/musicians like Doris Day, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, she told Women's Wear Daily.
The project has served as a chance for Deschanel, who has much less creative control as an actress than as an indie chanteuse, to wear her heart on her sleeve and for Ward, to play the supporting role to someone he clearly adores. The music is precious, and in the role of modest, innocent, girlish crooner, Zooey Deschanel is perfectly cast.
Give them a listen on their myspace page and hear some lovely exclusively recorded tracks on NPR's website.
Last weekend I did the reverse cultural commute and hopped a train out of Manhattan to see an art show—specifically, Frida Kahlo, the first major U.S. exhibition of the artist's work in fifteen years. On display at the Philadelphia Museum of Art through May 18, the forty-two pieces, some never before exhibited publicly, span Kahlo's ground-breaking oeuvre, from self-portraits to symbolic paintings (including Frieda and Diego Rivera, a portrait that announced her marriage to the famed muralist) to still lifes. Among the masterpieces showcased are Henry Ford Hospital, an allegorical depiction of what many consider to be the first portrayal of miscarriage in contemporary art, and her vivid Still Life With Parrot and Fruit. Sprinkled amidst these works are a trove of photographs of the artist, some by famous friends like Tina Modotti and Carl Van Vechten, which capture Kahlo's affluent childhood in Mexico City, as well as hint at her indiscretions (one is of Kahlo and Leon Trotsky, with whom she had a scandalous affair during his exile). And who knew Patti Smith and Kiki Smith were such Kahlo fans? The pair are among a handful of guest stars on the exhibit's audio tour, with the rocker admitting that she based her own formative relationship with Robert Mapplethorpe on Frida and Diego's stormy, creativity-fuelled marriage.
Watch connoisseurs on this side of the pond have big reason to celebrate: Patek Philippe has just opened its first full-service retail salon in the U.S., located on the mezzanine floor of the Tiffany & Co. flagship on New York's Fifth Avenue. The space marks the pinnacle of a partnership that began in 1851, when the companies' founders struck a deal—by way of a gentleman's verbal agreement and a handshake—for Philippe to manufacture timepieces for Tiffany & Co.
To commemorate the opening, an exhibit of Philippe's horological evolution is currently on display, through April 26, on Tiffany's fifth floor. After that, it heads to the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills (May 16-18). Exhibition highlights include a silver and rose gold pocket watch that was gifted to Pope Leo XIII in 1888 to celebrate his ten-year pontificate (the timepiece is engraved with his likeness), and a wristwatch, circa 1945, made for King Farouk I of Egypt. While those items aren't for sale, many others are, such as the Star Caliber 2000, a pocket watch that, with six patents, twenty-one complications and more than 1,100 individual parts, is said to be one of Patek Philippe's most complicated timepieces ever. Its price? The exact figure has yet to be determined, but a company exec says it will be in the $3 million-ballpark.
Patek Philippe's Star Caliber 2000, King Farouk I of Egypt watch, and Pope Leo XIII pocket watch
I've recently returned from my first visit to Harbour Island in the Bahamas, and I have the tan—and, more importantly, the caftan—to prove it. Famous for its white sand beaches and billionaire homeowners (think Ron Perelman, Barry Diller, Arki Busson and Robert Miller), the island is also home to The Sugar Mill, the cultishly revered store owned by model-turned-designer India Hicks. In fact, one of the first things my friends and I did upon arrival was get on a golf cart (the preferred mode of transportation of the Brilanders, as the locals are called) and zip over to the shop.
The irony was not lost on us that we were coming from New York, a city with thousands of boutiques, and we were spending hours shopping at one store on a tiny island. But we couldn't resist the floaty caftans and cute bikinis—not to mention the decent exchange rate.
Unfortunately India herself was in Los Angeles filming Top Design—she's the show's new host—but we still had fun perusing the clothes from Allegra Hicks (India's sister-in-law), Anya Hindmarch Beach, Taka and the Danish line Day (my favorite). I ended up walking away with a pink-and-white scarf from Kenya, Spider Lily body polish (part of a bath collection India created with Crabtree & Evelyn) and a gorgeous cotton tunic that India had made, well, in India. I wore mine the very next day to Sip Sip, the restaurant where all the Brilanders, it seems, stop for lunch.
The Sugar Mill
Literally. That's where I found myself moments after arriving at the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South for a little Q&A with Dita von Teese. There she was, curled up on the queen-size in her eighteenth-floor suite, on top of the covers and fully clothed, in a vintage pink lace dress and scads of diamonds by Cartier, Chopard and Dior.
Interviewing a stripper in bed—how apropos. Von Teese is in town for her new gig as the face, or ambassador, rather, of Cointreau. the 160-year-old French orange liqueur. Tonight marks the New York debut of her Cointreau-inspired routine, which she claims is "the most extravagant show I've done." Ooh la la. And considering she's made her name swilling about nearly naked in one giant martini glass after the next, the question isn't why she's shilling for a liquor label, but, what's taken so long? "I knew with this martini-glass act, I could eventually collaborate with a spirit brand but the opportunities that had come before just didn't seem like the right fit," von Teese explains. "And [Cointreau] is so historic and sophisticated and French."
It's also the first of a series of no-brainer projects for her. She's just begun work on a retro-style guidebook and, come fall, she'll partake in the European launch of her first-ever lingerie collaboration with yet another French firm: Wonderbra. Again, von Teese says she's been approached by dozens of lingerie companies, but she held out for something, "I knew I wouldn't be embarrassed of," she says. "It could be a disaster, you know? I wanted only lingerie that I would want to have in my lingerie drawer." Like everyday stuff? "Well," she corrects, "Everyday for me."
See a sneak peek from von Teese's London show on YouTube.