Sunday, 18 March 2012

Diana Vreeland After Diana Vreeland & Have a Nice Wax at Palazzo Fortuny

Ritratto by Priscilla Rattazzi, 1982 
(Venice, Italy) A vivid red cape worn by Maria Callas, and created by Balenciaga, the aristocratic designer -- installed next to a suit of armor -- grabs your eye as you enter the exhibition Diana Vreeland After Diana Vreeland at Palazzo Fortuny, affirming Vreeland's personal mantra: "Style. All who have it share one thing -- originality." Born in Paris in 1903, Vreeland was fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar for 26 years from 1936 to 1962, then editor-in-chief of Vogue from 1963 to 1971.

After she was fired from Vogue, Vreeland spectacularly shifted gears and became a consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, creating a wake of controversy. "I was only 70. What was I supposed to do, retire?" Before Vreeland arrived on the scene, museums were interested in conservation and historical accuracy. Vreeland's exhibitions added glamor and contemporary allure. The photographer, Richard Avedon, said, "Diana lived for imagination ruled by discipline and created a totally new profession. She invented the fashion editor."

Veruschka indossa il Mondrian dress di Yves Saint Laurent,
ph. Irving Penn, “Vogue”, 15 settembre 1965
The exhibit was commissioned by Lisa Immordino Vreeland, the granddaughter-in-law of Diana, and is part of the Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel project. From Harper's Bazaar:
When I married Vreeland's grandson Alexander Vreeland in 2000, I entered her most intimate circle: her family. Although I never met her (she died in 1989), it was impossible not to become entrenched in her life. Her family's stories were peppered with hilarious accounts of their life with her and her illustrious career. But it wasn't until I started to conduct research for my book and documentary film, legendary Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, that I felt I had finally discovered her real world and what drove her. Her career spanned six decades and witnessed major social upheavals and changes: World War II, the space age, and the sexual revolution. She made sure these events were reflected on the pages of Bazaar in ways that were considered shocking at times but were always innovative, vibrant, and unforgettable.

Read more: Diana Vreeland Biography - Diana Vreeland Quotes and Bio - Harper's BAZAAR 

Fortuny tea gown
The exotic Palazzo Fortuny in the center of Venice is the perfect venue to house the exhibit, which was curated by Judith Clark and Maria Luisa Frisa. Inspired by Diana Vreeland's dramatic flair, the exhibit winds through the ancient palace where Mariono Fortuny found his own inspiration. From Wikipedia:

Nowadays the Fortuny Museum is housed in the Venetian Gothic palazzo in Venice, the former home, studio, showroom and "Think-Tank" of Mariano Fortuny, who acquired it at the beginning of the 20th century. Fortuny invented in his Palazzo the Delphos gown, a gown based on the ancient Grecian style; and the Knossos Scarf, a silk scarf also inspired by this civilization. Fortuny also created new methods of dying textiles and well as ways of printing on fabrics. He created the Fortuny cyclorama dome, a stage lighting innovation that could be used to create lighting effects such as a bright sky or a faint dusk; and the Fortuny lamp, for indoor lighting. 

The exhibition features designs by Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy worn by Diana Vreeland, on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, as well as garments loaned from some of the most prestigious private collections in the world with labels like Missoni, Pucci, Schiaparelli and Chanel. I loved the chic and comfortable Givenchy working suits, and wished I had one to tool around in today. 

To read more about the exhibition, go to Diane Dorrans Saeks' excellent blog, The Style Saloniste.

Ceroplasta veneziano (?)
1790-1795 circa
cera policroma, vetro, tessuto, capelli ;
 teche in legno intagliato dipinto e dorato

Venezia, Palazzo Mocenigo.
Centro Studi di Storia del Tessuto e del Costume
On the ground floor of Palazzo Fortuny is a truly unique exhibition called Avere una balla cera. Le Figure in cera a Venezia e in Italia, or Have a Nice Wax - Wax Figures in Venice and Italy. I was surprised to learn that Venice was one of the leading creators of wax figures. In his 1756 play Le Smanie per la villeggiatura (A Craving for the Holidays), Carlo Goldoni advised: "Buy the wax of Venice. It costs more, but it lasts longer and is more beautiful." Apparently it was quite the vogue to make wax effigies for the Doges, the rulers of the Venetian Republic, and an effigy of Doge Alvise Mocenigo is on display.

The most riveting display case is filled with the wax heads of criminals, labeled with the crimes they committed: murder, theft, and armed robbery. That fellow you see below was a robber, the face of the duplicitous life he led over a hundred years ago preserved in wax.

Lorenzo Tenchini (Brescia, 1852-1906)
Ritratti di criminali
1885-1890 circa
cera policroma, vetro, capelli 
Parma, MAFS, Museo del Dipartimento di Anatomia Umana, Farmacologia e Scienze Medico Forensi
Placed strategically across the room from the dastardly criminals are the serene busts of Capuchin friars, which are on loan from the Church of Redentore. The dichotomy vividly illustrates the masks of Good and Evil that human beings wear on their faces. If only it were that simple to tell the difference these days...


March 10 – June 26, 2012 

Avere una balla cera. 
Le Figure in cera a Venezia
March 10 - June 25, 2012

Palazzo Fortuny
San Marco 3780 – San Beneto, Venice, Italy
Booking and information: 

Ciao from Venice

1 comment:

  1. After she was fired from Vogue, Vreeland spectacularly shifted gears and became a consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, creating a wake of controversy. "I was only 70. What was I supposed to do, retire?"