I always love to visit the National Arts Club for their fancy decor and interesting programs put on by the National Arts Club Fashion Committee. This weekend I went to see a play starring Susan Claassen, Conversations with Edith Head. She’s been touring the country telling the Edith’s story for the last few years, but this was the first stop in New York. Quotables from the play include that she would make “…the girls look better than they were…, give them more butt,” and that she always wanted to “look like Shirley Temple.” Susan made everyone laugh during the play when she stated that “several young ladies come to me in blue jeans with no underwear on underneath.” When asked about Edith’s biggest regrets, she said it was “never dressing Marilyn Monroe.”
Susan took me back to sitting and talking with my grandmother, who was quite a master seamstress herself. Most of us these days do not think about putting together a beautiful dress as the ready-to-wear market has taken over and most likely people will not be returning to sewing their own clothing. Lots of folk came out to see the play and many I suppose were from Edith’s era. I even ran into Jean and Valerie, mature women bloggers who looked absolutely fabulous. Most of the crowd including myself wore a summer dress or suit, falling somewhere under that Spring Garden Party look. I also met Ellen Christine, a couture milliner, who showed off her beautiful hat for the camera. It was a great time.
If you’re not familiar with Edith Head, you should definitely check out the play and read these 6 things to know about her;
1. Edith Head had no prior experience in art or costume design before she was hired by Paramount Pictures as a costume sketch artist in 1924.
2. She’s the most honored costume designer in American history; she won 8 Oscars and received 35 Academy Award nominations
3. Edna Mode in Disney’s Pixar The Incredibles Movie (2004) was modeled after her
4. Her trademark “sunglasses” weren’t really sunglasses, they were blue-lensed glasses that allowed her to see what a costume would look like on Black and White film
5. From 1927-1979, she dressed about every important actress in Hollywood including Dorothy Lamour, Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly
6. She presided over Alfred Hitchcock’s wardrobe department on 11 movies
This weekend I attended a discussion moderated by stylist David Zyla on Eila Mell’s new book Project Runway: The Show That Changed Fashion at the National Arts Club in Gramercy. Her new book about the Project Runway show talks about how the show started, developed and what the designers are doing now. Project Runway contestants Andrae Gonzalo, ESosa and Viktor Luna joined them to talk about their experiences on the show, after the show and in the fashion world in general. Eila is the New York editor and on-air correspondent of fashionWATCH Canada and has written several other fashion books including New York Fashion Week: The Designers, the Models the Fashions of the Bryant Park Era.
ESosa said that the biggest thing he learned from the show was to “follow his guts” and Viktor shared that he learned a lot about gossip in that “…whatever we put into the work is what we get back.” He continued saying that it was like the “real world…you don’t rest..[and]…you are always comparing yourself to them but you stay true to yourself.” They also shared how they are not able to keep or sell any of their creations on the show and that they are also not allowed to speak with family or friends unless it’s on speaker phone and on camera. Andrae shared that he had to ‘talk to’ the producer and throw a fit just to talk to his boyfriend.
Eila and Viktor have collaborated on a new reality tv show called “No Wire Hangers” where Viktor gives fashion and tailoring tips to “…some really great people on the show.” They said that they hope to have a pilot by the end of the summer. ESosa received a 2012 Best Costumes TONY Award nomination for his work on Broadway’s The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and received the 2012 Lucille Lortel Award for By the Way, meet Vera Stark. He is currently designing Motown: The Musical and when asked about the difference between fashion and costume, ESosa said that “the biggest difference is that a costume is worn eight times a week and so it has to have longevity, but I still want my actors to look as good as my private clients.”
After the discussion, we had some amazing gourmet cocktails from Pamela Wiznitzer, President of the National Bartender Association, Chef Alan Rodriguez who just opened Los Americanos and other mixologists. Best drink in my opinion was a berry tasting drink from Chef Rodriguez that featured egg whites!