I have had a long standing love affair with fashion... though I'm not really sure why. I grew up in what had previously been a soybean field (seriously) in the middle of nowhere Michigan. This, of course, was not without its perks... playing in the fields behind our house, getting lost in the woods, running, jumping, exploring the great unknown of the outdoors for days on end. There was magic in the Summer night air there, when fireflies illuminated the cobalt skies, and fires crackled harmonizing with the singsong of crickets chirping in the brush.
I was a tomboy. I roughhoused, played war, took martial arts, and could hawk a loogie (reads, spit I giant ball of goo) with the best of them... and I was embarrassed by the part of myself that loved pretty things. When I was really little lace, petty coats, and ruffs ruled my world. Nail polish and barbies were sacred items to be fawned over and protected. I picked out my clothing with the utmost care (most of the time it didn't match... but I thought I looked FABULOUS! and that was all that mattered). But you guys, kids are mean... older brothers are vial (at that age... we are chill now) and I put all the pretty things to the side in exchange for dirt and bruises.
Fast forward to present day... I still dress like a boy and I love it. However, my adoration for fashion and trend, style and swag has permeated much of what I do and how I live ( I am in the business of making people beautiful after all). The other day, while wearing one incredibly man style influenced outfit, my dear friend Jill and I ventured to LACMA to see the Diane von Furstenburg exhibit- Journey of a Dress...ok to be fair, we also went to see Fútbol: The Beautiful Game.
To be honest, I didn't expect much. Don't get me wrong DVF is an icon and all but I didn't realize just how amazing she was (is) before entering the sacred halls adorned with her work. You guys, SHE IS (NOW) MY HERO.
She created the wrap dress 40 years ago as a simple solution to a prominent problem. Women wanted to look sexy, be comfortable, and go from a day at the office to a night on the town with a simple switch of their accessories. Diane was in her 20s when she designed this dress and little did she know at the time what she had set into motion.
The dresses on display are stunning, yes, and the timeline hallway mapping the dresses 40 year journey breath taking, but... I was most enraptured by the gallery of images gracing the walls of a small room tucked to the side of the exhibition. Upon entering you are greeted by a series of photographs Chuck Close took of Diane. There are pieces by Annie Leibovitz, Andy Warhol, and Helmut Newton, each stunning and unique. I couldn't help but marvel at the shear, unguarded beauty of Diane, the vulnerability each artist was able to capture. There was a moment however, as Jill and I rounded a corner of a small cube inside the annexed gallery, where I felt the air being pulled from my lungs and tears flood into my eyes.
The DVF exhibit originally appeared in Beijing. Contemporary Chinese artists created exclusive works of Diane for the show that were then brought to the US for the LACMA installation. There is something about these pieces... You can't put your finger on it, you can't put it into words, but you can feel it. Photographs of the work can't begin to do it justice. My personal favorite was a portrait made of ash by Zhang Huan, Jill favored a piece by Li Songsong, whose use of oil based color, blocked, layered, and textured is something truly unique and beautiful. These pieces invoke something inside of you, something that begs you to see with more than your eyes, to feel with more than your mind... it is a master artists gift.
I choked back the tears as we walked into the midday sun. Diane's work, her life, an inspiration pulsing in our veins. As we approached the iconic lampposts of LACMA a girl asked if she could take my photograph for a fashion blog. Given that I was in oversized ripped denim, a mens chambray inspired shirt, and white converse I was rather caught off guard, though incredibly flattered to be asked. I posed for a couple of photos, laughing to myself thinking, "if only that tomboy could see me now".