Saturday, October 6, 2007

Rag and Bone

We went out to the underwhelming de Young Museum with the Divine Diane to see the show on Nan Kempner's clothes. The press release on the exhibit identifies Kempner as "the inspiration for the term 'social X-ray' in Tom Wolfe’s novel Bonfire of the Vanities," apparently believing that was a good thing and sufficient identifying information.

Nan's closet rolled out Valentino, Saint Laurent, Gautier, all the big boys, from the 70's through the turn of the century. Big shoulder pads made a bold appearance, to the point that they made me uneasy. Nan, I wanted to ask, what's with the Joan Crawford fetish? It was as fun as a trip to the finer ladies wear department at Saks.

It's appropriate that the de Young should have a society lady's schmata as their featured show. The museum is all about its exterior, a copper clad behemoth athwart Golden Gate Park. Inside it's all gray with odd, dull lighting and a frumpy collection that leans strongly towards a high-end china closet.


  1. I remember Nan...from Style with Elsa Klensch.

    It's good to see she's left the shoulder pads to posterity.

  2. I saw the exhibit at the Met in NY. it was pretty Dull. (sorry Nan, may you rest in peace) but who knew that even Lacroix had designed in brown

  3. oh, and she and I have the same I've found out.

    (I had to look her up after reading your post...always thought she was from Texas for some reason...maybe those shoulder pads...but I was wrong)

  4. I know the show is lame...but you can't knock Nan. I saw a documentary where she scared off Anna Wintour from getting the same jacket as she had. It only took a look and the lady editor went a-runnin'.

  5. It would have been better had Nan been stuffed and mounted and on display as well.

    (Really, she probably hadn't been stuffed and mounted in years!)


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