D.C.’s reputation for tennis shoes with sensible suits and other fashion sadness has lifted a bit as the city has recently achieved the once far-away status of “cool”. But was it a hip place back in 1984? I’d guess not. In the thick of the Reagan years, Fodor’s description of the city noted that sales of women’s white gloves were skyrocketing. But what about the fashion barometer at the Phillips? Well, while processing archival materials from the Board of Trustees, archives assistant Colleen Hennessey stumbled on a real gem: Karl Lagerfeld, the mayor of the world’s beautiful people, presented a fashion show at the Phillips on November 30, 1984. Here’s the description:
On Friday, November 30 Karl Lagerfeld will be at The Phillips Collection to present his spring designs. This is their first showing outside Paris. The evening will include the fashion presentation in the Music Room and a seated dinner on the second floor of the annex. The entire evening is being underwritten by Saks Jandel, Mr. Ernest Marx, President. Tickets are $275 per person. Letter invitation are being mailed now.
Mr. Lagerfeld, anytime you’d like a reunion, we’re here for you.
A selection from the full-page coverage of the event in Washington Dossier magazine, February 1985, shows Laughlin Phillips and his wife Jennifer with Saks Jandel’s Ernie Max and the famous designer. Photo by John Whitman. Clipping from Phillips Collection Archives.
Phillips used this 1912 yearbook journal as his travel journal for his three month trip abroad which coincided with the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Journal HH, The Phillips Collection Archives
As the Titanic meets its horrific fate in the waters of the North Atlantic on Monday, April 15, 1912, Duncan Phillips is aboard another ship in the ocean, nearing its destination of Antwerp. Of the event, he writes in his journal:
We were in communication with several ships- but never heard or were told of the disaster to the Titanic. It was not until we got to the Hotel San Antoine in Antwerp that we heard that the largest & most luxurious vessel afloat had gone down with over a thousand human lives, some of them known to us personally and many by reputation. The accident occurred on Sunday after we had left Plymouth. When we were near the banks of Newfoundland we commented on the cold & penetrating dampness, but never sighted nor heard news of any icebergs around. The Titanic however was taking a northerly course trying to make fast time on her trial trip. We disembarked our English passengers at Plymouth instead of Dover on Sunday morning. We passed Dover towards evening, and landed at Antwerp Tuesday April 16th at 2 p.m. having had to wait for the tide.
At the bottom of this entry, he lists a few of the casualties known to him at the time.
Among the dead
J.J. Astor – Wm Stead – Archie Butte – Clarence Moore – Widener – Isidor Straus
Captain Smith who was in command of the Olympic when we returned on her last summer
Duncan Phillips's entry for his trans-Atlantic journey. He summarized his time on the USS Finland at the beginning of this 1912 yearbook, disregarding the printed dates. Journal HH, The Phillips Collection Archives
Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender
Chief Preparator Shelly Wischhusen and Librarian Karen Schneider install the latest exhibition of archival materials in the museum’s Reading Room, located just outside of the library. This selection of materials tells the story of Duncan Phillips’s activities in the 1920′s as part of the Washington art world. Through letters, photographs, and other documents, Karen’s exhibition explores Phillips and his sphere of influence and inspiration, which included fellow collectors such as Charles Lang Freer and institutions like the Corcoran Gallery of Art.