Phillips Flashback: November 30, 1984

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. Photo by John Whitman. Clipping from Phillips Collection Archives.

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.

British Invasion

Last week, in honor of Antony Gormley’s current exhibition, we threw a British-inspired soiree with the British Embassy, Washington, to celebrate all things great about Britain. While temperatures spiked outside, cool galleries helped guests imagine they’d journeyed across the pond. Ambassador and Lady Westmacott stopped by. Models from Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie donned BurberryCharlotte Olympia, Issa, and Stella McCartney, and DJ Danny Harris rocked the Music Room with a ’60s British Invasion set.

A collage of photographs from a recent Phillips after 5 event with a British theme. Photos: Sue Ahn

Photos: Sue Ahn

Anyone for Phillips Staff Uniforms?

Braque Birds in painting, fashion and sculpture

(Left) Georges Braque, Bird, 1956, Oil on canvas; 18 x 19 1/2 in.; 45.72 x 49.53 cm.. Acquired 1966. (Center) Yves Saint Laurent, Wedding dress, Tribute to Georges Braque, haute couture collection, Spring-Summer 1988. White tulle, white cotton piqué appliqué “doves.” ©Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent, Paris / Photo A. Guirkinger. (Right) Pierre Bourdelle's sculpture for the Phillips Collection Sant Building based on Braque's bird. Photo: Sarah Osborne Bender

My colleague and fellow fashion-lover Colleen Hennessey alerted me to this stunning wedding dress by Yves Saint Laurent, currently featured in the retrospective of the designer’s career at the Denver Art Museum. The dress from the Spring-Summer collection for 1988 is a tribute to Georges Braque and features his iconic birds, as found in the Phillips Collection and the inspiration for the Pierre Bourdelle sculpture on the front of our building. The shape has also been used for museum letterhead, library bookplates, and visitor pins. I vote for adopting this as a staff uniform.