Thursday, September 8, 2011

The Art of Haute Couture

I wanted to take a trip up to San Francisco this summer to see the Balenciaga and Spain exhibit at the de Young museum before it closed, but I never did. It was just too hard to find the time to make the trip so instead for about forty dollars I purchased the book by Hamish Bowles that the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco and Rizzoli's published to commemorate the exhibit.  The book traces the influence of the Spanish masters -- from Zurbaran, Velazquez and Goya to Picasso and Miro -- on Balenciaga's designs.

I am thinking of this tonight because one of the assignments for our mastermind meeting this month is to bring in something that you bought that you considered expensive or unnecessary at the time but are glad you splurged on it.  There was a time when buying a book like that, much less taking a flight just to see an art exhibit, was a hard decision for me - even if it could be considered research for my book.  I didn't have enough confidence in myself or my work to justify the expense.  Or perhaps it was just extremely low self worth.  At the time, I envied other artists who invested in themselves, spent money renting out an office to work in, purchased a proper writing chair to sit in, bought gorgeous picture books that helped to stimulate their creativity.  What was wrong with me that I couldn't do that too?

There was one book that I really wanted called "The Art of Haute Couture" but just couldn't afford.  I saw it at the Barnes and Noble on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica while I was enjoying a rare night out with my girlfriends.  It was 1995 and the book cost 75 dollars.  I had just begun to write about Marla Piper and the fabulous red coat that she would sew and the book spoke to me.  It was beautifully photographed by Victor Skrebneski with breathtaking closeups that revealed the way couturiers work with line, texture, drape, volume and ornament to create illusion and drama.  I had to have it, but there was no way to assess how or when or if the purchase would ever pay off.

How do you know that the thing that you are working on will be hugely successful one day?  That's the question that was posed in our mastermind.

Well I did buy the book -- thanks to the urging of my friend, Barbara -- and for my picture tonight, I chose my favorite photograph in it of a design which I realized only tonight is by the very same Balenciaga.  But the reason I chose it is not because it's a Balenciaga.  I chose it because one of my fellow masterminders mentioned that it reminded her of The Red Coat Portal that I had painted last year, perhaps unwittingly after the couturier.  Or perhaps Balenciaga and I both drew our inspiration from the greatest of all masters, mother nature.


Cynthia Wylie said...

Thank you for posting my quote! I flew to New York once to see a Picasso exhibit. My company had a store there so I was able to justify it, but I felt so guilty about that. I hid it.

I've thought a lot recently - since we are working on money in our Mastermind group - about why I feel guilty when I spend money. I don't think it's necessarily about low self worth. I think it's more about having 5 hungry mouths to feed for so long. They wanted their own special books and clothes and electronic devices. I felt that buying something for myself meant taking something away from them. And maybe that put me in the "bad mother" category which I was so terrified of. But that is such a wrong attitude because I truly believe now that the universe has more than enough to go around. My family never lacked and would probably be angry at me if they read this post! It was just my own erroneous head trip. I'm GLAD I went to see that Picasso exhibit. It has stayed with me all these years.

Thanks for sharing.

Linda said...

Good story and good lesson... love that you discovered the similarity between the Red Coat logo and the Ballenciaga gown... probably hidden in your subconscious all along. That's what art does - brings out all those treasures!

The Red Coat Writer said...

Thanks so much for your inspiration masterminds!