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14/04/2017

New Exhibition at MAD

 

Judith Liebers Remarkable Tale Told In New Exhibition at MAD

“I consider her to be a genius, absolutely, without a doubt, and the greatest pathfinder for women. She broke through the glass ceiling so many years ago,” said Gerson Lieber about his wife, handbag designer Judith Lieber, at last week’s opening of the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) exhibition, “Judith Lieber: Crafting a New York Story.”

His enthusiasm could be dismissed as familial pride, if not for Judith Liebers objectively extraordinary accomplishments. She was born Judith Peto in 1921, in Budapest, Hungary. As a Jew, she was not allowed to attend Hungarian universities, and so she went abroad to London to study chemistry. But then, while home on summer vacation in 1939, war broke out and she was stuck in Hungary. While waiting out the war, she apprenticed at a local handbag factory. Her skills as a handbag artisan grew, and she soon became the only woman accepted into the Hungarian handbag guild.

After surviving the war, she came to the U.S and carved out a place for herself in New York’s competitive fashion business. As she worked her way up the hierarchy of Seventh Avenue, she decided to open her own handbag line in 1963. Lieber was intensely involved in every step of production, from designing to crafting the final piece. “As you look around the exhibition, you can see the intense craftsmanship and skill involved in her work,” the curator of the exhibition, Samantha de Tillio, explained. “I think her work really transcends fashion.”

The exhibition is designed to look like a jewelry store. The walls are painted purple, like the inside of a plush jewelry box. Mirrored-bottom vitrines dangle from wire scaffolding rigged to the ceiling. Within, a spotlight highlights a vast range of handbag styles, including much of her early work, which was, according to Women’s Wear Daily, “decidedly understated.”

There’s a 1993 sleek black woven horsehair envelope trimmed with calfskin, and a 1965 rhinestone-encrusted handled pouch. A burgundy needlepoint “Bon Voyage” tote circa 1980 is displayed near a crystal-embroidered Folk-Art inspired patchwork quilt coin-purse from 1991. So much of her work was inspired by fine art, as evidenced with her Piet Mondrian-inspired snakeskin envelope from 1990. There is also a minaudière encrusted with crystals shaped into a series of women standing next to each other from 1987, modeled after Faith Ringgold’s 1986 art piece The Purple Quilt (which, incidentally, is hung on a wall across the room).

But that’s just in the Jane and Leonard Korman Galley. Turn a corner into the Tiffany & Co. Foundation Jewelry Gallery, and there’s a labyrinth of glass walls showcasing Lieber’s best work: her crystal-encrusted minaudière’s. These ornately jeweled bags that are so small that they are barely bags – the word ‘minaudiere’ is French for “coquettish air,” and the term was coined by famed jeweler Alfred Van Cleef in the 1930s. They are also Lieber’s most famous work, worn by nearly everyone important: from First Ladies to princesses to socialites. And it’s not hard to imagine why. The bags – ranging from Buddhas to hat boxes; eggplants to dogs – are little treasures, objects of wit and whimsy, glamour mixed with humor.

The exhibition is difficult to navigate, with descriptions of each bag and paraphernalia tacked on the wall like an afterthought, like it were a menu at a takeout bistro, numbered to reference the the tiny numbers in front of each bag. Perhaps it was done to preserve the beauty of the bags, minimizing superfluous embellishment. But it ends up confusing the viewer as one meandera around searching for the bag’s year of creation.

However, the layout also forces the viewer to stop and consider, to move through the exhibition carefully and analytically. And when you understand Liebers story, her struggles and her triumphs, it makes her extraordinary work all the more worthy of a second or third glance. This is a business built up by an immigrant woman with the determination to succeed, an inspiration for all who visit.

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05:19 Publié dans Blog | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

13/05/2014

Can someone be 'sexually racist'?

Although I grew up in England, my family is from Southern Africa, and I'm very proud of my black African heritage. However, when it comes to dating, I've always preferred people from other races to my own. I have a particular preference for Caucasian men.

I've never been in a relationship with somebody from my own race before - I'm just not attracted to people that are the same race as me and choose not to be with a black guy.

 

I like people that contrast me, rather than just being the same. I really enjoy the physical differences between myself and white men.

 

This doesn't mean that I find any Caucasian man attractive. There are other attributes that are important to me like personality and other values.

 

Some have accused me of being sexually racist, but I think that's an unfair accusation. Having a preference in attraction is similar to someone being gay - you just can't help it.

 

I can't pinpoint exactly where this preference comes from, it just feels natural to me. However, I can recall things that may have contributed.

 

Growing up, I went to a nursery that was predominantly white where I was surrounded by kids with blonde hair and blue eyes. I found them incredibly interesting - they were so different to me.

 

I remember the carers telling my mum that I was fascinated with all the white kids from a very young age.

 

The fascination continued as I hit puberty and I think pop culture may have started playing a part.

 

I remember watching shows like Saved by the Bell and Heartbreak High where a lot of the desirable characters were white. For better or worse, this had an impact on those I found attractive.

 

My extended family also had a major influence on me. Some of my aunts had married interracially, and some had very negative views of black men.

 

They would say things like "they're completely rubbish", "they're cheaters" and told me to make "good choices" when I grew up. One of my aunts even said "if you marry a black man you will wear three rings; your engagement, your wedding ring and your suffering''.

 

Also, I had observed a greater sense of patriarchy in the black African community.

 

In my African culture, I witnessed men not treating women well, and there are many cultural expectations about a woman's role so thought I could be on more equal footing if I partnered with a white man.

 

I had heard that white guys didn't expect their women to be in the kitchen and didn't cheat on their wives like black men did. Of course, white guys do that too. But maybe it's the difference of me actually witnessing black guys doing it that made a lasting impact from a young age.

 

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I tried to be attracted to black men and even went on a date with one. But while I could objectively see a black man as good looking, the physical attraction was just never there.

 

I began to dabble in online dating on an interracial dating website. To some it may sound racist to make such a conscious decision to only date other races, but I don't see anything wrong with specifying this preference on such sites.

 

 

There are niche websites for people attracted to those of the same race, so why not inter-racially? Why pretend just for the sake of being politically correct? It's similar to not liking people who are short. You see so many women saying "no one under 5'4" on dating sites - at the end of the day it's just a preference.

 

However, I did encounter people on the site who had fetishes and expectations about black partners they had developed from watching pornography and other stereotypes gained through hip hop music videos. Some people think that because you're black you're going to be dominant or really kinky.

 

I had people coming up to me with sub-human expectations. What a let down when a guy would realise I was just an average person!

 

I eventually met my husband, a white Australian man, whilst on holiday in Australia. He wasn't looking for a particular race; he just wanted someone that he got along with.

 

We've been together for almost nine years now, and I must admit that we've encountered prejudice socially - the type you don't have if you are married to someone of your own race.

 

My husband and l often get strange looks from people. White people will constantly question whether we are together when we buy things, and I've had black men proposition me in front of my husband, saying things like "I'll show you what it's like to be with a real man".

 

Some family members, friends and colleagues in the past have labelled me a 'coconut', or not a proper black woman. People have said I don't love my own race and have hinted that I have self-hatred.

 

It's simply not true. Whatever their race, people should be able to choose who they want to be with without being labelled. I can't help who I'm attracted to, and the beauty of living in a modern society is that you are free to be with whoever you want.

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05:08 Publié dans Blog | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

22/04/2014

Christopher Stevens on Last Night's TV: How Tommy Cooper's missus stole the show, just like that...

Tommy Cooper was the most imitated man on the planet. During the Seventies, at his zenith, everybody did impressions of Tommy: professional comics and playground clowns alike were certain to get laughs when they parroted his slurred catchphase: ‘Just like that.’

So Simon Nye’s biopic, Not Like That, Like This (ITV), made a perfect start when it had the gangling, gape-mouthed comic on holiday in an Egyptian bazaar, buying a maroon fez — his trademark headgear — from an Arab vendor who was doing an abysmal Tommy Cooper impression.

 

Within moments it was plain that this two-hour drama would be superlative TV, because the one man not impersonating Cooper was the actor playing him, David Threlfall

 

Tommy Cooper was the most imitated man on the planet. During the Seventies, at his zenith, everybody did impressions of Tommy: professional comics and playground clowns alike were certain to get laughs when they parroted his slurred catchphase: ‘Just like that.’

 

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So Simon Nye’s biopic, Not Like That, Like This (ITV), made a perfect start when it had the gangling, gape-mouthed comic on holiday in an Egyptian bazaar, buying a maroon fez — his trademark headgear — from an Arab vendor who was doing an abysmal Tommy Cooper impression.

 

Within moments it was plain that this two-hour drama would be superlative TV, because the one man not impersonating Cooper was the actor playing him, David Threlfall

We had the sleepy meerkats propping each other up, the great white sharks tossing seal cubs into the air in their jaws, the polar bear struggling on a melted ice floe, the bearded vultures soaring on blasts of thermal air, and the sun-worshipping lemurs . . . all the best snippets from countless lavish nature documentaries.

 

Matthew Macfadyen strung together the clips with a voiceover, something about how animal behaviour changed as the day wore on, but it didn’t make a lot of sense. Macfadyen seemed to think that the sun rose at the same moment all over the planet, and he’d forgotten that most animals are nocturnal anyway.

 

But the glorious visuals were a delight and the spaced-out music was hypnotically relaxing. Across the country, millions were nodding off in front of their tellies.

 

All that Easter chocolate and the odd Bank Holiday tipple caught up with us . . . ‘just like that’.

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