“I created the wrap dress but then the wrap dress had a life of its own.”~DVF

Forty years ago, designer Diane Von Furstenberg introduced the wrap dress whose timeless style has become a staple in many women’s wardrobes.  The simplicity of the dress’ construction coupled with Diane’s powerful graphic prints unite in a style that is as captivating and beguiling as the designer herself.  Los Angeles is celebrating the 40th anniversary of DVF’s eponymous wrap dress at an exhibit held in the old May Company building next to LACMA (note LACMA is not technically sponsoring the show according to their website).


In addition to the army of mannequins featuring many iterations of the wrap dress spanning 40 years, the exhibit features Diane as a muse to artists who have created works inspired by the designer (photography, sculpture, screen-printing, paintings, etc.)

DVF Portrait by Chuck Close

DVF Portrait by Chuck Close

DVF Portrait by Andy Warhol

DVF Portrait by Andy Warhol

"A Ghost May Come", Dustin Yellin

“A Ghost May Come”, Dustin Yellin

The wrap dress’ design was originally inspired by wrap sweaters worn by ballerinas, and the hallmark of the dress is its ease of wear.  It can be dressed up or down, packs easily and is flattering on most body types.

I’ve always loved DVF as a designer who has nurtured and inspired many designers and artists alike.  She is someone who is resolute in her mission to empower women and she found a way to achieve this goal through fashion.  During her journey she did not always know what she wanted to do, but she was clear in her conviction about knowing what kind of woman she wanted to be.

This interview with Amanda de Cadenet provides a nice glimpse into her career and the insights she gained about herself and the women she designs for.

After I came home from LACMA today, NYFW came to me care of a live feed of DVF’s Fall 2014 Ready to Wear show.  It was a fun look behind the scenes of the show where Diane, living her mission created the most relaxed, fun and empowered environment for her models and guests. Before the show she provided some words of encouragement to her models (who were beautifully diverse):

“Be Strong”

“Feel Sexy”

“Be You”


“If you love life, life will love you.”

It was a fun “virtual” show that included a live performance by St. Vincent.  In November DVF will release her autobiography called “The Woman I Wanted to Be”. Can’t wait to hear more stores from this fashion icon.

DVF Fall '14 TTW.  Photo Credit: The Cut

DVF Fall ’14 RTW. Photo Credit: The Cut


“Journey of a Dress” will remain at the Wilshire May Company Building (aka LACMA West) until April 1, 2014.

6067 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA



The power of a Hashtag.

As I was looking through my Instagram feed this morning, stylist Elisa Nalin (who prolifically captures Fashion Week on Instagram), posts a rather blurry picture obscured by a fence with a hashtag that reads #NOTORACISM.


I honestly ignore 99% of hashtags (while totally being guilty of overusing them myself), but couldn’t with this one.  As I perused the amazing pics of stylishly dressed black men at the Umit Benan show, I learned that he dedicated his Paris Men’s Fashion Week show to Jackie Robinson. According to the New York Times, at the beginning of the show he played Martin Luther King Jr’s “I Have a Dream Speech”, while models were standing obscured in shadows and a chain link fence (the set was designed as a long forgotten baseball field).  In dramatic convention that is de rigueur in Paris Fashion Week shows, the long intro ends with the catwalk being flooded in light paving the way for the models to walk the runway.


In another historic twist, all of his male were black.  While previous Paris Fashion Week shows have come under fire for underrepresenting black models, with some designers choosing unconventional tactics that didn’t feature working models, I loved that Benan chose to go a more respectful route vs resorting to shock.

The Turkish designer, who uses “identity” as a central theme in his work, came out at the end of the Paris show with a banner reading “No To Racism, For the Love of the Game”.

And a hashtag is born.


For more on Benin’s historic show, please see this New York Times Fashion Blog entry, and be sure to search the hashtag on Instagram.



Maybe you have noticed two characteristics exist in my paintings; either their surfaces are expansive and push outward in all directions, or their surfaces contract and rush inward in all directions. Between these two poles you can find everything I want to say.”~~Mark Rothko, 1953

Explaining “why” I love Mark Rothko’s work is not an easy question to answer. Luckily I am not alone in finding this question challenging; his works always held a meditative quality for me that’s hard to describe, I just enjoy the feeling I get from his work. Ironically enough, I was first drawn to Rothko for the vibrancy of his colors. I think this was due in part to the fact that I was first introduced to Rothko’s No. 14 at SF MOMA. In 2002 I went to the Rothko retrospective at MOCA’s Pacific Design Center,and there I had more of a transformative view of his paintings. Taken as a group, his works proffer a completely different energy and experience that is indescribable.

I recently attended a panel discussion at MOCA where lead gallery educator Bonnie Matthews Porter, curator Alma Ruiz and conservator Tanya Thompson tackle questions about Rothko’s artistic process, the viewer experience and the conservation of his work. This discussion was part MOCA’s week-long celebration of Mark Rothko (as part of the Panza Collection), which had a 3 year tenure on view on Grand Ave. It is currently being decommissioned for conservation and sadly the Panza Rothkos will not be on view for a year.

Two interesting revelations came out during that discussion that forced me to think about Rothko in a different light. The first was that Rothko was very particular about how his works were to be shown (low light, beige walls, optimal viewing distance of 18 inches). His process included meticulous layering that renders his signature floating rectangles as glowing spheres. When you view his work in his prescribed conditions their glow and energy is amplified (these particular conditions were replicated at the 2002 PDC show, but at the time I didn’t realize all of this, I just knew I loved it). The second revelation deals with color. Rothko felt that viewers who are drawn to his work based solely on color were missing the point. I take some umbrage to this, considering the strength and use of color in his work are hallmarks; even his own titles distill his work into simple color relationships.

Despite my issue with the relevance of color play, Rothko’s point was more about the viewer’s experience with his paintings vs their understanding of what the painting may or may not convey.

“To paint a small picture is to place yourself outside your experience, to look upon an experience as s stereopticon view or with a reducing glass. However if you paint the larger picture you are in it. It isn’t something you command.” ~~Mark Rothko, Reprinted from a 1951 symposium at MOMA.


Mark Rothko, No. 301, 1959

On Monday I had one last opportunity to view the Rothkos before they were taken down and luckily I had the gallery to myself for an extended period of time to closely analyze brush strokes and concentrate on what I “felt” while being immersed in these magnificent works. The result was quite amazing. In “No. 310″, 1959, when viewed up close there is a chaotic, manic, urgent energy conveyed both the color and in brush strokes. It’s a very active, dynamic piece, that is not apparent when viewed from a distance.

By contrast “Black on Dark Sienna”, 1960 is an intimidating, foreboding piece with an uneasiness that feels like a calm before the storm. Again, it is a feeling that is particularly present when the piece is viewed up close.

Mark Rothko, "Black on Dark Sienna", 1960

Mark Rothko, “Black on Dark Sienna”, 1960

I was so happy to have had a few opportunities to view these works before their extended leave.  In the meantime the museum will cycle in a couple of other Rothkos from their collection, so it will be nice to get a refresh on some of his work.

Vintage Vanguard Tabitha Simmons Victorian jacket. Photo Credit: Moda Operandi

Vintage Vanguard Tabitha Simmons Victorian jacket. Photo Credit: Moda Operandi

“Confidence is a suit of armor”.  The dignity and respect you gain when you radiate confidence is palpable.  While we all grapple with our confidence at some point in our lives, for women who are struggling with rebuilding their lives (from abuse, chemical addition, or a myriad of life’s challenges), the support network they require to navigate these difficult transitions is often lacking or non-existent.  Organizations like Dress for Success serve as a linchpin in their re-entry to the workforce.  Dress for Success was founded in 1997 to provide assistance to women seeking and retaining employment.

Originally the organization provided much-needed suiting and clothing required for job interviews and the organization has since expanded into career development, skill training, and mentoring which are all essential components to financial independence.  The global organization serves women in 125 cities around the world.

In 2008 I had the honor of hearing Joi Gordon, CEO of Dress for Success, speak at a conference. Her compelling stories of triumph, courage, compassion and resilience inspired our corporation’s involvement in Dress for Success in New Jersey and Los Angeles. I have been proud to participate in local suit drives and fundraising events.  The leaders and volunteers from this organization are truly inspiring, driven, stylish and fun women.  It’s a fabulous recipe for success!  Speaking of stylish women, some of fashion’s glitterati have come together for a unique fundraiser benefitting this amazing organization.

Vintage Vanguard Gregory Parkinson Tie Dye Dress.  Photo Credit: Moda Operandi

Vintage Vanguard Gregory Parkinson Tie Dye Dress. Photo Credit: Moda Operandi

The “Vintage Vanguard” was created by Karen Elson (model) and Liz Goldwyn (film producer), fashion powerhouses with impeccable taste and a keen eye for vintage. They teamed up with an impressive stable of designers to remix vintage items within their own collections.  The results are simply stunning. These items are available for sale on the designer trunkshow site Moda Operandi and proceeds go directly to Dress for Success.  Each piece is a unique, exquisite piece of art that would not only be a wise style investment but also an even more important investment in the future of a woman determined to make a fresh start.

Vintage Vanguard Creatures of the Wind Butterfly Party Dress, Photo Credit Moda Operandi

Vintage Vanguard Creatures of the Wind Butterfly Party Dress, Photo Credit Moda Operandi

The symbolism behind Vintage Vanguard was not lost on me.  Just as vintage clothing gets some TLC and a design redux which breathes new life into the garment, the women of Dress for Success get a new lease on life after some nurturing, mentoring and style consulting; while maintaining the essence of who they are, they have an opportunity to start anew.

Vintage Vanguard Eddie Borgo Necklace, Photo Credit: Moda Operandi

Vintage Vanguard Eddie Borgo Necklace, Photo Credit: Moda Operandi

I love everything about this collaboration (especially this Eddie Borgo necklace)!  Vintage Vanguard items are on pre-sale via M.O.’s website through January 19th.


For more on Dress for Success


JR x NYC Ballet

JR and the NYCB Art Series- Photo Credit, Instagram, JR

JR and the NYCB Art Series- Photo Credit, Instagram, JR

The New York City Ballet has teamed up with French artist JR to present a collaborative performance/large-scale art installation on January 23, February 7, and February 13. JR is a well-known underground street artist who has taken his message globally via large-scale installations featuring the voices and untold stories of people via their wheat pasted photographic portraits.  JR’s work is a juxtaposition of seemingly familiar faces presented in an unfamiliar context. The visual disconnect forces viewers to challenge their perceptions of what they think they know (or assume they know) about the subject.

Tickets for these special performances are only $29.00 and are available now at the NYC Ballet (heads up they are going fast).  I have been watching some of this work unfold very slowly through JR’s Instagram feed and it promises to be a phenomenal collaboration.

The New York City Ballet Art series highlights unique works of art commissioned by the ballet company in collaboration with emerging and established artists. The chosen artists represent a diverse artistic spectrum including art, music and design.  For more information on the performances and to purchase tickets, please go to:


2013 “Rewind”

IMG_5165Whew!  Before I look forward to 2014 (and I must say, it cannot come soon enough), I thought I’d take a quick look back on my digital footprints and share my favorite CultureShockArt moments of 2013.  So I picked 5 posts from Twitter, Instagram, WordPress and Pinterest that were either popular, or made me squeal, “Eep eep! Such and so acknowledged my existence!”  Yes, I find that these situations render me as a 12 year old girl wearing 3 Swatch watches and L.A. Gears but hey, such is the magic that is the internet.

#5- HuffPo and my MOCA musings

For the most part on Twitter I feel like that one crazy aunt or uncle who sits in the corner at family gatherings shouting bizarre non-sequiturs to nobody in particular.  Once in a while a random post will illicit a response from someone, and I go completely starstruck when it is a celebrity, museum or a blogger I admire (yes, I get starstruck over museums and bloggers too).  So back in March when I wrote this post about some Los Angeles MOCA drama (and we had our fair share of it this year), little did I know HuffPo Arts would post it in their “Twitter reactions” gallery at the end of one of their articles.  The Art Girl geek in me came out when I saw my snark displayed amongst some of my favorite arts writers.



#4  Orange Crush

I was extremely late to the Instagram party, but once I dove in I took to it like a fish to water.  Strange enough, IG has taught me to keep my eyes open, not for photo ops, but to be more observant of my surroundings.  I now find my head in the clouds…appreciating them more than daydreaming.  At one point I had color phases when I would be obsessed with certain hues that would dominate my wardrobe, nail polish, handbag selection, you name it.  First orange, then lilac, then red… On this particular day in April I was laughing at the budding collection of all things “Orange” on my desk and snapped a pic of it.  Well, when Caroline Issa, editor of Tank magazine (and one of my style ICONS), emoji’ed her reactions to some of my pics, I was thrilled beyond belief!  I still really love this photo, but not as much as the oodles of shots I take of my napping dogs who deserve their own Instagram account.



#3  My 15 Minutes Seconds of Fame


The Warhol Museum is responsible for driving the most traffic on a single day to my humble little blog.  In August when I posted a reaction to an op ed piece about how a writer hates museums, the Warhol Museum noticed and linked my article to their website and Tweeted it to their followers.  I was forever grateful for pub and encouragement.  There are so many museums out there that are using social media to engage with their audiences in smart ways and the Warhol is near the top of the list.  THANK YOU Warhol Museum for taking the time to notice and show some blogger love.


#2 “What’s Your Bag?”

If I had a nickel for every time I got this question this year, I’d be able to afford 3 more of her bags!  This by far was the most talked about handbag in my collection this year.  It started many a random conversation in stores, restaurants, airport security screening lines, meetings, and an awkardly funny encounter with actor, writer and producer Issa Rae (we have the same bag).  So I wrote a post about bag obsession–not necessarily the bag itself, but what’s inside it.

When the designer pinned this picture on their Pinterest site, it drove crazy amounts of traffic to my blog.  Nice!  It’s also one of the most pinned photos on their site. (Really nice). Everybody wins, right?!


#1 The Sphinx and the Cronut


Of all my posts this year, this one cracks me up the most!  The Banksy mania that overtook NYC in August was slightly outdone by the city’s obsession with the Cronut.  I had to find a way to mash these two phenomena together.  Apparently I wasn’t the only one who got the connection.


Pulitzer Prize winning food writer Jonathan Gold sent me a message on Twitter saying he loved my Banksy post!  I have to say it just doesn’t get any better than that.

Despite all this name dropping and validation seeking, what I find most rewarding are the new experiences this blog has shown me.  I saw some wonderful exhibits and met some amazing artists, writers, designers and bloggers this year who took me on an inspirational journey beyond the keyboard.  For that I am truly grateful, and I am especially thankful for all of my readers who have shown their support and encouragement to me in 2013.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I wish you all the best in the New Year.

You know you’re a procrastinator when you procrastinate on your “Last Minute Gifts” post… I cleaned my house, washed my dogs, cooked, worked out and generally engaged in nonsense instead of writing today.  I’ll tell you what though, these gifts are so good, I wouldn’t mind getting them after Christmas (and right about now I am hoping my husband isn’t reading this). Just in case…

Disclaimer: CultureShockArt cannot be held responsible for looks of confusion, side eye, sighs, “withholding”, frying pans upside the head or other symptoms of disappointment induced behavior resulting from sending any of these gifts LATE… but trust me, these are really good. If you haven’t shopped for the music lover, art enthusiast, fashionista or foodie in your life, find a way to score one of these little gems.


For the music lover who also loves style, I adore “Frends With Benefits,” a new line of interchangeable caps. The Rebecca Minkoff designs are my particular favorite.


I’m not sure what I love more, Hedley & Bennett’s amazing line of chef’s aprons, or their energetic and adorable blog/ Instagram page. Either way, these aprons are coveted by Los Angeles’ culinary set and they are stylish, ultra functional, and fun.


Speaking of Instagram, you need to follow Humans of New York (HONY). Brandon Stanton’s captivating pictures are almost eclipsed by the poignant vignettes offered by his subjects. He has an amazing gift of drawing out some amazing stories.  I am giving this book as a gift this year and I had to pick one up for myself.


A coloring book for the budding artist or child (or adult) who just can’t be bothered with pop culture/mainstream characters, Outside the Lines is a collection of street artists, animators and graphic artists who all contribute something to inspire creativity in all of us.


I went completely nuts over the amazing  Avedon show at the Gagosian in Beverly Hills. The catalog from “Women” is an incredible collection of Avedon’s portraits. They are simply stunning and the catalog is presented beautifully.


If you are like me, currently lamenting the cookies, brownies, cheese trays, spiked egg nog and hot chocolate consumed during the holiday season, you may want to jump-start your 2014 New Year’s Resolutions with the Jawbone Up (24). The wristband syncs up wirelessly to your iPhone and will monitor your activity and sleep. It will even buzz you if you have been sitting still too long.

And with that I hope that the Holiday Season is filled with good cheer, new memories and best wishes for a healthy, prosperous and Happy New Year! Thanks to all of my readers who have made this blog an utter joy! Cheers!


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 116 other followers

%d bloggers like this: