Posts Tagged ‘NYC’
While it played NYC, the Royal Shakespeare Company was housed in the Park Avenue Armory which takes up almost an entire city block. The information that follows is taken in part from the Park Avenue Armory Drill Hall and Interiors Guide. While initially I was focused simply on seeing the plays, looking round the building in which they were housed proved a treasure in its own right. Unfortunately we were only able to get to the ground floor rooms while the plays were on.
The Armory was built in 1881 by the National Guard’s prestigious Seventh Regiment, the first militia to respond to President Lincoln’s call for volunteers (in 1861).
The Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall is reminiscent of the original Grand Central Terminal and at 55,000sf of open, column-free space, remains one of the largest unobstructed spaces of its kind in NYC. Its 80ft high barrel vaulted roof or ‘balloon shed’ is the oldest in America and features eleven elliptical wrought iron arches.
George C. Flint & Co. designed the entrance hall, the staircase and the corridors of the first and second floor in Renaissance Revival style. The central corridor on the ground floor stretches 203 ft long and is 38 ft high. A massive wrought iron and oak split staircase with original bronze torchere by Mitchel Vance & Co. at the base is in the centre. Other chandeliers in the hall date from 1897 when the building was electrified.
The Veterans’ Room and the Library next door to it are the only fully extant interiors by Louis C. Tiffany & Associated Artists in the world. They have been described as ‘Greek, Moresque and Celtic with a dash of the Egyptian, the Persian and the Japanese.’
The Armory suffers from 50 years of poor maintenance, insensitive alterations, a lack of modern amenities and obsolete electrical and plumbing systems dating back to the 1930s. Park Avenue Armory took over the building in December 2006 and have performed extensive cleaning, initial restoration projects such as the main entry doors and bronze gates and implemented initial infrastructure projects like the drill hall a/c. Basic infrasturucture work will continue as the architects prepare plans for the overall restoration and renovation of the Armory.
This is what the spread looked like in the magazine.
I have copied the unedited text of the article below these shots.
Just as you’re figuring out how to wear your tangerine this spring/summer season, false eyelashes, life vests and exhaustion were all over this February’s Fall/Winter 2011 fashion weeks. I caught up with our tall, blond good-looking (and very married!) fashion photographer Greg Brown (http://www.gregorybrownphoto.com/).
First the false eyelashes (Betsey Johnson, of course, Venexiana, Farah Angsana). If you have young partying relatives with young partying photos on Facebook you’ve probably encountered this trend if you haven’t tried it yourself. Once the province of celebrities, like gel nail polish, now everyone is getting a piece. Careful though. If the hairs are not of a reasonable quality the effect can be rather plastic-y – all those perfect half circles of perfectly spaced hairs… but the news from NYC is that they are here to stay, (which is more than I can say for mine, which never want to stick).
And then the life vests: the good news is that unless you’re a rock star or rock star wannabee you may be able to avoid them. But, hey, you may not want to! Life vests, in beautifully tailored blues and blacks with fluorescent white strips (a nod to the practical…) and employed in various designs were on display at G-Star Raw and General Idea. Perhaps with a nod to the economy both collections sought to reflect the labouring man. One G-Star life vest was teamed with a blue top-stitched denim jacket, cobalt laborer’s gloves, black pants and Oxfords. The cream and burned orange checker-board pattern on the Oxfords was reflected elsewhere in ties and shirts.
Nor were the women left without. In one example a woman’s quilted jacket with an inflated (life vest) collar was teamed with a pair of leather (think boyfriend) pants and a revealing chiffon top. The practical-meets-sexy overall (yes, they were out in force too) mood of these clothes is hard to describe without making them sound silly but the effect was definitely effortlessly sexy-casual.
Now the exhaustion: Greg shot fifty-six shows over ten days. He brought home just over 27,000 images. The first shows start around 9am. Having decided he wanted to shoot a show, Greg would join the line of waiting photographers up to two hours beforehand. He told me “You are constantly shifting to maintain your position. There’s a battle to get in early. People try various schemes, from becoming friends with security people, to getting an invitation from the designer. If you had nothing you’d be with the rest of the ‘B list’ – which amounted to 100+ photographers all rushing to claim a spot.”
A list photographers (such as the House photographer, Getty Images, the big press agencies), all have their spaces marked. For everyone else, to maintain ‘territory’, you have to form alliances. Greg buddied up with “Two Brits and an Irish guy. We were with each other sixteen hours a day. We’d take care of each others’ equipment. If someone was late they could sneak in next to us.”
The key to photographing the shows is height. Video has exploded in recent years and they are the only people allowed to use tripods, right at the front. This has forced everyone up. “The riser is like bleachers. If someone at the front adjusts their height then the ripples (and the swearing!) move backwards.” Greg told me. “Between the four of us we had a ladder, small stools and plastic carry-on sized camera cases (‘Pelicans’). Many people brought folding footstools. They’re not robust and often collapsed, sending people flying. Any cheap kit got broken. The Pelican camera cases you could rely on. Often we had to stand on their ends (11″ x 7.5″).”
These days, A-list photographers must get their images filed on-line within thirty minutes. To do this they must work with a digital technician. The technician takes their memory card and downloads, edits and uploads the images within minutes. Greg explained how “Those of us on our own realized we needed a work-flow to keep ahead of the game. There were so many shows that you couldn’t wait for the evening to edit the images. At 11pm, having not eaten much all day, I’d have 5,000 files to process. At first I’d be up for three or four hours doing that. Then I got smart and downloaded images between shows.”
A great fashion show is a combination of fantastic clothing and amazing effects. On these merits the Venexiana show, all the photographers agreed, stood out this year. Indeed, even if one looked only at what came down the runway, it’s clear that Kati Stern is in her creative element. The bigger labels can afford the better effects of course, though they don’t always use them. Understated, classic lighting can be a better fit for their work. This year Elie Tahari flooded his tent with beautiful, soft, natural light to show off the soft plums, greys and navies of his collection. Monique Lhuillier, Vera Wang, Carlos Miele, Nanette Lepore and Tasdashi Shoji also went for simple, white lighting. Badgley Mischka was a highlight in this respect, covering their dark runway with clear plastic sheets and projecting onto it a street scene. This scene reflected in the sheets and as the models walked it appeared as though they were walking down a cobbled street in the rain.
It’s good that the lighting is bright, as flash is not allowed (except from point and shoot cameras in the VIP section). Unless you have managed to find out beforehand photographers have no idea what the lighting will be like; so camera settings must be adjusted quickly and in the dark. Rock concert style shows such as L.A.M.B., Christian Siriano and Betsey Johnson are the most challenging to photograph as they use the most spotlights making the intensity of the lighting change from moment to moment. A photographer really must be on top of her game.
I asked Greg what took him into fashion photography. He explained, “I started off in travel and landscape photography, then sport and I moved into runway work as it’s not unlike sport photography where not everything is under your control.” Interestingly he went on to say that shooting runway is very different to shooting fashion in a studio. “It’s nothing like it – although the progression is clearly there. To shoot runway you have to have an understanding of how clothes move and, of course, be interested in them. Many sports photographers shoot runway but you can always tell whether they are interested in the clothes. If they don’t capture a movement or a particular design feature they’re shooting it as they would a sporting event.”
Photographers at the shows occasionally collapse from fatigue and their conditions are cramped, hot and smelly. I asked Greg what about the job appealed to him! “I’m constantly learning.” He said. “When the model walks out you must immediately establish whether you want to capture a certain angle, the design feature or the accessory. And if you also want a quarter length, back view and a detail shot it’s a lot! One of the best tips is to watch the house photographers: they don’t shoot continuously. The big agencies have different people shooting the details, the three-quarter length, the full length and they have time to judge their shot. The average photographer though is shooting it all. It’s a real challenge.”
What trends can we see for next fall? Black remains the dominant color so no change there. Gold and silver embellishment in the form of beads and sequins are also staying with us. Designers worked with key colors: teal for Nanette Lepore and Vivienne Tam, red for Custo Barcelona, Betsey Johnson and Monique Lhuillier, robin’s egg blue for Tracy Reese, mustard and green for Luca Luca, lime for Alexandre Herchcovitch. In general we’re going to see burgundies, silvery greys, golds and creams.
Necklines swung in deep Vs to the navel, sideways into the boat and upwards to the chin. Tibi also sported the paper-bag look at the neck. Layers and texture– lots of bib necklaces, lace, silks, furs, organzas, satin, leathers – fringes were also on display; Venexiana, Custo Barcelona, Ruffian and Vivienne Tam being stunning examples of this. Bows have returned but in a discreet way – Monique Lhuillier, Badgley Mischka and Rebecca Taylor placing manageable ones at the waist.
Bags are smaller than we’ve seen in recent years and are back in the hand. Hemlines are either just below the knee – the mad men length still a favorite (Luca Luca and Caroline Herrera), short short or full length. Waists were high on skirts and low on trousers. The cape continues to show its influence (Alexandre Herchcovitch) particularly in the generous cuts of coats (Caroline Herrera). Pleats in equally generously cut skirts were on display at Tadashi Shoji and Rebecca Taylor. A personal point of relief: the only tartan was at Betsey Johnson. Long boots with low heels, preferably with patterns cut into them (Vivienne Tam), are back. Booties remain but only in their peep-toed, high-heeled form. Heels on sandals and courts remain high and those who can should sport them with an ankle strap.
Ruffles mostly tiered, were everywhere and everything from coats to pirate sleeves was flow-y. If it wasn’t flow-y it was box-y (Vivienne Tam). Everyone had an accent color or colors on black from a varied palette, even pink (Rebecca Taylor, Tibi) so pick yours to suit. And think small; Luca Luca and Tadashi Shoji, two of the smaller houses, showed amazing and bold clothes in both color and design.
I finished Ishmael Beah’s ‘A Long Way Gone’ the Saturday morning I went to buy a pair of shorts. A friend of mine handed it to me the previous Tuesday saying ‘You must read this’. I wasn’t keen, although it was a book I had heard of. My heart sank at the thought of 300 pages of orphaned, drug-addicted child-soldier suffering in Sierra Leone in the late 1990s. But when I started the book I couldn’t stop and that Saturday morning I couldn’t bear to do anything until I’d finished it. So it was lunchtime by the time we reached Newbury Street and the trail of SUVs coming up the one way street from the Common was entrenched.
My goal was a shop that had just opened. On the spur of the moment I bought a pair of shorts from another of their stores last summer and lived in them until they fell apart during our condo move in the early fall. I knew what I had in mind. I’d done my research on-line and the style number was written on a sticky in my hand.
For the amount of people who were in the shop it was small. They were young people – younger than me by ten years. There was one woman who appeared to be the mother of one of the girls and I found myself glancing at her in the hope of a look of common understanding. Including the staff, she and I were the only people over twenty. On some level I felt a fool. Shopping online I could have bought the shorts in oblivion. But here I was, the girls around me eyeing me with thinly disguised scorn.
Still, I persevered. I liked the shorts, I needed a new pair and given how much I hated shopping this was going to be my one and only chance. I asked an attendant to help me, gave him the number and eyed him nervously while he said ‘Okay, okay, I’ll go and check’ and went off. I next saw him serving someone else. When I asked him about the shorts he said ‘Look, just give me a break. I’ve got someone else looking.’ Eventually someone shoved two pairs into my hands. I thought about buying them and leaving but needing to come back again was not a prospect that appealed. I joined the queue for the changing room.
The line moved but slowly. I stood beside the other girls in the queue feeling tall, out of place, and, at thirty, old. I found myself thinking again of Ishmael, the narrator of ‘A Long Way Gone’. He would have been about the age of these girls when he eventually got out of Sierra Leone. He too loved looking trendy, loved music, loved dancing, loved hanging out with his friends. But war – the causes of which, in the book, go very deliberately unexplained – took all that away and brought instead murder, starvation and death. He got out, eventually, to New York. He was one of the lucky ones.
Outside, in the traffic, people were yelling at each other. The girls around about started to complain about the wait and about the music and about the number of items those further up the queue had in their hands. I wanted to complain about the wait, about the music, about the number of items those further up the queue had in their hands. It was starting to get unbearably hot under the lights.
Suddenly a girl with a ponytail and a headset appeared. ‘The men’s changing rooms are like totally free. Go down there.’ She pulled four girls out of the back of the queue. They looked at each other nervously and tried to shuffle away. ‘Just go downstairs! Just go down there! They’re totally free.’ The girl with the ponytail shrieked. The girls at the front of the queue protested. They appealed to the girl in charge. This girl, her face tired and stressed, shrugged.
Ishmael Beah was pulled out of a line. Unlike his friend Jumah, it saved his life. His squad had come to a village (to collect ammunition) where his friend Jumah was stationed. He hasn’t seen Jumah for a while. Jumah no longer has an AK47 but a semiautomatic. He tells Ishmael he got the gun by killing the man who owned it. They spend the night catching up and in the morning four men wearing white UNICEF t-shirts arrive in a truck. Ishmael’s lieutenant orders his boys into a line. He orders the boys at whom he points into the truck. Ishmael is picked but doesn’t want to leave the line. He feels he’s being made to leave the only family he now has. He doesn’t know it but he is being taken to a newly established rehabilitation centre for child soldiers in Freetown. Even if he did know he wouldn’t want to go.
One of the girls at the front of the line pushes into a vacant room and slams the door. One of the girls behind me says ‘Wow, is she on drugs?’ I think about the book again, about the fact that in the war zone Ishmael Beah becomes addicted to cocaine and marijuana. Not that he knows it. He doesn’t know what the white pills are that he is given, the pills that he comes to depend on more than food.
Eventually I get my turn. I find the shorts are too small and then I’m irritated and in despair – not only am I old but I’m fat. And then in my head there’s an image of Ishmael Beah, age thirteen, walking through the jungle to find his family, wearing trousers so big he has to hold them up with rope. And a thought that has been at the back of my mind since I started reading the book comes forward – how easy it is to forget the things that actually matter. I buy the bigger shorts thinking I lucked out in life I won’t need the rope.