Valley of the Dolls

On one of my weekly adventures through the once-winding streets of historic LA, I ended at dusk with a First Friday visit to the LACMA – the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.  Not only was the club bumping (only in this posh city is there a packed bar with a graffiti artist and a DJ at the museum), but my, oh my, did they set the bar for contemporary exhibits.

  Despite the fact that the maze-like rose garden is no longer, at first sight is, of course, the Chris Burden installation entitled Urban Light.  200 beautifully restored cast iron street lamps (made famous by a certain Natalie Portman/Ashton Kutcher movie that I won’t say I’ve seen 4 times) stand tall and burn a warm glow against the Wilshire skyline.

LACMA Lights

Chris Burden. Urban Light. 2008. Sculpture. (Two-hundred and two) restored cast iron antique street lamps.

And after perusing through Warhols and a long wait at what appears to be just a political art piece behind glass, an elevator the size of my apartment takes you to the ground floor of the Ahmanson Building.  There are Picassos (that gorgeous blue period Portrait of Sebastia Juñer Vidal, my personal favorite), a Magritte (La trahison des images – the ‘this is not a pipe’ painting), and even a Giacometti.  Sigh, if only they could get their hands on a William Kentridge exhibition

  LACMA also has the best executed period exhibit I have ever seen; except perhaps the Met’s Egyptian rooms.  California Design, 1930–1965: “Living in a Modern Way” is a phenomenal (and quite large) display of mid-century design in California and is inclusive of urban development and architecture, furniture, advertising, clothing, jewelry, and even a 1936 airstream!!

1936 Airstream

1936 Airstream

But naturally, what do we care most about?  The clothes!!!  And my, my are there bathing and play suits galore.  Check it out –>

Vintage Mexican Dress

Vintage Mexican Style Two Piece Dress

Vintage Bathing Suits

Two-pieces in bright “California” colors fit 30’s and 40’s bodies like a glove thanks to Fred Cole’s ingenuity – shirred knit fabric with elastic thread!

Vintage Bathing Suits

Margit Fellegi - Woman's Swimsuit. 1936. Printed Cotton/Elastic.

The below two-piece swimsuit was designed without the use of elastic (due to WW2 restrictions on rubber) and manufactured by a company that also made parachutes for soldiers.  Hence, the color of the one on display was dubbed “parachute white”.  Notice the lace-up sides of the brief –>

Vintage Parachute Bikini

Margit Fellegi - Swoon Suit. 1942. Acetate Satin.

Vintage Playsuits

Vintage Mens Suits

Vintage Playsuits

Vintage Cotton Novelty Fabric

Vintage Cotton Novelty Fabric

Vintage Cotton Novelty Fabric

Vintage Cotton Novelty Fabric

Vintage Sleeve

Vintage Sleeve

Vintage Cotton Novelty Fabric Balloon

Vintage Cotton Novelty Fabric Balloon

And of course, the Esther Willams suit!  This gold lame version was a promotional item for her movie Million Dollar Mermaid and designed by Fred Cole.

Esther Williams Gold Lame Bathing Suit

Margit Fellegi - Woman's Swimsuit. 1950-51. Lastex Lame/Cotton.

My favorite garment of all, though, was this stunning cold war wiggle dress designed by Gilbert Adrien, the head designer for MGM from 1928 to 1941.  As part of his collection The Atomic 50s, this dress is purposefully reminiscent of mushroom clouds and fabrics blasting off the surface.

Cold War Wiggle Dress

Gilbert Adrien - Two-Piece Dress of The Atomic 50s collection. 1950.

And even darling Barbie donned Mad Men-esque dresses.

Vintage Barbie Dress

Vintage Barbie Dress

Cold War Necklace

Cold War Atomic Necklace

Cold War Atomic Necklace

Cold War Atomic Necklace

toujours, xo.

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Comments

  1. I would like yo know if any of the itrms here are for sale or if replications can be found elsewhere?
    Thank you.

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  1. [...] to get our culture and foodie mix at LACMA.  We oohed and awed at the contemporary exhibits the time before, so we opted for an adventure through early Egypt, a slight sprint through the dark ages, a [...]

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