Megan Huston is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Columbia University where she is completing her dissertation on fashion as a philosophy of history. She has taught at Columbia, NYU, and Parsons the New School for Design.
I meet Veronique Branquinho on the 21st floor of a high rise in Chelsea where she’s showing her pre-Spring 2016 collection. She’s in a corner suite with floor-to-ceiling windows that glance out over the Hudson, where industrial barges and cruise ships coarse by in clouds of spray and vapor. The evening is pearly grey and the room feels weightless, suspended up here in a box of steel and glass. Weightless, too, is the effect of the collection: dresses, all white and long, draped on a sparse cluster of forms with a lone live model at their center. Her dress is black with leather straps and falls to the floor. I think of Greek columns and their counterpart in ancient draperies, where the cloth is suspended simply from the shoulders and takes shape only with the moving body.
If the thought of peeking into a wealthy woman’s closet makes you feel uncomfortable, you are not alone. Surely there’s something odd about finding in a museum context what is ostensibly a display of personal taste (and a taste made possible by vast and inherited means, at that). And isn’t there also something improper — if deliciously so — about bringing something as intimate as a wardrobe before promiscuous public eyes?
But if the exhibition of Daphne Guinness’ wardrobe, currently on view at FIT, indulges our voyeuristic impulses, it also provides a rare opportunity to see the work of some of the finest minds and hands in fashion.