My friends have different reasons for not wearing color. Some admit to being afraid of it, while others profess a love of its absence. All of them use black as a springboard for creative expression. There are always multiple layerings of related tones, symphonies of harmonizing greys, hints of silvery shimmers paired with textural fuzzy surfaces. I seem to be attracted to color and pattern first (plums, olives, magentas, little touches of blue or yellow), and then go for texture and lots of fun details: embroidered and knitted embellishments, stripes, polka dots, piping, buttons, beads, bangles, my checkerboard-sided glasses…. and yes, I wear all of it!
While poking around my basement this week I found the fabled paper dolls of my youth (Eureka!!). I found the ones I remembered and also found many more which will make their debuts in posts to come. I found my first pop-up paper dollhouse…
and I found more outfits than I could possibly imagine. The curious thing is that I don’t remember how into it I was. Here’s that mod little crayon doll from third grade I had written about in “Mother love”. I remember now my concept was that her friend (with all of her accoutrements) be made of cut paper. The friend was to have all cut paper furnishings in her part of the house, but I guess I ran out of steam. I’m amused that I’d thought of making the wall cabinet open and close and I’d made the doll and her swimsuit two-sided. It’s a nice precursor to the pop-up dollhouse we make today which also has an opening door for the oven and printing on both sides of all the pieces (http://www.hestiahouse.com).
I was a clown in my 3rd grade Halloween parade. My mom, Muriel Nezhnie Helfman, made a huge tapestry of the event she called “Wild Cherry Charms”, which was an exploration of women’s roles in society and sexual stereotyping in young girls. Clearly my mom had no fear of color either…. When she was a child she loved looking at the world through candy wrappers so here we are in her rosy vision.
I see I had a clown costume planned for my doll (after all, there was already a Star Trek number!), and in case you’re wondering how they survived all these years, paper dolls apparently need food for sustenance and these dolls had plenty. Notice especially the tiny white teacup with the handle as seen from above….
I am surprised at how many outfits I had made for the crayon doll, how many pairs of tights with shoes, and how many of them I made in similar colors. Apparently I realized even then that yellow isn’t just yellow, that there are many yellows, many whites, many shades of blue, and I’d like to point out by proxy that the same is true for black….
Which brings me to the disappointing Jan. 17th New York Times Magazine cover.
I know we are in dire times. There are many serious issues of concern today: Haiti for one, the war, the constant threat of terrorism, the recession with all its far-reaching ramifications… all good reasons for designing black covers, but that doesn’t mean the covers can’t be nuanced and rich and interesting. I’d like to share another cover coming out of NY this week, The New Yorker for Jan. 18th, by Viva, which I think is a far more beautiful interpretation of designerly dark monotones, (and what’s more, it’s charming!). Honestly and truly, all these luscious deep shades basically add up to black. I’d like to think of it as the new black, and I hope it catches on.
“You know Designer, we normally don’t like to see costumes on the runway.”
“I know Nina. I just wanted to make a clown suit for old time’s sake.”
“Well, it is a fairly nice one, but I hope you keep fashion in mind for next time. ”
“Thank you Nina. I will.”