Over the years, I've collected a rather large (and heavy) stack of auction house catalogs. There are bins of them at The Strand Bookstore, and at $3 or so they are a great alternative to expensive art books. The reproductions are high quality and there are succinct descriptions explaining the significance of each piece. And didn't you always want to know how much your favorite Warhol might fetch at auction?
I picked up the above Phillips catalog a while back because of the bizarre image on the cover (and the Warhols inside... Estimate of $5000-7000 for his portrait of Queen Ntombi Twala of Swaziland, signed and numbered).
When I opened the catalog, I was surprised to find the cover image was not some strange photograph for sale, but an actual coat. I couldn't help smiling at the furry bears circling the collar.
In the lot description, the designer, Franco Moschino, is quoted, "I think fashion is something you can laugh about, but in the end, it's the most difficult thing to laugh at because people take it so seriously."
Of all the Vogues and photography exhibits I've seen throughout my life, I can recall many coats, gowns, and shoes that were romantic or sophisticated or bold, but only a few that were humorous. I guess wearing or designing a funny dress is more difficult than it seems... Is the person wearing those insane shoes to be funny or serious? It reminds me of the awkwardness that occurs each Halloween when we compliment a costume that is not really a costume.
However, those few pieces that made me chuckle have really stuck in my mind. For example, this dress, with its skirt made of bras. When I finally located it in one of my books, I checked the credit and discovered it was a Moschino creation as well.
(Franco Moschino Teddy Bear Coat, 1988, Phillips Catalog, December 2 2006, New York; Moschino bra dress, 1994, at The Museum at FIT, photo by Irving Solero, from Fashion, Italian Style, Valerie Steele, 2003)