Dossier Journal x Julia Frakes | Coffee with Sarah Sophie Flicker -
When the legendary Paper Magazine editor-in-chief Kim Hastreiter first introduced me to The Citizens Band creative director Sarah Sophie Flicker in 2008—just before Sarah Sophie took to the stage for an awe-inspiring performance at The Box in New York City—I reckon my fellow dinnermates were unaware of the massive feat of willpower I wielded so as to withhold my inner fangirl and string together a semi-coherent sentence (no doubt, of adulation) in a desperate attempt to avoid embarrassing my editors. It was not until a year later, upon shooting the Fall 2009 Rachel Antonoff lookbook alongside Sarah Sophie and Alia Shawkat, when I finally had a proper opportunity to unfetter my admiration for Sarah Sophie’s artistry and advocacy. Through various fashion and Occupy events thereafter, we have since bonded over our aligned politics and mutual love for Chris Matthews and all things fantastical; it has genuinely been an honor to strike a friendship with Sarah Sophie, one of my heroines and role models.
Over coffee this past month, it was an utter delight to pose three quick questions on behalf of Dossier to the extraordinary performer, aerialist, editor-at-large (of Lula Magazine), designer, filmmaker (alongside her co-directing partner Maximilla Lukacs), writer (with insightful columns at HelloGiggles and Rookie), wife (director Jesse Peretz is her lucky husband), and mother par excellence.
Click here to read our quick chat at Dossier Journal.
Pressed Juicery | The Chalkboard: Julia Frakes' 13 Favorite Natural Wonders -
Hop on over to Pressed Juicery—the Left Coast Juice Heaven—where my they asked me about a few of my favorite healthy places and products this past May for The Chalkboard, their online “magazine study in living well.”
above: Hansel from Basel dot support thigh hi socks and cultured kombucha
TWIN MAGAZINE GUEST EDIT X JULIA FRAKES | THREE QUICK QUESTIONS WITH KATE FOLEY -
Be sure to hop over to Twin Magazine to read the first of my ongoing “Three Quick Questions with…” guest-edited series for the online component of Twin, the biannual London-based art, fashion, and feminism book. It was a thrill to kick off the series with Kate Foley, buyer for the incomparable retail mecca Opening Ceremony and beholder of both the keenest eye and most enviable job in the industry. While fashion followers may first recognize Kate by her effortless and oft-emulated street style, those who work within the field no doubt also associate Kate with her inspiring warmth and rallying work ethic, routinely regarded as ‘above and beyond the call of duty’ by the fun-loving, innovative and talented team helmed by pioneering retail game-changers, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim. I am certain that Kate’s nurturing of up-and-coming designers and contributions to today’s most innovative and sought-after collaborations will forever be applauded in fashion history. In the midst of this hectic Resort 2013 week, Kate and I grabbed a quick coffee and partook in a lighthearted little Q&A in the garden behind Saturdays Surf NYC, just around the corner from the Opening Ceremony Headquarters. Coupled with her resort buying duties this year, Kate is doubly abuzz in planning Opening Ceremony’s London boutique launch in time for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games and the final logistics underlying all the untold collaborations consonant with such a monumental OC opening. It was a true thrill to discover a bit about what makes Kate tick, whence her discerning buying prowess and inherent modesty comes (as it were, Brooklyn by way of an active adolescence amidst a picturesque little village in West Sussex, England), and just how the Bearbrick-collector would style a bespoke Diamond Jubilee Twin figurine of the Queen… exclusively in pieces available at Opening Ceremony, of course.
Click here to read our little Q&A at Twin.
William Yan | Julia Frakes at Oscar de la Renta Resort 2013 -
It was a thrill to catch up with my old pal, the talented Mr. William Yan, at the Oscar de la Renta resort show this week.
William and I first crossed paths back in ‘08 and I cannot tell you how proud I am—and how gratifying it is—to behold the blossoming of his now massive (and beyond well-deserved) cult following. He is a true gentleman with tremendous vision; I am certain that his fresh Brooklyn studio space and new portrait work are auspicious tokens of more forthcoming success!
He snapped me on the post-show dash:
Opening Ceremony dress, Patrik Ervell dragonfly bomber, Hansel from Basel socks, Carven for Robert Clergerie espadrilles, vintage Louis Vuitton briefcase, Opening Ceremony cat print auto umbrella, Lulu Frost vintage necklace, Vanities skull bracelet
via William Yan:
Haven’t seen Julia for a while so it was a pleasure to get an update from the stylish girl-about-town who’s always at the coolest events and doing the coolest things while balancing her studies and freelance work for numerous magazines and making it all seem like a walk in the park. #propstoya
*Side Note: Julia is one of my favs to shoot, her style is on another level and beyond amazing all the time!
I am honored to report that I’ve received a surprise invitation to cover the Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s red carpet celebration of the Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations opening gala this Monday, May 7. (Sidebar: Golly—thank you!—could a girl even possibly dream of a more extraordinary stroke of luck in the tedious midst of Final Exams Week?) Stay tuned to my @bunnyBISOUS Twitter and Instagram accounts for live reporting of arrivals; on Monday morning I will hop to an exhibition press preview and will thereafter report from the gala benefit red carpet, which will also be videostreamed from 6:30-8:30 pm online here. Feel free to tweet me any questions, comments, best-dressed picks, and the like while I interview guests! In the meantime, be sure to to pick up the exquisitely rendered exhibition catalogue [seen above] by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton (The Costume Institute’s Curator in Charge and Curator, respectively) featuring a thought-provoking forward by Judith Thurman and new photography by David Sims and Toby McFarlan Pond under the creative direction of my hero, Katie Grand.
Sainthood comprises a glorious, spellbinding company of men, women, and children who devoted their existence on earth to Jesus Christ’s teachings and who are henceforth invoked as co-heirs and benefactors of Christ. Saints have ascended from every imaginable walk of life—from poor peasants to poverty-stricken slum dwellers to affluent noble aristocrats—to the extent that former thieves and assassins join the saintly ranks alongside pious men and women who lived virtuous, God-fearing lives since their adolescence. Following the Fourth Crusade and the plunder of Constantinople by Christian armies in 1204, precious Byzantine objects materialized onto Italian soil and profoundly impacted the art composed there, specifically the gleaming gold-ground panels profuse throughout and subsequent to the thirteenth century—as exquisitely exemplified by the 1470 tempura on wood atop gold-ground portrayals of Saints Catherine of Alexandria, Barbara, Agatha, and Margaret by Giovanni di Paolo [above]. The era’s art was primarily devised for and catered towards the theologically oriented benefactors upon whose gratification artists were dependent. Byzantium’s influence on these art motifs was far-reaching and included, for example, the starburst-like ornaments at the crown of saints’ heads emblematic of Mary’s virginity before, during, and after the nativity of Christ (Meagher, 2010). As demonstrated in Garafalo’s masterworks Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving the Birds and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving a Child (both circa 1530), the dawn of the fourteenth-century begot Gothic elements that originally emerged in twelfth-century France into Italian painting, including: architectural motifs (viz., pointed arches and interior design elements), a fastidious discretion of and delicacy toward detail, an amplification of naturalism, and an emphasis on fluidity. The wooden panel functioned as the principal support for portable paintings of saints and holy themes; often crafted from native Italian poplar trees, a gesso of powdered calcium sulfate applied atop a piece of linen covering the wood sufficiently concealed mars and allocated adequate surfaces for preliminary drawings. After gold-leafing the exterior, medieval artists portrayed divine figures in the purest and most brilliant hues possible by virtue of tempura paints prepared by mixing ground pigments with egg yolks. The period’s altarpieces in monasteries, churches, convents, private homes, and cathedrals were formed by uniting independently painted panels, most often with the Madonna and Child as the cynosure, flanked by the predella—a strip of smaller panels—which narrated episodes from the lives of saints and apostles as distinguished by their characteristic attributes, often incorporating the vanquished instruments of their martyrdom (which accordingly no longer wielded any obstructive powers). The biographies of saints were of utmost importance; not only did these histories provide artists with telltale symbols to facilitate spectators’ ready recognition of any divine figures depicted, but they moreover prompted churchgoers’ study and emulation of their triumphs and sacred deeds.
The chronicles that Garafalo (1476-1559) chose to depict in Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving a Child and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving the Birds [above] portray just two of over three hundred miracles attributed to Saint Nicholas (1245-1306). These two oil on canvass paintings (transferred from wood) were coupled with two other paintings consigned to oblivion—since replaced with approximate replicas in the 18th century—to form the predella adorning the Capella Muzzarelli, a chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas. Garafalo’s paintings portray feats performed by Nicholas as recorded by Pietro di Monterrubiano in 1326, well before Nicholas’s canonization in 1446 (Bayer, 2003). The diptych found its improbable way to the Metropolitan Museum thanks to American financier J.P. Morgan’s 1917 philanthropic quest to counter the Cappala Muzzarelli’s suppression during the Napoleonic period whence the chapel’s elements and altarpieces were scattered astray. Garafalo carefully selected these scenes to symbolize the awe-inspiring grace of Saint Nicholas, who conducted an austere, self-disciplined lifestyle with the Eremiti: a band of strict and scrupulous Augustinians in the Marchigian city of Tolentino. The narratives of Garafalo’s predella demonstrate both the exceptionality of Nicholas’s spirituality and his wondrous powers as a thaumaturge.
In Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving a Child, Garafalo presents Nicholas—in the black-belted habit donned by Augustinians—intervening on behalf of a family whose child perished prior to his baptism. Garofalo’s lifelong aesthetic held deep classical roots and was profoundly inspired by Raphael (1483-1520); by the same token, his affinity with Venetian painting is evident in the light-filled landscape to the left of the revived child. Garafalo’s depiction of Nicholas as an interceder propagates worshipers’ innermost hopes that saints might also perform miracles for them—especially wondrous interventions effectuated as a release from the perils of nature—including the all-too-common bygone phenomenon of (unbaptized) infant mortality.
In Saint Nicholas of Tolentino Reviving the Birds, Nicholas is dressed in white as an elderly bedridden man of poor health. As a steadfast vegetarian, Nicholas is seen meditating on how best to graciously decline a dish of cooked partridges sent by one of his followers. Miraculously, when Nicholas waves a sign of the cross above the plate, the birds fly away and liberate him from displeasing the offerer. This scene is reflective of Nicholas’s formidable reputation for asceticism along with his civility and reluctance to offend anyone. The classicism of the setting is manifest by the many naturalistic details: an airy (albeit sober) room unostentatiously furnished with a window seat, simple stools, a table topped with glassware, and a sturdy wooden-carved bed.
Saint Agatha (231-251), patron saint of the royal city of Catania, Sicily, perished whilst imprisoned during the Christian persecution ordered by King Decius (ruled 249-251), who had murdered his predecessor, Philip, in a blatant (secular) power-play. As a means of feigning a rationalization for Philip’s murder on the basis of his Christianity (and cozen his dominion), Decius decreed a tyrannical empire-wide Christian oppression and thereafter ordained Quintianus as King of Sicily. Quintianus soon fell head-over-heels in love with Agatha, a magnificent beauty of noble birth who had committed her virginity to Christ; upon adducing imperial edicts of Christian persecution, Agatha rebuffed the Sicilian king’s attempts to seize her family wealth as well as his sexual propositions. The lecherous provost Quintianus duly subjected Agatha to torturous indignities: consigning her to a brothel at the house of Aphrodisia (where she upheld the dedication of her virginity for Christ), ordering the hacking of her breasts (which were swiftly and miraculously healed by Saint Peter), scourged her to burning coals and fire, and ultimately sent her to prison to die. Renaissance artists generally depicted the aura surrounding the Cult of Agatha without ambiguity by focusing on her martyrdom, symbolized by her shorn breasts placed atop a platter (well-nigh resembling loaves of bread) and pincers or shears, the instruments of her martyrization. Through Giovanni di Paolo’s conscious choice (circa 1470) of showcasing fresh blood dripping from the shears utilized to lop her breasts, Agatha’s devout endurance through pain is plainly revealed (Burke, 2006). Such steadfast tidings were especially apt given that di Paolo’s Saint Agatha panel [third from left, above] comprised one of his many lateral pilasters within the framework of a polyptych altarpiece painted for a convent of nuns. Indeed, according to acclaimed English art historian and Italian Renaissance scholar Sir John Pope-Hennessy (1913-1994), “Few experiences in Italian painting are more exciting than to follow Giovanni di Paolo as he plunges, like Alice, through the looking-glass which separates reality from super-realism to explore the resources of a mystical, and therefore of a partially subconscious, world” (Pope-Hennessy, 1947). Saint Agatha’s dominion as the patron saint of fire emanates from her eventual death by flaming coals, whereupon she was beseeched against fire following her burial, especially during the eruptions of Mount Etna (Cheney, 1996). As the patron saint of nurses, it is unsurprising that Agatha came to be invoked against breast diseases in particular.
Through odd historical interpretations, Saint Agatha is even considered the protector of Alpine guides, bell-founders, and miners—the inverted breasts emblematic of the forms of hills and bells—and she likewise became the patron saint of bakers, insomuch as her plated breasts have long been misconstrued as loaves of bread, effectuating her feast day praxis of blessing bread. As one of the church’s first female martyrs, Pope Gregory the Great (590-604) promoted Agatha to sainthood and inaugurated February 5th as her feast day. The legal confrontation between the pompous Quintianus and the shabbily-bedecked Agatha showcased Agatha not only as a righteous martyr, but as an articulate guardian of her faith; her intellect and eloquence throughout the trial evinced her cultural and erudite training as a nobil donna. (By dint of Emperor Trajan’s 98-117 promotion of women’s education and the corollary Roman laws presiding over aristocratic female students, Agatha, of noble birthright, benefitted from schooling in Catania that nurtured classical education and sophisticated reasoning.) As a response to Quintianus’s insistence that Agatha submit and sacrifice to pagan gods, during the legal proceedings she sharp-wittingly compared his wife to Venus and Quintianus to Jupiter—a blasphemous and repugnant remark for a pagan believer. When Agatha legally proved her innocence and Quintianus’s criminality, the jury ruled in her favor and the Catanians sought the hanging of Quintianus; he drowned in a nearby river while attempting to escape his residents, withal. The legacy of their trial is routinely conjured when instructing the female faithful: Saint Agatha is not only a prime model of spiritual strength, virtue, and the merits of noble education, but an archetype of how to overcome political swindling and persevere through carnal brutality.
Just as Saint Agatha was born into nobility but opted to live as a pauper, Saint Bridget (1303-1373) was also raised amongst enormous wealth and royalty. Her father, Birger Persson, was one of the wealthiest landowners in Sweden and served as governor and provincial judge of Uppland; furthermore her mother, Ingeborg Bengtsdotter, was closely related to the royal family. As a seven-year-old of deep spirituality and heartfelt precocity, Bridget experienced the first of a lifelong concatenation of revelations: wherein the Virgin Mary placed a crowd upon young Bridget’s head. Early in her youth following the death of her mother (circa 1315), Bridget was sent to live with her aunt in Ostergotland, where she received a meticulous and demanding religious education (Kirsch, 1907). Despite her convent-bound intentions, in 1316 thirteen-year-old Bridget was united in marriage with eighteen-year-old Ulf Gudmarsson; their symbiotic, joyful marriage—marked by Bridget’s subtle sway over her pious and noble husband and their parentage of eight children (among them, Saint Catherine of Sweden)—was extolled throughout Scandinavia for their joint charitable efforts and service on the court of King Magnus Eriksson and Queen Blanka, over whom Bridget also maintained considerable influence. Upon Bridget’s widowhood following Ulf’s rapid decline after the couple’s pilgrimage to Santiago de Compestella in 1344, the revelations that weighed heavily upon her youth materialized once again, albeit with ensuing frequency and definitive clarity. Bridget dedicated her life to religious asceticism and theologian undertakings and in 1346, as per the thrust of her revelations, King Magnus and Queen Blanka left the State demesne of Vadstena to Bridget for the construction of a convent. Bridget trekked to Rome to confirm the Rule of her new religious congregation, the Brigittines; she subsequently settled in Italy (save for periodic pilgrimages to the Holy Land and elsewhere) in the pursuit of a pious and altruistic existence for the remainder of her lifetime. Pope Urban V confirmed the Briggitines’ rule in 1370 and contemplated Bridget’s chastising appeals for the Holy See to be reinstated in Rome (instead of Avignon, France). This small marble relief [above], Saint Bridget of Sweden Receiving the Rule of her Order (1459) by Agostino di Duccio (1418-1481), depicts a sphinx at the side of a clerically garbed Bridget, shown joining right hands with a youthful Christ beholding a scroll in his left hand bearing the rules of Bridget’s order, in accord with her published mystic visions. These six hundred revelations during her widowhood (translated by her confessor Petrus Oli of Alvastra and her teacher Mattias from Linkoping into a Latin book first printed in 1492) stirred considerable controversy amidst her devout contemporaries: among Agatha’s critiques of kings and governments, her most contentious political visions necessitated the Avignon-based Pope return posthaste to Rome. According to di Duccio’s commission for the predella of the altar of San Lorenzo in San Domenico, Perugia (dismantled by 1482), his conjuring of the sphinx—customarily appropriated for the throne of Madonna in her symbolic role as Sedes Sapientia stemming from her ties to Athena-Minerva as the goddess of wisdom—visually encapsulates how Christ endowed Bridget’s order with a similar prudence and sagacity (Hayum, 2006) (Cohen, 2008). A year subsequent to her death, Bridget’s bodily remains were transported to the Brigittine monastery at Vadstena; she was swiftly canonized in 1391 by Boniface IX and pronounced patron saint of Sweden. After centuries of lobbying by the Birgitta nuns in Rome, in 1999 Pope John Paul II appointed Saint Bridget as one of the patrons of Europe.
[Above: The Adoration of the Christ Child (1515) by a follower of Jan Joest of Kalkar, who depicted Christ’s birth in accord with Saint Bridget of Sweden’s vision experienced during her pilgrimage to Bethlehem in 1372 wherein a “great and ineffable light” emanating from the Child illuminated a young Virgin with flowing hair and singing angels, which entirely eclipsed the candlelight held by Joseph.]
The remarkable histories of saints provide humanity with shining exemplars of virtue: which, on the strength of art world maestros, are adeptly conveyed by their unique scriptural interpretations and ensuing artistic incarnations (and our mere glimpses upon these impressive renderings). By virtue of Garafalo, di Paolo, and di Duccio’s virtuosity, Saint Nicholas of Tolentino’s miracles provide us with assurance in the face of adversity, Saint Agatha’s dignified indefatigability endows us with strong feminine principles worth emulating, and Saint Bridget of Sweden’s self-reliance imparts a targeted code of confidence by which the meek can aim to abide. The medieval grounds for fostering religious art found a steadfast champion in Pope Gregory the Great, who reconsecrated a fifth-century Arian basilica to Agatha in the Subura district of Rome and who keenly supported the Cult of Saint Agatha; a letter from Pope Hadrian I (772-795) to Charlemagne ordered that this church, S. Agata dei Goti, be adorned with mosaics and frescos. It is through Pope Hadrian’s acclaimed letters to Bishop Serenus of Marseilles that we are now acquainted with the origins of Gregory’s predilection for religious images and narratives on the basis of their pedagogical value. Pope Gregory’s philosophy serves as the classical Western precedent for religious art: that imagery not be suppressed “so that the illiterate will at least read by looking at the walls. It is one thing to adore images and another to learn the story represented by the image what one must adore” (Ewald, 1891) (Minge, 1849).
Vogue.com | Confidence Dressing: How Clothing Affects the Mind by Katherine Bernard -
Be sure to check out my brilliant cousin Katherine Bernard’s article on enclothed cognition at Vogue.com! She interviewed me (and my academic advisor, J. Timothy Cannon, Ph.D.) about the psychological underpinnings and social neuroscience at play when we choose what we wear and how the garments alter various self-perceived attributes—which can in turn impact our attitude, performance and behavior.
…In preliminary findings from a study published on the Journal of Experimental Social Psychology’s website, subjects who donned white coats that they thought belonged to doctors performed better on tests than those who wore street clothes, or those who thought the coats were associated with artists. Their heightened focus was evident only when subjects actually put on the coat in question (not merely when they were in the same room). It’s no secret that assembling an outfit is like selecting social armor, and that what we wear has power over others (if there weren’t truth to the cliché “lady in red,” designers wouldn’t be making so many scarlet dresses), but this study shows if you have a strong cultural association with a garment, wearing it can affect your cognitive processes… To explore this theory, Vogue asked several women—in careers ranging from art to e-commerce to politics—what pieces in their closets helped them bring their A-game to work… Model and psychology student Julia Frakes always gravitates toward Prada for interviews, and has a go-to brand for test taking: “I wore Marni when I took my Wechsler exam [designed to measure adult intelligence]. I swear Marni increases one’s self-perceived intelligence levels.” Suffice it to say, Frakes scored a high performance IQ. So, tell the skeptics: Your closet isn’t frivolous, it contains a myriad of channels to heightened performance, a selection of gateways to the best versions of yourself. As Jonathan Lethem said in his novel You Don’t Love Me Yet: “You can’t be deep without a surface.”
Sidenote: Last Saturday, Katherine and I ventured to New York Adorned and were pierced (conch/helix details here) by the gentle maestro J. Colby Smith (in Vogue, here). Also, bangs happened.
Karen Walker Spring/Summer 2012 | “Karen’s Little Aliens” Campaign Lookbook [preview]
Photographed by Derek Kettella at Chris Boals Artists
Styling by Soraya Dayani at Jed Root
Casting by Natalie Joos
Hair/make-up by Valery Gherman at De Facto Inc.
Photographed at A Small Studio
More campaign images available online at Karen Walker Eyewear