If these gowns could talk

THE STORIES BEHIND SOME OF THE GARMENTS IN “CHARLOTTE COLLECTS: CONTEMPORARY COUTURE & FABULOUS FASHION”

THE STORIES BEHIND SOME OF THE GARMENTS IN “CHARLOTTE COLLECTS: CONTEMPORARY COUTURE & FABULOUS FASHION”

BY HEATHER GWALTNEY

What do birthdays, a pregnancy, furtive feathers, love at first sight, a good investment and luggage left behind all have in common? Sometimes a dress is more than just a dress. Based on interviews with the featured collectors, this is a “behind the seams” look at some of the striking gowns featured in Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture & Fabulous Fashion, on view at Mint Museum Randolph through February 4, 2018.

Bride-to-be Amanda Weisiger Cornelson envisioned a long-sleeved dress with color for her summer 2016 wedding. Upon seeing her gown on the runway at the Giambattista Valli Haute Couture Fall 2015 show at the Grand Palais in Paris, it was love at first sight. She visited the designer’s atelier after the show and tried on a few of the other beautiful pieces from the collection, but in the end she only had eyes for the originally-selected gown.

Like her daughter Amanda Cornelson, Lisa Dargan’s Giambattista Valli blue ostrich feather skirt was wedding attire. She wore the dress only once in her home, for a fitting that had to take place downstairs in her entry hall because no other rooms were large enough to accommodate the generous train (the wedding was in Savannah). But she was periodically reminded of the magic of her wedding day as feathers continued to appear, for a more than a year, in unusual places such as in her nightstand and in a suitcase that did not accompany her on her wedding travels.

Myra.jpgWhen Myra Gassman wears her historic Commes des Garcons dress, it always elicits a reaction. So much so that, more than once, people have offered to buy it off of her while she was wearing it. She purchased it from a store in Carmel, California and more than five years after she purchased it, the store owner called and offered to buy it back at double the price she paid. (It’s one of the most important pieces in the exhibition due to its rarity and excellent condition.)

MMR_CCCCFF_2017(67).jpgDeidre Grubb and her family arrived at the airport one hour before their flight to visit friends in St Barths and were told that they were too late to have their bags put on the plane. In order to make their scheduled flight, the Grubbs elected to leave their luggage behind in the trunk of their car and travel with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Upon landing in St. Barths, their hosts offered to lend them some clothes to wear but also took them shopping. Knowing the caliber of St. Barths’ shopping, instead of buying the same sorts of things she already had at home, Deidre opted to take the opportunity to buy something really special, a gown by Italian designer Roberto Cavalli which she wore twice to dinner during the vacation. Since coming to Charlotte, the dress made its black-tie debut worn by her friend Leslie Culbertson, at the Mint’s Coveted Couture Gala.

Holleman.jpgAlex Holleman’s Delpozo coat is the actual, hand-stitched coat that was shown on the runway. However, as shown, the coat didn’t make it into the collection and was destined for storage. Alex loved it so much that she convinced the designer to sell it to her and, despite its significant weight, she wears it as often as possible.

MMR_CCCCFF_2017(47).jpgFor Chandra Johnson, her gowns in the exhibition represent celebrations, as they were all worn to the NASCAR Awards in Las Vegas when she accompanied her husband, seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson. However, when Chandra thinks about the white silk Isaac Mizrahi gown, she also remembers feeling very, very ill. In fact, though she was approximately three months pregnant at the time, the Johnsons hadn’t yet divulged the secret. However, protocol required her to sit on the stage, facing the audience at the banquet. So, despite the fact that they had yet to share the news with their closest friends, she had to warn the woman organizing the awards show that she was pregnant in case sickness caused her to make a quick exit from stage.

mattei.jpgAshley Anderson Mattei’s pink and yellow two-piece Giambattista Valli ensemble elicits happy memories of a milestone birthday that took place during the year she and her family lived in Paris. In celebration of her 40th birthday, her husband, Scott, teamed up with Laura Vinroot Poole to take Ashley to her very first fashion show: a couture Giambattista Valli fashion show in Paris. Part of the gift was that, in addition to attending the show, she could choose a gown. Though shown with a slightly different profile on the runway, due to the nature of couture, she was able to request some changes to customize the shape of the gown’s skirt to make it feel more “her” when she wears it with the beautiful pink beaded top.

Poole.jpgLaura Vinroot Poole first saw her silk taffeta cocktail dress when she hosted Giambattista Valli’s first-ever couture collection show in the United States at the Duke Mansion. Though the pajama-influenced dress was shown in crisp, white taffeta, she had it made in in one of her favorite color combinations, pale pink with cherry red piping. Couture can be customized, up to a point, as the designer has to sign off on the changes to the piece since his or her name will be on it and Vinroot Poole surmises that Giambattista must have agreed that the color combination was as dreamy as she thought it would be.

putney.jpgDr. Kimberly Blanding Putney had no particular event in mind when she saw her Missoni gown at Nordstrom but she felt it was a must-purchase. Initially worn for a music and art collaboration event, the fun, colorful pattern makes her smile. For her, wearing it is effortless due to the feel of the fabric, its slightly transparent nature, and the beauty of its craftsmanship.

tarwater.jpgWhen asked by her husband to name something she would want for her birthday if she could have anything, Ann Rosemund Tarwater replied, “a Carolina Herrera dress.” Though it gave him a moment’s pause, he made her wish come true and on their next trip to New York City, they spent the afternoon trying on her beautiful pieces. With this gown she feels she has been gifted the look of elegance, femininity, and classic beauty.

MMR_CCCCFF_2017(4).jpgNFL Quarterback Cam Newton shared his fashion philosophy with the Mint at the time his foundation loaned his Versace suit ensemble to round out the exhibition with a menswear sample: “I like to incorporate my individual style into everything I do, especially my fashion sense. From a young age I was encouraged to always be myself, and I make it a point to empower others to do the same. Expressing myself through fashion is something I take seriously…but not so seriously that I can’t have fun with it. Having fun is the name of the game for me. I like classic looks with a twist of something different, like some colorful loafers or a bold tie. Don’t be afraid to stand out! Check out this outfit, for example. The pin stripe Versace suit is classic. It’s dressy, but not too formal. The jacket could even be worn with jeans and a V-neck. I chose the full suit paired with a white dress shirt, a handmade feather bow tie from Charleston’s Brackish Bow Ties, and some colorful Giuseppe Zanotti loafers to complete the look.”

The Mint Museum “Thinks Pink” this October

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, survivors are offered free admission

The Mint Museum wishes to express its support for Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We are offering free admission to all breast cancer survivors at both Mint Museum Uptown and Mint Museum Randolph throughout the month of October. Simply notify the Guest Services staff of your status at the time of your visit (no documentation required).

We honor all those who have fought and are fighting breast cancer. The Mint Museum is committed to its role in sustaining a healthy community in Charlotte and beyond.

The Mint Museum announces the “Year of Fashion”

Museum to host three extraordinary exhibitions, launch new fashion initiative in the coming fiscal year

The Mint Museum, long renowned for holding one of the largest and most significant Fashion Collections in the Southeastern United States, will celebrate the art form with its upcoming “Year of Fashion,” the museum announced today to attendees of its annual gala.

Weston M. Andress, chairman of the Mint’s Board of Trustees, issued a proclamation declaring the “Year of Fashion” to 400 attendees at the sold-out Coveted Couture gala, an annual fundraising event permanently devoted to celebrating the Mint’s collection, conservation, study, and exhibition of fashions both historic and contemporary. The “Year of Fashion” will span the museum’s next fiscal year beginning July 1, 2017 and continuing through June 30, 2018.

“Today we celebrate the Mint for delivering relevant and compelling exhibitions and programming that engages all members of our diverse global community, and we are thrilled that we will be able to introduce new concepts of art to our community through this year-long focus on fashion,” Andress said.

“Fashion design is like kinetic sculpture, and leading couturiers are like master architects who build with fabric and applied elements using the body as armature,” said Annie Carlano, Senior Curator of Craft, Design, & Fashion at the Mint. “Our relationship with fashion is both universal and personal; fashion reflects the times we live in and who we are.”

The “Year of Fashion” will center around three exhibitions to be on view throughout the year, and is also accompanied by a major financial gift provided by loyal Mint supporters Ann and Michael Tarwater. In honor of his wife Ann, Michael Tarwater has given a lead gift to launch a Fashion Initiative at Mint Museum Randolph to enhance the storage, study, exhibition, and development of innovative immersive programs around fashion in years to come. “The Tarwaters believe the Mint should be the fashion leader in our region – and beyond.  They see fashion design as one of the most engaging and meaningful art forms, with rich aesthetic and cultural associations, and a gateway to understanding style through the ages. They are dedicated to making Charlotte a great city for all, and that includes robust support for the arts. With this lead gift for a dynamic fashion presence at the Mint, Ann and Michael are giving back to the city that has been their home for more than 30 years, and we cannot thank them enough,” said Carlano. Further details of the Fashion Initiative will be made public during the coming months.

The three exhibitions to be hosted at the Mint are:

  • William Ivey Long: Costume Designs 2007-2016 . On view at Mint Museum Uptown from September 23, 2017 through June 3, 2018. North Carolina native William Ivey Long is one of the most renowned theatrical costume designers working today. Since the beginning of his career in the 1970s, he has designed over 70 Broadway shows, has won six Tony awards and received 15 nominations, and has earned many other honors and accolades. The exhibition will explore William Ivey Long’s most recent work, from 2007 to today. It will focus on his process, featuring sketches, swatches, mood boards, and other preparatory materials in addition to the costumes themselves. The exhibition, co-curated by Carlano, and Rebecca Elliot, Assistant Curator for Craft, Design, & Fashion, will provide visitors with exposure to this form of art and allow for comparison of the different goals of theatrical costume and fashion.
  • Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture and Fabulous Fashion. On view at Mint Museum Randolph from October 14, 2017 through early 2018. This is the first of a series of Craft, Design, & Fashion exhibitions featuring significant collections and collectors in Charlotte. Curated by Carlano, Charlotte Collects is an exhibition that takes an intimate look at important fashion designs in the collections of several fashion leaders in our community. From exquisite bespoke creations by couturier Giambattista Valli, to the innovative designs by Issey Miyake and elegant minimalism of Jason Wu, the exhibition strives to present a wide range of 21st century fashion through the personal stories of each of these collectors, with the goal of both celebrating these women, and building excitement for the future of fashion at Mint Museum Randolph.  Informative and dynamic, the installation will include runway videos.
  • An exhibition of fashion designs by Oscar de la Renta, scheduled to be on view in spring 2018 at Mint Museum Randolph. Organized in close collaboration with the House of Oscar de la Renta and the designer’s family, the exhibition is curated by André Leon Talley, former American editor-at-large for Vogue and a lifelong friend of de la Renta. It is scheduled to debut at the Mint next spring following its recently announced run at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston this fall. It is anticipated to contain fashions made during the span of his career in Spain, Paris, and New York. The Mint hosted the late designer for a fashion show fundraiser organized by the Mint Museum Auxiliary in 2011.

Wells Fargo Private Bank has signed on as presenting sponsor of both the William Ivey Long and Oscar de la Renta exhibitions, as well as serving as lead sponsor of this year’s Coveted Couture gala. “Wells Fargo Private Bank is pleased to help the Mint present these signature exhibitions to the community,” said Jay Everette, Community Affairs Manager, Wells Fargo Foundation, and co-chair of this year’s Coveted Couture gala. “The intersection of art, fashion, costume, and design offers incredibly rich content and concepts to explore through both exhibition presentation and community programming.”

“The Mint thanks Wells Fargo, the Tarwater family, the Auxiliary, and all of the hundreds of other individual, corporate, and foundation sponsors who make possible our ability to continue to present these groundbreaking exhibitions to our community,” said Carlano.

The Mint also announced Saturday that the next Coveted Couture gala will be timed to coincide with the opening of the Oscar de la Renta exhibition, and will be co-chaired by Charlotte fashion industry leaders Laura Vinroot Poole and Perry Poole. More information on the plans will be available later in 2017 at mintmuseum.org/gala .

Above image: Lisa Dargan in couture by Giambattista Valli, 2014. Photograph by Gately Williams. From the upcoming exhibition Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture and Fabulous Fashion.

Mint Museum Randolph to host major new exhibition showcasing five artists from the Wyeth Family

The Wyeths: Three Generations, Works from the Bank of America Collection to go on view March 11-August 13, 2017

For more than a century, the members of the Wyeth family have created works of art that have stirred the imagination and fascinated art lovers worldwide. The Mint Museum is now preparing to host an exhibition of Bank of America’s largest collection of unique works by one family, providing a window into the Wyeth family’s artists through more than 60 remarkable paintings, drawings, and photographs.

The Wyeths: Three Generations, Works from the Bank of America Collection will open March 11 and remain on view through August 13 at Mint Museum Randolph, 2730 Randolph Road in Charlotte. Members of the media and special guests are invited to preview the exhibition at 10 a.m. on Thursday March 9. Interviews with curators, Mint staff, and Bank of America representatives will be available, and media photography is permitted. RSVP to leigh.dyer@mintmuseum.org to attend.

“Through our Art in our Communities program, Bank of America has made our corporate art collection available for museums and nonprofit galleries around the world,” said Bank of America’s North Carolina and Charlotte Market President Charles Bowman, who also sits on the Mint’s board of trustees. “This is the first time this unique Wyeth exhibition will be on display in the South and the first time it’s been seen in the U.S. in seven years. We’re very excited to bring these generational works to the Mint Museum for the Charlotte community to enjoy.” In addition to lending the works to the Mint, the exhibition is sponsored by Bank of America.

“This is the most comprehensive exhibition of work by the members of the Wyeth family that the museum has ever hosted,” said Dr. Jonathan Stuhlman, the Mint’s Senior Curator of American, Modern, and Contemporary Art. “We extend our gratitude to Bank of America for sharing these treasures of American art with our visitors, who will delight in the opportunity to see so many of these beautifully-executed images of stories, people, and scenery created over the course of the entire 20th century.”

Patriarch N.C. Wyeth was one of the country’s foremost illustrators at the turn of the 20th century. Included in the exhibition are his illustrations for books by Robert Louis Stevenson and Washington Irving. N.C.’s son, Andrew, is known for his haunting, highly detailed realist paintings and is represented by works from the 1940s through the 1990s. Although not as well-known as her brother, Andrew, Henriette Wyeth was an accomplished artist who painted striking portraits, landscapes, and still lifes. She is represented in the exhibition, as is her husband, Peter Hurd, who chronicled the landscape of the American west. Andrew Wyeth’s son, Jamie, represents the third generation of the family in the show. Jamie continues the family’s tradition of realism using oil paint rather than his father’s preferred mediums of tempera and watercolor. His paintings often feature the people, animals, and landscapes of Maine and Pennsylvania, and are imbued with a unique sense of magic and mystery.

Charlotteans may remember the success of the Mint’s presentation of Andrew Wyeth’s “Helga” paintings in 2004-2005. This presentation is part of the ongoing celebration of the Mint’s 80th anniversary year as North Carolina’s first art museum, and reflects its ongoing commitment to American art. This exhibition is accompanied by an illustrated brochure and a variety of educational programming, with details available at mintmuseum.org/happenings. Among the special guests during the exhibition’s run will be Victoria Wyeth, granddaughter of Andrew Wyeth, who will appear for a FREE “ Evening with Victoria Wyeth ” talk at 6 p.m. on Wednesday March 29.

IMAGE: Jamie Wyeth (1946- ), The Tempest, A Triptych, 1999, watercolor, gouache, and varnish highlights on gray archival cardboard. Bank of America Collection.