I’m always psyched to support a good cause, so my husband (MrB) and I gathered up a few friends and went to the Fresh Air Fund’s annual benefit on Thursday night. I’ll write more about the cause and the party soon. Right now I just want you to check out my Francis by Christian Francis Roth dress.
The graffiti goes all the way around the dress and says “Style Wars.” It’s from Christian’s Spring 2009 “Gangs of New York” collection. There are six gangs in the collection: the After- School Specials, the Lace- ups, the Downtown Locals, the Twill Seekers, the Pieces of 8th, and the Tie Breakers. The Downtown Locals gang — which includes my dress — was inspired by the wild subway graffiti Christian saw in the late ’70s and early ’80s, when he used to take the downtown local from the East 77th Street station to school. You out-of-towners can take a look at Christian’s subway map dress to get your bearings.
The train he took was the 6. That’s the same train that Jennifer Lopez name-checked in the title of her first album. And that factoid is all the excuse I need to share my all-time favorite J. Lo moment. Check out what she says when she’s asked to “defend her outfit.”
I’m sad that the camera cut away right before she whipped a razor out of her ponytail and cut the bitch who dared to challenge her fashion sense.
Getting back to the graffiti, my gorgeous friend Maggie Kneip recently invited me to the opening of a big street art exhibit called “Whole in the Wall” at the Helenbeck Gallery. Maggie was invited by HER gorgeous friend Tamara Warren, who is married to renowned graffiti artist Lee Quinones. Christian is a huge fan of Lee back from the days when he’d see big “LEE” tags on the subway cars, so we brought him along too. We went to dinner at Bianca first, and after a little lot of wine, Christian declared he was going to ask Lee to tag his ass. Backwards. So he could read it in the mirror. To my everlasting disappointment, he did not go through with this. When I asked why not, Christian pleaded poverty: “He (Lee) would have been like, sure, that’s $1500!” Cheapskate. Anyway, Lee was gracious enough to pose for a photo, free of charge.
Seconds after this picture was taken, Christian went from being totally starstruck by Lee to saying stuff like, “Yo, come down to the studio. Hit me up, man. I’ll show you my work, dawg.” He might have thrown in a few more “yo’s” and grabbed his crotch or something while handing over his business card. It was all very tough and urban. I grew up in Mahwah, N.J., so I was very impressed by all of this. I mean, if I were to meet my idol, Coco, I would lose all self-control and scream, “OHMYGOD! YOUAREMYIDOL!” Maybe that’s why I prefer my memory of how Christian looked right before coolness struck him. As Maggie said, “Witnessing the shining eyes of Mr. Christian upon meeting Lee Q. made the night complete.” Seriously, yo, it was adorable.
After tearing ourselves away from Lee and leaving Maggie and Tamara to catch up, Christian and I went off to find Christian’s friend Meres, the graffiti artist who designed prints for the “Gangs of New York” collection. We all said “Yo!” and then I took this picture.
Here’s one of the Meres dresses. It’s on sale at Bloomingdales.com — only $269.50 as I’m writing this. That’s a great price for a wearable work of art! I think the only thing better than a work of art on the wall is a work of art that can be worn, don’t you agree? Look closely at the asymmetrical hem. Christian points out that borders were always important in graffiti. The art didn’t just take place in the middle of a tag. Christian applied that idea to this dress and turned a graffiti border into a hemline. Clever boy.
The graffiti on my dress was done by another artist. You can buy my dress in person at Bloomingdale’s on 59th Street in Manhattan — unfortunately, it’s not online. Those of you who can’t get to the store can call 212-705-2000. For the same graffiti vibe in a different style, check out this spectacular dress with a “Francis” tag at Bloomingdales.com.
One of Christian’s friends wore this one to a party and she was the center of attention all night. That’s what you want out of a dress. Trust!
If you’re going to be in New York this month, the Whole in the Wall exhibit runs through June 27. Here’s a New York Times article on it. If you want to know more about graffiti art in general, Christian says Subway Art is the book to get. He also says Style Wars is a great documentary. And, if you prefer fiction, the movie The Warriors was a major inspiration for the “Gangs of New York” collection.
Remember that if you buy one of the dresses from Bloomie’s, you need to send me a photo for the blog. And if you bump into Lee Quinones and get him to sign your ass, I need a picture of that too. Thanks, dawgs!