"Gee, Haven’t I Seen You Someplace Before?"
Ostrich feathered dress Geoffrey Beene fall 1989 Collection
“Beene there, done that“ indeed. Looking around at the approximately 48 outfits which comprise the Geoffrey Beene fashion retrospective at Sotheby’s, in conjunction with the upcoming auction of the designer’s personal estate (www.sothebys.com), had me feeling like deja-vu all over again. What struck me was not only how incredibly modern, timeless and ahead of the times all the pieces were (some dating back almost 40 years), but since New York Fashion Week had just ended, I couldn’t help but compare them to what was presented on recent runways. Not only were they far more breathtaking and beautifully crafted than most of what was shown (in another category quite frankly), but I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had seen many of these pieces someplace before.
Polka dot dress Geoffrey Beene Spring 1995 Collection
Just consider recent trends spotted on the runways: 1 - polka dots (Geoffrey Beene always loved polka dots- as exemplified by the red and white polka dot chiffon vest and long evening skirt from spring 1995); 2 - floral embroidery, 3 - iridescent taffeta, 4 - billowy skirts, 5 - lace trim, 6 - shrugs (these were all in one outfit- the floral embroidered shrug worn over orange iridescent taffeta lace trimmed full gathered skirt from spring 1991; 7 - fluid black jersey gowns (Geoffrey made some of the most breathtaking and graceful jersey gowns including this duo - the black jersey gown with a burnished gold bra and cut out back from fall 1999, and one with a very low back from fall 1989); 8 - feathers (the striped sequined mini dress whose hemline was entirely trimmed with ostrich feathers from spring 1968); 9 - mini boleros and 10 - oversized buttons (both were on display in the blonde melton bolero with embroidered buttons from fall 96); 11 - boy meets girl, menswear references (the black tuxedo jacket with white pique inset and cuffs from spring 94); 12 - day for night, evening sportive (the ivory wool jumpsuit worn with floor length gray transparent raincoat from spring 1992; 13 - ruffles (the red mohair ruffled hem bolero from fall 92).
Floral embroidered shrug from Geoffrey Beene Spring 1991 Collection
The retrospective was not only a perfect way to put an exclamation point on New York Fashion Week, but served as a celebration of Geoffrey's life and career. Last evening, he was remembered in a panel discussion exploring his life and style (“A Toast to Geoffrey Beene: His Work, His World”) which was moderated by a group that included Grace Mirabella, Jade Hobson Charnin, Agnes Gund, Kim Hastreiter, Richard Lambertson, Liz Lee, Marylou Luther, and Helen O’Hagan. Geoffrey Beene passed away almost exactly one year ago today and will be remembered as one of the world’s most intelligent, consistent and innovative designers who raised the bar; one whose amazing influence is still being felt, and one who continues to serve as a reference for a whole new generation.