Thursday, December 12, 2013

Roxanne Lowit's "Be Fabulous" Exhibition & Benefit Event

Roxanne Lowit Exhibition of her work
(Click images for larger views)

The opening for Roxanne Lowit's "Be Fabulous" exhibit was held at the Kasher Gallery located at 521 West 23rd Street from 7PM-10PM. The event was hosted by Bailey House, a charitable organization offering affordable housing for those living with HIV, and Xicato, a recognized leader in creating LED modules. In the height of the holiday season and the cold weather, it took me one hour and a half to get there from 76th Street not to mention the fifty dollar taxi ride. The gallery was no easy feat to find and I found myself wandering the streets for another twenty minutes.

Models in Mara Hoffman designs
Photo: Lieba Nesis

Arriving at the gallery, it is kind to say I was not in a Christmas state of mind but was pleasantly surprised at the iconic photographs and the models on stage clad in Mara Hoffman and Cynthia Rowley designs. The clothing was there to manifest the unique lighting of Xicato which was supposed to illuminate the colors of the garment. Xicato is utilizing LED lighting made specifically for fashion attire. There was also a silent auction of Nicholas Kirkwood shoes and some JPTod items as well as a Mara Hoffman and Cynthia Rowley five hundred dollar store credit being auctioned for a lower monetary price. Gina Quattrochi, the CEO of Bailey House informed us one of the shoes being auctioned could support a homeless person with HIV for a month putting into perspective the frivolity of fashion purchases. While the event was held to showcase the vibrancy of the Xicato lighting against the backdrop of the colorful Hoffman and Rowley dresses, the star of the evening was Roxanne Lowit and her exquisite photography.

Nicholas Kirkwood shoes and JPTods bag
Photo: Lieba Nesis

Roxanne Lowit, a notable celebrity and fashion photographer, spoke of the significance of the Bailey house and how appreciative she was to be at this event. When I interviewed her she said she took pictures of great people who enjoy being subjects. She recounted a story where John Kennedy, Jr. said if she wanted to take a picture she was welcome to hide in the bushes with the rest of the paparazzi; she responded, "I don't do that kind of thing but I will get your picture at a later date when you agree to it." In subsequent years when John John was married he agreed to take some pictures for Lowit with his wife Carolyn.

As you can see she is no paparazzo but a kind and thoughtful human being who takes pictures of people only if they "want" pictures taken (TMZ take note). Roxanne attributes her success to working collaboratively with the models and celebrities and either capturing or creating an intimate moment. Roxanne was discovered backstage photographing Donna Karan clothing by Annie Flanders who flew her to shoot a Paris fashion show. While loading her film for the first time on her new camera on the flight to France she soon found herself standing on the Eiffel Tower with Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol and the rest is photo-history.

Roxanne's retrospective includes over forty vintage and modern black & white pictures with over twenty large scale color photographs. The exhibit is on display from December 12th-January 18th and can be purchased or just viewed -whichever you can afford. One of her favorite pictures and the one she is most famous for is the trio of Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, and Christy Turlington in their "hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil" poses. She knows Naomi from before she was a model and admires her brains and ambition which has helped her maintain an unrivaled longevity and notoriety in the fashion business. Halston was "grand" and amazing to photograph; and John Galliano, whom she collaborated with on a book, is both "brilliant and crazy, brilliant when he is designing and crazy when he is boozing and doing drugs." As an artist whom Lagerfeld admires,
Roxanne Lowit
Photo: Lieba Nesis

I inquired as to her opinion of current fashion designers to which she said, "I like the designers of the eighties where you did not need a name at the end of a runway to see who was making the clothes. Then you could tell by the look of the clothes who the producer was. For instance, if you saw ten models parading down the runway with Wagner tunes in the background you knew it was Claude Montana. Now you can't tell who made the clothing. It is all about merchandising and sales with very little to do with creativity and innovation." Lowit's favorite photographers are Irving Penn and Helmut Newton.

 Rabhy Ortega and Melissa Grieco
Photo: Lieba Nesis

The crowd comprised of artists, designers, and downtowners began to leave as the frigid night awaited. The silent auction had come to a close and the equally silent models looked fatigued and restless. The images captured on the wall of a laughing Naomi or a brazen Halston left me amused, yet empty; were or are these people really that iconic or is it just the camera, along with the media, and their publicity machines that make these untouchable pictures into unattainable celebrities without thought as to what lies beneath the facade.

- Lieba Nesis

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