This Butterfly Headpiece (2003) by Philip Treacy epitomizes the milliner’s untethered and imaginative approach to design. A swarm of butterflies is assembled from exquisitely worked turkey feathers that were cut, painted and hand-fashioned into delicate, fluttering forms. Butterflies are one of the most potent symbols of collecting. Rooted in taxidermic systems yet resplendent with poetry, the insect occupies a prominent spot in most European Wunderkammern, or cabinets of curiosities. Because of its transformative nature, the butterfly has inspired infinite metaphor, and within the realm of fashion the analogy has particularly flourished. It easily applies to the accessories in the collection of Sandy Schreier, which is full of items that hold the potential for dramatic metamorphosis.
Photographed as part of the exhibit In Pursuit of Fashion: The Sandy Schreier Collection, on view through May 17th, 2020 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
If you happen to take the N, R or Q trains to the Fifth Avenue and 59th Street stop on your way to the Central Park Zoo, be sure to first participate in the underground Subway Art Safari that’s going on in the station, as you will not only encounter this colorful flock of Butterflies, but also tiles mosaic murals of Parrots, Penguins, Horses, Monkeys and other creatures.
The “Work Reconsidered” in the title is John Wilde’s own drawing. This painting from 1950 is based on a “bridal” portrait that Wilde had made of his wife, Helen, in 1943. Its exacting realism and compressed perspective, as well as the subject’s pose and inscrutable expression, recall the Northern and Italian Renaissance portraits that inspired Wilde. He added surrealist details to these traditions: the butterflies on the woman’s body and head, the isolated food items on the table, and the moody landscape background create and otherworldly effect.
This gorgeous Damien Hirst-Designed Cup and Saucer Set — where each pairing is patterned after one of Hirst’s iconic works — is on sale at MOMA’s 6th floor gift shop. Own the complete set of six designs for only $180!