There was a bejeweled 16th-century marten’s head (an adorable furry animal prized for its fur pelt); an engraved golden handle of a Venetian fan; and an emerald-encrusted cross pendant with pearls dangling daintily from its tips. These, and other more opulent objets, are on display at the Frick Collection’s latest exhibition Moroni: The Riches of Renaissance Portraiture, where twenty works by Giovanni Battista Moroni—the John Singer Sargent of 16th-century Italy—are exhibited alongside a selection of contemporaneous fashion accessories and props pulled from paintings.
Cast your eyes on a pair of cast iron sewing sheers showcased in a vitrine, then gaze upon a very similar pair (it’s not impossible that they aren’t the exact set!) handled by the clothes-maker depicted in Morani’s celebrated portrait “The Tailor.” The show does a lovely job of blurring the lines between the sartorial, fine, and decorative arts and suggests that Moroni’s works, which feature proud subjects dressed in their most resplendent belongings, had much to do with the communication of wealth. (Considering the cost of textiles: it’s not just a woman dressed in a damask silk skirt, it’s the Renaissance equivalent of a woman behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce!) Capturing the nuances and accuracies of fashion were paramount to the artist; on display was a pattern book of lace, a version of which was referenced by Moroni to help him better paint his lace-cuffed subjects.
And perhaps on theme, the crowd who toured the exhibition at the museum’s annual Young Fellows Ball displayed a similar (albeit less-practiced) approach to documenting fashion via their iPhone’s Instagram and Boomerang apps. Who could blame them? They might not have been in late Renaissance finery, but the youthful crowd was bedecked in their black-tie best, most of which bore the label Altuzarra—the event’s fashion partner. (Previous years have seen collaborations with Carolina Herrera and Escada.)
Joseph Altuzarra himself was present, taking in the bevy of beauties (Selby Drummond, Elizabeth Kurpis, Toby Milstein) wearing looks from his collections. Other fashion industry notables included designer Wes Gordon with his husband Paul Arhnold, designer Molly Moorkamp (in a floral gown of her own creation that emitted delightfully strong Jackie Kennedy vibes) and Diesel’s Stefano Rosso. Elsewhere in the crowd and contributing to the glamorous brouhaha that echoed through the Frick’s stately rooms festooned with many a François Boucher were Vanessa Traina, Georgina Bloomberg, and Leandra Medine.
Per usual, the event provided attendees with the most scenic of party venues but last night, The Frick also offered refuge from the day’s relentless rain; guests deposited outer layers and umbrellas at the elegant coat check before snaking into a queue for a photo opp against a botanical backdrop by Putnam and Putnam florists. Cocktails were then had and Champagne flutes were fixtures in many hands. The night’s offerings of art seemed to spill over into the (unofficial) afterparty, which was hosted at The Paradise Club inside the two-week-old Times Square Edition. There, a wall is painted with an oversized scene from Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights. (A fantastical wall treatment that gives Degournay a run for its money.) If the crowd had just come from fashion-heaven at the museum, they crossed a threshold at the hotel; “Welcome to paradise,” greeted the doormen.