I was very excited to be invited to the special press event today at the deYoung Museum for the unveiling of Nan Kempner's American Chic Exhibit. The exhibit will run from June 15 through November 11th and showcases her extensive collection of haute couture fashion that she collected for her entire life. But Nan Kempner didn't just buy fashion. She collected it like art and carefully built herself a wardrobe that would eventually fill bedrooms as her three children left the nest and finally even took over bathrooms in her house.
You can see all the photos in my flickr set, but here are a few of my favorites along with tidbits about Nan Kempner.
Before this exhibit I had no idea that Nan was from San Francisco which made all the more sense as I started to learn more about her impeccable style that was merged with her carefree and humorous personality. As a muse of Yves Saint Laurent, Nan loved the YSL's sense of color, fit, and innovative styles which fit well with her tall, skinny model-like frame. She also wore a lot of Valentino, and of course Chanel. But YSL was her favorite. It was amazing to see how this one American woman became a symbol of style and fashion that was even well regarded by the French. I remembered watching he in the 80's on Elsa Klench's Style show on CNN getting fitted at YSL for her season's haute couture. She had that low voice and sassiness that reminded me of Lauren Bacall. Throughout the exhibit, were photos of Nan and the ones where she was younger were so fantastic. To tell you the truth, the photos don't even look dated. They look like they could have been taken today. Her look very much was fresh faced and beautiful.
I love this photo wall which depicted Nan Kempner's color coordinated closet. She hung everything on wire hangers because then the clothing could be squeezed in much tighter. Gotta love that!
We took a special tour of the exhibit with Harold Koda who was the curator of the Nan Kempner exhibit at the Met's Costume Institute Gala in New York. He knew Nan and her family and would tell us some fabulous back stories throughout the tour. For instance, Nan liked to wear elaborate tops and jackets over simple black skirts or pants. Apparently this is called "restaurant dressing" cuz you're always seen from the waist up while dining! Love that! One of Harold's favorite outfits of Nan's was this sheer navy blue YSL shirt and silk pants from 2002 which Nan wore quite often (pictured left).
An amazing Balenciaga yellow coat.
Here's Nan's debutante dress.
Her beautiful outfits would still be considered fashionable today.
Some rare shots of ready to wear clothing from Valentino and YSL by Tom Ford. These Apparently Nan cleared out most of her previous ready to wear clothing to really hone in on her haute couture collection which is what she wanted to be remembered by.
What was fun throughout the morning was that I got to hang out also with my fellow fashion bloggers, Tricia of Bits and Bobbins and Jennine of The Coveted. (Don't miss their great write ups too!) We had a great time talking about Nan, fashion, and blogging (of course). Big thanks to Mary Jo at the de Young for the invite!
Please go and visit this amazing exhibit yourself to see the beautiful haute couture collection of Nan Kempner. It's a glimpse into the world of high society and exquisite fashionable taste.
Nan Kempner American Chic
June 15, 2007 - November 11, 2007
de Young Museum
Golden Gate Park
50 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Read more on the de Young Museum's blog post with quotes from Nan Kempner's family and friends.
And see all the photos from the Nan Kempner exhibit in my flickr set.