Art Style: What the Armory Show’s Best-Dressed Attendees Wore to Buy, Sell, and Check Out the Art
In our new series Art Style, we document the sartorial sensibilities of women in the art world and on the go.
Despite the fact that the coronavirus has thrown the art world into a state of chaos—impacting, in particular, the international fair circuit and galleries abroad—the VIP preview of the Armory Show yesterday turned out a strong crowd of attendees and exhibitors who welcomed collectors, buyers, and admirers alike to Piers 90 and 94 on New York’s Upper West Side.
Not only did the art world show up—they dressed for the occasion, too, sporting a good deal of color and pattern as if to wish away the last vestiges of winter. (Historically, too, during times of global turmoil, fashion designers have found solace in vibrant, life-giving clothes, choosing to inspire joy on their respective runways instead of reflecting the bleakness of reality.)
In our latest installment of Art Style, our series documenting the fashions of stylish art-world constituents, we’ve rounded up some of the best ensembles we spotted during the Armory Show’s kickoff day, along with what you need to know about the women behind their assemblage.
Who: Sandra Long
What She Does: I have an antique shop called Anglo-Raj Antiques.
Why She’s Here: I love art, because antiques are art, and a lot of my clients are here. I’m based in New York, but I also work in India, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar. With all this technology, we don’t really get to see people in person all that often. So I came here to do that—to see people. And I got to dress up a little!
What She’s Wearing: I’m wearing an Indian scarf and Tibetan jewelry. My shoes are Manolo Blahniks and the velvet suit is actually by my niece who lives in London. Her name is Jana and she has a company called De La Vali. She just had a fashion show yesterday in Amsterdam as part of London Fashion Week. She’s 27 and she grew up in Ibiza. She likes fun things. I love the color.
How She Describes Her Style: It’s me. You know, Bill Cunningham—he was a dear friend of mine—always used to say that the real style was on the street. So, this is the street—of the art world anyway.
Favorite Artwork or Booth at the Fair: A photographer at Pier 90 created a replica of an old record store. That’s something that I think will definitely sell. There are all these people in the music business who like art and come to the fairs, like Puffy and Rihanna. They should be buying these pieces and putting them in the entryways of their big mansions.
Who: Noreen Khalid Ahmad
What She Does: I’m the director of communications and marketing at the Morgan Library & Museum.
Why She’s Here: I’m mostly here to look at works and catch up with colleagues and friends. I stopped by this booth in particular because it’s DC Moore gallery and they’re showing Duane Michals’s photography, which we just exhibited at the museum. Michals went through our vault as well for the show, curating a selection of works to exhibit alongside his oeuvre, so it was sort of a retrospective-meets-artist-choice exhibition.
What She’s Wearing: The dress is Proenza Schouler and the jacket is J. Mendel. The purse is Alexander McQueen. The bag is a personal favorite of mine—it’s so easy to carry around, and I love the brass knuckles. I definitely broke out my sneakers today, too, because I couldn’t handle heels.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I really consider the clothing that I wear to be my armor for the day. I like to feel secure, but comfortable.
Favorite Artwork or Booth at the Fair: Aside from what I’m seeing at the DC Moore booth, I loved seeing this cabinet of curiosities by David Beck. I just arrived a little bit ago, though, so I haven’t made it to the other side just yet.
Who: Phoebe Boswell
What She Does: I’m an artist.
Why She’s Here: I’m showing with Sapar Contemporary, booth F6 at Pier 90. I’m enjoying the fair today. I live in London, so I’m only in New York briefly. I’m really happy with how the booth is looking. These are new drawings, so it’s nice to see them framed and hung. The sand—I’m really happy I was able to place the sand here below the works, it’s very important. Everyone’s been very friendly so far.
What She’s Wearing: Just before coming to New York, I was in Johannesburg to do a talk for the Ford Foundation. I was in the airport, preparing for my horrifically long 16-hour flight here. I was really delirious, and I saw this jumpsuit suddenly and I was like, “I don’t have time to try it on, my flight’s about to leave.” And jumpsuits are hard, aren’t they? To get the length and fit right. I was like, “It’s probably not going to work, but fuck it.” So I bought it and I tried it on this morning and I said, “If the universe wills it, it will be so.” And it fit kind of perfectly! I feel like it goes with the space, too.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I like to mix Kitenge African fabrics with classic, timeless things. I like to keep people guessing. I never want to do the same thing twice. I’m obsessed with jumpsuits right now—boilersuits. Finding the perfect boilersuit.
What Else She’s Doing While in Town: I’m also here because they announced Prospect New Orleans yesterday and I’ll be exhibiting work there, so that’s exciting. I have some meetings here. It’s always good to be in New York. And there’s always such a good exchange between artists in this city, so I’m looking forward to just meeting and connecting with other artists.
Who: Kendell Ayers
What She Does: I’m a junior in college.
Why She’s Here: This is my mom’s gallery [Sicardi Ayers Bacino, of Texas], and I’m actually cutting class to be here. It’s really exciting. I’ve helped in the past with the AADA Art Fair, but this is my first time here at the Armory Show.
What She’s Wearing: The skirt is by A.L.C., which is one of my favorite designers of the moment. I really love their modern edge—it’s utilitarian, but also feminine. Sometimes when things get too boxy, it’s not always flattering. So that’s one thing that I love. And then my black turtleneck is basically one of my go-to staples—it’s sort of an art-world staple too, I’d say. I actually ran out to get these black boots just this morning—they’re Sandro.
How She’d Describe Her Style: Modern yet feminine. Not fussy. I do like puffy sleeves and pleats, but at the same time I don’t want it to be over the top. I think there’s a very fine line between there being just enough detail and too much.
What Else She’s Excited About at the Fair: One thing that’s really stood out to me is that there are a lot of interesting moving pieces—there’s one around the corner from here—and also several big mechanized pieces of sculpture, which I really, really like because it’s a different medium than what you’re used to seeing, especially at a fair like this. I’m happy to see such a good turnout, too.
Who: Ashlee Harrison
What She Does: I am the director at Carpenters Workshop Gallery.
Why She’s Here: We’re presenting “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” by Atelier Van Lieshout. We’re looking at having a very successful day, and the solo show continues over at the gallery.
What She’s Wearing: I wanted to wear something that I felt comfortable in—it’s a long day—that didn’t compete with the work. Something that’s a little bit toned down, but still gives me a powerful feeling. That’s about it, I think. I love my Celine shoes, they’re really comfortable, especially on this concrete floor.
How She’d Describe Her Style: All over, it depends on my mood. Arty, minimal—sometimes I like patterns.
What Else She’s Excited About at the Fair: Today I don’t think I’m going to see much outside of my booth, but I can’t wait to go and explore what else is out there in the next few days. We were installing yesterday and I noticed there’s a lot of really great stuff this year. The galleries really turned it out.
Who: Mariane Ibrahim
What She Does: I’m an art dealer at my gallery, Mariane Ibrahim Gallery.
What She’s Wearing: I love suits in general. Today I’m wearing one—I felt very festive and I love gold, and this one has gold elements. I like the collar of my shirt, too—it’s sort of Victorian. And these are the same shoes I wore to my very first Armory Show back in 2016. It’s funny, it was actually my husband who brought them over to New York without knowing and said, “Hey, you might want to wear these ones.” And I said, “Yes!” So I hope they’ll bring me luck like they did five years ago.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I plan what I’m going to wear the day before. I’m pretty organized in that way, because it takes a lot of stress out of the process of getting dressed. When I go to art fairs, I pack a lot of suits. And otherwise I like to wear a pair of trainers and jeans and a peacoat. I love fancy dresses, too.
Is She Excited About the Fair? Yes, I’m very excited. This is the fifth time we’ve shown black female artists—we’ve been showing them one after the other in solo shows, so for me to be able to bring them together this year creates a very strong conversation about the visibility and inclusion of women of color in these kinds of programs. But beyond that, the work is clearly aesthetically relevant. And it’s also good to see the evolution of each artist. In a way, it’s like a mini-retrospective of my Armory exhibitions. We’ll move on to other projects after this.
What Else She’s Doing While in Town: I’d love to do some shoe shopping. I’m looking forward to seeing some exhibitions, spending time with artists, and I hope I’ll be fortunate enough to acquire some works that I’ve had in mind.
Who: Gabriella Picone
What She Does: I am the director of communications at R and Company gallery. I’m also the founder of Idda Studio, which is an art studio that focuses on designs that are wearable fabrics for women. And I’m an artist myself.
What She’s Wearing: My favorite color is brown, so I’m wearing head-to-toe brown. I just wanted something really comfortable for the fair, but something that also made me feel great! My shoes are by Ulla Johnson.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I really like minimal colors, but also patterns. Very vibrant patterns, really. I also love jewelry, so I try to accessorize as much as I can.
Who: Alexandra Slattery
What She Does: I’m a gallerist at Two Palms Gallery.
Why She’s Here: We’re exhibiting at the fair. I’m excited about showing Nona Faustine, in particular. She’s a new artist who we just started working with, and she’s made this amazing series called “My Country” where she’s photographed monuments in New York and Washington, D.C. She’s starting to branch out to other cities throughout the country as well. The monuments are all obstructed by either a red line or a black line that’s running through them and it’s representational of this hidden history of the contributions that African Americans have made to our country. It highlights the fact that we don’t really talk about those histories and we don’t really represent them in the monuments that we’ve erected.
What She’s Wearing: The fairs mean long hours and you’re on your feet a lot, so I always go with a comfortable shoe. My platforms are from Stella McCartney and my dress is from Zara. I’ve had it for a few years and I hadn’t worn it in a while, so I thought it would be nice to pull out for today.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I feel like it’s a mix of things—usually more classic pieces, but then I try to mix it up with something that’s fun as well.
Who: Amber Smith
What She Does: I’m an independent art consultant.
Why She’s Here: I’m here to check everything out.
What She’s Wearing: The jacket is Calvin Klein and my pants are from Theory. I got my earrings from a random store in Texas.
What She’s Looking Forward to Seeing at the Fair: Everything! I feel like it’s sort of the start of the New York art season, so I’m getting a feel for what’s out there.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I always wear black and white, so I suppose I’d describe my style as classic and minimal.
Who: Anna Camner
What She Does: I’m a painter. I live in Stockholm.
Why She’s Here: I’m showing some of my paintings with Galerie Forsblom. It’s interesting to be here, it’s the first time I’ve been to an art fair. It’s fun to meet new people and see all the art.
What She’s Wearing: It’s funny, my skirt is getting more attention than my work today! [laughs] I was worried that it was going to make me look like I was going to the circus. It’s vintage Chanel.
How She’d Describe Her Style: I just wear what I feel like.
What Else She’s Doing While in Town: Seeing lots of art.
Who: Sarah Vitale
What She Does: I’m a writer and photographer.
Why She’s Here: I’m taking pictures, gathering content, and checking out galleries—especially the international ones that I don’t get to see very often, so I’m excited about that. And to see the fashion, too!
What She’s Wearing: I’m obsessed with the Dutch baroque style, so I wanted to sort of sartorially reimagine a painting to fit in with some of the art on the walls.
How She’d Describe Her Style: It’s pretty eclectic—anything that I can get from vintage or secondhand stores. I like really oversized, practical-but-stylish pieces.
Favorite Artwork or Booth at the Fair: I went to school in Belgium, so I love all the contemporary Belgian booths like Zeno X and of course Axel Vervoordt. That’s my favorite one.
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