Geoffrey Beene’s Idealized and Idolized Woman

The Louisiana-born Geoffrey Beene designed for the woman he grew up with: idealized, idolized, and put up on a pedestal. Tim Blanks remembers the great American designer’s Fall 1992 collection, which featured the southern gentleman’s effortlessly timeless pieces with fabrics and silhouettes that were radically ahead of its time.

Released on 3/5/2015

Credits

Starring: Tim Blanks

Music:
Theme Song: "#1 in Heaven" by MNDR

Transcript

00:00
All I want is a woman feeling like a woman
00:03
and feeling good about herself.
00:05
That's my job.
00:08
(bright pop music)
00:20
Welcome back to Throwback Thursdays.
00:22
I'm Tim Blanks, and today we have the very rare privilege
00:26
of visiting with a real knock-down, drag-out
00:28
fashion legend.
00:30
The man is, of course, Geoffrey Beene,
00:32
one of the greatest American designers of all time.
00:35
When you look back now,
00:37
there's just something so effortlessly timeless
00:39
about what he did.
00:41
His interest in structure, his use of fabrics,
00:44
the way he thought about presenting his clothes
00:47
to the world, were all quite radically ahead of their time.
00:50
I feel that Beene will be an untapped resource for a
00:53
long, long time to come.
00:55
Looking at this show here, you get a sense of
00:58
slightly erotic geometry perhaps,
01:00
in the way the show is staged.
01:02
It's not a stream of girls walking by.
01:04
You do get a good, long time to look at each outfit.
01:08
And he demanded that kind of appreciation.
01:11
And you know what? He deserved it.
01:13
I'm often asked,
01:14
why do I design with such ideal images?
01:20
Why is it always the slimmest woman with the
01:23
best figure, tall, glorious,
01:27
and I just cannot imagine
01:29
design not starting with an ideal.
01:33
Otherwise, you're compromising from the very beginning.
01:37
One thing I've always loved about fashion is the power
01:39
it gives people to reinvent themselves, and Geoffrey Beene
01:42
was a very good example of this.
01:44
In this style, women are idealized, idolized,
01:48
put on pedestals,
01:49
and my training was always that way
01:53
and it's never changed.
01:55
He was born little Sammy Bozeman in
01:57
Haynesville, Louisiana.
01:58
By the end of his life, he was the effigy of
02:00
big city sophistication.
02:02
Geoffrey Beene was recognized all around the world,
02:04
which was not something that had happened to a lot of
02:07
American designers at that time.
02:09
Connoisseurs everywhere appreciated his never-ending
02:13
quest for this kind of perfection.
02:16
I remember Geoffrey Beene chose the Plaza Hotel.
02:19
They were grand in the style of classic haute couture shows.
02:22
A lot of outfits delivered in a very thoughtful,
02:25
theatrical way.
02:30
When I look at this show now, it does strike me as
02:32
very studied.
02:33
The details are very particular.
02:34
The gloves, the makeup.
02:36
And I think that's something that he shared with some
02:38
of the greatest designers of history.
02:40
They seem to live outside their time.
02:42
I do think that Geoffrey Beene
02:45
merits another very, very close look,
02:48
and I'm sure that will come at some point
02:50
because a great master like him will never be allowed
02:53
to live in the shadows for very long.
02:59
So it's 22 years since that show, and 10 years since
03:02
Mr. Beene died.
03:03
I'm curious about how that show reads to you now.
03:07
Please leave a comment.
03:08
This is Throwback Thursdays, and I'm Tim Blanks.
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