story by Lisa Radano
photos by Charles Beckwith
Did Frank Stella ever meet Marilyn Monroe? Did they ever find one another across a crowded party in some smoky Greenwich Village walk-up? Did they hang out and trade ideas or have a romantic but intellectual rendez vous? These are the questions Erin Barr poses in this smart, well-edited Spring 2012 collection, her third season.
Her models draped themselves on assorted post-modern chairs, with just a hint of ennui, taking turns to get up, strut a bit, then sit back down. They were dressed in slim cigarette pants, blouses with defined shoulders, sleeveless sheaths with scooped necks and slits, with a little cardigan here, and a bit of lingerie there. The color scheme was a simple variety of black, white, red and some taupe. The fabrics were silk cottons, poplins and some polyester chiffon, which helped keep the price point in moderation. A crisp and starkly white shirtwaist had a full skirt, but mostly the silhouette was lean and sharp, especially in an arresting black column of a gown with leather appliquéd bodice.
There were a few dramatic red cocktail dresses; one with thin straps and cut outs and another with a peplum and sash, and while the shapes were dramatic, the color itself was the real showstopper. I raved about the red to Ms. Barr and she demurred that it was in fact the perfect ruby crimson about which even her mom said, “I need that dress!” Marilyn’s luscious lips were what came to my mind, and surely one could see her even at her most voluptuous, in any of these outfits but where specifically Frank Stella came in. Ms. Barr went on to explain, “it was Stella’s ‘East and West Broadway’ series that inspired a hand-painted print for the blouse we did. We think it looks amazing.” So what happens when the father of minimalism meets the iconic blond bombshell? Ms. Barr believes just wearing these voluptuously simple clothes will be answer enough.