- DANISH MODERN — Déshabillé is nicer than disheveled, no? Dries Van Noten jacket, $1,150. Go to bergdorfgoodman.com. Rochas robe
- , $1,365. Go to barneys.com. Hussein Chalayan dress, $2,250. Go to net-a-porter.com. VBH bag,
- $3,650. Call (212) 717-9800. Photographs by Collier Schorr. Styled by David Vandewal. Fashion assistants: Emily Eisen and Rich Aybar.
- Hair by Rita Marmor at Streeters using René Furterer. Makeup by Benjamin Puckey at D+V Management using Chanel. Models: Kat Hessen and Janice.
- PAJAMA GAME — Let's hear it for freelance attire! Narciso Rodriguez coat, $2,655, and dress, $2,695. Go to bergdorfgoodman.com.
- Hussein Chalayan coat, $953. Rochas robe, $1,365, shirt, $1,180, and pants, $1,357. Tod's bag, $1,350. Call (800) 457-8637. Ralph Lauren Collection boots (in bag), $1,500.
- Go to ralphlaurencollection.com. Loewe shoes, price on request. Go to loewe.com.
DANISH MODERN — Déshabillé is nicer than disheveled, no? Dries Van Noten jacket, $1,150. Go to bergdorfgoodman.com. Rochas robe, $1,365. Go to barneys.com. Hussein Chalayan dress, $2,250. Go to net-a-porter.com. VBH bag, $3,650.
Call (212) 717-9800. Photographs by Collier Schorr. Styled by David Vandewal. Fashion assistants: Emily Eisen and Rich Aybar. Hair by Rita Marmor at Streeters using René Furterer. Makeup by Benjamin Puckey at D+V Management using Chanel. Models: Kat Hessen and Janice
Did you suppose that Liz, slipping out of Weston Liggett's Fifth Avenue apartment in a silk slip under a purloined mink, was the first? Or that Bette, when she studiously ignored Eve and Addison at the Cub Room of the Stork Club and claimed she intended to show up for her wedding wearing, "oh, something simple, a fur coat over a nightgown," was an even earlier adopter?
News flash: two hundred or so years ago, in the Age of Empire, women were scaling snowbanks in scandalously sheer nightie-like gowns, tied under the bosom with limp ribbons. Apparently, the desire to play outside in your undergarments, to stroll about in broad daylight in robe and pajamas, oblivious to stares and catcalls, is a persistent fashion fantasy. Though this occurrence drifts in and out of style, it seems to be experiencing a wake-up call — just look at the spring collections, with their slip dresses and bathrobe coats.
We are not speaking here of those hordes of unwashed persons (well, maybe they do wash, but you know what I mean) who show up at airports in pink sweatpants with matching hoodies, sleep masks at the ready, lacking only bunny slippers to complete the stunning sartorial effect. (Don't they know that they will have to get off the plane in Paris looking like this?) What we are discussing is something more closely akin to the natty Julian Schnabel, who is famous for meeting reporters snappily attired in jammies and a dressing gown.
Still, Schnabel, whose nightclothes obsession seems to have infected his entire clan — his wife, Olatz, runs a business that specializes in delectable striped pajamas — is, for all his many talents, not exactly what you would call a sexy dresser. And isn't the appeal of sailing out in a baby doll or bustier at least partly the notion that a stranger will assume you are coming from, or headed to, an assignation?
This conflation of indoor-outdoor dressing may well be a harbinger of the collapse of private and public zones, at least when it comes to clothes. Though arguments can be made that this is not entirely a good thing, dashing out for early coffee in Hepburn-worthy pajamas and a pristine wrapper, fairly dripping with haphazard elegance, provides a powerful counterpoint.
If anyone understands the allure of these garments — and their, if you will pardon the expression, historical underpinnings — it is Chi Chi Valenti, who was running around town in her underwear years before Courtney Love showed up on Oscar night in a vintage white satin slip and a tiara.
Valenti was the proprietor of the nightclub Jackie 60 on West 14th Street, back in the day when the meatpacking district trafficked in meat, not Margielas and Manolos, and, as she tells it, "So many afternoons, popping home from the Mudd Club or Berlin in a bias-cut satin nightgown and five-inch Charles Jourdans, I felt just like the protagonist in the Busby Berkeley sequence 'Lullaby of Broadway' — you know, the one who bumps into the milkman doing his rounds just as she's coming home from her night of being 'a daffodil who entertains, at Angelo's and Maxie's.' "
Ah, but memory is selective — does Chi Chi not recall that the heroine of this 1930s vignette dances right out the window, falls splat on the sidewalk and makes a beautiful and presumably satin-clad corpse?
This will not happen to you! You will shimmy through spring in succulent tap pants over tights, in dressing gowns the consistency of spun sugar, in teddies whose handmade lace would make the angels weep. And if anyone is rude enough to suggest that you forgot to get dressed this morning, just whistle "Lullaby of Broadway" and direct him or her to the nearest open transom.