Meet Sara Berman, champion of quality over quality, and all things white.
Overwhelmed and crowded out by mass consumption, women everywhere are trading up the quality of their life by editing down their wardrobes. Jamie Huckbody explores the influence of a little old lady from the Big Apple who championed quality over quality... and all things white.
THE most significant fashion exhibit of last year wasn’t one of the big, glamtastic blockbusters but a small cupboard-like space that stored neatly-folded piles of everyday clothes. Sara Berman’s Closet, a tiny installation in the NYC’s Met created from the wardrobe of a Jewish émigré who lived in nearby Greenwich Village, was incredible not only because of its poignant frugality but also its intimacy.
“Berman's closet was so powerful that it haunted me,” says Dr. Natalie McCreesh, a fashion academic and curator who has worked with The British Museum and The Shoe Collection, Northampton Museum & Art Gallery. “It made me realise that I was curating my own fashion past but for all the wrong reasons. Clothes not worn for over a decade were stored in boxes like precious museum artefacts to the point where I was debating yet another house move because the two rooms dedicated to my clothing were still not enough."
Another thing that struck McCreesh — and every other visitor to the exhibit — was that everything in Sara Berman’s Closet was white. "Berman had purged her wardrobe of colour after her divorce," McCreesh says with a sage nod, "so the only thing that didn’t look sun-bleached amongst her well-laundered belongings was the flash of golden liquid from a half-empty bottle of Chanel No. 5."
It's just one of the many details from the exhibit that resonated with Neous' Vanissa Antonious: "We introduced white leather in our first collection at a time when it wasn't the most obvious thing to do," says Antonious. "The combination of solid structures and shapes in white leather feels modern yet versatile and classic."
Like Berman before her, Antonious is a devotee of the Quality Over Quantity rule. "It's a philosophy that is at the very heart of NEOUS," says Antonious. "When we launched NEOUS it was with the idea of creating wearable and versatile pieces that were as contemporary as they were classic.
Alan Buanne, the other half of Neous, chimes in: "Our shoes are handcrafted by artisans in Italy using century old traditions which have been passed down through generations ensuring the durability and longevity of each style. I'm sure Sara Berman would have approved."
I'm sure she would... especially if it's in white.