Snapshot of 2010: The Art World's Best Dressed

We appreciate that many important things have happened in the art world this year — thefts, deaths, reattributions, restitutions, sales, shows, and even occasional moments of transcendence — but in looking back on 2010  there's something else we'd like to point out: certain key players not only accomplished significant feats, they did so in style. And we're not talking panache. We're talking clothes. So here's a list of those individuals who have been front and center at notable events over the past twelve months, looking as eye-catching as the art on the walls.

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Stacy Engman

The contemporary art curator of the National Arts Club, Engman has been spotted around town this year wearing pod-like gold lamé numbers, headdresses sculpted from playing cards, amoeba-shaped-and-cheese-cloth-swathed sunglasses that would have astonished Peggy Guggenheim, and dangerously precarious Louboutin heels. Even her dog wears sequined capes. Meanwhile, the downtown fashion icon put together one of the most quietly art-star-studded shows of 2010: a full deck of one-of-a-kind Tarot card designs by art-world royalty from Tracy Emin to Yoshitomo Nara to James Turrell. And she did it all in those heels!

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Johnny Pigozzi

The big man has had a big year. The billionaire investor and philanthropist, who boasts a massive contemporary African art collection, had a show of his celebrity-packed photographs at Gagosian and threw open the doors to his candy-colored Meatpacking District boutique, Limoland. He could be spotted all over Miami during the art fair week sporting his own designs, like a shirt in his hilarious Hedge Fund print (featuring the symbols of currencies worldwide). Who else has donned his bright, versatile garments, whose logo is the grimacing blue face of Mr. Limo, "the most elegant limo driver in the world... [but] not a very nice man"? (The ovoid visage is based on the work of Tanzanian artist George Lilanga.) Why, look no further than the lookbook of Theo Wenner (son of Jann), in which Francisco Clemente and Simon de Pury lounge creepily in his designs.

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Yvonne Force Villareal

The Art Production Fund co-founder (i.e. one of the canny entrepreneurs behind those art-emblazoned beach towels) somehow makes classic designs look edgy, pairing them with daring accessories and, lately, with a large pregnant belly. This well-wed lady (who met her husband, artist and wealthy heir Leo Villareal, while working as a hostess at New York restaurant Bouley) takes Calvin Klein and Donna Karen designs and elevates what is already modish into an elegance of her own. Also, Villareal — the most wonderfully outfitted guest judge on Bravo's "Work of Art: The Next Great Artist," decked as she was in a (faux?) fur vest — sings in a band titled Mother Inc.

Bill Powers

Speaking of "Work of Art," there were many clotheshorses on that much-dissected television program this summer, doing their best to dress nice in a weird enough way that middle America could read as "art world." Among the judges, China Chow wore a great Stella McCartney cape in the woods. Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn always dug up something daring, with her pixie haircut adding a stylishly off-beat top note. Jerry Saltz donned some fine suits — using them to smuggle subversive pronouncements and the occasional brass knuckle onto the show. (Those suits, of course, were not as natty as the bespoke ones Simon de Pury sported, made by clothiers who have served Swiss noblemen since the Treaty of Westphalia.) Yet it was Half Gallery owner and Purple magazine editor-at-large Bill Powers who had us desperate to see which of his three slightly-too-small striped jackets he would be squeezed into each week. Maybe it's the fact that we trust his wife, designer Cynthia Rowley, with fashion, and she must have some power over his wardrobe, right? But we really did start getting into his signature frizzy-pompadour-paired-with-tinted-glasses-and-shrunken-jacket look. We won't say what we're wearing now, but let's just say we've been getting a lot of questions about whether we'll be returning to host season two.

Dasha Zhukova

We almost didn't include Zhukova in this roundup of 2010 sartorial splendor because it just doesn't seem fair. When you're young, pretty, and astronomically rich — not to mention Muscovite-by-way-of-California — isn't being well turned-out kind of a gimme? But Dasha is undeniably elegant, and she adds an extra ingredient to the mix: she's a business professional, and a busy one at that. Over the past 12 months she dropped her editorship of Pop magazine, announced she would launch an innovative art sales Web site with Larry Gagosian, and decided to expand her Moscow contemporary art institution, the Garage, to a St. Petersburg island purchased by her longtime beau, the Kilimanjaro-climbing, anti-paparazzi-laser-beam-shooting Roman Abramovich. Meanwhile, she looked upsettingly glamorous, sweeping through Miami art fair parties in flattering pastel numbers — after having just had a baby, to boot.

Kalup Linzy

The artist wears flashy get-ups (including couture spandex body suits) by the likes of Proenza Schouler and Diane von Furstenberg for his videos and performances, but then hits the street wearing jeans and t-shirts, and for this we salute him. But even more than that, we are astounded at how good Linzy looks — be it as a guest on "General Hospital," in a Paper magazine fashion spread, or at a birthday party for Campari — with actor-turned-artist-turned-dreamboat James Franco, the year's hottest art-world accessory, on his arm. You, Kalup Linzy, we salute. 

Colin Bailey

The chief curator of the Frick Collection looks even more dapper than the steely industrialist who once inhabited the mansion on 70th street. He's also considerably cleaner shaven and more likable than Frick, once the most hated man in America. Throughout this big year for the uptown art institution — during which it announced plans for a significant expansion, to house a major donation of porcelain, and that its director Anne L. Poulet would retire — Bailey has sailed through the marble halls of the Frick looking as buttoned up as can be, carrying on the standard of class long upheld at the Met by Philippe de Montebello. It may be true that all men look good in a tuxedo, but this Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres looks better than most.

Mera Rubell

Along with husband, Don, and children, Jennifer and Jason, Mera Rubell has become one of the major collectors of contemporary art. While each family member is consulted before any acquisition, it's Mera who wears the wig in the family. Yes, wig. Sometimes she wears a wild spiky mop of fake hair — either bleached blonde, or inky black — and it's fabulous. Other things to know about the family? They host the biggest breakfast event during the Miami fair week, and their food-artist daughter caters all of the biggest parties on the East Coast (much to the chagrin of one Holland Cotter). Mera, now 67, still knows how to seize the spotlight at a party. At the Performa '09 opening dinner, she had a much-photographed intimate moment with a Jeff Koons chocolate bunny.

Tauba Auerbach

The artist, who was just snatched up by the Paula Cooper Gallery, has won the triple crown for the art world's precocious set — appearing in the Whitney Biennial, MoMA PS1's "Greater New York" show, and last year's "Younger Than Jesus" exhibition at the New Museum. Formerly represented by Deitch Projects (so you know she's going to be hip), Auerbach favors minimalist garments of bright, often monochrome hues, and tassel-and-rope-festooned accessories, all of which complement her artworks quite nicely when she poses in front of them. She can often be spotted wearing wonderful bright yellow desert boots, which are clearly made for walking — all over the competition.

Jeffrey Deitch

Deitch is in the doghouse these days. Some would say that's because he recently whitewashed over a mural by Italian street artist Blu that he had commissioned for an upcoming show at MOCA, the directorship of which he assumed this year. Or maybe it's karmic retribution for forsaking New York for the tawdry West Coast. Anyway, this man is a snappy dresser whatever his censorious indiscretions — a fact recognized even by the street artist who satirized Deitch after the Blu incident with a mural depicting the director as a fundamentalist ayatollah brandishing a whitewashing brush. But what's that peaking out from under the black robe? Why, it's one of Deitch's signature pink suits.