By Judy D’Mello
August 17, 2023
Karl Lagerfeld, the prolific fashion designer of Balmain, Chanel, Fendi, and his own line, who died in 2019, once famously said that fashion didn’t belong in museums because no one wanted to “look at a bunch of old dresses.”
And yet, earlier this year, his own work was the subject of a retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. “Karl Lagerfeld: A Line of Beauty” ran from May to July and featured about 200 dazzling creations from the designer’s legacy.
Now, a piece of that show lives on at the Retreat Boutique in Bridgehampton: Ten bespoke mannequins used in the Met’s retrospective were donated to the charity thrift store, helping to make its vast collection of “preloved” items — many with couture labels — look more enticing than ever.
For the Retreat, East Hampton’s domestic violence nonprofit, the boutique’s revenue from sales of its “bunch of old dresses” goes toward providing free services, advocacy, and shelter for victims of sexual abuse and domestic violence. How the clothes are displayed, in the windows and within the store, is therefore an important part of the equation, and that task falls to Ani Antreasyan, an East Hampton resident who volunteers at the boutique as a window dresser and display stylist. She is also the reason the Lagerfeld mannequins are now gracing the windows of the boutique.
“I worked at the Met for 12 years starting in 1986,” she said during a recent phone call. “And for a while I was the assistant to the head designer of the museum, helping put on the exhibits. The Costume Institute always had exhibitions coming and going, so I worked with them often.”
Ms. Antreasyan, who is now an artist and real estate broker, said she jumped at the opportunity to go the Lagerfeld show in the spring, calling it “one of the best displayed and installed shows I’ve ever seen at the Met.”
Back in Bridgehampton, while attending to the boutique’s window display, she grew increasingly frustrated wrestling with the antiquated mannequins, probably 20 or 30 years old, that were missing limbs, difficult to dress and undress, and constantly toppling over. “They gave me a really hard time,” she said, and wistfully thought back to the statuesque display models she had seen at the museum. It sparked an idea.
“I still have a lot of friends at the Met so I contacted someone and asked her what their plans were for the mannequins post-show. She said they had no plans for them!”
The Met agreed to donate 10 mannequins that were custom-made in Italy for the Lagerfeld show. These female body forms with fully articulated limbs feature heads inspired by the lines of a German Art Deco porcelain sculptor whose work Mr. Lagerfeld collected. Their hands, meanwhile, showcase elongated fingers for a more expressive gesture.
“I was so overwhelmed seeing these mannequins in the Retreat Boutique that I had goosebumps,” said Ms. Antreasyan, after unpacking the boxes that were delivered on August 1. “I saw them in all their glory at the Met and having access to such beautiful products makes me feel so grateful and happy.”
The Lagerfeld mannequins and Ms. Antreasyan’s artistry are on display at the Retreat Boutique in the Bridgehampton Commons. Admission is free, though leaving without dropping a few dollars might be tough.
Gretta Monahan, lifestyle expert from “The View,” and producer Robin Hommel organized a day of pampering for the women at The Stephanie House shelter over Mother’s Day weekend. Monahan and the tv crew headed east for the day to treat the women and raise awareness about domestic violence. The segment aired on June 16th. Hair and makeup stylists from the show provided the women with makeovers. And with their pick of beautiful new clothes, bags and shoes, our residents were able to start rebuilding their wardrobes. After the head-to-toe styling, the women were treated to a specially-prepared meal at the shelter, courtesy of celebrity chef Katie Lee. We are immensely grateful to Gretta, Robin and “View” co-host Joy Behar for providing these women with a well-deserved day of pampering and for making them feel so special!
Printed in East Hampton Star June 8, 2023 The number-one spot on the 2022 Forbes annual top charities list went to Feeding America, a Chicago-based network that supplies more than 200 regional and local food banks in the United States.Ten other food-related charities appeared on the list, reflecting the pandemic’s impact on food insecurity in […]
We should all be outraged about intimate partner abuse, which is violence against women 90% of the time. It’s often an invisible and tolerated behavior that has to stop.
The Retreat is unique because it has a teen leadership council and teen advocates. Some of the volunteers share their stories of relationship violence and let others know there is help.
You know those candy hearts with the cute sayings? The Retreat’s Teen Leadership Council, a group of East End students that explores healthy relationships through educational activities, honest conversations, and advocacy projects, has come up with an all new version with empowering phrases.
One in 3 young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. During this Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, The Retreat’s Teen Leadership Council is working to bring that statistic as close to zero as possible.
he Giving Pump is available at the Shell stations in Hampton Bays and Water Mill — both locations have partnered with Strong Oil and Benit Fuels. Shell will be giving a portion of sales from both pumps to The Retreat, a shelter for victims of domestic violence based in East Hampton, from August 1 to the end of September.
Originally published in the East Hampton Press, June 23, 2022, page 17. Photographs taken at the private screening of “The Power of Community: How One Small Town Stood Against Domestic Violence” on Sunday, June 19, 2022 at the Sag Harbor Cinema. Photos by Richard Lewin.
The origin of The Retreat is an inspiring story. In 1987, local concerned individuals opened up their homes to families who needed a safe place to stay to avoid home violence and abuse. Those same concerned local residents got together and built a shelter for the safety of kids and adults.