New York City has enjoyed many a mashup with the Italians as of late, but Lafayette 148 went for a partnership with a philanthropic bent, joining with Save Venice Thursday night in the name of restoration.
Lafayette has pledged to be the sole corporate sponsor for the conservation treatment of Giulia Lama’s 18th-century oil painting, “Female Saint in Glory” — an idea first proposed by creative director Emily Smith who, like Coco Chanel before her, has long been seduced by Venice, infusing the city’s many charms into her collections over the years.
“Art and architecture are two core sort of focuses for the company, so this seemed like a nice extension of Emily’s vision and I totally support her,” said Lafayette cofounder and chief executive officer Deirdre Quinn, noting how the brand frequently collaborates with artisans in Murano on glassware.
At Lafayette’s SoHo flagship, amid Smith’s fall line of tartan plaid kilts and preppy-chic sweater vests, art patrons Lauren Santo Domingo, Elizabeth Kurpis and Adelina Wong Ettelson sipped Prosecco while noshing on light bites of caviar and rare sirloin topped with crème fraîche. Spirits were high as women gathered to shop for a cause.
Ten percent of the evening’s proceeds will go toward the “Women Artists of Venice” campaign, which aims to give female creators active in the sinking city their due. And attention for Lama’s work is long overdue.
Currently hanging inside the Santa Maria Assunta Church on Lido Island, time has not been kind to “Female Saint in Glory,” which is covered by cobwebs and pigeon droppings. Though the title and original composition remain uncertain, Lama’s brooding style stands in sharp contrast with the breathy pastels common to the Baroque-era, making it a point of interest for historians.
“Originally, scholars thought it was not a woman’s work — her depiction of male bodies were too strong for them to think that a woman could conceive of that anatomically, so some of her work was attributed to men,” said Save Venice board member Lizzie Asher, a self-proclaimed accessories “nut,” eyeing a filigree pearl choker. We want “to have proper attribution and make sure that women are being highlighted and that there’s scholarly material that we can write and publish.”
“The incredible thing about Deirdre and Lafayette is that they’re the ones that have come forward to embrace Giulia Lama’s work, really kind of leading the charge….We put this out there and we wanted to have women CEOs, women founders, women leaders, embrace this initiative,” Asher continued.
With Lafayette’s sponsorship, “Female Saint in Glory” will be dismounted from the church wall and ferried to a nearby laboratory where it will undergo examination before being painstakingly restored.
“I see this as the beginning of a journey,” explained Quinn, of the opportunity to shed new light on an old painting. “We don’t know yet what they might find.”