Beginning March 30, vintage collector/filmmaker/author and Hollywood royalty Liz Goldwyn is auctioning off a time capsule of 1990s-early 2000s anti-fashion history: pieces from New York designer Susan Cianciolo.
Made using deconstructed and reconstructed upcycled garments and textiles, Cianciolo’s 11 Run collections produced from 1995 to 2001 were one-of-a-kind, handcrafted alternatives to the prevailing Gap khaki and slick minimalist fashions of the time.
Part of New York’s downtown art scene, Cianciolo produced her collections with a collective of family and friends, and presented them in shows akin to happenings with films shown, aerialist models hanging from the ceiling, or in a temporary restaurant in a gallery, as examples. Goldwyn produced some of those shows and walked one, alongside model Frankie Rayder, artist Anh Duong and actress Julianne Nicholson.
Goldwyn met Cianciolo in 1996, when she was working in costume and conservation at Sotheby’s New York, and the two became muses for each other. Together they created garments such as a tiered denim skirt now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute permanent collection, as well as a 1998 custom dress that was on view as part of the “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion” exhibition.
Goldwyn and Cianciolo, who works as a fine artist now, partnered for the auction with the Bridget Donahue gallery and Special Offer Inc., an up-and-coming media company that produced a video with archival footage of the shows and commentary about those bygone days.
“You feel like you are seeing a love letter to New York in the 1990s,” said Goldwyn, whose most recent book, “Sex, Health and Consciousness: How to Reclaim Your Pleasure Potential” (Sounds True) came out in October.
Over the years Goldwyn has amassed a fashion archive with thousands of garments and accessories, with a special focus on Yves Saint Laurent, Sonia Rykiel and Cianciolo.
“I liked the artistry of it and she had a whole world which was kind of cult-like. I definitely fell under the spell. She had all these women artists, models and musicians working and collaborating alongside her, it felt supportive and we had an artistic shorthand,” said Goldwyn. “It was fun also to be in the world of Sotheby’s and having access to archival treasures, and taking something to her to see what she’d do with it.”
There are 56 pieces being auctioned at liz.run, including a corset-like “I Love New York” T-shirt, deconstructed dresses, a multipiece burlesque costume, and a set of Barbie dolls with miniature Run collection clothing. The videos and commentary will live on online after the auction ends mid-April, like a museum show that lives digitally.
“I don’t think anyone would see her clothes and think corporate suit, but there are some things in the sale that were my corporate, uptown looks. I would go from Canal Street where we both lived to Sotheby’s auction house looking like my dress was caught in the escalator,” said Goldwyn.
“It’s so funny to me how Gen Z and Millennials have this obsession with that time period, I think they are wanting to recapture a time before social media,” she said. “In terms of fashion it was so different…you didn’t have the shows online…and there was a scrappiness…it was pre-designers being traded like chess pieces by big corporations.”
All bids will start at $111. “I want it to be accessible because when I started collecting, it was a dollar a pound,” said Goldwyn. “I think there is something cool to having an entry point accessible to more people.”