Monday, November 19, 2012

Klein-Bicycle-Lapidus (19-25 November)

on this date in Design...

Calvin Klein, American fashion designer, birthday 19 November 1942, CBS bans CK commercial from air 19 November 1980
Bicycle, patented by Pierre Lallemont, awarded 20 November 1866; Tour de France founded 20 November 1902
Morris Lapidus, American architect, birthday 25 November 1902

An interesting present CBS gave to Calvin Klein on his 38th birthday was to ban the airing of his infamous commercial with an under-aged Brook Shields implying she was “going commando” under her Calvin Klein jeans.  With all the controversy sighting the over-sexualization of the young female, it ultimately heightened public recognition and firmly set the image of the designer as one of youthful exuberance and liberation.  This was not the first time Klein ventured to put to fashion the needs of a changing demographic.  When he started his fashion house in 1968, Klein’s dress designs were unusually streamlined which made them perfect for the emerging housewife into the business sector.  The clothes had a sophisticated style with a minimal aesthetic that function without hindrance either picking up the kids or commanding a board room.    Klein further appealed to his devoted followers throughout the 1970s when he refused to succumb to the polyester tidal wave and stuck to natural, breathable fibers. 
Calvin Klein is now owned by the Philips Van Heusen Corp which purchased the company in 2002 for an enormous sum of $400 million plus stock.  Mr. Klein is no doubt resting comfortably in his Miami Beach home with the secure knowledge his designs and vision continue to facilitate modern life and style.    

Pierre Lallemont started off designing baby carriages and children’s riding toys which eventually lead to the development of a new form of transportation: the rotary crank mechanical bicycle.  There is some debate as to exactly whose design was first in France seen as all the prototypes of the era were being experimented with by the same circle of inventors.  Lallement himself actually worked briefly with one of them, Ernest Michaux.  Feeling the pressure from competition, he made his way across the Atlantic to file the earliest & only American patent for a pedal bicycle with James Carroll from Connecticut.  However, failing to find a manufacturer in the states, Lallement returned to France.  By then, European enthusiasm for cycling was in full swing thanks to Michaux’s version.  Dejected and depressed, Lallement returned to the states where he died in relative obscurity. 
It was over a century later that the International Cycling History Conference gave credit to him for the idea of putting crank pedals on the child’s toy which paved the way for further innovation.  Coincidentally, on the same date his patent was awarded, 36 years later in 1902 the Tour de France was established.  With all controversies surrounding the sport in recent times, perhaps a bit of lighthearted perspective should be taken with a device that started out as child’s play.

Morris Lapidus started out as a retail architect for 20 years before venturing into hotels on Miami Beach.  Known for his Neo-Baroque Miami Modern style, Lapidus’ list of hotels along the strip is so long he almost single handedly designed the entire district.  The Fontainebleau Hotel is one of his most notable masterpieces.   
The bow-tie inlayed marble floor in the lobby was the height of sophisticated modern elegance matched with the exotic monkey cage behind a circular bar.  This was the grand stage Lapidus conceived for guests to “play their part” of over-indulged, fabulously wealthy on vacation.  Today, the monkeys are gone but you can still find the players still revising their rolls.  The ‘Bleau was so popular that he was commissioned to do the Eden Roc next door the following year.  
Later, he was asked to design the numerous follies along Lincoln Road after it was closed to vehicular traffic.  This open-air pedestrian mall was inspired by la Rambla in Barcelona and is so successful, city planners across the world have been attempting to mimic it ever since.  It also happens to be the site of my very first internship after college with HR Design above the Van Dyke Café.  (My, was I a lucky girl?!)  The weather is beautiful right now.  It would be a perfect time to stroll along for a little window shopping et café.  


Calvin Klein, Inc.  
The Calvin Klein Online Store  
Calvin Klein on Facebook  
Vanity Fair profile on Calvin Klein 

The Pierre Lallement Bike Path, Jamiaca Plain, Massachusetts 
International Cycling History Conference 
U.S. Bicycling Hall of Fame 
Le Tour de France  
Live Strong Cancer Foundation 

The Fontainebleau, Miami Beach, Florida  
The Eden Roc, Miami Beach, Florida 
Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach, Florida 
Amics de la Rambla, Barcelona, Spain  
The Van Dyke Café, Miami Beach, Florida    

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