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Incomparable Women of Style: Selections from the Rose Hartan Photography Archives, 1977-2011 was celebrated yesterday evening with an opening reception at the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Gladys Marcus Library and an afterparty and Midtown Manhattan’s DUO Restaurant and Lounge.

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No one can truly be a fan of high fashion, the ‘70’s-‘80’s club scene, or New York society if they are not familiar with Rose Hartman.  It is through this artist’s body of work that we can appreciate iconic images evoking the spirit of an industry, era and lifestyle.  Nothing less than an icon herself, Ms. Hartman’s career has spanned over 30 years and resulted in a collection of images ranging from infamous parties at Studio 54, to trendsetters of the New York nightlife and social scene in the ‘70’s and ‘80’s, whose style sense shaped the future of mainstream fashion.  However, it is Rose Hartman’s work, which has made that culture accessible to women like myself who were not there to witness it.

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In fact, Rose Hartman and her subjects embody the style that this website has been built to emulate.  From Anna Wintour to Bianca Jagger, Grace Jones to Margaux Hemmingway, Diane von Furstenburg to Madonna, Rose Hartman has managed to capture the true essence of socialites’ style through the lens of a camera.  And as a staple of the social scene, Ms. Hartman’s passion for that culture and her contagious energy is a striking example of how a true socialite carries herself.  For me -- being obsessed with Andy Warhol, Studio 54 and the like -- to be in the presence of Ms. Hartman and her accomplished guests was my personal Midnight in Paris moment, so to speak.  I am not one to be star-stuck on account of celebrity (i.e. pop stars, reality television personalities).  But when one considers an artist as inspired as Ms. Hartman, and the contribution she made within a world that defined a generation, it is difficult not to be in awe.  Perhaps more than anything, I was most impressed by Ms. Hartman’s refreshing graciousness; while viewing the exhibit, as I tried to slip by so as not to interrupt her conversation, she took my hand in hers and thanked me for attending.  The title of this collection may have been intended to describe her subjects, but Ms. Hartman herself is truly “incomparable”.

The exhibit, which “displays more than 60 photographs, including rare vintage silver prints developed by Hartman in her home studio,” will be on view from November 4th, 2011 – January 20, 2012 in FIT’s Gladys Marcus Library.