Craft in America


Julie Schafler Dale on her collection and book

Julie Schafler Dale on her Art to Wear collection and her book, Art to Wear. Bonus video from the STORYTELLERS episode.

AIRED: December 11, 2020 | 0:04:14

We're in Manhattan, in midtown. We're in my home, up on the 18th floor. This is where I moved with

my new husband in 1981, and the apartment has gotten denser and denser and denser with time. Um

and i think the word eclectic would probably characterize it.

I'm a born and bred New Yorker, I come out of an art history background and in

my apartment which was on west 58th street at that time I started to accumulate things

and people the work was so exciting that I realized it was time to go public with it

and that's when I found a space and opened in September of 1973. We opened at 687 Madison Avenue

I was probably too innocent to know to be frightened, I just knew the work was extraordinary

and unlike anything I had seen before. As I sold work to clients I instinctively knew which pieces

were important that were definitive. When there is an amalgam when there's a coming together a

harmony a certain alchemy of form and content and process you watch someone's work and it builds to

a crescendo and you just know when it's hit that note and that's the definitive piece.

There were enough of those that I realized it was time to document.

I started reconnecting with people who had bought pieces because I knew I was going to

want to borrow back. I also started realizing that what I was doing was not just buying pieces I like

but that I was building the foundations of a collection, why because I wanted there to be a

legacy for these pieces and I knew coming from an art history background that's what you do

you collect you hope to exhibit and you hope to find ongoing conservation. For the book we chose

to rephotograph everything so there would be a commonality of background and presentation so

everything was borrowed back and Otto Stupakoff was engaged to be the photographer. We would bring

groups of pieces down to Otto's studio and they would be mounted on dowels and then suspended

in space so that they could breathe and have air around them and then there were the model sessions

So three-dimensional or two-dimensional even the met loaned us some pieces at that time which we

had to handle with white gloves it was a shock that pieces that I knew so intimately I could

no longer touch other than wearing white muslin gloves and now i can't even get that close to them.

The book was published in 86 and it is a sumptuous presentation worthy of the pieces

which were presented as artworks, not as fashion. I wanted people to see the pieces

individually which I hoped was a reflection of what the artists intended.


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