New York’s giant trash piles are one of the city’s most distinguishing features, and generally, nothing good comes out of them. For example, once a giant rat ran from under bags of refuse and across my foot, which I then very seriously considered setting aflame. But because Manhattan is a small island packed with fascinating people, there are the occasional exceptions. Gaetane Bertol, a New York City artist, is one of the lucky few winners of New York City trash roulette. Instead of a rodent in the street garbage, she found thousands of beautiful photo slides from the 1980s depicting famous supermodels like Cindy Crawford walking the runways of Donna Karan and Bob Mackie at the height of the decade’s power suit glory.
The slides once belonged to fashion journalist Yuriko Tomita, who put them on the street after a fire in her apartment. Tomita died in 2017, and when Bertol tracked down the family, they didn’t want the colorful slides, which featured everyone who was anyone in 1980s New York fashion, according to the New York Times:
“What she found were thousands of slides from 1980s and ’90s fashion shows and events, labeled with names like Bob Mackie, Anne Klein and Oscar de la Renta. Thirty-six slides per container, about 30 containers per box. Twenty-two boxes. Upward of 20,000 slides.”
Bertol originally intended to incorporate the slides into her own artwork and briefly considered turning them into a wall divider. Thankfully, a friend who worked in fashion helped her realize what she had. And now the photographs from the slides are on display in an exhibition called “10 Times Square: New York Fashion Rediscovered 1982-1997” at a gallery called ZAZ10TS located at 1441 Broadway, a space which once housed workspaces for some of the designers featured in the photographs, including Perry Ellis and Liz Claiborne.
New York City readers, go to the exhibit and also begin digging through the trash for cultural artifacts.