The "Different Views " series are an attempt to offer a different photographic perspective of famous New York landmarks. Through a selection of images from the archives, the landmark is shown fully integrated in its urban environment. An alternative to the classic touristic landmark representation.
In 2009, I produced and co-directed this video documentary about the late Stephen Sprouse and his collaboration with Marc Jacobs and luxury brand Louis Vuitton.
Shooting "Looking for Stephen Sprouse" in New York was like going back in time, especially with the interviews of some of his old friends and admirors: Debbie Harry, Marc Jacobs, Christiaan Houtenbos, Jaimie Boud, Patricia Field, Candy Pratts Price, the Padilla brothers...
Invocating the ghosts of the New York art and fashion scene of the 1980's: Warhol, Basquiat, Haring...
The first interview we shot as soon as we arrived in New York was Debbie Harry's in a club somewhere near the Meat Market. She insisted on filming while a rock band was rehearsing on the stage in the background...that wasn't easy !
Christiaan Houtenbos, master fashion hair stylist welcomed us in his amazing apartment with his son Pete. A wonderful and very touching moment, especially when Christiaan pulled out a mannequin and shopping bags from the old Sprouse store in Soho...as well as family pictures and original Sprouse artwork.
Meeting Patricia Field was also a real treat...telling us about the 80's downtown scene in her incredible Bowery store/apartment. So was interviewing Candy Pratts Price who still lives in the midtown building where Sprouse and Debbie Harry lived at one time.
It was also wonderful to listen to Jaimie Boud, Sprouse's assistant, telling us about his relationship with Stephen and sharing memories of the Soho store and Stephen's creative instinct. Jaimie also provided us with some great archival VHS footage that can be seen in the film.
This film features archival footage of Stephen Sprouse and of the late 1980's New York fashion scene, as well as images of downtown Manhattan (East Village, Soho, Brooklyn bridge) shot in 2009 for the needs of this film.
Please note that copyrights clearance might be pending for some of the footage and soundtrack used in this film. Therefore this post is for consultation and private use only. Any broadcasting, diffusion or copying of this film is strictly forbidden. If any infrigement is brought to my attention, I will kindly remove the featured link upon documented request.
Below: screenshots from "Looking for Stephen Sprouse" (28mn / 2009 / All rights reserved)
Each month, the New York in the 1990's Photo Archives invite you to discover stories and facts
about a specific image from the collection.
Where it was taken, on what occasion, why, thoughts about a specific area,
event or moment of New York City life in the 1990's.
All your comments, questions, thoughts and 90's memories are welcome!
"Love Saves The Day"
This picture was taken in the mid-1990’s and it shows the sign posted on
the side of the door of the iconic East Village store « Love Saves The
Love Saves The Day, initials LSD, like the Beatles « Lucy in the
Sky with Diamonds »?
Most likely, since the store was first open around the time were the
mythical Fab Four record came out. It finally closed in 2008 after 40 years.
It is sad to think that the building where the store was located (121
Second avenue) is no longer there after the major gas explosion which happened
in 2015, as well as the one next to it where Belgian fries joint
« pommes-frites » had opened in the 90’s.
Love Saves the Day was definitely an East Village landmark. A « bric
à brac » shop selling all types of toys for grown ups, gadgets, novelties
and funky costumes. Walking in this store was like stepping in a psychedelic
The picture of this sign outside the store is a reminder of the strange
and mean manners of the people working there. It was really rare to be welcome
with a smile and you often felt like you were bothering them when browsing. Their
store was great fun but they were not. Kids were obviously not welcome (since
they were probably going crazy when discovering the merchandise sold in the
store) and all these warnings and interdictions outside gave you an idea of
what to expect inside.
Nevertheless, it was a great sign that didn’t go unnoticed and was
mentioned in a New York Times article about the final days of this store.
Among my old black and white negatives, I recently found this forgotten picture which was not featured in my "Meat Market post". It once again amazed me to see how much and how quickly this area has changed. This old sign for the Gachot Inc meat company on the corner of East 14th street was photographed less than 25 years ago (as well as those of Atlas or Walmir Meat on this site) and this image will most likely seem surreal to anyone discovering this neighborhood today for the first time.
I guess I shouldn't call it the "Meat Market" anymore since the area's gentrification came with a new name: the "MePa" for "Meat Packing District".
A name that probably makes sense in this new cleaned up New York and since most of the wholesale meat sellers actually moved out of the area as the highline became one of the major tourist attractions in Manhattan, with its high end stores and flashy restaurants (as well as the gigantic concrete block named the Standard Hotel).
An area which also used to be a wonderful location for photographers or film students like me seeking great cinematic New York moods. Two of my early films feature scenes shot in these streets in the early morning. The VHS tapes and 16mm roll of film are now at the lab and I can't wait to see this footage and to share it with you...
This picture was taken in the spring of 1993 on the north west corner of Tompkins Square Park in the East Village.
This image from my collection of NY in the 1990's pictures was widely commented and is definitly something you would see in New York at the time, especially in upper Manhattan. A pretty risky (yet economical) way to ride only made possible by the way the GMC RTS buses were built. You could rest your feet on the bumper while holding on to the back with the obvious risk of burning your fingers (or falling). At the time, some Manhattan bus lines were still featuring the old GM "fishbowl windshield" buses with their 60's silhouette and were progressively replaced by these (please see Harlem 101 bus ride below filmed aboard one of these).
To me this image also gives an certain idea of the carefree spirit of the early 90's, especially in the East Village were you often felt that everything was permited !
Vazac’s is one of the first bars where I started hanging out
when I moved in New York in the early 90’s. A great neighborhood joint with its
horseshoe shaped bar, its jukebox and its pinball machine. Cool and relaxed in
the afternoon and crowded and fun at night. A real NY dive bar with a great
atmosphere and a classic look which inspired a few film makers. Some of you
will remember Paul Newman at Vazac’s in The Verdict or some scenes from The
Godfather 2 and Crocodile Dundee ! Also known as 7B, located where the
virtual frontier of Alphabet City’s meanest streets used to be, Vazac’s is an
iconic spot of the East Village. Let’s hope it will survive the real estate
boom and New York’s gentrification !
It is now East
Houston Street’s turn to go through a spectacular transformation with new
condos and glass towers sprouting all along its sidewalks, from Broadway all
the way to the Manhattan Bridge. The upcoming "Essex Crossings" will further the
massive clean up and never ending gentrification of the Bowery with more
clothing stores, sports clubs, hip hotels, restaurants, cafes and bars.
gas stations are now all gone and the last iconic Mom and Pop’s stores of the
area are vanishing,
early 1990’s, this portion of Houston street was the virtual frontier between
the already changing/gentrifying East Village and the still pretty gritty lower
east side. Artists and pre-hipsters were living in storefronts and a few bars
were starting to open with success but you still had to know where you were
going to avoid any unpleasant encounters.
One of East
Houston’s treats was the short stretch where local graffiti artist Chico
(famous in the East Village and LES for his RIP and store murals) had taken over
the vacant buildings walls. Street and RIP portraits, Chico’s style, of
celebrities as diverse as Tupac Shakur, Mike Tyson (« If you can’t beat
them, bite them » after his memorable fight against E. Holyfield!), Lady
Di or Joe Camel, the long gone cartoonish character with his
« camel » cool and flair.
of the beginning of Richard Price’s great novel Lush Life, perfectly depicts
driving around Clinton, Delancey and Eldridge street, enumerating the newly
opened nightspots, the local businesses and historical buildings and of course Chico’s
murals in the mid-nineties:
« Iglesia, matzo shop, corner. Bollywood,
Buddha, botanica, corner. Bling Shop, barbershop, car service, corner.
Bar, school, bar, school, People’s Park, corner. Tyson Mural, Celia Cruz Mural,
Lady Di mural, corner ».
photo of the month is Chico’s tribute to rap artist Tupac Shakur. It was painted
only a few days after the rapper’s death and it's one of the most sought after images
on my site. Today, I am
happy to be able to share with you a few shots of this iconic (and now gone)
New York City mural.
I recently learned that the Empire diner in Chelsea will be back in business soon. I guess this is great news for all those (like myself) who saw the slow disapearance of all of Manhattan's classic diners. Before it closed, the Empire had become an expensive restaurant, a bit far from the American diner's tradition. I bet that it will now be a luxury and/or gourmet restaurant catering to Chelsea's hip crowd...but at least it still exists and its owners have obviously understood the value of such a place as a real New York landmark. In the mid-90's, there were a few diners left in Manhattan, trying to survive in a city that had already started to change. The Jones diner on Lafayette actually showed an amazing resistance to the transformation of this very trendy area. It was small and greasy but a real fixture of NoHo area when Lafayette street was still a kind of frontier between the already super-gentrified Soho and the still kind of gritty (but already changing) East Village. A bit more west was another New Yorkers favorite: The Moondance with its poetic name and its moon crest spinning night and day above the entrance door. A diner that was dismantled to be rebuilt in Providence, Rhode Isalnd, but it finally closed in 2012. But it's probably along the West side that one could find some of the prettiest exemples of this classic architecture. The Cheyenne was definitly a classic New York place you could find in touristic guides and the untouched Market Diner (were Sinatra used to meet with his mafia friends in the good old times), was hosting cool parties at night. The Market Diner is actually one of the latest casualties of the current real estate frenzy in New York. It was recently destroyed and will be replaced by guess what ? A big glass tower ! Some other diners, smaller and not as spectacular located closer to the West side highway had been forgotten but were still standing. The River Diner with its deep blue store front and of course the Lost Diner that I had the chance to discover while exploring the area. It's obvioulsly its real classic look that caught my attention and of course its wonderful name ! I thought that it could be perfect as a location for a David Lynch film. A name that was fairly recent at the time since a new team had taken it over and was trying to give back its former deco glory. Originaly named The Terminal Diner, it was finaly totaly abandoned in 2006 and slowly became a ruin. As I have written in my post dedicated to New York's diners, I shot a lot of images of this diner as well as of all the others for an article (which was not published) for french magazine Telerama. Unfortunately these images were never returned to me by its editor Pierre Murat. I was fortunate enough to find a second choice in my archives in order to keep a trace of these old diners and I am happy to able to share these photographs with you today.
Indian Larry, Alphabet City, Winter 1996
A little bit of fresh air for the last days of a hot summer ! Winter 1996 is remembered
for its incredible blizzard and snowstorm, which literally paralyzed Manhattan
for a few days. A wonderful opportunity for photographers to walk around the
city to capture instants where everything feels still and quiet in the bright
white wonderland. Living in the East Village
at the time (12th/Ave.A), I went for a stroll this early Sunday morning in
Alphabet City and the Lower East Side to witness a total very different vibe of
the whole area Bright light and sky,
unusual silence, some skiers in the middle of the empty streets. Everything buried under the thick snow. Somewhere near Avenue C, my
attention was caught by the roaring sound of motorcycles. At the end of the
block, some tough looking guys where riding bikes in the snow, laughing and
acting crazy, drinking and smoking. One of them skidding on the snow with a
dirt bike, only wearing a pair of shorts despite the cold and showing tattoos
on his chest and arms. I snapped a couple of pictures. It's only a couple of years
ago when the internet site EV Grieve wrote a nice review of my blog with a
selection of my pictures that I had the surprise to learn who was that crazy
looking dude! The one and only Indian
Larry, bike builder, stunt rider and biker, notorious Alphabet city resident and a
TV show host. I learned that he died in 2004 from injuries due to an accident while performing in a bike
show. He was known in the neighborhood
as Indian Larry because of the chopped Indian motorcycle he used to ride in the
streets of New York City. RIP Indian Larry! It was
great crossing your path on that 90's winter day!
Standards prints sizes and custom formats (upon request) - 297 x 210 mm / 11,7 x 8,2 in. (french A4) - 297 x 420 mm / 11,7 x 16,5 in. (french A3 or A3 + if paper's in stock !) - 329 x 423 mm / 13 x 19 in.
The making of a series of 17 large black and white custom prints for the Highline Hotel in Chelsea. (Hahnemühle "William Turner" paper)