Michèle Gerber Klein is a philanthropist, collector and author whose topics are fame, fashion and art. Her first book is a Charles James: Portrait of An Unreasonable Man, a biography of the iconic and controversial designer Charles James, published by Rizzoli ex Libris.
Born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Michèle Gerber Klein lives and was raised in New York City. She attended the Lyçée Français and graduated from the Brearley School. After Bryn Mawr College where she earned a B.A. degree in English literature, Michèle returned to Manhattan to pursue careers in fashion and philanthropy: She is the founder of joan vass U.S.A., a manufacturer of popularly priced, elegant knit wear. Since 1997, Michèle Gerber Klein has been the Vice President of the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation.
She has written about art, fashion and arts de vivre for a wide variety of publications including Quest; C; Night; Cottages and Gardens, where she was a contributing editor; New York Social Diary, which published her accounts of her trips to India, Peru and Turkey as well Patrick McMullan magazine for which she authored “Eyes on Fashion.” She is a columnist for Mann Publications, a contributor to the Brooklyn Rail and her interview with Tina Barney , filmed by artist Anton Peresh, can be viewed on the BOMB web site. Her interviews with her artist friends for BOMB and The Brooklyn Rail have been translated into several languages, taught at Columbia, archived by the Getty and quoted by scholars here and abroad.
Michèle has served on the boards of the Dia Foundation for the Arts, the New Museum of Contemporary Art, The Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian National Design Museum, The Museum at FIT, The Alliance Française, New Arts Publications, Casita Maria, Chez Bushwick, the Brooklyn Rail, The New York Landmarks Preservation Foundation, The Hundred Year Association of New York and Fondatzione Bogliasco. She chairs the Whitney Museum of American Art’s library committee and is a member of the Architecture and Design and the Photography Acquisition Committees at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan and the Photography Acquisition Committee at the The Whitney Museum of American Art.
A proactive fund raiser-she has chaired many benefits including BOMB magazine (in JP Morgan’s library at the Morgan), New York City Opera Spring 2006 Season Gala Dinner, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, Cool Culture, and Chez Bushwick featuring Pharrell Williams and Jonah Bokaer, as well as Operation Smile in conjunction with Boucheron jewelers. In 2000 she chaired La Nuit des Etoiles, for the New York Alliance Francaise which honored French actress Catherine Deneuve at the restaurant Daniel with a French film star at every table.
Michele’s party for the twenty-fifth reunion of her Brearley high school class was the catalyst for Elizabeth Fishel’s book Reunion: The Girls We Used to Be, the Women We Became and Fishel’s description of the gathering was excerpted by Vogue.
In 2011, Michèle was the recipient of the Mann Foundation’s Woman of the Year award for her work in fashion and philanthropy.
Michèle Gerber Klein, 2014. Photo by Anton Perich
March 13, 2018
Charles James: Portrait of an ‘Unreasonable’ Designer
Lorna Koski's charming article explains how Michèle's friends R. Couri Hay and Roger Webster "thought that she would be a good fit as a biographer because of her background in fashion.”
July 4, 2014
Charles James… Beyond Fashion
Michèle (who is described as having "studied James' work for years") comments on the Met's 2014 exhibition on the designer: "before this show revived him, James himself seemed to simply have disappeared – like Camelot.”
Looking Hard's The Best Revenge
"The twin fixation of her childhood years was clothing and inventing outfits - fashion, basically. She claims she started collecting shoes and scarves when she was three years old. Some of those scarves were "borrowed" from her mother's closet. As she explains, "It all came quite naturally to me. Dressing up was always a kind of celebration and adventure in my mind."
"Wick means alive in Cornwall dialect. When Wickie was a puppy she had so much energy she did wind-sprints for joy. She still cavorts at the sight of her leash and flirts with all the doormen (she has always been partial to men in uniform).
"What Wick Wick has taught me is that if you love someone enough, they can live a very long time."
Michèle (in this context, "Simone") and the party she hosted for her Brearly Class of '68 reunion were profiled by Elizabeth Fishel in her book Reunion: The Girls We Used to Be. The Women We Became. - which Michèle's party inspired. An excerpt was reprinted in Vogue March 2000.
Additionally, Michele Gerber Klein has been acknowledged in:
Bill Brandt: Shadow and Light by Sarah Hermanson Meister and Bill Brandt MOMA, 2013.
Strange Tale of Panorama Island by Edogawa Ranpo translated by Elaine Katzu Gerbert, University of Hawaii Press, 2013.
Behind the Baton: An American Icon Talks Music By Gerard Schwartz, Maxine Frost, 2016
Anxious Objects: Willie Cole’s Favorite Brands by Patterson Sims, 2006
Elsie de Wolfe’s Paris: Frivolity Before the Storm by Charlie Scheips 2014
Cindy Sherman by Eva Respini and Johanna Burton, 2012 MoMA press
Dia, the Collection in Beacon by Lynn Cook and Michael Govan, Dia Art Foundation 2003.
Michele Gerber Klein has been quoted in:
Pantone on Fashion: A Century of Color in Design by Leatrice Eisman and EP Cutler, 2014.
Her show Shoesshoesshoes in the FREDERIEKE TAYLOR gallery, which was devoted exclusively to art about shoes, was highlighted in New York Magazine, reviewed by The New Yorker and The New York Times and was the subject of a feature article in Shuz magazine. It drew lines around the block.
Objects of art and fashion from Michele Gerber Klein’s collections have been accepted and displayed by the Museum at FIT and MoMA in New York.
Michele’s portrait has been painted by Edward Butler and Izhar Patkin, sketched by Maggie Norris and photographed by Anton Perich and Sherin Neshiat.