Who among us doesn't know at least some of the words to the theme song from The Nanny, the larger-than-life 90s sitcom starring Fran Drescher as "the flashy girl from Flushing / the nanny named Fran"? The show aired from 1993 to 1999, but Drescher's character—with her hair high as heaven, a thousand-watt smile, and that voice—endures, especially among nostalgia-hungry millennials.
Brussels-based independent curator Louis-Philippe Van Eeckhoutte took his fandom to the next level, however, by equating Nanny Fine—or more specifically, her style—with fine art. “I see visual connections in things,” Van Eeckhoutte tells VICE via Skype from Belgium. A photo of Drescher looking over her shoulder in a red and white jacket inspired the first connection; it struck Van Eeckhoutte for its resemblance to Gerhard Richter's portrait of his daughter.
Since then, Van Eeckhoutte has found a wealth of artists in Fran Fine's closet, matching her outfits with works by Kelley Walker, Bridget Riley, and such august names as Warhol, Picasso, and Magritte. He posts his creations to a dedicated Instagram account, @thenannyart.
Van Eeckhoutte says the show helped shape his view of New York when he was an adolescent back in the 90s, and his social media tribute to The Nanny aspires to elevate Drescher's character, who is oft-maligned and trivialized for her squeaky, nasally soprano. (Drescher actually exaggerated the pitch of her voice on the show.) Van Eeckhoutte sees Nanny Fine as a fitting figure for 2018: unafraid, unshakable, and always fabulous.
It is fitting that Van Eeckhoutte's homage is centered on comparison. The Nanny, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, was a show driven by difference. Fran's working-class Queens versus the Sheffield's tony Manhattan; Fran's Jewishness to the Sheffield's world of ur-WASPS; Fran the lady in red, when everybody else is wearing tan.
Of course, Fran didn't only wear red. Styled by Brenda Cooper (who did not respond to VICE's request for comment), Fran's closet contained loud 90s couture juxtaposed with thrift store finds. According to Peter Marc Jacobson, who co-created The Nanny and is Drescher's ex-husband, the entire visual world of the show revolved around Fran's outfits. The sets were all purposefully cream colored to provide a canvas against which Drescher could pop.
“Brenda Cooper is a genius, and every show was like going to a fashion exhibit,” Jacobson tells VICE via Instagram message. Jacobson is aware of Van Eeckhoutte's tribute and is a fan. "Fran, of course, is the perfect canvas to carry off anything."
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