First Lady 

Fashion that might get you cast out of Eden.

Oh, Lilith, that primordial bad girl, that über-subversive. Even though she has inspired artists, writers, pagans, and feminists for eons, she isn't recognized by the Catholic Church (well, not as Adam's first wife, anyway). But the miss' myth persists, inspiring everyone from Dante Gabriel Rossetti to the Legendary Pink Dots (and Anne Rice rather conspicuously in between). In 1987, French fashion designer Lily Bareth discovered the myth and named her clothing line for it. "The myth of Lilith is all about a woman being so independent that she was actually kicked out of the Garden of Eden for that independence, for standing up for herself," says Dominique Debroux, general manager of the Lilith brand in the United States. "Lily's way of creating fashion is about creativity, not so much about what people tell you to dress like, other people's vision of you. It's your own vision of yourself. So that was her tie to the myth of Lilith. She's not so crazy about the later part, where she's demonized and all that."

For Lilith Boutiques' first foray into fine art, The First Woman, Bareth chose the work of three French artists, all women who walk on the primitive side. The exhibits, at the Paris, NYC, and Berkeley boutiques, run concurrently (and therefore feature different pieces by the same artists), showcasing the capricious, found-wood-and-metal sculptures of Catherine Scellier; the brazen, textual paintings of Catherine Dupire; and Véronique Soriano's meditative, colorful work. "These artists all have the same idea about their art" that Bareth does about fashion, Debroux explains. "They study theater, they study music, they study fashion, they study architecture, all to inspire them in their specific arts, looking to the world at large in order to inspire them." The result, she says, is that "the more you give of yourself in each piece, the more somebody else can find pieces of themselves."

All three artists will be present when The First Woman holds its opening reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Berkeley store, 1833 Fourth St., this Wednesday. Call the store at 510-849-4281 for more information.

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