Fashion As Art
For those of us who have ever struggled to put together an entire “look” – clothing, shoes, accessories, handbag or satchel – for a special event, it’s no stretch of the imagination to think of fashion as an art. Just ask Simon Doonan: visual merchandising has perhaps more in common with curating an art exhibit than with any other form of public display.
Recent exhibits such as the Valentino exhibit at the Ara Pacis Museum in Rome, Italy (that’s just one of the striking tableaus on display, at left), “Poiret: King of Fashion” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, and “Balenciaga and His Legacy: Haute Couture from the Texas Fashion Collection” at the Meadows Museum at SMU have highlighted the way in which clothing designers’ collections can be curated like any other pieces of art. And even though these shows have already closed, there’s always the Museum at F.I.T., a veritable cornucopia of fashion history, replete with gorgeous exhibits, including amazing oddities like the first pair of Dior sunglasses ever produced! Currently, Madame Grès and Christian Louboutin are showcased both online and at the museum’s Seventh Avenue location.
All this is good and well as an adult able to travel about on her own, but as a child growing up in the Midwest, travelling to New York, Texas, or – um – Rome was simply out of the question. Mom and Dad preferred destinations like waterfalls, beaches, or the ever-popular national monument. Which is why the DCGF is so thrilled that high fashion has reached her hometown of Indianapolis in the form of “Breaking the Mode: Contemporary Fashion from the Permanent Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art,” at the Indianapolis Museum of Art. Finally a dose of sartorial splendor for those who will never make it to LA or NYC. Check out the light-as-air Jean Paul Gaultier dress at right – do you not love how it’s suspended and tousled about, as if worn by an invisible cha-cha dancer? The exhibit is all about challenging conventional notions of clothing, from the origami folds of Issey Miyake to the voluminous layers of Yohji Yomamato to Moschino’s dinner jacket, literally comprised of flatware and a napkin tie.
It’s so refreshing that the exhibit hasn’t been dumbed down for a midwestern audience, many of whom are not accustomed to seeing high-concept fashion and haute couture, even in a museum famous for being home to Robert Indiana’s LOVE sculpture. And I’m happy to say that one of my favorite pieces from the LACMA collection is part of this exhibit: Thierry Mugler’s “Anatomique Computer” suit. Remember in “Treehouse of Horror VI” where Homer Simpson enters the third dimension? Some say that grid he ran around on was inspired by Atari’s video game Battlezone. The DCGF, however, thinks it was inspired by this futuristic-looking blazer. Yes, I just totally geeked out, but am I not right? Think about it…
Long story short, it seems that the fashion powers that be are beginning to understand that fashion belongs to everyone, and everyone deserves the opportunity to observe and marvel over amazing clothes, regardless of their geographic location. Remember: many famous designers came from humble beginnings. And the evolution of the internet allows dissemination of information at a previously unknown pace.
Love Lacroix? Pine for Preen? Yearn for Yigal Azrouël? They’re just a click away. And, if you happen to be in Indianapolis, be sure to stop by the IMA and check out this amazing exhibit.