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Top 25 Art Blog - Creative Tourist

Skin and Bones,Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture.

Somerset House, August 2008

Written by Emma Hamshare

I was really excited about going to this exhibition, cost look having been long interested in designing clothing inspired by architectural shapes and ideas and studying artists who use different methods to house the body and use structure to inform structure, price and not to mention seen this amazing press picture.
Boudicca-1.jpg
Photography: Studio88

The first thing I am informed upon arrival is that the exhibition takes the 1980′s as a starting point, and I immediately wonder why that is, I do not believe that the first instance any fashion designer was inspired by a building or an architect was inspired by clothing or the body itself. Anyhow despite this the first display is a couple of outfits by Martin Margeila from 1997. i refer to the writing on the wall, hmmm 80′s eh?, My eye is drawn to one of the garments, something about it doesn’t look right to me, aaargh! there is a dart on one side of the ‘tailor dummy halter top’ that doesn’t match the dart on the other side. Hmmm so the first thing i see is poor stitching taking place in the wrong decade. i take a deep breath and count to ten, trying my very hardest not to be irritated and remind myself that my fashion-student-eyes are especially picky when it comes to clothing.

Putting that swiftly behind me, i continue to see Hussein Chalayan’s remote control dress, and next to it a video of it in action, sliding parts of stiff plastic move slowly up and down slotting into each other. I feel i would have been in awe had the exhibition shown the real live dress moving. Instead what I found myself looking at was a plastic dress (none of the parts were opened up like they are in this picture) and a slow video.
chalayandress.jpg

Moving on, there is a massive projection of a Victor and Rolf video. having seen the Victor and Rolf exhibition at the barbican last week I skip this section realising that i basically consider it pretty poor curation to have literally two versions of the same thing running over the same period of time in two different parts of town.

However, I think my favorite item was a jacket by Vexed Generation, really tight perfect pattern cutting with razor sharp quilting creates a coat that looks like it would fit the body like a glove and protect the wearer from all the city’s elements. Using zips as a design feature is difficult but this garment is a work of true precise-town genius. And the Mobius dress by J. Meejin Yoon is brilliant, as if a person is wrapped in wallpaper each ‘wrapping’ can be zipped in different places creating different form and shapes, this is creation in its purest form, taking simplicity itself and folding it to give form. The dress itself wasn’t there but the photos did keep my eyes happy for a while. This is just a snapshot of the huge series of experimentations.

JMYoonXPT.jpg

Also the video footage of Yohji Yamamoto’s secret dress was enchanting to watch, a massive hooped skirt with hidden compartments being zipped and unzipped to behold endless accessories, a huge hat, gloves, a shawl, it was like watching a beautifully elegent bridal magician lady pulling a rabbits out of her hat.

A-poc, or ‘A Piece of Cloth’ by Issey Miyake is one of the most amazingly current, innovative methods of pattern cutting. In that it doesnt actually involve any pattern cutting, or sewing! The exhibition contains a couple of really amazing garments created using the method of making clothes using no labour at all. This methodology however is not evident from what is on show, in fact there is no explanation whatsoever of this revolutionary method and how it could basically eliminate the need for sweatshops, there is just a piece of fabric on the wall.

I was really pleased to see one of my favorite silk tulle Hussein Chalayan dresses, but really quite upset with the exhibition guidebook picture of it. It makes it look like a crap dress with a bad print instead of a beautiful piece. Here is the actual dress and the guidebook’s poorly rendered version is on the right.
chalayan.jpg

I found that there were lots of artists who could have been considered relevent that were ignored, Lucy and Jorge Orta for example are currently some of the most amazing artists around, making clothes out of tents, joining rows of people together with sleeves and housing the body in completely new interesting ways. Not to mention new designer Gareth Pugh, who is making outfits that literally defy gravity.

Given the title of the exhibiton i would expect to have seen work truly inspired by the body, in many places it was difficult to see any link between the architectural models and the clothing. The content that was not done justice to by the presentation, also if you have an interest in this sort of thing then you will have seen most of the content before.The title of the exhibition sounds interesting, the subject matter is incredibly interesting but the presentation of it is really poor and it brings an air of blandness to works of genius.

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