It haunted my childhood. I was in elementary school yet I would stay awake until 10pm, every Thursday, to watch the show together with my sister and my parents. I know it sounds strange that a child was allowed to watch David Lynch’s masterpiece, but I will forever thank my parents they did. Yes, it was terrifying, but it was also intriguing, dreamy, inspirational, formative.
You can imagine my excitement to hear that geniuses David Lynch and Mark Frost are creating a new chapter in the universe of Twin Peaks. In May, we will watch agent Dale Cooper returning literally to the scene of the crime, probably facing another mysterious murder case. I cannot wait to see what the creators have in mind for the much-loved characters, and to observe their mastering of scene setting, cinematography and costume-design.
I must admit, most of the days I have a love-hate relationship with London. But every now and then, little gems of experiences such as this one remind me why I am still here. Imagine queuing around the block in a residential area, waiting to see a world-renowned artist exhibit his latest work for free.
Tucked away behind a petrol station off City Road, and nestled between fancy new apartment developments, is the Victoria Miro gallery. Yes, it resembles a warehouse and has floor to ceiling windows, like most modern converted galleries do, but it also has a man-made lake at the back. I bet you did not expect that! What a great place to host Do Ho Suh’s new exhibition “Passage/s”.
The exhibition’s main attraction is a structure made of translucent fabric replicating the different places the artist has lived and worked in. He references his childhood home in South Korea, and his various flats and studios in places such as New York and London. As the notes of the exhibition explain: “Do Ho Suh has long ruminated on the idea of home as both a physical structure and a lived experience, the boundaries of identity and the connection between the individual and the group across global cultures”…“Suh’s structures give form to ideas about migration, transience and shifting identities”. Can’t think of a more relevant topic right now.
Passing through the multi-coloured corridor of different rooms seamlessly put together, the visitor experiences Suh’s life in transit. A life that crossed cultural and geographical boundaries. As you walk through you wonder; am I invested too much in the destination and ignore the journey? Is it that bad to allow cultural and geographical exchange and movement? The people from all over the world who are queuing with me inside the fabric structure surely don’t appear to think so.
His work is not only challenging your preconceptions and asking you to re-think the idea of your life’s journey. It also offers a colourful attack on the senses. The colours he chooses and the way he combines them are indeed inspirational.
All the questions, asked in the previous post, were answered after I finished walking through the exhibition. Whether you are a fashion lover or not, you cannot but marvel at human creativity and ingenuity. Putting the hand-made against the machine-made is as if you are trying to put mind against body. How can the body exist independently of its mind’s commands? There is continuity and interconnectivity. And there always will be. And the curators of the exhibition expertly show off this continuity by displaying all garments, whatever their age and technological achievement, on the same old-fashion mannequins as if they are still in the designer’s atelier.
But this continuity can be disrupted, and it is being disrupted already. Take away a key ingredient in the process of conceptualisation-experimentation-creation, and disruption becomes disorientating. Take away the ingredient of time and the process becomes a case of chasing your own tail.
Alber Elbaz at a lecture associated with the exhibition, very eloquently sums-up why ‘Manus x Machina’ is important. He said “It was almost an exhibition that was done for designers and with designers’ work. It was about workmanship, about know-how, about time, and the one thing that impressed me the most was that it was almost silent. . . .” (from vogue.com). But how does this kind of silence go with our obsession of over-exposure, and shouting about everything we do from the rooftop?
In this post, we are looking at technologically brilliant garments; where technology marries well with traditional ways of dress-making. These garments could be science fiction but are truly wearable. We look at avant-garde pieces made of resin and plastic. But, we also look at techniques such as pleating and plisse making. These techniques were considered ground-breaking, almost science fiction when they were first used, but now can be found everywhere…
The MET’s exhibition ‘Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology’ (May – September 2016) was the most relevant exhibition regarding fashion creativity, and what is happening in our industry right now. Its aim was to show how, since the creation of the sewing machine, the binary opposition between hand-sewn and machine-sewn was created. But at the same time, the exhibition emphasized the juxtaposition between the hand and the machine.
Karl Lagerfeld’s haute couture wedding dress creation (2014) for pregnant Ashleigh Good is a case in point. The dress was the first thing a visitor saw, displayed beautifully in a domed room, as if the work of deities. A closer look revealed that it was made of scuba knit and its train hand-painted with gold, machine-printed with rhinestones, and finished by hand-embroidered pearls and gemstones. The perfect marriage (excuse the pun) between man’s creativity and handiwork, and a machine’s precision. Before you enter the exhibition, the curators have answered the question for you; there is no either or… Coexistence is possible and preferred.
Walking through the beautifully curated rooms I was taking in the unique experience of being up close and personal with haute couture fashion. But I wasn’t completely lost in the beauty; I found myself keep on asking certain questions. All the exhibits were haute couture pieces painstakingly made. They were creations that took time not only to make but also to conceive. Then it became obvious to me. Creativity needs time and what is lacking right now is exactly that. Everything is faster, instant. See-now-buy-now, until the next trend is used and discarded. Do we allow enough time for creatives to create? Think about the next best thing? Does our industry really values talent and craft less than growth, marketing success and social media exposure?
Which made me question further what is the relationship between haute couture and ready-to-wear (Prêt-à-Porter). Of course there are differences between the two, but if the former still has the benefit of time, and the latter the disadvantage of instant gratification, doesn’t the gap between fashion as an art, and fashion as a consumption object grow bigger? Does the lack of time make ready-to-wear and high-street fashion less valuable, throw-away-prone?
In this first post I want to share with you the amazing creations made of sequins, lace and flower decorations, sometimes all three put together on one garment…