Does the way a dress fits have to satisfy what society considers "beautiful"?
Where does wearable tech - like Google Glass - fit into fashion?
These dilemmas are being pondered in a new fashion exhibition that will soon go live at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in the Netherlands. The Future of Fashion is Now will use examples from designers including Viktor & Rolf (the Netherlands), Christophe Coppens (Belgium), Hussein Chalayan (Cyprus) and Rejina Pyo (Korea), a group that takes an outsidery approach to the fashion system, focusing on sustainability, the social values of their clothes and how to incorporate new technologies. "The exhibition examines the critical stance that young fashion designers worldwide are adopting with regard to 'the fashion system' and the role of clothes in contemporary society," explain the writer, patron and art activist Han Nefkens and fashion guru José Teunissen (ArtEZ Institute for the Arts) who collaborated with the museum on this project, the follow-up to their successful 2009 exhibition in Rotterdam, The Art of Fashion.
- traditional Chinese costumes woven from toilet tissue (Wang Lei of China - at bottom); these actually reminded me of the delightful, fancy Marie Antoinette-headgear crafted from paper at the Chanel Couture Spring 2009 show & these dead-accurate historical costumes that Belgian artist Isabelle de Borchgrave crafts by hand using only paper;
- strawberry plants that grow couture lace in the roots (Carole Collet, UK);
- handknits that encourage the wearer to adopt a new identity free of the restricting influence of the body (Japan's Pyuupiru - right).
These designers' solutions and themes negotiate that razor-thin edge separating fashion from art. (Those goofy, homemadey "wearable art" pieces that typically haunt sewing conventions and Ye Olde Craft Faires ain't fashion. They just ain't. Please don't get me started.) "Technological innovations," continue Nefkin and Teunissen, "offer designers new approaches to what ‘fashion’ could be in the future."
Except for Carole Collet's work in bio-fashion - which includes programming strawberry plants to supersize the antioxidant content of the fruit while growing couture lace trim within the roots - the bulk of the designs in the exhibition all strike me less as predictive of where fashion is headed and more as a self-portrait of our current relationship with fashion. However, that doesn't make the exhibition any less timely or interesting.
The Future of Fashion is Now will be on view at Museum Boijmans Van Beunigen from October 11, 2014 - January 18, 2015. Twitter & hashtag: TFOFIN. Info & tix at Boijmans.nl.
- Lesley Scott
(Wang Lei knit toilet-paper garment via source)