Fashion In The Galleries { See | Me Pleiades}

Fashion in the galleries is hands down one of my favorite subjects to discuss and often times can lead into heated arguments (usually I'm the only one heated; passion comes with a vengeance). As a graduate with a fine art degree focusing on fashion I am obviously all for seeing clothing in the white walls but other's can feel quite differently, more so in the fine art world than the fashion world. I for one don't see a difference between fashion and art. Clothing takes skill to make, it takes design and conceptual ideas to transform a 2-D cloth into a 3-D wearable garment that can be seen as either a sculpture or as a dress depending on your perspective. 

Top photo by Ariane Garcia compared to an 1885 painting by Elihu Vedder entitled "The Pleiades"

The issue that many people have with seeing clothing in the galleries is what makes going into a gallery and seeing clothing on a mannequin different than walking into a Saks Fifth Avenue with dressed mannequins? Is it simply the fact that the same items are in a different space that changes the way that we process what is in front of us? Now that clothing is not in a store being marketed for us to buy but rather to look at as intensely and emotionally as we would a painting it turns from a utilitarian object into a work of art. Famed fashion editor Diana Vreeland is the woman who single handedly made us reassess the way that we look at clothing when she was put in charge of the curation for The Costume Institute at The Met in the 1970's. She did exhibits on Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Vanity Fair, Russian costume and Hollywood design. There are art historians on the fence about these type of exhibits with some saying that it has been too long that we've waited to see clothing in the gallery and others saying that it is preposterous to consider such frivolous things as fine art. You can make your own opinion on the subject as I am not here to sway you one way or the other (however I'm assuming if you are reading this blog you probably already consider fashion to be art in some way shape or form). 

Photos by Ramond McHaddad

Recently I've had two encounters of fashion in the galleries and wanted to share them with you here. The first was two weekends ago when I modeled for my dear friend Kaytee Papusza of Papusza Couture at her exhibition opening and release of her Pleiades collection at the See | Me gallery in New York. The show was unbelievably successful as 7 models ran around the gallery dressed in wearable sculptures made out of aluminum, resin, taxidermy, glass beads and cloth all the while interacting with audience members and Rosanna Sclmeca's monumental sculptures. Normally Kaytee designs less hazardous pieces but this was a very special collection that was inspired by the Greek mythology story of the Pleiades and she collaborated with Katie Burley for several millinery pieces. After the opening of the show the pieces were installed to hang from the ceiling and walls of the gallery for the next month which I thought was a very clever way to avoid the issue of seeing the clothing on mannequins and immediately making the connection to department stores. I am a huge fan of Kaytee's work and feel that her designs transcend beyond the realm of just something to put on your back. They are a response to the magic she feels but can never see so she makes us see it and feel it and live our lives in it. All of her collections have such conceptual and complex stories behind them that to me constitute them as fine art. 

Kaytee's collection will be viewable for the next month at the See | Me Gallery in Long Island City, NY
(Photo and installation by Kendall Fiasco)

Check back in Monday to see my review on the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at The Brooklyn Museum. It's a doozy that's for sure.