Sunday, January 26, 2014

Trend-ology (the exhibit at FIT)

As if you weren't tired enough of hearing how FIT's brilliant exhibits move me to tears these days...

 Here comes another one.  There is too much to say about this exhibit here, and if you have a chance to see it, please do.  If you won't be able to see it, I'll do my best to help you live it vicariously.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of visiting this exhibit, after a quick swatching trip to the garment district.  This was my first chance to see the show, which began December 3, and will run until the end of April.  And wow... again... wow.

So many elements compete for your attention, the moment you enter.  The exhibit began with a quote, nestled in the introductory statement on the first wall.

"As soon as fashion is universal, it is out of date."
-Marie Von Ebner-Eschenbach (Austrian psychological novelist)

An IPad mounted on a pedestal for your manipulation, showing a set of pictures for you to swipe through, depicting the fabric trends for Fall/Winter 14/15.

A video, featuring artists/scholars/fashion experts sharing their knowledge, plays quietly on a loop on the front wall.  Bits of wisdom catch your attention, as you stare at the garments positioned on the surrounding platforms.

Visionaries such as Carol Lim, Simon Doonan, and Claude Sabba, give pleanty of food for thought before you explore the show, which covers 250 years of fashion.

"Trend" is used as a verb here, exploring fashion in this case, but expanding to include everything from urban hip-hop to art, to music, to film, to... well, any creative pursuit, really.  The grand question it all seeks to answer here, is "Where do trends originate?"

And, if you're like me,  your own mind takes you to... "And once that trend strikes, what happens next?"

In the introductory video, Carol Lim (Opening Ceremony) hits on an important shift that has taken place.  People buy cheap and in quantity now. "Here today, gone tomorrow" has never been truer. We see Margiela for H&M, Rodarte for Target -  High-end names, producing for the masses.  Its the democratization of fashion we're seeing now.

And the clothes are wonderfully illustrative of this point.  The best examples of some Rei Kawakubo shoes, an Issey Miyake dress, a Poiret dress/robe thing, a Claude Sabba chiffony-number that made my heart skip a beat... I fell in love with so many of the pieces, pieces that typified particular moments in their specific trendy fashion movements that were familiar to me. 

The exhibit gave me memory "beats", like a fashion stopwatch, beautifully curated and cohesive, despite covering such a broad spectrum of looks.  Perfection.  

"Fashion is not a subject of deduction, like a system of logic.  It is made up of a thousand different influences.  Fashion is a living thing and, in consequence, evolves from day to day, from hour to hour, and from minute to minute."
- Jean Patou, 1920's

So, what about this exhibit makes me all weepy? All my life, I have been taught that fashion is a silly, light, unimportant pursuit.  My heart knows that it is not.  In order to make my recent career change, I had to work on convincing myself that my fascination with clothing construction, history and business is indeed a frivolous pursuit.  When I'm in the garment district, however, the voices still whisper to me.  This industry is a part of me.  And, you know what? I don't think it will ever leave me.  It looks like I'll have to be okay with that.