Category: Reviews Page 1 of 3

A Short Novel on Men’s Fashion, Olivier Saillard

Clothing the masculine body in the past 300 years has been in turns ornate and somber, sometimes constructed for leisure but nearly always for function. In his latest exhibition in conjunction with the Fondazione Pitti Immagine Discovery, ROMANZO BREVE DI MODA MASCHILE (A Short Novel on Men’s Fashion), Olivier Saillard proposes that after centuries of sartorial bondage, finally, menswear is free.

The temporary exhibition is installed at Palazzo Pitti Museo della Moda e del Costume: Florence’s (and Italy’s) growing permanent collection of fashion. On display are menswear garments donated and purchased for the collection from key designers who have shown at the fashion trade show Pitti Uomo in the past 30 years.

In his opening treatise, unfurled like an oversized manuscript in the foyer of the exhibition Saillard writes that, until the mid 20th century, men had to “conform to the authority” bestowed upon them, donning “inflexible trousers” which meant that “man could not swagger”. In the following 19 rooms he uses literary quotes, historical garments from the museum collection, and selections from the Uffizi’s Gallery of Modern Art to offer a direct riposte to this suggested rigidity.

Saillard has focused on injecting movement into unworn clothing, reinstalling the kineticism of life into garments removed from the body, without the aid of traditional mannequins. The result in A Short Novel on Men’s Fashion is that someone has just left the room; a half-crumpled suit displayed on the floor, a pair of trousers thrown over a rail, wrinkles intact. This doesn’t imply a lack of care (though Saillard does directly quote F. Scott Fitzgerald’s scene of carelessly thrown bespoke shirts in his novel The Great Gatsby) but rather the speed with which contemporary menswear can be shucked and left behind for the next big piece. Set against the glass cases holding 18th and 19th century frock coats, it places these contemporary garments firmly in the here and now, while also considering whether they will ever be deemed fit to be enclosed in a reverential casing of their own.

It is immediately poetic to place menswear, not traditionally held up as examples of fashion in the way of womenswear, on display in the ornate silk covered walls of a former Medici palace. However, one of the more affecting aspects of this exhibition comes from the modern paintings selected to hang among the clothing. Often on a side wall, obscured by the garments or mounts, there are some beautiful portraits of men wearing the clothing that Saillard suggests limited the male experience of the world. This includes the arresting Portrait of Piero Milani (1914) by Massimiliano Corcos. Staring with a smirk at the visitor, hands thrust in the pockets of his fashionable suit, Milani’s overcoat and hat are tossed on the table behind him, his glove has fallen to the ground.

This vivid portrayal of the push-pull of dressing the modern masculine body (projecting a refined image while simultaneously challenging the notion of vanity) encapsulates what Saillard outlines in his opening words yet could pass almost unnoticed in competition with the clothing, cases and book-shaped mounts filling the same room.

With A Short Novel on Men’s Fashion, Olivier Saillard proposes to show how the past 30 years has seen the emancipation of menswear, freeing it from the strictures of formality and embracing the multitudes of masculine experience. While there is a debate to be had about how limited, exactly, men have been by their clothing, the strength of this exhibition is in showcasing the vitality of menswear and channeling the perpetual forward momentum of design.

ROMANZO BREVE DI MODA MASCHILE
[A SHORT NOVEL ON MEN’S FASHION]
1989-2019: Thirty years of menswear as seen by Pitti Uomo
Florence – Palazzo Pitti
(Sale della galleria del Costume, Sale Contini Bonacossi)
11 June – 29 September 2019

Curated by Olivier Saillard

Text and images by Cyana Madsen

Pink – exhibition review

Pink: the History of a Punk, Pretty, Powerful Color explores the colour pink and its multitude shades and cultural meanings. Organized by Dr Valerie Steele, Director, The Museum at FIT, Pink interrogates the history, materiality and cultural meanings of a colour that, as the exhibition guide points out, ‘provokes exceptionally strong feelings of both attraction and repulsion.’

Pink. Installation view. Image © Jeffrey Horsley courtesy The Museum at FIT

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Eckhaus Latta: Possessed

Eckhaus Latta was established in 2011 by Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta is a US-based bi-coastal, collaborative creative practice. Eckhaus Latta: Possessed is the duo’s exhibition and first solo venture, debuting at the Whitney Museum of American Art in August 2018.

Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta met as students at Rhode Island School of Design. They set up Eckhaus Latta in 2011 and the brand, based in Los Angeles and New York and known for collaborations with artists, musicians and designers, reflects an increasing trend for practices that operate between the worlds of fashion and art.

Four colour projections displayed in Eckhaus LattaL Posessed exhibition space leaning against the wall containing a photograph close up of a women's face, a full length shot of a woman, a torso and head shot of a women and a foot in a sock standing on a ball.

Eckhaus Latta: Possessed. View of installation. Image © Jeff Horsley

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Fashion and Folly – fashion satire ‘Wonder in the Eighteenth Century’

In October 2018, PhD student Jenna Rossi-Camus presented her research on  about fashion satire at the annual conference of the Canadian Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies  which had Wonder in the Eighteenth Century as its theme.

At this year’s conference, held in Niagara Falls, Jenna was invited to present ‘Fashion and Folly’ detailing her work on eighteenth century fashion graphic satire and the collections of Horace Walpole. The conference is part of a series of professional development workshops aimed at educators and graduate students. By presenting her practice-based research-in-progress, Jenna’s research served the conference theme and aims by demonstrating how fashion exhibition-making can be a strategy for inciting wonder and interest in eighteenth-century studies for contemporary (and non-academic) audiences.

A hand turns over the leaf of a large historic book with illustrations, part of Jenna's research into fashion satire

Jenna’s research into Fashion Satire

A screen showing a slide on Fashion & Folly Jpresentation on fashion satire with a table in front

Presenting Fashion and Folly

Read more about Jenna’s Research 

Interview “T-shirts – curating its narrative” by MA Fashion Curation alumni Annabel Hoyng–van der Meijden with Jenna Rossi Camus

SpiceUp Review

As the field of fashion curation rapidly expands past the walls of the museum and gallery and into corporate headquarters and shopfronts, it has now conquered a new frontier; the Islington Business Design Centre in London. A space more commonly known for trade shows and recruitment events, for three steamy weeks this summer the location played host to the exhibition SpiceUp. Subtitled “An Exhibition About The Spice Girls” (lest there be any confusion about the subject of the show), this exhibit was an exercise in curatorial agony and visitor ecstasy.

The Spice Girls were a group of five British women, who auditioned to become a pop group in 1994, and ended up becoming a cultural zeitgeist. SpiceUp has been curated without any affiliation with the group or their management, and is a testament to their lasting legacy. Spread over two floors in a side wing of the former Royal Agricultural Hall, there is no context provided for the location, other than the assumption that there are surely few venues in London built to accommodate such a massive assemblage of clothing, ephemera and merchandise, that would also avail themselves for hire to a member of the public. And so SpiceUp curator Alan Smith-Allison is – albeit one who is responsible for collecting the bulk of the objects on display, and owner of the largest collection of Spice Girls memorabilia on earth. A former charity worker turned exhibition maker, Smith-Allison has collected anything and everything Spice Girls-related since 2007, and in curating and staging this exhibit himself, also brought in loaned objects from fellow fans.

The result is almost overwhelming. With over 7000 pieces of ephemera on display, the exhibition reveals how deeply the public travelled into the mercantile heart of darkness in the Spice era. For the purposes of this review, however, my focus is on the dress and its display

Spice Girls memorabilia on display at SpiceUp.  Photo Cyana Madsen 2018 web

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Norell: Dean of American Fashion

By MA Fashion Curation Alumni Susanna Shubin.

The Norman Norell exhibition at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology is a long overdue tribute to the great designer, known as the first American couturier. Sadly, Norell suffered a stroke the night before the Met was to open a one day retrospective in his honor in 1972. He died 10 days later. Fast forward almost fifty years and you have what is possibly a more extensive, comprehensive representation of his work, thanks due largely to the collection of collector and fashion designer Kenneth Pool.

Read Susanna’s full review

Central Stage. Assorted wool and sequin evening ensembles and sequined “Mermaid” gowns ‐ 1965‐1972. Norell Dean of American Fashion. FIT NYC, March 2018

 

Off‐white evening gown with red bolero jacket and peacock blue sash. 1968. Norell Dean of American Fashion. FIT NYC, March 2018

 


Heather oatmeal shirtwaist dress with white scarf and belt, 1971, Wool. Norell Dean of American Fashion. FIT NYC, March 2018

Central Stage. Norell: Dean of American Fashion. FIT, NYC, March 2018.

 

Black and brown evening dress circa 1961. Lace and ostrich feathers. FIT Norell Dean of American Fashion. FIT NYC March 2018.

 

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