Top Five Sculptural Looks | London, New York and Paris

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Writing for New York Magazine during the city’s influential Fashion Week, art critic Jerry Saltz movingly reflected on the bygone thoughtfulness, self-reflection and self-challenge of the 1993 Whitney Biennial. If Saltz were an authority on fashion, instead of art, than he would be heartened to see the spirit of that era alive on the world’s major catwalks. The fashion, art and ideology of 1993 were the primary inspirations for Autumn/ Winter 2013.

As Saltz recalls, two decades ago, the art-world and fashion community were routinely criticized for taking themselves too seriously. Black was the only color available for a dedicated fashion follower and seriousness was the reigning style. Since then the ravens of fashion seemed nevermore as the fashion-world grew giddy with silly, color-mad, ego-driven dressing. Things, however, are changing and this season sees a strong return to cerebral fashion. Striking and experimental minimalism, monochrome, maturity and purpose define Autumn/ Winter 2013 in London, New York and Paris.

Here, I compare five forerunning designers from the world’s fashion capitals with kindred artists featured in the 1993 Whitney Biennial.

Givenchy

Givenchy

Givenchy: Zeo Leonard

Zeo Leonard appropriates banal and exhausted objects, such as soiled baby dolls, battered suitcases and factory-laid eggs, for her installations and photographs. She uses excess and collapse to overwhelm viewers, trigger their embedded memories and alert their attention to overlooked elements in everyday life. Similarly, Riccardo Tisci mixes rough silkscreens of clichéd images, from Bambi to the American flag, with tattered sheer fabrics and sagging cuts for his critically lauded Givenchy show. Tisci recycled old materials and resurrected patterns from his childhood for a collection that Leonard’s 1993 army of abused baby-dolls could grow to wear.

Mary-Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou

Mary Katrantzou: Bill Voila

For Mary Katrantzou’s extraordinary troupe d’oeil collection, she appears to wrap her models in movie-screens enlivened with projections of the Third Man or Akira Kurosawa’s oeuvre. Yet, despite these cinematic references, her gradual use of strong color and sense of testing the body’s boundaries also speaks specifically to Bill Viola’s films of isolated individuals subsumed by the elements.

Haider-Ackermann

Haider Ackermann

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Haider Ackermann: Sophie Calle

Black and white are rarely as rich with nuance and surprise as in Sophie Calle’s confessional art. Calle never degrades her neat and elegant surfaces despite revealing under-layers of lust, unhappiness, neurosis and darkness. A similar battle between public and private selves can be seen enacted in Haider Ackermann’s primarily monochrome and earth-toned collection. In recent years, Ackermann pioneered fashion’s return to adult (in the grown-up sense) rather than adult (in the other sense) dressing. He introduced a new generation to the subtle sensuality of fabric and flow. In his current collection, vulnerable sections of skin softened the impact of figures cocooned in sumptuous material. These exposed areas appear like the tender, raw, stories in Calle’s disarming works.

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Raymond Pettibon: Preen By Thornton Bregazzi

Preen

Raymond Pettibon

Like the leading shows during A/W 13, Raymond Pettibon presents humanity’s complex desires in strong black and white. Inspired by zines, comic books and pulp fiction, Pettibon combines his punk pedigree with a pendant for meticulous lines and melancholy expression. Preen By Thornton Bregazzi shares Pettibon’s punk sensibility and streamlined style. Preen is sharp, sexual, aggressive and stylish. In the tradition of Pettibon’s printed inspiration, Preen is black, white and red all over.

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Balenciaga : Kiki Smith

Balenciaga---Kiki-Smith

Balenciaga

Alexander Wang’s masterful debut collection at Balenciaga initially appears to be an orthodox tribute to monochrome minimalism. The sophistication of the young street-wear designer’s cuts, folds and fabric choices validates his position at the head of the venerable house. Yet, Wang’s credentials push beyond formal capabilities with his unnerving use of cracked fabric. Sweaters, jackets and blouses that appear painted with brittle gesso allude to the mysteries, secrets and sinister undercurrents that Kiki Smith explores in her chilling Goth sculptures and drawings. Smith’s combination of delicate lines and eerie subject matter suit the tension generated by Wang’s marbleized fabrics. Perhaps, one can imagine, if Wang’s stiff white top cracks than the creatures from Smith’s imagination would break free from within the inner recesses of the model’s heart…

By Ana Finel Honigman

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