New York Fashion Week might be wrapping up, but Fashion Month, showcasing the Fall 2015 collections, has barely started: London, Milan, and Paris are next. With that in mind, artists at Con Artists Collective in the Lower East Side are trying to answer a more profound —dare we say almost existential?—question: What happened to fashion?
“Fast Fashion has made the design process into a function of haste,” the Collective expounds in a recent press release. “Branding is becoming more important than the clothing itself, and designers are now seated behind computers to facilitate a non-industry of speed and image over style.”
“Where is fashion in this new world of memes and “nice” Instagram photography?” they ask. “Has fashion become a lost art?”
The idea for the show, which opened Wednesday night and will run until February 28, dawned on curators Christopher Tandy and Lädy Millard a couple of weeks ago. Tandy was flipping through a magazine when it all just clicked. “When you flip through a fashion magazine so much of that is just completely unobtainable – $60,000 worth of clothes, perfect lighting, perfect make-up, perfect body,” he said. “That’s not the real world. I get that they are trying to sell a dream, but the dream is a little tired at this point. There’s a better way to do things.”
Graffiti artist and fashion designer Lädy Millard, on the other hand, laments the current staleness of the creative world. “I always thought of design as creating something new and now. In the fashion industry they recreate the same things over and over again,” she said. “It’s all 1920’s. 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s. [Designers] keep recycling the same styles. We need our own sense of what fashion is for us.”
So, for “What Happened to Fashion,” Millard created a personal take on Kanye West’s fashion line, which she recreated by purchasing a series of clothes in thrift shops all over and personalizing them with graffiti, while Tandy made six hand painted t-shirts for the show based on simple design ideas and elements of nordic mythology; he’s showing eight small anonymous fashion paintings that blur the lines between art, fashion and marketing.
For their exhibition at ConArtist Collective, they selected people whose work could be fashion oriented but might have a hard time being marketed as such. The lineup includes a home goods designer, a street artist, a fine artist and a multimedia artist, all collaborating on the show. While the curators and the artists were busy hanging and hammering their works in the Lower East Side Gallery and prepping for tonight’s opening party, we got the chance to chat with some of them.
British video-artist Michael Sharp created an installation involving Kate Moss and the hasthtag #iamkatemoss. The project consists of a photo-and-video series of people posing with a mask portraying Kate Moss in her Supreme ad. Sharp started the #iamkatemoss project a few days ago after coming across the Twitter feed. “I was drunk one night and I registered iamkatemoss as an URL and I thought it was funny,” he stated matter-of-factly.
Back in 2012, when the Supreme ads featuring Kate Moss initially appeared in New York City, Sharp found the photograph so iconic that he snagged as many posters as he could and combined them on a canvas, which is featured in the upcoming exhibition as well. “What’s interesting about her is that we don’t know anything about her. I want my icons to be unattainable, I want them to be superhuman,” he said. “Back in the day, they were larger than life, and we aspired to be them. We dressed like them. By not talking, she created this myth around her.”
Amanda Marmor is a photographer, but for What Happened to Fashion she forayed into jewelry design with the series “What a Stud,” a line of jewels inlayed with a photograph (by Marmor herself) of a guy wearing, you guessed it, a lot of studs. Armor said she doesn’t necessarily share the critical view of fashion held by the two curators.”There’s more accessibility to personalize your clothes,” she said. “You don’t have to buy what’s in the stores.”
“What Happened to Fashion.” Con Artist Collective, 119 Ludlow Street, New York. Through February 28th.