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How Clothes Became a Top Draw at Museums

Le 6 octobre 2014, 03:56 dans Humeurs 0

When Diana Vreeland was running what is now the Anna Wintour Costume Center at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in the ’70s, she never doubted that people would line up to see clothing. “The public wants what it can’t get,” she explained. But could she have imagined the lines snaking down Fifth Avenue to see clothes by Alexander McQueen, or that similar crowds would queue up in Paris, London, Brussels, and Philadelphia to catch glimpses of handbags, shoes, and hemlines traveling up, down, and sideways? Fashion exhibitions have become fine-art institutions’ guaranteed blockbusters: Members of the public can’t get original Charles James couture (the subject of a recent show at the Met seen by half a ­million people), and they only want it more when it’s bedizened with lasers, lights, and the Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler fairy dust of such a magical institution.

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Fashion attracts crowds because it is that magical combination of beautiful objects with social history. This season, one can see Chanel haute couture from the ’20s at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (on loan from Hamish Bowles for “Hollywood Glamour: Fashion and Jewelry from the Silver Screen”) and, at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, closely examine the spangly harem pants David Bowie wore when he was in a Ziggy Stardust kind of mood. There are “Killer Heels” at the Brooklyn Museum, and “From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk,” a retrospective of the work of Jean-Paul Gaultier, has been to 11 cities and counting. The Met is hard at work on “Chinese Whispers,” which is being curated in collaboration with filmmaker Wong Kar Wai, and will open a show of elaborate, fascinating mourningwear on October 21.


But in spite of all this interest in silhouettes and beadwork, don’t expect much of a street-style scene among attendees. “Fashion’s become sort of a popular spectator sport for a lot of people,” says Valerie Steele of F.I.T., “even if not so many people are really dressing up anymore. At the Jackie Kennedy exhibit at the Met, people lined up to see it, but they were all wearing shorts and fanny packs and flip-flops, but then they were exclaiming, ‘Oh my God! Wasn’t she so stylish and beautiful?’ [It’s like] all those guys watching football while they’re drinking beer.’ ”

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3D-printed dress lets you wear your heart(beat) on your sleeve

Le 30 septembre 2014, 08:23 dans Humeurs 0

Anouk Wipprecht's creations aren't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill couture; instead, they blend fashion and technology in fascinating ways to create some truly innovative wearables. We suppose it was only a matter of time before Wipprecht added Intel's Edison chip -- unveiled at CES this year and designed for wearable technology -- to one of her creations.

It's not what she has done, however, but how she has done it. She has combined the chip with a variety of sensors so that the Synapse dress -- 3D printed from a very flexible material called thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), and created in collaboration with designer Niccolo Casas and Materialise -- lights up embedded LEDs according to a variety of stimuli from the body of the wearer.

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Using a special headpiece that uses Electroencephalography (EEG), as well as Electrocardiography (EKG) in the bodice, the ensemble is able to pick up brain activity and heart rate. These are used to monitor the wearer's "focus", or level of attention in whatever she is viewing, setting the LEDs to glow or, if her attention reaches 80 percent, take a photo with the camera embedded in the dress's bodice so that she will have a snapshot of whatever made her feel tense or relaxed.

Synapse also has a proximity sensor built in to measure how close other people are to the wearer. If the dress notices that the wearer's heart rate is speeding up and her brain activity is working a certain way while also detecting that people are standing very close, it will shine the LEDs at their full 120-watt brightness as a warning to back off.

"Connecting raw data driven in real time by wireless bio signals was never before that accessible for me, since the micro controllers that I used were either low in processing power or big and bulky. This means they are hard to integrate into fashion," Wipprecht said.


"Edison allows me to integrate a super small piece of technology which can quickly compute complicated sets of signals, on-board storage and interconnect wirelessly to a lot of input data at once in a more advanced and intelligent way, to run my designs."

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At Paris Fashion Week, Two Kinds of Road Trips

Le 26 septembre 2014, 08:55 dans Humeurs 0

“We have a collective concern,” a Vogue editor hissed to an organizer when the Vionnet show, set in a “No Exit”-feeling narrow space at the bottom of the Cité de l’Architecture et du Patrimoine on Wednesday night, threatened to start long past its appointed hour of 7 p.m. “We cannot miss Balenciaga!”

These two houses of great historical significance, awoken after dormant periods, are at very different points in their brand management.

While Balenciaga has sped like a sports car down the superhighway of “cool,” waved along approvingly by arbiters of style, Vionnet has bumped along, a rusty jalopy on an old country road, now with the flamboyant businesswoman Goga Ashkenazi tightly gripping the wheel and Hussein Chalayan, hired to design the demi-couture, in the passenger seat.

Attendees fanned themselves anxiously with their egg-shaped invitations, as if they were members of an 18th-century court, which, let’s face it, this circuit kind of resembles.

The creations that eventually materialized in the hot dark did not contradict the initial sense of having been spirited away to some version of the afterlife. Through some trick of the staging, each model was paired with a shadow that at times “broke free,” multiplied or danced away.

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Or maybe I had just reached the point in fashion month of finally losing my marbles?

Certainly I had wondered so an hour earlier at the Palais de Toyko during the Aganovich show, surrounded by unlit candles and a spewing fog machine.

The models here progressed in spray-painted-looking gold oxford shoes, with near-agonizing slowness in the Comme des Garçons style, their bodies swathed in sculptural forms mostly red and black. Built into some of these grand goth garments were bouquets, suggesting, yipes, a state of permanent bridalness. Perhaps Vera Wang, who has been getting darker and more cobwebby lately, might be interested in stepping in here as a backer?

Back at Vionnet, everything was white, white, ghostly white, with touches of gold and blue, as in dramatically wound sandals. There were fragments of Madeleine Vionnet in the Greek-goddess folds and an ethereal chiffon gown in balletic beige.

But her germinal idea that the female body should be privileged above all else was neglected in favor of distracting ornamentation: big oval belts, screaming “statement” necklaces, furry capelets, round strapped-on bags. As Bjork’s “Hunter” played at the end, I would not have been surprised to see a version of the singer’s infamous swan dress float down the pike.

Perhaps most curious were the many exposed garter belts. I don’t think that’s a part of womankind’s collective past that anyone wants to resurrect, except as a lovemaking costume. Even that feels a little passé, the erotic imagination of millennials seeming more animated (if American Apparel ad campaigns are any indication of the zeitgeist) by tube socks and tank tops.

Millennials of means have been enjoying for several years now Guillaume Henry’s revival of another long-moribund house, Carven, which showed its spring 2015 collection at the Grand Palais on Thursday in the space occupied the previous day by Guy Laroche. At some point in the interval, the runway had been tinted yellow.

Any supposition that this was Dorothy’s brick road, though, offering the gingham and girlishness of seasons past, was quickly squelched. The models zoomed forth, many clutching large squarish, striped bags under one arm. One appeared to struggle over how to best carry it, and I shuddered to think of her perhaps being flogged backstage by her purse strap.

The late 1960s and early ’70s were obvious reference points, with long, stiff pointy colors and short trapeze lengths. Python, Asian characters, tumbling nudes, racing stripes and a few graphic flowers ornamented these simple shapes.


It was all very zippy without being zesty, and it’s possible that Mr. Henry is chafing at the confines of what is fundamentally a junior miss line.

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