Yesterday, I woke up in serious need of inspiration. I decided my best bet was to hit a museum and soak in some art so I took a solo trip to the MoMA to see “ITEMS: Is fashion modern?” It was an incredible exhibit full of fascinating fashion history and thought-provoking pieces. I observed everything from the origins of door knocker earrings and acrylic nail designs to the evolution of platforms. I got immersed in learning about cultural and economic impacts, and how practical clothing products evolved into mainstream fashion over time, like the surgical mask for example.
As I walked through, I was refreshed on how the space race in the late 50s/early 60s affected fashion and spawned galactic designs like the moon boots and inspired designers to create their own ideas of the future. Courrège’s created streamline looks using materials such as metal, pvc, and plastic that landed him the title of Space Age Designer. Meanwhile, Rudi Gernreich predicted in the year 2000, that fashion would be very gender fluid. He illustrated men and women in futuristic matching ensembles stating "Women will wear pants and men will wear skirts interchangeably." Looks like he was right on the mark with that one! I'm so pleased we are challenging the ideas of masculinity and femininity more than ever before.
I was also thrilled to be educated about things that are a part of my everyday interests such as the beginning of the Adidas All-star and Nike AF1’s. Not to mention the history behind Margielas iconic Tabi boot. Psst, it comes from 15th Century Japanese split-toe socks produced to wear with the countries traditional thonged sandals. It also came from his desire to have a shoe that gives you the illusion of no shoe at all with a chunky heel. There is even a heel that I pictured below which was strapped on with clear masking tape. That shoe is a true testament to the thought that once you realize fashion has no rules, you truly become an icon. That’s my opinion btw.. but who could dare disagree? The things I remember most when discovering a new fashion head is what they’ve done so outside the box, that it takes them away from the crowd and makes them individual and a visionary.
A very intriguing term this exhibit introduced me to was Existenzmaximum. It describes the "metaphysical personal spaces created by items of technology or clothing that function as portable cocoons." Some examples of items that create this are headphones, sunglasses, surgical masks, hoodies, and baseball caps. Serving as barriers around parts of our bodies including our eyes, mouth, and ears that make us seem untouchable and impenetrable. The term suggests how these items can not only help us detach but also classify us as different or other.
My favorite part of this exhibition was being enlightened on how some designers are taking an interesting approach in preparing for the future. Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond created a fashion forward weatherproof and breathable wetsuit fit for possible flooding due to the climate change and rising sea levels. In a photo below you'll see a red Issey Miyake piece called “A-POC queen.” This piece is a textile generated by a single thread by a computer programmed industrial knitting machine. The results are a knitted tube in a repeating pattern that create a patchwork of shapes whose outlines suggest dresses, tops, socks, gloves, and hats. You can basically cut along the outlines without wasting any fabric. This really stood out and inspired me because I often feel sadness about loving an industry that is so wasteful and harmful to the earth. This method suggests a way to waste less & prevent overconsumption. I also was intrigued to learn about bio couture, which is an approach to fashion that combines the skills of designers and bioengineers! They’ve made a bioengineered animal free leather that is more eco friendly and less wasteful. Techniques have also been made to create shirts through liquid assembly which requires no stitching therefor less waste.
All and all I found this exhibit to be extremely fulfilling and it made me hopeful for fashions future. It was about combining garments created for the benefit of many and those made for the enjoyment of a few and their impact on the world over the past 100 years. It hit all the sweet spots and was very entertaining with interactive displays and breathtaking video elements. 10 out of 10, I would recommend. It's only up for 2 more weeks in the MoMA so get up and go get inspired!
XO Lee Velvet