New York Fashion StrongIssue: Section:
Photographs by Olimpia Dior
Fashion and Art have never been comfortable bedfellows. The fashion world seems uncomfortable with runway shows or presentations that are more provocative than simply showing pretty clothes on pretty models. Guess what? It’s about selling, selling, selling! Quick! Make money, build your brand name, then you can sell truckloads of fragrance or sunglasses all over the world! Consequently Fashion week is overrun with endless on schedule and off schedule designer shows and presentations, all looking to become the next Marc, Donna or Calvin.
Olimpia Dior 2
So when I decided to cross town on a dark snowy night at the beginning of New York Fashion Week to check out Ross Menuez’s first presentation for his label Salvor Projects*, I held no expectations. I am a self-proclaimed jaded fashion executive who yearns for more celebration of the truly creative side of fashion that is not about the big budgets of the Gucci Group or LVMH who easily hog the attention and get all the page space because they are paying for the rest of the page space. Yawn. Some of the smaller “maisons” have actually chosen to stay small and independent and hold an increasingly important role of allowing pure creativity to flow. Often this is where the trends emerge first, though often you would never know it. This is where choices are not always made based on budgets and margins but on creating and pushing ideas forward.
I have been a fan of Ross Menuez and his stream of creative consciousness for many years now. His almost naïve excitement towards his work and his constant intellectual chatter and reference points are imparted so sincerely he can surely penetrate the heart of even the most jaded fashion vet. I found myself walking into a darkened room in a Chelsea art gallery to what appeared to be strange hanging cocoons - maybe 6 or 7 of them - holding what looked like meditating bodies in limbo. Huge constantly changing images were projected on the wall behind, throwing a ghostly light over the room while a moody eclectic soundtrack filled what space there was left to fill. I had stepped suddenly into a new futuristic world with eerie flashes of the 70’s film “Coma” running through my mind. One solitary model walked slowly behind the hyper modern space age hammocks gently tapping them so they began to pulsate as if the heartbeat at the center of this brave new world. Was this a fashion installation or an art installation?
The clothes were not the center point nor did it seem they were meant to be. Having been to the Tino Sehgal exhibit just a few days earlier at the Guggenheim, Ross’s installation for Fashion Week felt similarly challenging. While at the Guggenheim I was challenged by the artist to think of art as not an object of any kind but in fact a momentary act or conversation, at the Salvor Projects presentation I was challenged to believe that what looked like a pretty unassuming graphically printed jersey top or legging can in fact come from a richly imagined world where the importance and beauty of the design is as much in the process and presentation as it is in the finished product. What I was beginning to think was impossible happened: I left a New York Fashion Week presentation a little less jaded than when I walked in.