Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Art & Fashion Intersect Again, or The Artist as Social Scientist

The concept of fashion is baffling to me: otherwise intelligent, successful women get their names on a list for the opportunity to buy a five thousand dollar handbag, or have the need to purchase shorter skirts and ankle boots because someone, somewhere, said that they can't possibly wear the clothes that they bought last year. Simple concepts of manufactured status and market-driven, planned seasonal obsolescence seem to escape the fashion-conscious woman, no matter how intelligent she might be in other areas.

On the other hand, I understand the love of beautiful clothes. Perhaps it was all the old movies I watched as a child, or maybe it is the artist in me, equipped with an insatiable desire to experience the weight, texture, and intensity of hue in a gorgeous piece of fabric. I have collected vintage clothes since I was in high school. These days, when I go to NYC, I spend at least one day in the garment district, fondling fabrics. While I sometimes look at fashion magazines and see things that are beautiful, I don't get the status thing. Although my husband, the Darwinist, has explained it to me in very simple terms on several occasions, I still think it's just stupid.

Just as the research of celebrity worship for "Blessed Art Thou" took me to some bizarre new places I had never been before, I found myself playing the stranger in a strange land while researching fashion status objects for one of my new paintings. I learned, for example, that Victoria Beckham somehow procured this Roland Mouret Moon dress several months before any other mortals could acquire it, wore it someplace she was sure to be photographed, the images have spread like wildfire across the web, and knockoffs are already being manufactured. (How DOES she walk on grass without the spike heels sinking in?) The fascinating backstory is here.

And here is the still-in-progress dress in my painting (the subject in my painting would have the skirt shortened), with a Ferrari limited edition phone, pink Dior pleated leather pumps, and a Fendi bag:
(click to enlarge)

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