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Judging from the online photos in the NY Times, the biggest problem with the parade at the Met’s Costume Institute Gala the other night, was trying to figure out who to blame. Then again, maybe it was the waste of so many beautiful materials that were turned into junk?
At least three fourths of the gowns would make a design teacher crawl up the wall in agony. The designs would be on quiz after quiz with something like “re-design this gown to reflect the art elements covered this week”. Students would be flying out of there with A’s -- there is so much to fix! And that’s just for the Design 1 beginners.
Check out the red carpet rundown here
and see if I have a case.
Given the chain of decisions to put a celeb on such a selfie carpet, take your pick. Should we blame the designer for thinking he or she had a good idea? Or, maybe it was the celeb who threw a dart in a dark closet; or, maybe she had to accept a reject because it was free? Or, maybe the blame lies with the stylist who had a better sales pitch than she did taste? Or, maybe it was the escort of the evening who picked it out? All of the above? I suspect all of the above -- the line-up was really bad.
But someone had to make those things, so I’m going to take this Met Gala as definitive proof that all those designers that get plum jobs with big houses but look like they are 12, really are 12.
While there were several beautifully designed pieces in there (immediately recognizable), the great majority constituted simple embarrassment. They were professionally embarrassing for the designer, physically embarrassing to appear in, embarrassing to move in and, in total, made up an embarrassing display for the Met itself, the City of New York as a model event for the fashion industry, the fashion schools for turning out people without a clue and for the US as a society to emulate.
Next year, please Anna, jury the show or make Design 1 a prerequisite.
John Westmark show at the Gibbes in Charleston!
Rarely do we find exceptionable art that is conceptually developed around paper dress patterns. John Westmark's art expresses the struggles of women, often weighed down by voluminous clothing that is perhaps symbolic of their obligations and duties, while at the same time it underscores their beauty and fragility. His work plants all the contradictions right there in one sweep and, if you are a woman, there is your life and that of so many others, frozen in one scene. You feel like you are looking at a self-portrait. It is powerful and important. See the show if you are near Charleston, SC -- it's there from April 4th to July 13.
Thank you, John, for your eloquent and beautiful work.
Some of you may wonder why I am such an apostle for Madeleine Vionnet's work from the 1930's and why I cut our patterns according to her principles and techniques -- and why it took me 40 years to learn to do it! The answer, for the current generation, lies in F.I.T. 's wonderful upcoming exhibition, featuring both women's and men's designs from the 1930's, called Elegance in the Age of Crisis, February 7 – April 19, 2014, New York. Bias cut clothing reveals the natural body artistically but does not exploit it. Watch and learn . . . then think about how similar our times are to the 30's.
This video has an excellent rationale for the Pli de Souplesse, which is discussed by Alan LeBlanc in his essay in our store.