Thursday, May 12, 2011

Daphne Guinness for Alexander McQueen - Is Fashion Art?

Daphne Guinness got ready for the Met Costume Gala in the window of Barneys in NYC as a performance art tribute to her friend Alexander McQueen, in honor of the Costume Institute’s new exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty. “Can fashion ever be art?” I may be repeating myself, but in my opinion the answer is yes, but one thing is not more valid than the other. It is not a matter of “better than” but a difference in perception. I think my position has always been clear, though some would disagree. It could not by any means be argued that all fashion is art, nor all designers artists, but figures such as McQueen, Saint Laurent, and Balenciaga (among others) prove that occasionally there exist exceptional creative minds, groundbreaking artists, who just happen to have chosen clothing as their canvas. I feel that the clothing industry has become increasingly confused, its identity increasingly fractured by corporate demands. I believe there has been a lull in the last two decades, and my prediction is that this will lead to some sort of explosion of ideas." 'Remembrance of Things Past: Daphne Guinness on Alexander McQueen and Isabella Blow Behind the Windows at Barneys',
So what is art? The age old question that takes me back to my Art History 101 lectures. I believe that fashion can unequivocally be art. At University they told us that one categorization of art is Art is "what the 'art world' tells you is art"- the art world being artists, dealers, curators etc. I believe that art something you find interesting or beautiful or moves you. It could be an inanimate object, or an installation or video - such as McQueen's Kate Moss hologram. Or a storm, or a rainbow. Something that causes a reaction. Fashion most definitely does this for me. A Nicholas Kirkwood shoe - like sculpture. A mille feuille of ruffles by Versace Couture cascading around Sarah Jessica Parker in the final episode of 'Sex and the City'. Sir Francis Bacon said "Fashion is only the attempt to realize art in living forms and social intercourse." I like that quote.
Daphne has purchased Isabella Blow's entire collection and hopes to exhibit it one day. "Ever since I purchased it after her death, I have toyed and struggled with how best to illuminate her collection—the most vivid representation of who she was, evoking memories of her perfect idiosyncrasies, her quick eye, and her wonderful daring persona...It became apparent to me that it was a good way to start to curate her collection as well as my own and to share it with people who appreciate art as fashion."
Isabella Blow by by Steven Meisel, 1993

"It’s Issy—it’s her DNA—it should not be scattered to the four winds. "I want it to remain as a monument."

Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty runs at the Met until July 31st. Surprisingly, only a handful of celebs rocked up to the Met Costume Gala wearing McQueen - here they are, in order of my favourites.

Karen Elson




Chloe Sevigny

Naomi Campbell

See here for more on the divine Ms Guinness, and here for more on Isabella Blow and Alexander McQueen.

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