“fashion after Fashion” Exhibition

Museum of Arts & Design

poster for “fashion after Fashion” Exhibition

This event has ended.

This spring, the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) presents fashion after Fashion, an exhibition that seeks to redefine the term “Fashion” by presenting the work of six designer teams who are thinking—and making us think—about fashion anew. Featuring some of the most innovative work being produced in the context of contemporary fashion, with new commissions by Eckhaus Latta and Alexa Karolinski, ensæmble, Lucy Jones, Ryohei Kawanishi, Henrik Vibskov, and SSAW Magazine, fashion after Fashion focuses on commissioned, site-sensitive installations to offer an experience that is immersive, affective, and mentally stimulating. With no mannequins in sight, the exhibition considers fashion as an expanded field of practice that is determined by concept and context, incorporating performance, photography, video, and sculpture.

According to curator Hazel Clark, “fashion after Fashion brings to attention fashion practices that are creative, thoughtful, performative, and socially concerned rather than focused on the short-lived commodification and standardization of products, designers, bodies, images, and lifestyles.”

The exhibition uses “fashion” (in the lowercase) to signal a more reflective, concerned, and creative process that is not determined solely by commerce and passing trends. The practitioners included in fashion after Fashion call into question the state and nature of “Fashion” (in the uppercase) and challenge some of its main constructs, including the myth of the individual designer as author, short-lived and commodity-driven products, gendered dressing, ideal bodies, and waste.

“By featuring commissioned site-specific works, not garments and artifacts, fashion after Fashion channels a current ethos in design,” said curator Ilari Laamanen. “The focus is on collaborative and interdisciplinary practices. We highlight the process, not the product.”

Fashion is a shared endeavor between creators, producers, and wearers, a message that is fundamental to the newly commissioned film by Eckhaus Latta and Alexa Karolinski. Set in a bathroom, Coco features a cast diverse in age, gender, and race, wearing outfits from the Eckhaus Latta fall/winter 2017 collection while answering questions from a deck of cards. Their responses remind us that fashion can exist within the intimate and empathetic interactions between strangers and friends, rather than as a mere by-product of our hypersaturated visual and consumer culture.

ensæmble’s sculptural installation, entitled INSIDE, draws attention to the insides of garments, studying their hidden structures, volumes, and details, not just their external appearance. Using materials like plaster, wood, metal, and textiles, ensæmble creates sculptures that feature the intimate relationships that occur in the daily interactions between bodies and the garments that clothe them.

Lucy Jones’ installation presents a collection for people who use wheelchairs, exploring how garments can be designed to be put on with greater ease and worn in comfort by the seated body. The twenty-two “elbows” featured in the exhibition convey how functional shapes can support the body and be both subtle and extraordinary in their appearance.

Ryohei Kawanishi challenges hierarchies of consumerism by simulating a wholesale showroom where store buyers purchase from designers. Here, he highlights and revalues the design process by intervening with preexisting branded Fashion garments through the replacement of their labels with his own.

In a newly commissioned piece by Henrik Vibskov and his team, a monumental red cube serves as a metaphor for the different spaces of fashion. Stepping inside, one might recall the privacy of the dressing room or of the dressmaker’s showroom, where the mannequin serves to represent the absent human body. The cube also serves as a symbol for how bodies are activated by garments—in this case, the “dresses” contained within the structure are not entirely static, but slowly disgorge their contents.

Helsinki-based Tuomas Laitinen and Chris Vidal Tenomaa, the directors of SSAW Magazine, create an immersive environment through the reproduction of a careful and decisive selection of images that question notions of beauty, gender, sexuality, and “good taste.” They realize their perspective of fashion by continually defying conventional expectations.

These installations challenge the viewer to think past the familiar modes of Fashion and consider the broader role fashion will play in the future.


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