Friday, July 9, 2010

What does art say that clothing can't?

Oooooo, I had a juicy conversation with a colleague of mine today.  We were on our way up to Los Angeles from San Diego to take measurements for a production she's designing--J and Z & the Zigzag Sea.  I've been hired to do the construction on some of the costumes, and this was my opportunity to meet the actors.

Our conversation on the way up was great!  I was finally able to articulate something that I hadn't been able to before...

Why don't we view our designer garments like we do a painting?  How is it that wearable art is not art until it is relatively impractical and unwearable?  Can we have an intelligent debate about the statement a garment makes regarding our culture and humanity?

I was sharing with her a forum I found: The Fashion Spot.   There was an old thread on the forums asking everyone if they would purchase designer clothes even if it would never see the light of day, simply for the sake of owning the piece of the collection?

I thought about that for a while... I know a lot of people that buy pieces because they are a brand even if they don't use it often.  I know some people that buy art as an investment, regardless of whether they will display it.  I've even heard of people owning vintage garments because they're beautiful.

But I've never heard of a person displaying their prize garment on a dress form and showing it off like a sculpture, or a wall painting.  I have never heard of anyone debating the design of clothing like they would a Van Gogh or a Monet--"Oh, that was Dior's Blue Period..."  I don't hear people talking about clothing's social impact like they do the work of Picasso's Guernica or Jacque Louis-David's Oath of the Horatii.

And why is that?

Why can't clothing make a profound social statement happen in the form of clothing that a person wears down the street?  We do it with t-shirt sayings (albeit they're rather flippant most of the time)...  Why can't we elevate it to something more significant or relevant?  What is it that we can say with our paintings and sculpture that we can't seem to say when clothing is the medium?

Live Life with Relish!


  1. Maybe current clothing can only be viewed as art by future generation? In Singapore, in the national museum, we have a dedicated space to showcase the Peranakan clothing. The craftsmen who make these outfits are extinct and of course no one can make them the ole way anymore. Once, they were worn daily. Now they are art. But you know Corey, you keep digging and I'm pretty sure you'll start something with your clothing!

  2. Thanks, Jane! I know I'm going to crack this quandary, I just know it! I'm definitely going to keep digging. Someday, I'll have an epiphany and the answer will hit me like a lightning bolt! And then, maybe, I can create something really irresistible... hehe... : )


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