Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Give me your waif-like, your hungry,
Your perfectly coifed yearning to wear Gucci

It is September and that means the art world in New York is dominated by the fashion industry and Fashion Week. Conde Nast and Hearst release epic novels disguised as magazines dedicated to the world of fashion design. A noticeably larger number of tall skinny people roam the streets, and there is throbbing bass constantly emanating from Bryant Park. Also, it feels as if everyone in the city puts on the most cutting-edge item in their closet so as to dress for the occasion. It’s a little bit like Halloween, but the masks and cat ears are replaced with well tailored suits and dresses. Sure Fashion Week is a little pretentious, elitist, and rococo, but its actual downfall is that it turns its back on architecture. The fashion shows incorporate contemporary painting, sculpture, filmmaking, music, and yet the vast majority of the shows take place inside gargantuan, bland, white tents.
My guess is that the complete void in design of the venue is to ensure the building doesn’t distract attendees from the pieces of clothing on display. I refuse to accept this justification. It is the intellectually easy way out. One would think that if a person or group claims to be the purveyors of all things exceptional in the field of fashion design they would also understand -and hold in esteem- exceptional pieces of architectural design.

Ignoring the design of the venue is an incredible missed opportunity to facilitate a design dialogue between the art of fashion and the art of building. Perhaps the organizers of Fashion Week could take cues from entities like the College of Design at the University of Minnesota and strive to integrate all aspects of design (the University has put architecture students and fashion design students in the same college, even if not yet under the same roof). Such integration would give Fashion Week a broader audience and increase its influence on design as a discipline.

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