Fashion & Performance and 1914 Now are two exhibitions currently showing at the RMIT Design Hub, and both are the result of a research exchange between the university’s School of Fashion & Textiles and the London College of Fashion.
As part of Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival’s Cultural Program, the exhibitions experiment with the notions of design, movement, and history in a way that blurs the lines between the worlds of fashion design and contemporary performance art and installation.
As I walked in, I was immediately invited (and was in fact invited numerous times) to participate in a performance piece that seemed to comprise entirely of donning a trench coat and lying on the floor. I politely declined to explain that I was more a spectator than anything else and continued to wander around the myriad examples of what can only be called ‘experimental fashion’.
The first exhibit Fashion & Performance: Materiality, Meaning and Media is inspired by the idea of the ‘choreographed garment’. The various artworks in the room brought together movement and fashion in ways both shocking and serene in an attempt to convey the intrinsic connection between these two factors of design.
Highlights include curator Jessica Bugg’s Optical Laces, a short film of a dancer performing in a fringed (or presumably laced) dress creating mesmerizing images on screen as the laces of the garment are manipulated by the movement of the dancer’s body.
In contrast to this, there is Ulrik Martin Larsen’s The Choreographer Garment- #4 Intermediate Dress. Another short film that, instead of celebrating the movement of body and garment in unison, illustrates the movement involved in dressing itself. The wonderful garment he has designed acts like a Jacobs Ladder turning the task of dressing into a form of dance as his protagonist twirls on screen in an attempt to complete her outfit.
The designs in this first exhibition are bizarre, conceptual and futuristic. Perhaps, as Professor Robyn Healy said in her introductory speech, ‘a sign of things to come’ in the fashion industry, and nevertheless an insightful look into how body and garment are connected- something about which many of us do not give much thought.
The second exhibition 1914 Now: Four Perspectives on Fashion Curation features four short films made as a reaction to fashion curation at a selected point in time between 1914 and 2014. The pieces take into account the changing ways that fashion was interpreted over the years and how this affected the presentation of fashion to the public.
From the visually beautiful The Violet Hour by Amy de la Haye and Katerina Athanasopoulou to the disconcerting Incunabula by Kaat Debo and Marie Schuller, the films are fabulously diverse and capable of making the viewer genuinely think about the changing face of fashion.
Abstract and even a little absurd, the exhibitions really open up the philosophical aspects of fashion and design and are unlike anything I have ever seen before. Refreshingly different and really very interesting, I would say that Fashion & Performance and 1914 Now are two definite must-sees as part of the VAMFF experience.
The exhibitions run in the RMIT Design Hub from 5th March through to 2nd April 2015.
The Fashion Advocate x