Thursday, February 20, 2014

Fashion Art

Last week, I went to an exhibit at the Bellevue Art Museum called Isabelle de Borchgrave Meets Mariano Fortuny. De Borchgrave is a Belgian artist who works in paper to reproduce/interpret historical costumes and fashion. She paints, stamps, stencils and beads on paper which is then manipulated into three-dimensional garments on mannequins. It's quite remarkable to see.

I bought the book, a catalogue of her exhibit in San Francisco and including pieces from other collections she's done such as Medici and Neapolitan Women. It explains a bit of her history and methods, although doesn't really address at all how the paper is manipulated into the shape of the garment and forced to stay there. The Fortuny gowns, which are famous for their fluid shapes and vivid color, were represented by perhaps 2 dozen pieces, along with some pieces inspired by ethnic costumes such as caftans and djellabahs. These were primarily two-dimensional, and hung from horizontal poles like kimono. I wasn't quite sure of the connection between the ethnic costumes and Fortuny, but it may have been because they were the inspiration for many of his color combinations and decorative elements. 

The detail work on these pieces is amazing, and both at a distance and in photographs, they look incredibly beautiful. But I noticed that up close, they felt static and lifeless, and made me wish to see the original works. Fabric has so much more life and depth to it!

Interestingly, the museum also had this piece by Karen LaMonte on the ground floor. Called Odoriko, it's made of cast glass and is a different artistic interpretation of clothing.

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