Sunday, April 4, 2010

What's on the Calendar in April?

Spring is upon us and there are a myriad of fabulous and fashionable shows to see around the world. Here are some that are on my radar.

Ongoing      The Bata Shoe Museum   On a Pedestal: From Renaissance Chopines to Baroque Heels
The Bata Shoe Museum is one of Toronto's jewels and I've been meaning to pop into this exhibition since it opened in November. On a Pedestal explores two of the most extreme forms of footwear ever worn in Western fashion, the platform chopine and the high heel. This exhibition presents some rare examples of Renaissance and Baroque footwear on loan from museums around the world as well as shoes from the museum's own collection. The exhibition runs to September 20, 2010.

Photo credit: Bata Shoe Museum 2009

April 9          Textile Museum of Canada: Lia Cook, David Harper and Stephen Schofield
Lia Cook's exhibition at the Textile Museum in Toronto is called Faces and Mazes and features her most recent series of weavings. Cook uses an electronic Jacquard hand loom to weave faces that dissolve into continuously changing maze-like patterns. As the faces fragment, a perceptual shift occurs, moving through a place of transition and ambiguity to reveal the physical, tactile nature of the constructed image. Drawing on familiar and childhood sources, Cook uses a detail, often re-photographed, layered and re-woven in oversized scale, to intensify an emotional and/or sensual encounter.

Photo credit: Textile Museum of Canada

David R. Harper embroiders portraits of people on animal skins, playing with the traditional roles of portraiture to immortalize and elevate the subject through artistic representation – just as the trophy from a hunting excursion might be a bear skin rug or a rack of antlers. These images of anonymous, Victorian-era men and women imply an emotional distance that allows the artist to poke at the slippery slope where nature and culture meet.

Photo credit: Textile Museum of Canada

Montreal artist Stephen Schofield’s one-and-a-half life-sized sculptures are intensely sensual. His patchwork figures, based on Pliny the Elder’s tale of Dibutade recounting the origin of drawing, are mapped from the male body and then expertly tailored out of old clothes. Soaked in sugar water and then inflated, the cloth becomes a taut skin that contains the human forms that hover between a highly spirited/spiritual realm and a dream world filled with personal reverie.

Photo credit: Textile Museum of Canada

April 10      Last day to see the American Beauty Exhibition at FIT in New York
I saw this exhibition in New York not long after it opened and never got around to posting about it. It is worth a trip because American Beauty: Aesthetics and Innovation in Fashion examines the relationship between the “philosophy of beauty” and the technical craft of dressmaking in the United States. Curated by deputy director Patricia Mears, the exhibition features approximately 80 garments by about 25 designers, including Halston, Claire McCardell, and Charles James, as well as some not as well known.

Photo credit of Halston gown from FIT website

If you live in NYC, this would be a lovely prelude to the upcoming exhibition on American Women: Fashioning a National Identity set to open at the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of New York on May 5, 2010.

The spectacular wardrobe of Grace Kelly will be on display from April 17 to September 26, 2010. Tracing the evolution of her style from her days as one of Hollywoods most popular actresses in the 1950s and as Princess Grace of Monaco, the display will present over fifty of Grace Kelly's outfits together with hats, jewellery and the original Herm├Ęs Kelly bag. Dresses from her films, including High Society, will be shown as well as the gown she wore to accept her Oscar award in 1955. These will be accompanied by film clips and posters, photographs and her Oscar statuette. The display will also include the lace ensemble worn by Grace Kelly for her civil marriage ceremony to Prince Rainier in 1956 and 35 haute couture gowns from the 1960s and 70s by her favourite couturiers Dior, Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Yves St Laurent.