Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Orange by Angela Chen Fall Winter 2010

From the moment the first model stepped onto the runway, I knew that Angela Chen was my kind of designer. An elegant silk blouse in cream and a draped black skirt is a staple in my wardrobe and I wanted to cheer.

The collection was a symphony of black, cream and gray, the wardrobe of many sophisticated urban women. Actually it reminded me of New York, where colour simply does not exist.

Although there was a variety of day and evening looks, I have to say my favourite pieces were for evening. There was a stunning skirt that I could see myself wearing to the opera or ballet.

And there was also a beautiful dress which should be in my closet.

It was a sophisticated, elegant and wearable collection.

Monday, March 29, 2010

LG Toronto Fashion Week

 Photo credit: LG Toronto Fashion Week Website

The sun in shining on Toronto during LG Fashion Week Beauty by L’OrĂ©al Paris.  In its 12th year, this event brings together fashion designers, buyers, media and fans. And I can hardly wait to make my debut covering the Orange by Angela Chen show tomorrow afternoon. Angela is one busy girl and I've not been able to get a pre-show interview. But perhaps after she's caught up on her sleep, I'll be able to feature an interview here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Pleasure Point at the MCASD in La Jolla

Although New York wears the crown of the contemporary art world, sometimes smaller regional galleries can provide a more intimate and friendly experience with art. That is definitely the case for the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art which has a top notch collection of contemporary art in two locations, one in downtown San Diego and the other in nearby La Jolla.

Currently on display is a show called Pleasure Point: Celebrating 25 Years of Contemporary Collections.  The title is derived from the museum's showcase piece by artist Nancy Rubins (2006) of nautical boats lashed together to create a site-specific sculpture (shown in the photograph above). Also on display are other works in the museum's collection including works by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Hans Hoffman, Cindy Sherman, John Currin, and Damien Hirst.

Although I just missed a retrospective of Tara Donovan's visually arresting organic installations using toothpicks, paper cups and other non-traditional sculpture materials, I had a long conversation with one of the security guards about her installation. When would that ever happen in New York?

Pleasure Point: Celebrating 25 Years of Contemporary Collections
San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla
700 Prospect Street, La Jolla
February 20 to May 16, 2010

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition at FIDM

Although the traffic of downtown Los Angeles makes getting there a hassle, you will soon forget all about it when you step inside the Museum of Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM). Currently on display is an exquisite display of costumes from recent movies such as The Duchess, The Young Victoria, An Education, The Last Station, Bright Star. 

This exhibition is the eighteenth annual presentation of costumes from motion pictures timed to coincide with the Academy Awards. These costumes "represent the creativity and skill of the costume designer in creating the mood and aura of the period in which each film is set. Whether they are elegant embroideries and ruffles or gritty denims and fleece, costumes must fit the style and tone of the movie, requiring equal amounts of research, skill and talent."

To see costumes up close allowed me to appreciate the complexity of intricate workmanship in a way that one cannot see in a movie. Who knew that anyone still hand stitched garments? Plus I got a more realistic sense of an actor's size - finding Penelope Cruz to be more petite than I expected based on her costumes for Nine and Ben Stiller to be taller than I thought based on his costume for Night at the Museum. The displays were impeccable with clear labeling and lighting. I lingered for a long time in front of the costumes for Young Victoria (which won the Academy Award 2010 for Costume Design). There were seven gowns on display including five for Emily Blunt as Queen Victoria and two for Miranda Richardson as the Duchess of Kent. Plus there was a display case with a replica of the Imperial State Crown and the George III Tiara executed in faux jewels but looking real enough!

The staff of this gallery are eager to please and there is also a lovely gift shop showcasing books on fashion and other fashionable treats! If you cannot get there, check out their enchanting and educational blog. 

Motion Picture Costume Design Exhibition
February 9 - April 17, 2010

919 South Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum is one of my favourite museums of art. The facility sits on 750 acres in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains in Los Angeles and is free to the public because J. P. Getty believed that art should be accessible to everyone.

I've been there several times and don't think I've come close to seeing it all. The breadth and size of the collection is mind-boggling. Besides the art, the complex itself (designed by architect Richard Meir) is both modern in its functional elegance and classic in its design. Even the gardens are a delight to the eye.

J. Paul Getty was a eclectic collector of art, furniture and objects des arts. On my recent visit, I discovered an entire pavilion of 18th century French furniture. Look at this delightful Turkish bed. Don't you just want to curl up on it with some friends?

J. Paul Getty Museum
1200 Getty Center Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90049

Sunday, March 21, 2010

San Diego Style

San Diego Historical Society celebrated its 20th anniversary with an exhibition of 40 outfits at the Museum in Balboa Park. Guest curated by Timothy A. Long, pieces largely came from the SD Historical Society's 7000 piece costume collection and also included several items on loan. The pieces on display date from 1876 to 2009 and include haute couture gowns and day ensembles. Each piece is shown with information about the woman that wore the outfit and on what occasion it was worn adding personality and context to the presentation. For example, a Christian Dior red wool crepe afternoon suit 1957 and a black wool afternoon suit by Dior 1957 were worn by Catherine Fogg. Marilyn Pavel wore an exquisite black silk velvet gown with gold embroidery by Oscar de la Renta 1990. 

I was particularly taken by a Jacques Fath 1953 evening gown in lace and silk taffeta, an Emilio Pucci 1972 silk organdy gown, the 1897 burgundy silk brocade and velvet outfit made by Ora Bally McCuthan (shown above) and several dresses by British designer and current San Diego resident Zandra Rhodes. Sadly, no photos were allowed in the exhibit but on offer were witty take-away cards shown above which included one's fashion forecast! 

The show continues until April 1, 2010.

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA 92101

Friday, March 19, 2010

Grip by Erik Levine at the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art

Photo copyright of Ingrid Mida 2008

This photo is not from the video installation Grip by Erik Levine at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego in La Jolla but it could be. As soon as I entered the screening room, I was instantly struck by the power of Erik Levine's work. Two life size screens portray the frustration and anger of young junior boy tennis players as they attempt to get a grip on their game after bad plays, bad calls and bad results. The placement of the bench between the screens forces the viewer to turn one's head between the screens just like in a real tennis match. This work literally wrenched my heart and took me back in time.

This is what Erik writes about this piece:
"Grip reveals the compelling and complex psychological tug-of-war as boys struggle with fear through the prism of athletic competition. This despair can lead to extreme expressions of anger and frustration at a time in their lives when perspective can often be elusive and alludes to the startling and revealig analogous microcosm for life outside the demarcations and boundaries of the playing field."

If you cannot get the the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego this weekend, you can see Erik Levine's video Grip on his website here. It is not quite the same thing as seeing it on life-sized screens, but it is compelling none the less. 

Grip by Erik Levine on until March 21, 2010 at

700 Prospect Street
La Jolla, CA 92037

Thursday, March 18, 2010

David Adey Installation at the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library in La Jolla

This incredible book installation entitled John Henry by artist David Adey is currently on display at the La Jolla Athenaeum Music and Arts Library. Composed of books, sawhorses, steel and cable, this breathtaking archway of books was created specifically for this space. I think it is both elegant and witty. Not to be missed is a video of the installation set on fast forward through the mind-boggling process of suspending the books in mid-air!

Photos copyright of Ingrid Mida, 2010

David Adey lives and works in San Diego. He was nominated for the 2009 San Diego Art Prize and is represented by Luis de Jesus Gallery in LA. On April 3, 2010, visitors to the library are invited to watch the take-down of this awe-inspiring installation, which will be re-installed at the Luis de Jesus Gallery in LA for April 9th - May 15, 2010. 

1008 Wall Street
La Jolla, CA 92037

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Orange by Angela Chen

My first invitation to Toronto Fashion Week came courtesy of Angela Chen, designer of the line OrangeNYC. Angela Chen was born in Taiwan, raised in Vancouver and graduated from the Parsons New School of Design in 2007.  If her previous collections are indicative of what I'll see in the fall/winter 2010 runway presentation, I will expect to see beautifully composed and sculpted outfits anchored in black. As an artist and writer, black is a huge staple in my wardrobe and I could see myself wearing many of the pieces from her prior collections. But I'll have to wait until March 30th to see for sure.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Underdog Award of Distinction 2010

I am the recipient of the Underdog Award of Distinction 2010 presented by art critic and new genre artist/writer Otino Corsano for my installation at Fly Gallery. I invite you to visit his blog to read about this honour! I am tickled pink as I often feel like an underdog. Whimsy is such an important component to my art practice and often overlooked and unappreciated in the art world.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Viktor and Rolf

I first fell in love with the work of Viktor and Rolf when I attended a retrospective in 2008 at the Barbicon Gallery in London. It was there that I realized the boundaries between fashion and art sometimes overlap. For Viktor and Rolf, creativity and innovation are expressed in a form of wearable sculpture. I particularly enjoyed their Flowerbomb 2005 collection which included extravagant bows like a gift wrapper gone wild!

Viktor and Rolf's show on March 9, 2010 featured Kristen McMenamny dressed in layers comprised of  the entire collection which were then removed one by one and given to other models. This format was  similar to the routine for their Babushka collection from ten years prior. In a season that has seen a lot of restraint, this performance did not go over well with the critics who seemed to suggest that the show would be remembered "more for the spectacle than the clothes".  

In spite of the poor reviews, I have to applaud Viktor and Rolf for not playing it safe. Apparently many of the clothes have dual uses (for example, a leather coat which reversed to a beaded one), which in a recession, sounds like investment dressing to me!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Wanted: Studio Assistant

Photo credit: Rochas, Fall 2010 Collection
Lately I've been wondering what it would be like to have a studio assistant, especially as I have no shortage of ideas, but am chronically short of time..... In my wildest dreams, I'd have a bevy of studio assistants a la Jeff Koons or Damien Hirst to execute my ideas as I scoured the world for inspiration.

This would be the job description for this fantasy position. The pay would be non-existent, but the experience priceless!!!

1. Accompany me into deep, dark ravines for photo shoots to protect me from wild beasts and other creatures and to carry heavy photography equipment.

2. Attend gallery openings and other art related events in my place, making witty conversation with gallery owners and potential purchasers and drawing attention to my work.

3. Contact potential purchasers, curators and art dealers on my behalf.

4. Write witty blog posts when I am otherwise too tired or uninspired to do so.

5. Respond to all email requests for research assistance and blog comments.

6. Read uninspired phd theses on French fashion in the 18th century and summarize for me.

7. Thread my embroidery needle for me as my eyes tire and my hands cramp up.

8. Embroider, draw, photograph, and/or sculpt when I don't feel like it or have the time.

9. Source difficult-to-find antique mannequins, fabric and art materials and drag heavy items into my studio.

10. Write long grant proposals but don't tell me so I don't get disappointed when I don't get one.

Who am I kidding? I love doing all this stuff....well, most of it anyway. 

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Jean-Paul Gaultier for Target

Photo by Daniel King for Elle Magazine

If you bow to the gods of fashion as I do, get thyself to a Target store tomorrow! The Jean-Paul Gaultier limited-edition line for Target will be on the floor from March 7th to April 11, 2010. 

Known as the bad boy of French fashion, Gaultier designs under his own label as well as for the revered Hermes. Having had no formal training, he was hired by Pierre Cardin at age 18 and worked there until 1976, when he launched his own luxury line. His past collections have been a unique combination of luxe and irreverence and have included putting men in skirts and designing underwear as outerwear.

Gaultier said his collection for Target took him back to his roots and was inspired by the energy and strength of the American woman. "She's fresh faced and rebellious, feisty and provocative. She's the American woman. It boldly captures her personality and energy with a decidedly French twist."  The look-book shows five muses: Punk, Hollywood Glam, Ingenue, Hip Hop and Rock and Roll. The collection features such items as a long-sleeve tattoo t-shirt,  a delectable yellow Marilyn Monroe garden-party dress, a soft brown leather Perfecto jacket, a hip camel coloured trench and a striped bustier. 

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Jean-Paul Gaultier

Photo by Francois Guillot

This image from the recent Paris couture collections haunts me. This spectacular garment by Jean Paul Gaultier seems to combine both the corset and the crinoline in a singular piece. Not that I'd ever wear such a thing, but I find the sculptural qualities of it mesmerizing! Apparently, Gaultier's 2010 Mexican themed collection was inspired by Mel Gibson's 2007 movie Apocalypto and featured a melange of vivid colours, fringe and basket-woven leather.You won't find this in Gaultier's upcoming collection for Target. Such an object is likely destined to a fashion museum....

Monday, March 1, 2010

What's on the Fashion Calendar for March

Monday, March 1, 2010Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto 7-8 pm
International Women’s Day Lecture:  Heights of Fashion: A History of the Elevated Shoe
Illustrated Talk by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Curator, Bata Shoe Museum

Common sense suggests that shoes should protect our feet and aid our mobility but the high heel challenges this----it is not a sensible shoe. So why, then, do millions of women, but very few men, wear them? How did such an impractical shoe come to be a potent signifier of status and more importantly, gender? This talk will address these questions by going beyond a simple charting of shifting modes of dress and engage with a wide range of subjects: East-West trade and the lure of the exotic; the expression of socio-economic status through impractical dress; and gender politics and the construction of eroticized femininity.

Saturday, March 6th: Toronto Vintage Clothing and Textile Show and Sale
The 19th Annual Vintage Clothing and Textile Sale will be held on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at the CNIB Centre. Available for sale are vintage clothing and accessories, early textiles including quilts, linens, laces, samplers and related sewing items, and heritage estate jewelery.

Sunday, March 7th:  Jean-Paul Gaultier Collection for Target hits stores today! If you see me, watch out as I'll be sharpening my elbows!!!

It's also the night of the Oscars and what better time to point out that the Museum at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angelos has an exhibition called Hollywood 2010: The Art of Motion Picture Costume Design which runs from February 9, 2010 – April 17, 2010. On display are over 100 costumes from over two dozen of last year's movies, such as The Young Victoria, Star Trek, Julie & Julia, An Education, Nine, Broken Embraces, and The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus. Also on display are the fashions from The Duchess, the Academy Award® winner for Best Costume Design in 2008. The free exhibition is open to the public Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

And that is just for the first week of March! Whew!!