Thursday, December 15, 2011

Blogging and Baudelaire

Gaga's Boudoir Window at Barney's New York by Ingrid Mida 2011
Poet Charles Baudelaire and theorist Walter Benjamin were fascinated by the concept of the flaneur, a figure who anonymously strolled through the city streets gazing into windows, embodying the concept of modernity in the specular relationship to urban space and consumer goods. I felt a bit like a flaneuse myself during my weekend jaunt to New York, strolling the city from the Museum at FIT (at 7th and 27th) up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (at 5th and 82) and stopping to admire the windows like this fabulous Gaga display at Barneys. The weather was glorious and I drank in the sunshine as if I'd recently been released from prison (which is what I equate the library I've been living in of late).

Stepping away from for a weekend was refreshing in so many ways and it re-energized me.  I also thought of all the good things that have come my way from being a blogger -  the people I've met, the exhibitions I've seen, the friends I've made.... I recently submitted an abstract for a paper called "Blogging, Benjamin and Foucault" to the Fashion Tales 2012 conference in Milan. In equating bloggers to Baudelaire’s and Benjamin's concept of the flaneur and drawing on Foucault’s theories on the aesthetics of existence, I hope to recast the blog as a creative portal and a form of conversational erudition. Call me crazy.... I don't know if it will fly, but sometimes you just have to jump off the cliff....

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pausing to Reflect

It is my birthday tomorrow and I find myself in the midst of an existential crisis...  Although I've been so busy of late that I've hardly had time to breathe, I find myself questioning the choices I've made and what I want for the future. Sometimes I wonder why I push so hard and then there are times I wonder if I'm doing enough.... I know this means it is time to step away from the fray and take some time to reflect. I wish you all a happy holiday season, filled with love and laughter, joy and delight!

But if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.
Carl Jung

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Creative Process Journal: If Marie Antoinette was a Blogger

If Marie Antoinette was a Blogger II by Ingrid Mida (Copyright 2011)

In this work, a dress once worn by Marie Antoinette from the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum is reimagined and recreated from a mash up of toile de jouey fabrics which depict an appropriated version of Fraggonard’s painting The Swing. This post-modern pastiche of the original dress is embellished with hot pink ribbons, a colour associated with third wave feminism. Instead of the panier and petticoat normally worn with a robe a la francaise, the dress is styled in a contemporary way with jeans and brogues to further emphasize the post-modern aspect of its creation.

In a nod to the construction of identity reflected in the phenomena of personal style blogs, the artist photographs herself wearing the dress while holding a mirror over her face. The mirror, a tool used by style bloggers to hide their identity, also symbolizes femininity. With further manipulation in Photoshop, multiple selves are depicted in the ballroom of the Palais Garnier in Paris as a play on the myth of photographic truth.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

What's on the Fashion Calendar for December

In a month filled with holiday parties and festivities (not to mention a raft of deadlines), I find the reflective nature of art to be a balm to the soul. Here are some of the exhibitions I hope to visit this month:

Cecil Beaton 1948
The Museum of the City of New York presents the work of British-born photographer and designer Cecil Beaton (1904-80). The exhibition Cecil Beaton: The New York Years brings together extraordinary photographs, drawings, and costumes by Beaton to chronicle his impact on the city’s cultural life.
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, New York

Daphne Guiness
Tom Ford once said: “Daphne is one of – if not the – most stylish women living." In an exhibition at the Museum at FIT, curator Valerie Steele collaborated with this fashion icon to present a selection of Daphne Guiness' collection of couture. Divided into six sections, the garments are organized into six themes including Dandyism, Armor, Chic, Evening Chic, Exoticism and Sparkle. 
Museum at FIT, 7th Avenue at 27th, New York 

In the exhibition Stieglitz and his artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents over 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from Alfred Stieglitz's collection. These artworks were acquired by the Metropolitan in 1949 from Georgia O'Keefe. After reading the book "How Georgia Became O'Keeffe" by Karen Karbo and learning about their stormy relationship, I'm keen to see this exhibition, especially since many of the works were acquired by Stieglitz when the artists were relatively unknown.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York

Blue Circus by Marc Chagall
The Art Gallery of Ontario presents Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and features the work of Marc Chagall alongside his contemporaries of Russian modernism, including Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia Delaunay.
The exhibition of 118 works comes from the Centre Pompidou and features 32 works by Chagall and eight works by Kandinsky.
Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Conversation with Jeanne Beker about Fashion and Art

Jeanne Beker: AGO Collector's Series 2011
Jeanne Beker's personal art collection is whimsical, eclectic, and captivating - descriptors that can also be used for the woman herself. In a one-on-one interview with this fashion powerhouse, Jeanne and I had a lively conservation about fashion and art and she also gave me a tour of her favourite artworks now on display as part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's 2nd Annual Collector's Series Exhibition.

The Birthday Party by Marion Perlet
For Jeanne, each work of art in her collection evokes a memory. She said "They really serve as a kind of visual diary for me of my travels, certain stages I was going through in my life, of certain changing aesthetics I've had over the years." One of her favourites is an oil painting by Marion Perlet called "The Birthday Party" in which the artist painted her memories of her birthday party as a child. Jeanne said "This was a cherry pie but my girls always thought it looked like a pepperoni pizza. It sat right over our table in the kitchen of our old house and now it hangs in my dining room and it just makes me feel good. And yet, there is something about the look in their eyes, some of them look a little dysfunctional, or that they have their grudges or own stories to tell or their own feelings about themselves, their particular plight - they are your typical dysfunctional family I think."

Monday, November 28, 2011

What to Wear to Interview Jeanne Beker

Jeanne Beker (Source: CP24 News)
Although I have an enormous stack of work on my desk, I am obsessing what I should wear to interview Jeanne Beker today. The Art Gallery of Ontario Annual Collector's Series highlights the personal art collection of notable Canadians and Jeanne Beker is the curator of this year's exhibition which opens to the public on November 30th.

Even though I've interviewed people like fashion scholar Valerie Steele, rock star curator Harold Koda, and Director/CEO of the AGO Matthew Teitelbaum, there is something about meeting Jeanne Beker that makes me nervous.  On days like today, I really wish I had an assistant.

I have prepared my questions carefully and now I'm staring into my closet..... I'm leaning towards my black Prada suit or maybe a Balenciaga jacket -- something that feels like fashion armour....

I'll be posting my interview with Jeanne Beker on Fashion is my Muse! Stay tuned.

The AGO's 2nd Annual Collector's Series
AGO Art Rental + Sales Gallery
481 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
November 30, 2011 to December 19, 2011

For more information, see the AGO website link here.

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Creative Process Journal: The Dress

It's been one of those weeks.... I sort of feel like I've been to hell and back and so spending some time in the studio was a dose of joy. This is the dress - a post-modern pastiche of Marie Antoinette's dress from the Royal Ontario Museum

Post-modern Marie Antoinette Dress by Ingrid Mida 2011

Post-modern Marie Antoinette Dress Back by Ingrid Mida 2011
It's a mash up of 18th century and contemporary style with heavy doses of pink in reference to third wave feminism. I made the skirt to accommodate paniers and without them it drags at the sides somewhat, but that's all I had time for. Besides if Marie Antoinette were here today, she would probably wear jeans or a miniskirt under this get-up.

Post-modern Marie Antoinette Shoes by Ingrid Mida 2011
Instead of the pink Converse shoes, I decided to go with these patent leather pink and cream brogues with a heel by Bass. I fancy I can wear them myself - perhaps with my upcoming interview with Jeanne Beker of Fashion Television!

Project clock: +10 hours
Total to-date: 53 hours

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living

There are many, many books on the life and work of Georgia O'Keeffe - so many in fact that there are multiple pages of listings on Amazon.... Her visionary brilliance as an artist, her fierce independence as a woman, and her turbulent relationship with Alfred Steiglitz give her a mysterious aura that fascinates us all. It is almost a wonder that there is anything left to write about her. And yet, this did not faze Karen Karbo when she decided to put her own spin on the life of this artistic legend. 

Karen Karbo is the author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel and How to Hepburn. She has a unique gift for biography, crafting a narrative that both delights and amuses the reader, as well as mining that person's life for nuggets of inspiration and life lessons. (Read my January 2010 interview with her here). When Karen wrote to me about her new book, I knew that I had to put down my scholarly journals and get this book, especially since Georgia O'Keeffe's flowers were a huge source of inspiration in my earliest painting attempts. Not yet available in Canada, I ordered How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living on Amazon and it has been my company in the wee hours of the morning during my latest bout of insomnia. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Paul Klee on Art

I like living (All is Vanity series) by Ingrid Mida 2011
I've been reading a lot about the theories of practice based research in the arts and came across this beautiful passage written by artist Paul Klee:

"The artist has studied this world of variety and has, we may suppose, unobtrusively found his way in it. His sense of direction has brought order into the passing stream of image and experience. This sense of direction in nature and life, this branding and spreading array, I shall compare with the root of the tree.

From the root the sap flows to the artist, flows through him, flows to his eye.

Thus he stands as the trunk of the tree.

Battered and stirred by the strength of the flow, he moulds his vision into his work.

As, in full view of the world, the crown of the tree unfolds and spreads in time and space, so with his work.

Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root. Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection. It is obvious that different functions expanding in different elements must produce vital divergences.

But it is just the artist who at times is denied those departures from nature which his art demands. He has even been charged with incompetence and deliberate distortion.

And yet, standing at his appointed place, the trunk of the tree, he does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes to him from the depths. He neither serves or rules - he transmits.

His position is humble. And the beauty at the crown is not his own. He is merely a channel.

...The creation of a work of art - the growth of the crown of the tree - must of necessity, as a result of entering into the specific dimensions of pictorial art, be accompanied by distortion of the natural form, for, therein, is nature reborn."

Source: Paul Klee in On modern art (1948) London: Faber and Faber p. 13-19 as quoted in Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts by Graeme Sullivan, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Worn Fashion Journal Issue 13

Cover of Worn Fashion Journal Issue 13
For some people, the number 13 is associated with bad luck. But in my case, it seems to be quite the opposite. I have a charm bracelet that once belonged to my mother with the number 13 as one of the charms and I also have a charm necklace that I bought in Paris a few years back and it too contains the number 13. I consider both pieces to be lucky and I also feel lucky that my book review for the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition was one of the featured articles in Issue 13 of Worn Fashion Journal

Worn Fashion Journal is a twice yearly publication that offers a culturally rich and diverse approach to the world of fashion. Taking a scholarly perspective (especially in terms of rigorous editorial standards), it covers fashion trends and history as it relates to culture, arts and life. It is a unique bridge between a magazine like Elle and a journal like Fashion Theory. And although it is not widely available, issues of Worn can be purchased from their website.

I'll be wearing my "lucky 13" necklace today when I give a talk at Concordia University on art and fashion this afternoon. I'm wishing you all good luck and a good weekend!

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Constructing the Dress

Marie Antoinette Dress Back (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida
With all the work I did on the process journal for this project, the actual construction of the dress almost seems like an afterthought. But it is time to bring this project together.....

Marie Antoinette Dress Front (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida
In writing this post, I realize that I should have taken more photos of individual steps, but my time in the studio seems so limited that stopping to take photos is an interruption of the flow.

The construction process was complicated by the fact that it took me a while to remember how to sew with fabric.  Mesh handles differently than fabric and I'd been working with mesh for so long that I had to  redo certain parts more than once.

Marie Antoinette Dress Side (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida

One part that has not worked are the sleeves. Although they look fine in this photo, they sort of feel like mitts because the fabric is so heavy. I spent 3 hours just on these sleeves and at the end of the day ripped off the "ruffle" so I can rework them with a lighter fabric or lace. 
Dress Sleeves (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida
The next part of construction involves the panniered skirt. Wish me luck!

Project Clock: +15.5 hours
Total to date: 43 hours

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Jean Paul Gaultier at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts

Corcirico ensemble for men Haute Couture Fall Winter 2011/2012 collection Jean Paul Gaultier
This men's haute couture ensemble from Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall/Winter 2011 line is one of the additions to the exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. This exhibition which was curated by Nathalie Bondil and Thierry-Maxime Loriot of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art opened yesterday at the Dallas Museum of Art. To read more about Gaultier's design aesthetic and this exhibition, read my article in Vintage and Modern here.

Photo credit: Photo by Patrice Stable courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Marie Antoinette and Elsa Schiaparelli

Insect Necklace by Schiaparelli
Sometimes inspiration comes from the least likely of places. Earlier this week, Harold Koda, chief curator of the Costume Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, showed a slide of Elsa Schiaparelli's Insect Necklace during his talk as part of the Bata Shoe Museum's Founder's Lecture Series. The surrealist whimsy of this piece captivated me and I had to know more.

According to the Met's website, this piece came to the museum via the Brooklyn Museum's Costume Collection and was created by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1938 for  the fall pagan collection.  "This iconic necklace epitomizes Schiaparelli's Surrealist tendencies, perhaps more than any other design she executed because of the unreal idea of insects crawling on your skin as a fashion statement." The necklace was worn by Millicent Rogers - one of Schiaparelli's "best clients who was brave enough to wear her outré designs."

As unlikely as the connection between this necklace and Marie Antoinette is, a light bulb went off in my head when I reviewed accounts of hygiene practices in the 18th century.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Artists and the Disembodied Dress Form

Marie Antoinette Dress by Rita Brown and Isabelle de Borchegrave
As an artist, it is important to understand artistic precedent - where one's work fits compared to what has been done before and what is happening now. The disembodied dress form has been used by quite a number of artists in the past including Mimi Smith, Yonka Shonibare, Leslie Dill, Isabelle de Borchegrave and Rita Brown, Issey Miyake, Cathy Daley, Jana Sterbak, Caroline Broadhead, Mira Schor and Lun'na Menoh.

What is it about the dress without a body that makes it such a powerful artistic statement? Is it because the dress is a readily understood symbol for femininity? 

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Harold Koda on Fashion in the Art Museum at the Bata Shoe Museum Founder's Lecture

Harold Koda (Photo by Karin Willis)
Last night, Sonja Bata introduced The Founder's Lecture series at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto as being part of a new initiative to bring "one truly outstanding personality" related to fashion to speak about their work. Harold Koda, the "rock star of fashion curators",  is the curator in charge of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was the first speaker in the series.

Harold's talk was entitled "The Arrangement: Fashion in the Art Museum" and traced the history of the costume collection at the Met from its earliest incarnation in 1947 as a resource collection for the fashion industry through to the present as one of the largest costume collections in the world.

The history of the Costume Institute is a story of personalities - from Diana Vreeland through to Richard Martin and Harold himself. An engaging speaker, both brilliant and humble, Harold kept all of us in rapt attention throughout his talk.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Cutting the Fabric for the Marie Antoinette Dress

Cutting the fabric for the Marie Antoinette dress (Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011)
Yesterday was the day to cut out the pieces for the robe a la francaise. Although I'd made a dress in this style in mesh once before and was able to use the pattern from that project, this time was a little bit trickier. As a post-modern mash up of fabrics, the intent was not to use a single fabric for the entire gown but to mix up the colours. Using different fabrics is a statement about authenticity and veracity making it clear that this is not Marie Antoinette's dress. But which colours for which pieces? I had to recut some pieces more than once because the beige print did not have the same pop as the other more vibrant fuschia pink and brown, or the lime green and fuschia.

The cut pieces for the Marie Antoinette dress (Photo by Ingrid Mida 2011)
I was so intent on this process that I did nothing else for six hours straight.  I was so energized by this project that I did not even notice the time and I did not take a washroom break nor did I have lunch! As much as I love reading, for one day I loved NOT reading....

Number of hours: 6
Project time clock: 21.5

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Post-modernism, Cindy Sherman and Marie Antoinette

Cindy Sherman Untitled 225 (1990)
Post-modernism describes a philosophical movement holds that there is no absolute truth because realities are relative and dependent on the parties involved and their interests. In other words, the way in which people perceive the world is subjective. Inherent in the definition is a questioning of the boundaries between categories like male and female, straight and gay, white and black.

In postmodern art, this perspective has broad implications. There is a sense that everything has been done before and thus post-modernist expression often includes techniques like appropriation, bricolage, collage, pastiche, the use of text as a central artistic element, performance art, and the nostalgic borrowing of past styles and themes in a contemporary context. The use of irony, pastiche, parody and subversion are also common.

Photographer Cindy Sherman is an example of a postmodern artist in that her self-portraits capture her dressed in the role of another person but are not really about her or any other real person. They embody a critique of culture and ask the viewer to consider practices of looking, agency, and female identity.

For my creative project "Marie Antoinette Slept Here", I am trying to incorporate post-modernist aspects into this work. The dress itself is a bricollage mash up of fabrics and a nostalgic referencing of the 18th century in a contemporary context. Making it more than just a dress will require more thought and more work on my part.

Some off the top of my head ideas I'm considering include:
* using the dress in a photograph taken in Versailles to create the illusion that the dress was worn there
* making a t-shirt using the obsession collage from an earlier post to wear underneath the dress in lieu of a corset
* incorporating Converse sneakers like was done in Sophia Coppola's film version of Marie Antoinette
* donning the dress myself and taking self-portraits in Cindy Sherman style
* making a necklace of safety pins in lieu of the ribbon that was typically worn with a robe a la francaise
* all of the above!

Project Clock: +1.5 hours      To-date: 15.5 hours

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Convergence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Fashion

Ruth Dukas Paper Dress (Photo from the Toronto Telegram November 16, 1967)
Remember this post back in February where I wrote about a display of paper dresses at the Costume and Textile Gallery at the Royal Ontario Museum? It just goes to show you that you never know where a blog post might lead....

Not long after I wrote about that paper dress (pictured in the photo above), I received an email from the designer's son asking for a copy of the photo for his mom. Well long story short, I ended up doing an oral history interview with the designer, Ruth Dukas, for the ROM archives. As it turns out, Ruth only made one paper dress in her career, but was in fact renowned for the exquisite embroidery and beading of her evening gowns and cocktail dresses.

During the course of my research into Ruth's career as a designer during the 1960s, I fell in love with research and 1960s fashion, plus ended up back in grad school for a second masters degree.... On Saturday, I will be speaking at Ryerson University about the career of Ruth Dukas and the issues related to oral history projects.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Bricolage and Choosing Fabric

The Swing by Fragonard
Bricolage is a French term that literally means "making do", using whatever materials are on hand. This term can also be used to describe the cultural practice of taking items and using them in a way that they were not intended to create a subversive or resistant meaning - like taking safety pins and using them for body ornamentation.

My choice of fabric for the Marie Antoinette dress project is a form of bricolage. I purchased some toile de jouy fabric in Paris about two years ago (remember this post?) and it has sat in a drawer in my studio ever since. As upholstery fabric, it was a little too thick to embroider easily, and it has sat unused - until now. Although it is on the heavy side, I am hoping the weight of the material will give the dress a quality of gravitas. Since the dress will require over 20 metres of fabric, making do with materials on hand is a relevant cost consideration.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

A Conversation with Valerie Steele on Fashion and Art

Valerie Steele 2007 Photo by Aaron Corbett (Courtesy of Valerie Steele)
Dr. Valerie Steele is a renowned fashion scholar. She is the Director and Chief Curator of the Fashion Institute of Technology, editor of the journal Fashion Theory and has written numerous books including  The Corset: A Cultural History; Paris Fashion; Fifty Years of Fashion: New Look to Now; Fetish: Fashion, Sex and Power; and Women of Fashion: 20th-Century Designers. She has curated more than twenty exhibitions including the current exhibition at FIT called Daphne Guinness.

In August, I spoke with Valerie about the convergence of fashion and art as part of my series of interviews with curators on the topic. The transcript of that interview was published on Fashion Projects and can be found here.

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

What's on the Fashion Calendar for November 2011?

Queen Alexandra in Court Dress
Courtesy of the ROM and subject to copyright
November is another hectic month!!! Here is what's on the fashion calendar:

November 4 - Opening of the Grace Kelly exhibit at the TIFF Lightbox in Toronto. Last year, I went to London to see this exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Read my review here.

November 5 - I will be speaking about my research on Ruth Dukas, a Canadian designer of evening wear in the 1960s, at the Ryerson University Graduate Research Symposium called Convergence. Speakers will present their research in three panels including - Narratives of Femininity in Fashion; Canadian Content? From Local to Global; and The Spaces in Fashion: Conditions & Contexts. The plenary talk will be given at 4:30 pm by Kate Strasdin of the University of Southampton and The Royal Ontario Museum’s 2011 Gervers Fellow. This event is free and held on campus. More details are available at

November 8 - Harold Koda, Chief Curator of the Metropolitan Museum of Art will be coming to Toronto as the Bata Shoe Museum Founder's Lecture Series to talk about Fashion and the Art Museum. The transcript of my interview with Harold Koda will be published on Fashion Projects next week. Tickets for the event are available through the Bata Shoe Museum.

November 11 - Kate Strasdin will be giving the 20th annual Veronika Gervers Memorial Lecture called "A Royal Wardrobe Unlocked: Queen Alexandra 1863-1910" at the Royal Ontario Museum from 530-630 pm. Kate has been studying the ROM's collection of  Queen Alexandra’s clothing. According to the press release, the Museum’s holdings "include significant evening garments from her earliest years as Princess of Wales to the more stately examples she wore as Queen. These objects offer a sparkling snapshot into the world and wardrobe of one of the most famous women of the nineteenth century." For more information on this free event, visit the ROM's website here.

November 13 - The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier opens in Dallas at the Museum of Art. This exhibition was developed by the Montreal Museum of Fine Art and this will be its first stop on its tour of the world. There will be some new exhibition additions including a motorcycle suit with headlights costume for Pedro Almodovar's 1993 film "Kika" and a menswear outfit from the recent Gaultier Haute Couture Fall Winter 2011/2012 collection. My review of the MMFA exhibition and my interviews with curators Thierry Maxime Loriot and Nathalie Bondil are on Fashion Projects.

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Opera Atelier's Don Giovanni

Opera Atelier's Don Giovanni (Photo by Bruce Zinger)
Opera can be such a serious affair but in the case of Opera Atelier's presentation of Don Giovanni, the goal was laughter. Director Marshall Pynkoski introduced the opening night production by equating Mozart's character of Don Giovanni to Warren Beatty which in and of itself caused much mirth. He also said  that the two ways to create a comedic opera were 1. speed and 2. youth. By filling his cast with attractive and trim young singers, dancers and actors, and by keeping a lively pace, he achieved both goals and the audience responded with laughter throughout the show and with a standing ovation at the end.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Marie Antoinette and Chick Lit

Marie Antoinette and her ladies in waiting from the movie Marie Antoinette by Sofia Coppola
One of the best thing about being a grad student is having access to online academic journals..... And given how much I like to read, it is almost like getting my daily dose of candy. One article that helped me gain a better understanding of the most recent wave of interest in Marie Antoinette is called "Marie Antoinette: Fashion, Third-Wave Feminism, and Chick Culture" by Susanne Ferriss and Mallory Young which was published in Literature Film Quarterly in 2010.

In this article, the authors trace the popularity of Marie Antoinette as an icon of fashion to the rise of chick culture and third wave feminism. They identify Antonia's biography called Marie Antoinette The Journey (2001), Caroline Weber's book Queen of Fashion (2006) and Sofia Coppola's movie Marie Antoinette (2006) as being pivotal to the transformation of the woman who was once considered a "heartless, elitist, anti-revolutionary wicked witch" into a "sympathetic, unfairly maligned victim" (Ferriss and Young: 98). The authors present the argument that this  revisionist account of Marie Antoinette is representative of a "third-wave feminist aesthetic focused on youth, fashion, sexuality, celebrity and consumerism." (Ferriss and Young: 99).

Monday, October 24, 2011

Creative Process Journal: The Nature of Obsession

Marie Antoinette Obsession (Digital Collage by Ingrid Mida 2011)

Obsession is defined in the Webster's dictionary as "the domination of one's thoughts or feelings by a persistent idea, image or desire." Under that definition, it is clear that I am obsessed -  with the dress that is believed to have been worn by Marie Antoinette and that is now part of the Royal Ontario Museum's collection. What it is about that particular dress that haunts me I cannot articulate clearly... It might be because that dress was the reason I discovered that the world of fashion had a scholarship beyond what I knew from fashion magazines. But it is clear that I am not alone in my obsession with this dress or Marie Antoinette.

It was not long after the doomed Queen of France lost her head that others became obsessed with her. In the middle of the 19th century, Empress Eugenie became obsessed with Marie Antoinette. In an article called The Empress's New Clothes, Fashion and Politics in Second Empire France, the author, Therese Dolan,  writes Eugenie "wished to connect her personal image with what she perceived to be the political astuteness and personal courage of the beheaded queen." Eugenie's imitation of Marie Antoinette influenced the revival of 18th century styled fashions including the exaggerated silhouette of enormous skirts and other accessories like the fichu and mantillas (Dolan: 26-27).

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Creative Process Journal: Marie Antoinette Slept Here

Marie Antoinette: Victim or Villain  (Digital Collage) by Ingrid Mida October 2011
This is the launch of my creative process journal for a new project called ..... Marie Antoinette Slept Here.

The concept is a riff on celebrity culture. As a society, we seem so entranced by celebrities - what they wear, where they go, what they do. The tabloid newspapers and media sites that are fueled by the activities of celebrities are proof of that. And I have to admit I'm guilty of that too - with my ongoing fascination with Marie Antoinette. As I mentioned in a post earlier this week, it was those initial posts I wrote about the dress at the Royal Ontario Museum which initially sparked the popularity of my blog. I continue to get hits and emails about Marie Antoinette to this day.

My idea is to  make a robe a la francasie that is inspired by the dress belonging to the ROM, but constructed in a post-modern way.  I will imagine the dress as it was before alteration to recreate the exaggerated silhouette of the time using a mash up of fabrics that I purchased in Paris several years ago. This choice of fabric will be a form of textual poaching in that the meaning will be renegotiated to reflect a critique of culture.

While I am making the dress, I will use process work to consider how to strengthen the metaphor and develop it into a conceptual art piece. I will alter the dress in some way - perhaps through embroidery, paint or in some other intervention - to make more than just a dress. It will be a statement about celebrity culture and our fascination with this woman. I will post regular updates as I create this dress for a December 5 deadline.

Project Clock: 5 hours for initial concept development + 1 hour digital collage = 6 hours

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It all started with Marie Antoinette

Marie Antoinette's Dress (Property of the Royal Ontario Museum)
Life is funny. If someone had told me that one day I'd be interviewing curators and that people in New York would be talking about a speech I'd given on the topic of Fashion and Art, I would have laughed at the improbability of it all. And yet, that is now my reality and it is all because of a dress.....

Back in 2008, I was new to blogging. All I knew at that point was that I wanted to write about fashion, art and books. It was a slow beginning. And then one day, I saw a dress at the Royal Ontario Museum that may have been worn by Marie Antoinette. It is probably the only such dress in existence and is believed to have survived because it was customary for royalty to give away their clothing after the season. The dress had been altered in the 19th century and was purchased by the ROM in 1925 by the ROM's first director, Charles Trick Currelly, from an antiques dealer in London, England.  I became obsessed with this dress and wanted to understand what it might have looked like before it was altered (actually I'm stilll obsessed with this dress and will soon begin to post about a creative project inspired by that dress).  I started reading everything I could about Marie Antoinette and 18th century dress and discovered a whole world of fashion scholarship that I had not even known existed. By immersing myself in the topic, I taught myself costume history. (The one thing I learned from my first master's degree was how to teach myself anything although I have since taken courses in costume history). And although fashion had been my muse in my art practice for several years before this juncture, I also began to make replicas of period dress in paper, in fabric and in mesh. I attended lectures and exhibitions about costumes and textiles. As I gained knowledge, I began to write about what I saw - at first for my blog, then for newsletters and then for journals and now for my masters of fashion thesis.

There was a time when I worked in finance that I had an unshakable confidence in what I was doing. They called me the Blonde Barracuda - probably because I was fearless in speaking my mind. But when I left that career to care for my sick little boy and tend to my dying father, my self confidence evaporated. It seemed that people no longer were interested in what I had to say because I was a stay at home mother.... And even after I forged a new career as a photographer and then as an artist, something still didn't fit. As much as I enjoyed the process of creation, I did not feel intellectually engaged or challenged as an artist and my days in the studio were too solitary. But what this immersion in art has done is helped me to understand the common visual vocabulary and processes shared by both art and fashion.

After attending the Costume Society of America mid-west conference last weekend, I feel like I have found my people... I speak the language of fashion academia and I'll be reshaping my speech into an article to submit for publication. Who knows maybe one day I'll actually be brave enough to actually talk to Hamish Bowles and Anna Wintour ....

P.S. I received permission from Valerie Steele and Harold Koda to publish the transcripts of our conversations on fashion and art on Fashion Projects.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When Does Fashion Become Art?

Alexander McQueen Jungle 1997-1998

This is the abstract for my Keynote Address at the Costume Society of America Mid-West Conference presented on October 14, 2011 at 4 pm at the University of Northern Iowa:
When Does Fashion Become Art?  by Ingrid Mida
Clothing can be a visual mirror of our inner selves. We each get dressed in the morning and make choices how to present ourselves to the world. We construct our identity with our choice of clothing and accessories and signal our belonging or not. This expression of identity through dress makes it a ready subject for artistic practices and interpretation and both artists and designers have considered notions of the body and identity as articulated through fashion. 
There has been much debate about whether fashion is art. Fashion scholars such as Sung Bok Kim, Sandra Miller, Anne Hollander and Elizabeth Wilson have considered the question. In my interviews with four museum directors/scholars, including Matthew Teitelbaum of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Nathalie Bondil of the MMFA, Valerie Steele of FIT and Harold Koda of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, there was no consensus. This was not surprising given that fashion designers themselves do not agree on whether fashion is art.
It was an instinct – as a result of my work as an artist - that led me to frame the question in a different way. Instead of asking “Is fashion art” it seemed to make more sense to ask “When does fashion become art?” After all, both fashion and art require the translation of an idea into another form. Both disciplines share a visual vocabulary and process-oriented development. Both fashion and art also have commercial aspects driving their conception and both can include multiples in a series or collection.

But, not all fashion is art. What falls into the realm of fashion is just too broad for that statement to be true, especially when fashion can include both garments of haute couture and trendy mass-produced items.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Report from the Costume Society of America Mid-west Conference in Iowa

It was a whirlwind weekend in Iowa and I'm happy to report that my speech went well. Although I've given talks and presentations before, I felt a different level of expectation as the keynote speaker and I  was nervous. Luckily the hours before were so busy that I hardly had time to think about it. My presentation on When does Fashion Become Art? went very well. There was a lively discussion about the issues I raised in my speech and I had many people come up to me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed my talk. I also had several profs suggest that I have my paper published. And one of the CSA organizers thought that it would be a topical choice of theme for a conference. Unfortunately, the talk was not taped and nor did anyone take photos....

But it was a wonderful experience for me for many reasons. I made some new contacts and hopefully some new friends, I learned about some new directions in research, and I also had a good time. The organizers of the event - Annette Lynch, Carol Colburn, Amy Rohrburg, Darrell Taylor, and Linda Grimm of the University of Northern Iowa - thought of everything. We were enlightened with 8 research papers and 3 invited speakers, entertained with dance and theatre performances, catered to with far too much good food and made to feel welcome in their community. It made me wish that I didn't live quite so far away.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Yves Saint Laurent - Classicism and Transgression - A Talk by Laurent Cotta at the Bata Shoe Museum

Yves Saint Laurent Pant Suits
Laurent Cotta, the fashion historian, curator and genius behind this summer's Madame Gres exhibition in Paris and the 18th Century in Contemporary Fashion at the Grand Trianon in Versailles (among his many other accomplishments) spoke last night at the Bata Shoe Museum about Yves Saint Laurent.

Monsieur Cotta explained how Yves Saint Laurent combined elements of classicism and transgression in his designs for women, reviewing Yves Saint Laurent's career from his early days at Dior through the 1960s and 1970s. This period was a pivotal time in the history of contemporary fashion for women and Saint Laurent led the way. Yves Saint Laurent believed in comfort, ease and elegance for women and was innovative in his designs  - often achieving a heightened degree of femininity through the seemingly paradoxical use of masculine attire like "le smoking" and the pant suit.

I took copious notes as my thesis will be about the radical changes in fashion for women in the 1960s. I also asked Monsieur Cotta what he was working on for next year. Although the Gallera Musee de la Mode et du Costume  is closed for renovations until 2013, he said he was working on an exhibition about the History of Haute Couture and also an exhibition on the private archives of Balenciaga. These exhibitions will be shown at other venues in Paris next summer and I will look forward to seeing them.

But first to Iowa where I will close my speech with a quote from Pierre Berge about fashion and art.
"I don't know if fashion is art, but it needs an artist to make it."

Notice of copyright: 
All text and images on this blog are the copyright of Ingrid Mida, unless otherwise noted. The copying of posts, images and/or text without proper attribution is violation of copyright and legal action will be pursued.