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.

Friday, October 7, 2011

The Great Coat and the White Cat

The Great Coat by Jacqueline Treloar
Give sorrow words; the grief that does not speak whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break. William Shakespeare

The Great Coat and the White Cat, is artist Jacqueline Treloar's exploration of loss and celebration of memory at the Artscape Triangle Gallery. This talented Toronto artist and former textile designer (and friend) created this majestic yet whimsical great coat as a pivotal focus of her exhibition.  
The exhibition commemorates her mother Lucy Treloar, and centres on The Great Coat, a dramatic 1950s style floor-length double-layered garment embellished with beading and decorative trims. It evokes the sheltering and protective elements in that the large and wide collar and cuffs can be turned out to protect the face and hands from cold and rain.
Intended as a vehicle of recognition and thanks, the coat is made of various synthetic translucent fabrics. The outer layer carries images of the memorial cards the family received upon the death of her mother on September 9, 2010. The inner layer carries the personal written messages and texts from inside the cards.
The accompanying paintings complement the coat, portraying places and times experienced by Jacqueline's mother and family in England.

The Great Coat and the White Cat
Artscape Triangle Gallery
33 Abell Street
October 5-30, 2011
Gallery Hours: 12-6 pm

Opening Reception: Saturday, October 8, 2011 from 2-4 pm
Artist Talk: October 22, 2011 at 4 pm

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.