Friday, October 26, 2012

Art and Fashion at Art Toronto 2012

Art Toronto 2012
Photo by Ingrid Mida 

Henry David Thoreau once said "This world is but a canvas to our imagination." And clearly imagination has taken flight and come home to roost in the artwork on display at Art Toronto 2012 in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This venue is jam packed with artful delights from around the world, including galleries from Vancouver, New York, London, and Japan.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Every Body Counts

Caryn Franklin
Photo courtesy of Ryerson University
"Every body counts" was the message that Caryn Franklin imparted to an audience of fashion students, faculty, media and invited guests at the first annual Diversity Now! lecture at Ryerson University on October 20, 2012. As a former fashion editor, Caryn had many years of experience as a fashion insider, and wanted to foster a movement that challenged and redesigned the beauty ideal to be more inclusive, where "every body counts". In 2009, Caryn Franklin, along with supermodel Erin O’Connor and communications specialist Debra Bourne, founded All Walks Beyond the Catwalk, a campaign to promote diversity in the size, shape, ethnicity and age range of models on the catwalk and in fashion imagery.

In her first lecture in Canada, Caryn encouraged fashion students to think about the unattainable standards of beauty seen in mainstream fashion imagery that perpetuate the standard of the tall, thin, young and white ideal. She noted that fashion imagery has "begun to normalize something that is not normal" in promoting and perpetuating "image of unachievable beauty", and quoted statistics about body image and self esteem to show the level of "unease and destabilization that the fashion industry creates." She said "we have all internalized a body dysmorphia" and asked "isn't it time to make changes?"

Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Colours of Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1907-1954)

Self Portrait as a Tehuana (Diego on my Mind), 1943
oil on masonite, 76 X 61 cm The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art
(C) Banco de México Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D. F./ Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Many artists use colour to paint their emotions, but few have actually defined what colour means to them. In 1944, Kahlo began to keep a journal in which she wrote her thoughts as well as poems and watercolours. She also included the symbolic meanings she attached to certain colours. These associations are anything but typical,  such as:

Geen = good warm light
Yellow = madness, sickness, fear the sun, happiness,
Navy blue = distance, tenderness
Cobalt blue = electricity and purity, love
Black = nothing is black, really nothing
Magenta = blood of the prickly pear cactus
Brown = the colour of mole and fading leaves, Earth

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Unmasking Frida Kahlo at the AGO's Frida & Diego Show

Self-Portait with Monkeys by Frida Kahlo, 1943, oil on canvas.
The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection of Mexican Art (C) Banco de Mexico Diego Rivera & Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F./Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Frida Kahlo's iconic image, created with braided hair, thick eyebrows, colourful ethnic dress and bold accessories, was a carefully constructed persona that spoke to her passions for politics and her identity as an artist and as the wife of Diego Rivera. In effect, she constructed her identity through fashion.

Although fashion is not the subject of the Art Gallery of Ontario's exhibition called "Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting", Kahlo's colourful outfits, headdresses, ribbons, shawls, and accessories define many of her self-portraits. The exhibition makes no explicit mention of fashion, but Kahlo used clothing and accessories as identity construction and so my reading of the exhibition focused on the artifice of her dress.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Update on the Violation of Copyright

Dear Friends,

After discovering that much of my blog has been copied onto another blogspot site without permission, credit or attribution, I made the decision to temporarily suspend my posts. The experience made me feel violated and cut off from my readers. Figuring out how to report the problem to Google was a challenge in itself, and while the problem has not totally been rectified by The Blogger Team, I am going to resume my posts in a limited way.

Some people have suggested that I write an article on blogs and copyright. This is messy territory with little precedent to follow. I am grateful for the many emails and words of support that I've received from my friends around the world, and it has been that response that has inspired me to continue, albeit I have to admit that I am now somewhat reluctant to share my original research on this forum. But my love of art, fashion and museums compels me to go on.

This morning, I will be attending the press preview for the exciting show Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The AGO exhibition will overlap with the upcoming opening of the exhibition 'Appearances Can be Deceiving: The Dresses of Frida Kahlo" at Museo Frida Kahlo in Mexico City from November 22, 2012 to November 22, 2013. Kahlo had such a distinctive style and the exhibition explores the ways Kahlo used fashion as a language to address the issues of ethnicity and disability - aspects that are also visible in her paintings. I want to share that and the many other wonderful intersections of art and fashion that cross my path. 

You will notice that I am now adding a notice of copyright to each post. I suggest that you all do the same, and take care in attributing your sources of photos and information.

Ingrid Mida

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, October 9, 2012

Notice of Temporary Interruption

Dear friends and loyal readers,

It recently came to my attention that the entire content of my site is being copied on several other blogspot addresses. I am pursuing legal action on the matter to shut this down. Depending on how long it takes for Google to react, I am, for the time being, suspending my blog posts on Fashion is my Muse!

I find it very upsetting that this has occurred since I have written content on this blog for 5 years now, without commercial aims, in order to share my passion for and knowledge of costume history, fashion and art. If this is not resolved in short order, I may have to restart on another platform. In the meantime, I encourage you to follow me on either Twitter or Facebook. I am also the social media manager for the Costume Society of Ontario and post links to exhibition and fashion related content there. I also welcome your emails at

I hope you will join me through one of these other social media platforms.

Best wishes,
Ingrid Mida

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Creative Process Journal: On Photography and Memory

Cabinet Card
Ryerson Fashion Research Collection

One of the most tangible links between clothing and memory exists in the portrait photograph, especially the carte des visite and the cabinet card. Popular in Victorian times, these cards were albumen prints made from glass negatives, attached to stiff card backing usually printed with the photographer’s name. In this medium, we can revisit the past to see the clothing that ordinary people wore in the latter half of the 19th century.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Crinolines and corsets are back....Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2013

In Sarah Burton's exploration of the feminine silhouette for Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2013, the body has been transformed by the extraneous supra-structures of the crinoline and corset. Playing with transparency and concealment, Burton has carved out a wasp-waisted, hyper-feminine look, reminiscent of the crinoline craze in the mid-19th century and Dior's New Look in the mid-20th century.

Alexander McQueen Spring/Summer 2013
The designer said: “The collection is a study of femininity. We looked at erotica. Vargas girls, cages, corsets and crinolines and the idealisation of the female form. Nothing is set in a particular period. It’s about sensuality and skin but not nudity. We also wanted to express lightness, for the clothes almost to hover over the women who wear them.

Monday, October 1, 2012

What's on the Fashion Calendar for October 2012?

It's fashion week in Paris. Need I say more? For those of us not able to attend the couture shows, here are some highlights of what is happening in the world of fashion and art in October.

Gareth Pugh Spring Summer 2013
Photo by Sarah Aubel, Vogue Paris
October 7, 2012: Last day to see the Cristóbal Balenciaga: Collectionneur de modes and the Comme des Garçons White Drama at the Musée Galliera in Paris.

October 8 and 24, 2012: Tours of Ivy Style by Richard Press at FIT Museum
This hot ticket, featuring Richard Press, grandson of Jacobi Press, the founder of J. Press, is SOLD OUT. But you can still see this entertaining presentation of how the "Ivy League Look" came to be during regular museum hours.