IMPRINT (NYC) Symposium

A few days ago we visited the costume exhibition IMPRINT (NYC) at NYU.  On Wednesday, January 25, 2012 NYU hosted a symposium for IMPRINT (NYC) at the Barney Building.  Jessica Glasscock, Associate Research Curator at The Costume Institute at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, delivered a humorous keynote with useful information for graduate students preparing for a career in curatorial arts.

Priscilla Chung at Imprint (NYC) Exhibition next to Houndstooth Dress from Marc by Marc Jacobs 2008 line

Priscilla Chung, who acquired the magenta and black, silk chiffon dress of Marc Jacob’s 2008 Marc line (in which he went houndstooth), traced the jagged tooth design from its earliest appearance in history books to contemporary fashion.  Scottish tweeds popularized by shepherds in the late 18th century was used to keep warm and carry lambs in the frigid weather on the veld. The houndstooth designs we see today depart tremendously from the two-color, twill weave constructions of the past to printed, abstracted, versions of the original pattern.  A modern multi-patterned version of houndstooth also appeared in the season’s 2012 Mercedes Benz Berlin Fashion Week in Lala Berlin‘s show.

New York City Tartan Courtesy of http://lochcarron.com/reiver/new_york_city.html

The Thom Browne garment thrust us into modernism with the distinct silhouette juxtaposed with a traditional European motif. Did you know….In 2002 Scotland bestowed upon New York its own New York City Tartan. The colours are blue, green, black and red. The blue symbolizes the rivers surrounding the island, the green represents Central Park and the two black lines commemorate 9/11[1]?

Mellissa Huber presenting Camouflage

The motif of our military and hunting activities (camo) was presented by Melissa Huber and Norma Kamali’s Sleeping Bag Coat. Ok Trivia time, who is known as “the father of camouflage”……..Abbot Handerson Thayer.  Who’da Knew? You can read more about his philosophy and principles of countershading in nature in his 1909 publication, Concealing Coloration in the Animal Kingdom, for research purposes. While Maria Echeverri spoke about conversational motifs (think emasculating neckties) and its life in couture.  Schiaparelli and Marie Antoinette had balls of fun making news out of nonsense, speaking to our social anxieties.

Conservative and traditional motifs such as stripes and polka dots, Jennifer Iachovelli and Veronica Nothnagel respectively, were also included showing the range of research and interests covered in this exhibition.  Tanya Wilson spoke about the life of animal prints in wardrobe.  Animal prints have represented exoticism, eroticism, power, royalty, and alpha-ideology over the years and continues to redefine humanity.  Our triumph over the animal kingdom continues to be reinforced with the wearing of skins and fur in the sartorial jungle.

Proenza Schouler, American, Fall 2010, Plaid jacquard with embroidery

My familiarity with rococo stems from studying 17th and 18th century art and architecture in Brazil. I remember visiting the monasteries, churches and cathedrals, looking at the profusion of decorations and rich embellishments on the surface of the walls evoking wealth and grandeur, while listening to my professor explain how the dimensionality of the material was innovative and mind-boggling at the time of its conception.  It made you feel as if you step into a fantastical place of imagery and imagination.  Fernan Gonzalez illustrates this bold aesthetic with a baby doll, woven jacquard dress by Proenza Schouler, citing 1980’s Gianna Versace fashion as a major influence in the evolution of the contemporary motif, Digital Rococo.

I was a looking forward to hearing more about their experience throughout their process of acquiring, researching, and presenting the show.  Ms. Glasscock offered a insightful account on the challenges and joys of curating and I would have like to have heard more from the novice curators.

Back Row: Priscilla Chung, Jennifer Iacovelli, Veronica Nothnagel, Fernan Gonzalez, Front Row: Laura Winslow, Shannon Bell Price, Mellissa Huber, Maria Echeverri, Tanya D. WIlson

The talk was extremely informative and provided current students the opportunity to practice their curatorial skills and allows prospective students to catch a glimpse of the kind of work being done in the Costume Studies program at NYU. In recent years, fashion and Costume studies programs have become more popular within academic institutions.  However, this program remains to be the first and most established program providing access to more resources and professionals in the field.

My personal favorite was the presentation and illustration of Digital Rococo.  The art history foundation of the print impressed me and inspired me to reflect on the influence of European aesthetics on the South American landscape through North American fashion.

All information regarding exhibition can be found at Imprintnyc.org.


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