(Don’t miss the MAM After Dark video below!)
Riddle me this: What do you call something made of glass that is paraded down a long runway by an Amazonian model? An evening gown, of course. That is exactly what was on display last Friday, Jan. 15 as the sixth-annual Wearable Sculpture Fashion Show showcased its artful garments at the “greener” event.
Part of the ongoing “MAM After Dark” series, the show was a feast for the eyes in the fabulous Calatrava-designed Windhover Hall under the Burke Brise Soleil. What a perfect marriage of both venue and event. Given that green is the watchword for everything from cleaning products to fashion, it isn’t surprising that this fashion show perfectly dovetailed with the Green Furniture exhibition at the Milwaukee Art Museum. Some of the furniture in the installation was actually transported to Milwaukee via bicycle.
In the past, presentation pieces included bark, moss and branches made to form an ensemble, cigarette butt dress, a sexy outfit made from car parts, outfits made of wire mesh, a chocolate bustier, molded glass bikinis, a man’s dress made from neckties, a Tyvek house wrap frock and a toothpick bra, to name but a few.
Included in this year’s festivities were DIY stations that gave participants the opportunity to create their own wearable pieces, including hats, bags, etc., out of recycled materials.
Although the models wore pieces created by the 13 participating artists (see the brilliant sketches and video below), the WSFS is far from a traditional fashion show. Presenting 18 wearable works, it is a combination of performance art, installation, dance, film and projections, with a good dose of sexy and outrageous thrown in for good measure.
The producer and owner of this spectacle, George Sheppard, recognizes the correlation between art and fashion as being about self-expression and making statements whether intentional or unintentional. “With wearable sculpture, I love seeing the unexpected and unusual,” he says. “You wouldn’t imagine, for instance, a dress to be made of glass. Messing with people’s expectations and perceptions is what it’s all about.”
Truer words were never spoken. “This year’s show, in particular, really pushed the artists and audience to think about what we wear and what it is made of,” Sheppard says. “The unlimited potential of our discarded items or trash, if you will, could actually be used for something useful such as clothing. In this situation, fashion, as with art and sculpture, makes a comment that causes the viewer to think.”
The original event was held in 1999 in a tiny storefront in Riverwest. It was the brainchild of local artists Sheppard, Brent Busdberg and James Allen. Various art folks have championed this event over the years, such as Sara Daleiden and this year’s associate producer Brooke Maroldi, but Sheppard has remained a constant.
Former producer Daleiden summed up the purpose of the event by suggesting, “Each day we make decisions about what we wear. We work with perceptions of our own and others because of the symbols these colors and forms create. This show includes many experiments with how wearable forms can question, inspire, exaggerate, entertain and essentially become artwork.”
Well, you can count this blogger as one of the “inspired.” The photos and video I included do not begin to do justice to this visual feast. This was one of the coolest shows I’ve seen in recent past. Until next time, think and dress creatively!
Be on the lookout for my coverage of New York City’s fashion week Feb. 11-18, updated here daily! I’ll take you inside the tents and tell you what it’s really like. As always, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.