Starting Over (Again and Again)

by Barb on February 6, 2013

kaelen aw12 Starting Over (Again and Again)

Several months ago, I talked at length about how I meandered through the industry with nothing but the experiences incurred to guide and teach me, and my feelings of going at a career blindly. I never went to school to learn how to look at, let alone evaluate, clothes, on how to discuss relatable theory, or to have ownership of a historical foundation that everyone else seemed to possess. And of course, there was no class on how to wedge yourself in any open sliver within the industry offered. As a side bar, if you ask me, I believe universities are meant to teach the theoretical (excluding STEM subjects), as opposed to the practical, but that is a conversation for another day.

But wandering my way through the industry and learning on the goal wasn’t the real challenge for me, though. Re-establishment in both New York and Paris were the défis – they did plenty to level me and hone some of my soft skills.

The whole thought of starting over again comes back to me every now and again, especially when the industry unveils new collections. But it was in my recent trip to Hong Kong when I chatted with recent transplant and food blogger Barbra Austin that those feelings of re-establishment and renewal were brought up. Like the budding relationship with a newfound city, it is the relationships with new PR firms, writers and the like that I find myself having to cultivate anew.

In some ways, starting over in a new city for work is like dating; we meet either through email correspondence or at the showroom, dancing around the conversation of interests (for editorial pieces), and getting to know one another (through showcasing clients). After finding some common ground, we see one another more often, share details and accommodate one another. But sometimes these relationships end when clients move to different firms or when associates move on. This shuffling of clients presents a game of observance, and sometimes, you look for the loner – the next up and coming designer amidst this large pool.

And when you leave the city, you bid your adieus, promising to keep some ties and memories. Then you wade into the waters all over again, recognizing the new hip locales (i.e. show venues and showrooms).

Museum at FIT: Ivy Style

by Barb on November 21, 2012

fit ivy style wwd Museum at FIT: Ivy Style

A view of the FIT Ivy Style exhibit

Examining what began as and remains as the “truly American look,” The Museum at FIT presents “Ivy Style,” which runs until January 5th, 2013. Looking at the longevity of the style, the exhibit breaks itself down thematically, as opposed to chronologically, although it highlights three particular time frames – World War I, post-World War II, and the revival period from the 80s to present. The thematic settings create an ambience that brings one back to school, with sections that include a grassy quad, classrooms, dorm rooms, and fraternities.

This focus on environment is what delivers and communicates the exhibition’s message of the Ivy League as an icon in sartorial imagery. Though the room is small, the many divisions and openness of the space, along with complementary soundtrack, presents the multi-faceted dimensions in which this particular style pervades in at least one phase of life. But it is the incorporation of modern designers, in addition to sponsoring partner Brooks Brothers, such as Ralph Lauren, Tripler, J. Press, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Bastian and Thom Browne, that demonstrates the longevity and style’s ability to transcend age, time, and spatial boundaries.

For a virtual tour, take a look at the YouTube video below:

Image via WWD

Why Wasn’t “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” a Success?

by Barb on November 19, 2012

met exhibit prada 560x372 Why Wasnt Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations a Success?

Visitors looking at the Schiaparelli and Prada exhibit at The Met

I may be a late to the game in terms of weighing in on what perhaps “went wrong” with the Met’s “Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations” feature exhibit, which ended this past August; suffice to say, I haven’t had a moment to sit down to gather my thoughts (although this sounds a bit like a broken record, since I’ve mentioned this several times now). That said, I’ve decided to make time, as opposed to wait, to write on fashion exhibitions and theories.

When the numbers came in, attendance was noted at a lacklustre 339 838 visitors (which pales in comparison to the record-breaking McQueen exhibit, which had 661 509 visitors), the curators were in expectance of the turnout on account of their desire for something that was more intellectual as opposed to an emotional experience. Cowles postulated that such led to an exhibit that made guests simply say “well, that was interesting,” as opposed to “OH MY GOD — THAT IS A MUST SEE!” This assertion offered could be enough to explain away the number of visitors and slow churn at the exhibit’s closing, however, upon viewing the exhibition, there is more that stands behind the flat reaction.

Firstly, in order to enjoy the exhibit, one has to suspend belief so as to permit the hypothesized conversations between these two designers. But even in doing so, the dialogue seems contrived, grasping at connections between the two icons’ ideologies. While it is pleasant to see the Vanity Fair series come to life, the extension of conversation to over seven vignettes seems a bit farfetched.

Secondly, despite the fact that the cinematics are pleasing to the eye, they are disruptive to the flow of the exhibit. Each dialogue lasts anywhere from a minute to several, along with a delay in between every start and finish. There is no way to perfectly time the visit, and to take away as much as possible, a decent amount of time is spent simply standing in front of the projection screen, watching a vignette midway and hoping for it to quickly begin again. Not to mention, the acoustics (and mind you, it was towards the closing days, yet not particularly crowded, when I went) were at times difficult to hear, thus losing some of the ambience that the curator sought to create.

Lastly, creating an intellectual work requires the necessary background to be given; however, there was little if any provided at the exhibit, apart from the website and pamphlet. In effect, the notion that this exhibit was menat to be intellectual was lost, and could be viewed more so as entertainment, thus accounting for the mild, as opposed to feverish, reaction to it all.

By no means was the exhibit a failure, but it certainly was one that didn’t clearly assert itself to be either emotional/entertaining or intellectual. Had it done so and worked out the logistics, the turnout may have fared better or attracted the correct demographic.

Image via NY Mag