Tag Archives: Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder

Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere (Part Five)

Howdy!

Part One is here, Part Two is here, Part Three is here, and Part Four is here.

Haute couture 2.0 by Mélissa Turgeon

Haute couture 2.0 by Mélissa Turgeon

Haute couture 2.0 my eye! A) Who uses a mouse with a wire these days anyhows? Haute couture 1.75. B) PS/2 connectors were beginning to be phased out 2001. Haute couture 1.50. C) Compaq hasn’t existed as a company since 2002. Haute couture 1.25. Web 2.0 was coined as a term in 2004. Haute couture 1.00. And I’m certain if I looked closer I could come up with at least four other mistakes with the name.

So how about we call this something more like Long Stringy Dress Made out of Colorful Wires? Or Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing, or something like that? Instead of showing off a blissful ignorance of technology and technological terms.

Now that I’ve got that off my chest, we can take a closer look at the Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing.

Detail from Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing by Mélissa Turgeon

Detail from Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing by Mélissa Turgeon

Overall I gotta give Ms. Turgeon some props. Despite not knowing how to name her dresses, the Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing quite possibly best exemplifies the ideas and concepts behind Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere. In that none of the materials used were new, and that what she uses as textiles truly has been salvaged from the scrap heap.

Personally I would have ditched the actual mice (mouses?) all they’re going to do is bruise someone’s ankles, and the biegeness of them definitely detracts from the extremely colorful nature of the rest of the dress. Maybe, perhaps, possibly they could have been used as ear flaps for the headgear. It wolod have also been nice to see what it looked like if all the wires were grouped together by color.

I’m not certain that it would have been “better.” But I still would like to be able to compare. I have a feeling that the sense of the material (ie making people more aware that it was made out of wires) would have come through slightly stronger. But then again, what do I know about making a Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing?

Headgear for Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing by Mélissa Turgeon

Headgear for Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing by Mélissa Turgeon

Sort of flapper inspired (I’m not entirely certain that it would go with the Charlestea dress by By Maude Lapierre) for the next time she makes one, she should try to spell out some messages in the hat.

Caustic Swimsuit By Jennifer Bergeron

Caustic Swimsuit By Jennifer Bergeron

Now we’re coming into the homestretch. Caustic Swimsuit and a dress called Hit Parade. The Caustic Swimsuit is particularly intriguing, in that I am not entirely certain that there is anyone who could swim while wearing a 240 lb. swimsuit. Heck, even lying around the pool would be a chore! OK, maybe Iris Kyle could wear it without collapsing. But nonetheless, there’s something kinda cool in a bling-bling way about 1,200 batteries glued together.

But who has the sort of twisted mind to make a swimsuit that would drown you if you wore it into the water? Although perhaps Jennifer Bergeron was also trying to make some sort of statement on the state of the water in and around Montreal? You know, in a roundabout sort of way kind of tell you that the water is polluted.

Detail from Caustic Swimsuit By Jennifer Bergeron

Detail from Caustic Swimsuit By Jennifer Bergeron

And while you’re not going to get electrocuted from wearing a swimsuit made out of dead 1.5 volt batteries, putting them in water probably will make them corrode quicker and end up releasing some rather unsavory chemicals (although it should be noted it depends entirely on the type of battery. Alkaline batteries leak potassium hydroxide, while zinc–carbon batteries leak zinc oxide) it also should be noted that while potassium hydroxide is caustic, zinc oxide is not (or at least that’s what I think).

Like the Non-Grass Grass Skirt for Quebecois Hula Dancing, the Caustic Swimsuit is truly made out of post-consumer waste and lives up to the ideals and concepts of Outfits from a New Era. Which is all very nice, but it still is 240 lbs.!

Detail from Caustic Swimsuit By Jennifer Bergeron

Detail from Caustic Swimsuit By Jennifer Bergeron

Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard

Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard

The last of the 16 dresses is Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard. Made from video tape, audio tape, slides and 35 mm film it is another pretty good example of post consumer waste being put to better use than landfill.

Detail of Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard

Detail of Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard

Initially, because I wasn’t looking too closely, when I read that it was called Hit Parade i mistakenly thought that it had been made from LPs that had been melted down. But no siree bob! I was thoroughly and completely wrong. Made me realize that I needed to pay closer attention at all times.

This dress not only works as an effective example of what Outfits from a New Era is trying to prove, but also looks like it would actually work as something that could be worn, and worn comfortably, to the discotheque. Which is probably why Ms. Bédard started up Audiofil, a company to make things using old cassette tapes as the thread for the fabric. If she ever gets to the point where she makes another one, I would strongly suggest copping some pattern from the 1980s, as that was the height of cassette culture, and social self-reference would just make everybody’s head spin. In a good way.

Detail from Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard

Detail from Hit Parade By Valérie Bédard

As you might have expected after reading all five posts, I was quite charmed by Outfits from a New Era. It seemed that this past summer was a summer of fashion. Beyond the Jean-Paul Gautier exhibit, which I very deliberately did not write about, there was the Arlette Vermeiren Zucoli exhibit and the Les Ballets Russes de Diaghilev exhibit all of which added up to more costumes, fashion and fabric than I had seen in a very long time.

I’m going to have to start studying things much closer, because I’m going to be covering (if that is the appropriate verb) a Lundstrom Fashion show which is happening to benefit the Colorectal Cancer Association of Canada on November 15, 2011.

But not only did I like most of the dresses in Outfits from a New Era but the rationale for making them was also nice, and then the thing that really made my heart go “pitter patter” over the show was since it was at the Biosphere there was hardly anyone there, which while not that great for the Biosphere was great for me, as I can’t stand crowded exhibits where you have to crane your neck to see things or wait patently in line while everyone else ahead of you takes a gander. Although they could have easily saved some cash by ditching the whole vedette thing. I don’t think getting autographed ephemera aids in any way the pedagogic nature of the show, although if I can remind you, I have been wrong before, and I will be wrong again.

I would suggest heading over during the upcoming holidays, as it will guarantee that you don’t run into any school trips. The exhibit itself is on display until December 2012, so if you miss the Christmas season, there’s spring break, Easter, and next summer, ie plenty of time to catch it. And then I seem to remember someone telling me that it was going to tour the country.

For Tags: Names of all the designers, names of all the dresses, Biosphere, Outfits from a New Era, Objets Non Enfouis all the French translation

Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere (Part Three)

Howdy!

Part One is here, Part Two is here.

Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Detail from Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Detail from Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Now those are some shoulder pads I can really get into… Or if you would prefer less colloquial phrasing, I get a big kick out of this dress as well. Although I’m not certain I would ever be invited someplace where it would be formal enough to wear. And while I would venture a guess that most of the pieces that were used to make it came from sports cars, it is not a “sporty” outfit in the least.

Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Ms. Bérubé appears to have turned this concept of transforming old car parts (or more precisely old car seats) into fashion accessories fulltime. Although I think she should exhibit her work at the auto show.

Detail from Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Detail from Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

I can’t imagine that a car tire as a corset or belt would be all that comfortable, however choosing it was an inspired choice. Clearly marking the difference between bottom and top, while at the same time hitting you upside the face with where the materials used to make the dress came from. Without the tire, it would be like some sort of overwrought futuristic ball gown suitable for the cover of a Harlequin Romance about a 22nd century debutante.

Although now that I have gone to the Harlequin Romance website, I have discovered that in fact they do not publish any science fiction, but that they do have a series called Harlequin NASCAR (The rush of the race car circuit; the thrill of falling in love®.) So maybe I should change the lines above to read something like “with the tire it is perfect as the ballgown of Dr. Nicole Foster, the heroine of Running Wide Open.

Naw, not even close.

Detail from Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

Detail from Dress the Part by Isabelle Bérubé

And I’m also not certain what to make of the wires…

Pillbox Dress By Marie Line

Pillbox Dress By Marie Line

Surprisingly, this dress is badly translated. In French it is called “Ordonnance Royale” a pun on the multiple definitions of the word ordonnance. A) a prescription and B) a law. Since it is made up of melted down plastic pill containers and made to look like a ballgown. I think I would have called it something like Royal Script, playing off the multiple definitions of the word script, ne of which is “prescription.” But nobody asked me.

And while it does look like it would be suitable for a princess, I would hate to ask Kate Middleton to have to wear it. As I don’t think melted plastic is the most malleable of materials and according to the tag beside the dress, it weighs in at a little more than 200 pounds.

Detail from Pillbox Dress By Marie Line

Detail from Pillbox Dress By Marie Line

Scanty Attire By Jeanne Cirume

Scanty Attire By Jeanne Cirume

I’m not sure what to make of this one. Despite using Styrofoam from packaging for the socks and the collar it is mainly made out of what they call a “vacuum bag” but is actually a Madvac Collector Bag. You know one of those little four wheeled buggies with a vacuum tube that looks like an elephant’s trunk that sucks up the garbage from the sidewalk? Well, the bag that is used to collect the trash was used to make this dress.

Bird's Nest made from Margie Gillis' hair from 1984

Bird's Nest made from Margie Gillis' hair from 1984

As I’ve mentioned before, there are signed objects from Quebecois vedettes displayed alongside the dresses. Some have obvious connections, some less so. This is one of the more obvious connections. While Margie Gillis has cut her hair (for a very long time she didn’t) this bird’s next comes from the period when she wasn’t cutting it. At the Biosphere they have a very nice story explaining how it came to be.

The reason it is an obvious connection is that the nest is displayed next to this dress.

Hairdress By Roxane Cheibes and Amélie Bruneau Longpré

Hairdress By Roxane Cheibes and Amélie Bruneau Longpré

It can’t be that comfortable to wear even if they attached the hair to a nylon hairstyling cape, I also would love to know how the hair was attached, colored and how much hairspray was used to keep the hair in place. And while it looks really cool, I’m not entirely convinced that hair counts ass garbage.

It also can serve as an example of how unreligious Quebecois culture has become. As recently as fifty years ago, a hairdress would have been worn by someone feeling particularly guilty about some thing (or things). But this exhibit makes no mention or reference in any way shape or form to the religious nature of wearing hair. Which is apparently still done by Carmelites.

Rear view of Hairdress By Roxane Cheibes and Amélie Bruneau Longpré

Rear view of Hairdress By Roxane Cheibes and Amélie Bruneau Longpré

Details of Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder By Geneviève Oligny

Details of Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder By Geneviève Oligny

Another impractical dress, especially since it is lit from within. You can see it in full here. I do not know, but I would imagine that this dress was possibly responsible for the Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) and as with the hairdress, I’m not convinced that books qualify as garbage material.

That all being said, an upskirt shot of Chapter Ten is a very abstract thing.

Details of Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder By Geneviève Oligny

Details of Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder By Geneviève Oligny

Still more tomorrow.

Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere (Part One)

Howdy!

I’ve been meaning to write this one for a fairly long time, since August actually. But seeing as how I took 104 pictures, getting them all organized, uploaded and labelled seemed like a daunting task, so I did what anybody else would do, I put it off. Until today. If you click through to see all the pictures, it’s going to take a while to load, sorry in advance.

Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant and Bullet Dress By Geneviève Dumas and Geneviève Flageol

Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant and Bullet Dress By Geneviève Dumas and Geneviève Flageol

In short, since the Biosphere is an “Environment Museum” it only makes sense that they mount exhibits designed to promote environmental awareness. And some bright wag decided to commission 16 clothing designers (I think all women) to create dresses using refuse material.

Now while I am an environmentally aware person and keep a fairly sustainable lifestyle, I’m not big on preaching about it. As a consequence what really struck me about this exhibit was not its Green-ness, but that while everyone was going gaga over the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit at the Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal here was a truly original fashion exhibit that was not getting any press anywhere.

Light Switch Wall Plate autographed by David Suzuki

Light Switch Wall Plate autographed by David Suzuki

And while I might not proselytize about sustainability, like certain people, I do champion the underdog and Outfits from a New Era at the Biosphere is definitely underdog material if there ever was. The museum probably counts the number of daily visitors in the high two figures, has some breathtaking views of Montreal and is a charter member of the Cult of Bucky. What more do you need?

Anyhows, while I do not consider myself a fashionista, nor an authority on fabrics and style, instead of viewing these as liabilities I figured (like usual) that instead, if I approached this as a learning opportunity it shouldn’t be a hindrance to writing about it and taking some pictures. Right?

Mermaid Skin By Geneviève Bouchard

Mermaid Skin By Geneviève Bouchard

To me it was more of a compare and contrast situation. While it seemed like everyone and their mother was raving about how original and inventive M. Gaultier’s dresses were, here were some truly original and inventive dresses that weren’t getting any attention whatsoever. And while I’m certain that at some point M. Gaultier did in fact actually touch the dresses on exhibit that bore his name, I’m fairly convinced that he didn’t actually do much (if any) of the sewing, knitting, weaving, embroidery or any of the other tasks involved in making the dresses.

Whereas even without doing serious research, I’d bet my bottom dollar that each and everyone of the designers who made the “Outfits from a New Era” was significantly involved in the actual fabrication of their dresses. And while I am all for the artist-as-thinker-and-not-necessarily-creator concept (see Andy Warhol’s Red Self-Portraits One, Two, Three, Four, Five , Six, Seven and Eight for a fascinating insight into the attribution of artwork)

Detail from Dress the Part By Isabelle Bérubé

Detail from Dress the Part By Isabelle Bérubé

If I’m going to make one complaint (actually as I’m less than halfway through, I imagine that there will be other complaints, let’s just call this one the first. Which is not to say or suggest that the exhibit is bad, just that there is always room for improvement). This contemporary fad, or what I hope is a fad, for Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) drives me up a wall. In general when it comes to art/culture/things to look at or watch, you have two choices if you’re indoors; A white cube or a black box.

White Cubes tend toward being bright and Black Boxes (as you might expect) tend to be dark. Since they are dark, the Black Boxes use highly focused spotlights to draw your attention to stuff that the exhibition designers want you to look at. In contrast to the White Cube where, for the most part, your eye is free to roam where you wish. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I can’t stand exhibits that are housed in Black Boxes. And Outfits from a New Era is, unfortunately in a Black Box, pity.

I don’t know if it is because my eyes don’t react well to large contrasts in brightness, or if because I’m in darkness for the most part I don’t get the nuances of color as well as I would if it were brighter, or if it has something to do with my glasses. But whatever it is, Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) bugs the heck out of me.

Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder By Geneviève Oligny

Chapter Ten: Words & Wonder By Geneviève Oligny

Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

I think you can see what I mean by a lot of nuance being missed because of the Dramatic Lighting! (with the capital “D,” capital “L” and an exclamation mark) in the picture above. Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin is a light, wispy and diaphanous something or other that to my mind would be appropriate in a boudoir or a pornographic film shoot. Apparently made from 2,500 light bulbs and 66 meters of stripped copper wire.

Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

One of those garments that professes to show more than it hides, in French it is called “le grand courant lumineux” or in a hackneyed translation “the great current of light,” it was initially called “Le grand souffle” which has more to do with breath and wind than electricity. Which gives a much better idea of the “wispy and diaphanous something or other nature” of the garment.

Detail from Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

Detail from Light Flow By Chloé B. Fortin

You can see better detail pictures here> I’m fairly certain that it doesn’t light up or get illuminated from within. But beyond the wispy nature of it, I’m not quite certain what to make of it. While the use of the light-bulbs is alright, there isn’t really anything in it beyond the use of non-traditional materials that pushes any boundaries. And given what has been already done with LEDs and clothing, I’m inclined to think that’s it’s kind of like the clothes your sister’s friend in high school wore. Something designed to make her look good, not making any real statements and not that different from what everyone else was wearing.

Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

This little frock caught my eye, although I don’t know if it was because it’s black, and as you know, black is the new black. Or if it was because it was strapless and since I am not y-chromosome challenged, bare shoulders always make me shiver slightly, even during the summer, even on a faceless mannequin. Or what. I’ll leave it up to your imagination.

Detail from Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

Detail from Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

Anyhows, this was the first one, where I thought to myself: “I’m not so certain that they actually used stuff from the garbage to make this…” Seeing as how it is made from those plastic bags you take with you when you’re walking your dog and you’re playing State Farm and being a good neighbor and picking up after your dog and everything.

None the less, I like how it incorporates the paw print motif from the bags, is over the knee and has some sort of petticoat action happening. Kind of like being post-modern and anti-nostalgic at the same time.

Detail from Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

Detail from Bag Garment By Mélanie Casavant

Although I’m not certain I want to know what’s in the bag…

More tomorrow.