Collages may be my favorite art form.
Collage is certainly the only visual art in which I participate.1 (Well, that and maybe Getting Dressed. After all, I do try to throw a little artistry into that daily grind.)
And that is definitely one strong appeal for the art form: its accessibility in regard to participation (if not appreciation). It is, by definition, cutting and pasting. And unlike with painting, sculpture, et al., collage is an easy(ish) visual art for anyone creative. You don’t really need a good hand if you have a good eye.2
Really though, ease is not the point. I am constantly and consistently compelled by art and fashion that incorporates collage because there is something so exemplary of the Zeitgeist about collage. It’s so indicative of Our Times. (It’s also, I think, a really strong metaphor for identity, but that’s a whole other conversation.)
After all, mes amis, this is the Information Age. We are context laden, lousy with allusions and inspirations. And Collages as a species (and with the capital C) seem to be manifestations of this awareness. The images and text used in a single piece can come from anywhere and are almost necessarily anachronistic. They absolutely, by necessity come from multiple sources.
As a concept collages are very Of the Now, is what I mean.
Other Players in the Zeitgeist that are similarly reference-heavy include:
- Vampire Weekend (who I want to be annoyed by but instead, lately, I can’t stop listening to them).
- The whole idea of Steam Punk anything.
- “That’s so meta.”
So what does this have to do with fashion?
Well, several things I think. One, fashion in general, and Getting Dressed specifically, can be thought of in similar terms as collage art: the layering of disparate elements, the assumed diversity of source materials, the varied references, all different one from the other, or evocatively similar.
Think about this: In only the last ten years, major and minor lines have explicitly referenced looks from the last 200 years. To say nothing of more subtle or oblique references. To say nothing of influences that come from art or film (or whathaveyou).
And right now, specifically, the move to mix and match prints is pervasive. I mean, check out all this nonsense on the Glamourai blog.
What this all means–the mishmash of prints and patterns and pieces, the amalgamation of cues and clues to any number of historical periods, physical locations, political movements, and/or specific peoples–is that our wardrobes are similarly chock-full of content, context, and connotations.
It also means that, despite the fact that it sometimes seems there isn’t a creative idea left in the universe (the movie based off the musical based off the TV show named after the song, the endless stream of remakes), we have nothing but abundance to inspire us and no boundaries to hedge in how we play them off of each other. Regardless of the mediums in which we work.
And now, for a little added inspiration, see every painting at the MOMA in 2 minutes.
- Par exemple, I turned the big, North-facing wall of my small Bordeaux apartment into a collage/mural. It had to be ripped (and I do mean ripped) down before I moved out of that apartment (and kicked the “ex” from my expat life).
- I go to this Visionary Collage party every new year (early January) where everyone brings old magazines (and so on) and scissors and creates a piece about what they want for the coming 12 months. It’s awesome.
Hansart wrote an amazing little story to go along with “Fashion Guide to Finnish Aviation.” You should totally check it out.
You also need to read the New York Times review of the Playing with Pictures exhibit and check out the accompanying slide show.
Finally, I urge you too to take a look at the awesomeness that is Dries Van Noten.
All runway images taken from Style.com. All editorial images taken from FashionGoneRogue.com.