Collages may be my favorite art form.
Berkeley-based, Etsy seller Elkemay makes original collages and prints. This one is called Fierce Spring and it costs $20.
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
Oakland-based Etsy artist Hansart makes handmade, one-of-a-kind collage-style cards and prints from found materials. This one is from a set of three titled Fashion Guide to Finnish Aviation, and all three collage pieces will run you $75.
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.)
This is not to say that collage as an art form is something new. An exhibit showing now at the Met in New York, which I am so pissed to miss, is titled Playing With Pictures: The Art of Victorian Photocollage. Aparently this is how bored housewives used to bide their time and feed their creative spirits. Pretty damn cool.
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?
For the April 2010 issue of W Magazine, Bruce Weber photographed fashion icon Iris Apfel with models Dree Hemingway (granddaughter of Earnest), Guinevere Van Seenus, and Kirsten Owen. Styled by Camilla Nickerson.
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.
Here the stunning Alex Wek mixes and matches for the Financial Times luxury mag, How to Spend It. It is ridiculous that such a thing exists but great photos.
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).
Sasha Pivovarova lounges for photog Craig McDean for the February issue of Interview.
And right now, specifically, the move to mix and match prints is pervasive. I mean, check out all this nonsense on the Glamourai blog.
We can thank designer Dries Van Noten, in large part, for this Mix It Up trend. Here Frida Gustavsson models a look for Spring/Summer 2010. Dries is stupendous. I love pretty much every single thing he does.
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.
The editorial, titled Global Gathering, was styled by Damian Foxe and photographed by Andrew Yee.
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.
See, how awesome is Karlie in this drool-worthy Dries look?
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.
For more information on the inimitable Iris Apfel, check out this article from the Peabody Essex Museum or this one from The Boston Globe.
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.