NEW OBJECT RESEARCH
A white box is surrounded by white-clad figures wearing white masks and caps. The box is suspended from the ceiling. It lifts, lit from inside, to reveal a pile of black fabric and sticks. The white figures take hold of the black sticks to position a puppet, a panting man, who seems as if he’s just been born. The puppet figure is entirely cloaked in black: black boots, a black coat – netted under the skirt for extra volume and shape – with its hood pulled down shielding its face.
Then a little girl (dressed in white) comes along and removes the mask covering the face of the puppet. A mystery is revealed. The face beneath the black mask is white. The puppeteers walk the intriguing figure.
Next another puppet emerges from backstage, also wearing black, although this time its shoes are white. Further puppets, wearing increasingly whiter (and less black) costumes, follow.
A figure is a glowing ball of light clothed in white. The white clothing looks almost black as an effect from the inner light. It stops. A crack shoots across the room as the puppet is struck by a purple shot. Shadows are violet. The room remains in darkness. The final puppet comes out. As it reaches the end of the runway it begins to elevate moments before it, too, is shot. It continues to rise.
An interval of strobe lighting. Then the curtain pulls back to reveal all six puppets hanging in the air against a violet background. The clothes we have seen are both practical and have a flowing quality. Angles are soft and accentuated.
When we observe a fashion show, we’re looking at the clothes as objects of envy. We imagine what it would be to wear them ourselves. Our own identity is sutured – stitched – by a desire to be the figure wearing the clothes. Despite not thinking of ourselves as puppets, the unseen hands of nature weave us in life through our choices, walking us along our path.
Two colours (black and white) were used with much symbolic effect. White here represents spirit and higher knowing. If I were to remove the word white from this summary, the manifest nature of
white would be more apparent by its absence: unmanifest. The show was circular in that the crumpled black figure at the beginning was looking back. Posthumously, perhaps. Somehow the figure was shot and is experiencing it again and again, over and over, to make sense of a higher and higher level. The audience shares its final dying moments. Whiter and whiter characters represent spirit growing closer and closer to its determined fate.
A little girl removing the black mask to expose a white face symbolises the ritual. The audience also have their mask removed. The violet shadows, once the figure is shot, represent future wearers of the clothes. By wearing the clothes the future wearers are symbolically shot, they are symbolically designed, their fate undetermined until hindsight and retrospect carve it out.
This show, in my mind, highlighted that when a designer sets out to create a collection, designs are intrinsically part of a bigger picture of design in nature. Lives of people wearing the clothes were always-already designed. Where fashion is going from now will be circular and future forward rather than retrospective. With media images we can more easily travel to the styles and aesthetic of the late 20th century; we were present in these images as voyeurs. Now we’ve begun to process and figure it out as human beings we can listen and really look at how viewers of the future are here. Fashion and fashioning thought: an excellent art form by means to explore contemporary modernity in its current, fragmented, collectively individualistic, future retrospective condition.
Plus such a dramatic show was bound to raise the profile of the designer and his investigations into his creations.