Not Just For The Eyes

Any­one who aims to turn him­self into an ‘art­work’ re­quires more than just phys­i­cal al­ter­ations

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Clothes, makeup, and body mod­i­fi­ca­tion are just start­ing points in a per­son’s trans­for­ma­tion to a vir­tual ‘art­work’. One has to cul­ti­vate the mind too. After all, art­works are not only for the eyes

Has any­one told you that “You are a work of Art”? That ex­pres­sion, which im­plies you’re im­mac­u­lately pre­sented and stand out from the crowd – like a work of Art – fas­ci­nates me. It made me think that if we de­vel­oped our­selves into a ‘works of Art’, what im­pres­sion will we leave our au­di­ence? Will we be able to evoke emo­tions and cap­ture at­ten­tion – like a fine work of Art? If we see our­selves as artists of our own lives, and our bod­ies as the can­vas to ex­press our thoughts, style, emo­tions and per­son­al­i­ties, what will our mas­ter­piece look like? For that rea­son, I love the con­cept of fash­ion as wear­able Art, as it al­lows you to com­mu­ni­cate your ideas and style through fash­ion pieces, run­ning the gamut from high fash­ion to street wear, vin­tage and haute cou­ture. The way we put to­gether a ‘look’ is an artis­tic ex­pres­sion of our taste; we can use fash­ion to send out sub­lim­i­nal mes­sages of con­fi­dence (a power suit) or clas­sic el­e­gance (an LBD). Some of us put more thought into our sar­to­rial choices than oth­ers and hav­ing been on the re­ceiv­ing end, more of­ten than not, of com­ments like, “You are all dressed up! Where are you go­ing?”. I like to think of fash­ion as an ac­ces­si­ble art form for any­one who is in­ter­ested in ex­press­ing their own emo­tions and ideas. We can choose to paint with wa­ter­col­ors or sculpt with bronze or play dress up with fash­ion. It’s all Art, for art’s sake, to me. Fash­ion on it’s own can lit­er­ally be works of art. An ob­vi­ous name that comes to mind is of course iconic Ja­panese fash­ion de­signer Rei Kawakubo, founder of Commes des Garçons and Dover Street Mar­ket. Her ex­quis­ite avant-garde works are truly wear­able art – an amal­ga­ma­tion of fash­ion, art and ar­chi­tec­ture. If ever there was any de­bate or doubt on whether fash­ion is Art, one look at Rei’s works and every­thing is set­tled, break­ing the bound­aries be­tween the two. In fact, she was the sub­ject of the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Mu­seum of Art’s The Cos­tume In­sti­tute’s Spring 2017 ex­hi­bi­tion, Rei Kawakubo/ Commes des Garçons: Art of In-be­tween, cu­rated by Mr. An­drew Bolton, head cu­ra­tor of The Met’s Cos­tume In­sti­tute. It’s only the sec­ond time that the cos­tume in­sti­tute fea­tured a liv­ing de­signer since their ex­hi­bi­tion on Yves Saint Lau­rent in 1983. On why he chose Rei Kawakubo as the sec­ond liv­ing de­signer, Mr. Bolton said: “Just look at the clothes; they speak for them­selves.” He should know bet­ter, hav­ing pre­vi­ously ex­plored com­plex themes in fash­ion as art like The Cos­tume In­sti­tute’s 2016 ex­hi­bi­tion, ‘Manus vs Machina’. As Mr. Thomas P. Camp­bell, Di­rec­tor and CEO of the Met once said about Bolton: “Cu­ra­tor An­drew Bolton will

ex­plore work that of­ten looks like sculp­ture in an ex­hi­bi­tion that will chal­lenge our ideas about fash­ion’s role in con­tem­po­rary cul­ture.” When I think of creat­ing ver­sions of our­selves as ‘works of Art’, be­sides fash­ion, as the ob­vi­ous ar­mor and can­vas, the art of makeup is clearly the next ob­vi­ous el­e­ment in our rep­re­sen­ta­tion of our­selves, as if we are works of art. The tools are sim­i­lar too! Brushes and colour pal­ettes, any­one? Makeup artists of­ten ex­tol the im­por­tance of a clean and clear com­plex­ion as it is like a ‘can­vas’ for them to paint on. The face is the blank can­vas for mag­i­cal makeup art to hap­pen. It’s trans­for­ma­tive, brings out beauty, re­quires skills, tools and an eye for de­tails, much like any other art forms that al­low one to ex­press cre­ativ­ity. too; lift­ing, cut­ting, pulling, fill­ing – the way a bronze or mar­ble bust is chis­eled to per­fec­tion by the artist. Sub­con­sciously, we are work­ing on our face and body like we are a ‘work of Art’. Of course be­ing a ‘work of Art’ is more than just the su­per­fi­cial and phys­i­cal. Like an en­gag­ing play, one needs per­son­al­ity, in­tel­li­gence, wit, hu­mor and con­fi­dence to bring an art­work to life. We need to add depth and di­men­sion to our de­vel­op­men­tal process. The con­stant hunger for knowl­edge and self­im­prove­ment is what keeps us evolv­ing, like an artist whose works ‘ma­ture’ over time, and project new in­spi­ra­tions and ideas. The goal is not about com­plet­ing the ‘art­work’ but rather to keep work­ing on be­ing a work of art.

REI KAWAKUBO CROSSES THE DI­VIDE BE­TWEEN ART AND FASH­ION IN HER WORK

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