Sunday, November 1, 2009


Galliano, Spring 2008

Fashion performance” is clothing acting in the world. Fashion performance includes dressing for society, especially for a particular role (a doctor, a soilder). Fashion performance includes dressing for an audience, as in a designer dressing models for a fashion show, a costume designer dressing actors for stage or screen, a stylist for a music video or dressing oneself for a public appearance like a speech or awards show. It also includes artists who use clothing as a medium.

Fashion shows function like contemporary theater. They allow designers to extend their vision with an overall theme, colors, light, music, hair and makeup and model direction. The choice of location, platform and props are also important, as are the guests and commercial component. The fashion show has become such a production most designers now hire producers to supervise the runway, models and guests. See the history of the runway here.

Malcom Barnard describes the shows of John Gallino as "the appearance of theater,” and “the influence of theater through the use of decadent set design, props and make-up.” Galliano's shows for his own label are consistently more daring than his presentations with Dior.

Galliano, Spring 1995

Galliano, Spring 2008

Galliano for Dior, Fall 1997

Galliano for Dior, Fall 2009

In fashion shows, one of the most innovative teams is Villa Eugenie. You already know Villa Eugenie by their magnificent fashion show sets. The Brussels based team is led by Etienne Russo. Clients include Chanel, Dries Van Noten, YSL, Miu Miu, Maison Martin Margiela, Lanvin, Hermés, Hugo Bosss, Sonia Rykiel, Olivier Strelli, and the Adidas-backed Y-3. Russo started as a model for Dries Van Noten then designed the first show for him in 1991. By 1995, the team was working for a glass enclosed office space dreaming up big productions.

Best in show

Jean Paul Gaultier and his radical theater

Gaultier, 1991

Gaultier's famous show based on a Hasidic Jew theme created controversy in the fashion world

Gaultier, Fall 1993

Recent Gaultier using a cinema theme

Gaultier, Fall 2009/Winter 2010

Imitation of Christ is known for its theatrical shows

Imitation of Christ, Fall 2007

Always mesmerizing Hussein Chalayan

Hussein Chalayan, Spring 2009

Postmodern theater
Infant Terrible du Jour

Pugh, S 2009

Barnard also describes performance artist Vanessa Beecroft. For VB 52 she created a several course meal in the costume color of participating models.

Leigh Bowery was an Australian avant garde performance artist in the gay club seen of London and New York. He created many of his own costumes and self-portraits. He died in 1987. Interview and Performance

Yayoi Kusama is a Japanese performance artist who came to New York in the 1960’s. She created her own costumes and decorated mannequins and used the same pattern in all her work and installations.

Marina Abramovic is a Serbian performance artist concerned with the body and presentation. She makes her own costumes and sets. She is best known for her work “Art must be beautiful / Artist must be beautiful” and in 2005, 7 easy pieces recreated performances for the Guggenheim.

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