Fashion Curating Now

Shelley Fox 14 collection, 2012, photography by HIROSHI KUTOMI, as part of Shelley Fox's presentation

Fashion Curating Now was a daylong symposium focusing on the possibilities and challenges of contemporary fashion curating on a global scale. Critical points of view were stressed, as was contemplation of fashion’s kinship with art, design, industry, performance, and self-presentation. The invited professionals reflected on the theme through individual presentations and in discussions with their peers and the audience.

Kaat Debo, the General Director of Antwerp’s Fashion Museum MoMu, gave an inspiring talk about the fast digitalization of the fashion world from the point of view of a museum professional. Instead of insisting on materiality in the exhibition practices, Debo seeks alternative ways of presenting and collecting fashion design in all its forms.

Judith Clark discussed examples of her own work and shared with the audience her fascination with using props as part of exhibition display. She encourages curators to be creative and innovative, not least in the ways they could introduce props for the audience instead of the usual written captions. Judith Clark is Professor of Fashion and Museology at LCF, University of the Arts London, and co-directs the MA Fashion Curation program.

Quite often the runway shows come across monotonous and unimaginative, and designers seem to forget the fact that there are so many other ways of presenting one’s work. Shelley Fox had this in mind when she launched her No.14 collection in collaboration with In the seminar Fox, the Donna Karan Professor of Fashion at Parsons The New School For Design, offered a behind-the-scenes look at this collaborative, audiovisual project that was launched at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London.

Alexandra Palmer works as the Senior Curator at the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum) and is responsible for the collection of Western fashionable textiles and costumes. Palmer shared her insights about creating fashion exhibitions from the Museum’s vast collections.

It is important to negotiate the borderlines between design and art, and that is exactly what Annamari Vänskä had in mind when she curated the multidisciplinary exhibition Boutique in 2012. Vänskä illuminated her curatorial motives for the seminar audience and explained the transformation of Boutique into its NYC edition: Fashion Interactions.

In recent years, fashion has increasingly become part of the visual language of art and performance. This trend is exemplified by artists such as K8 Hardy and Chicks on Speed who have used the rhetoric of performance to respond critically to the symbolic production of fashion. Nathalie Khan, Lecturer at Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion, questioned in her talk if such readings of fashion shown within gallery context can be seen outside the paradigm of design and above consumer culture.

Fashion Curating Now was organized by Parsons the New School for Design in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Center for Fashion Studies (Stockholm University). The symposium was supported by the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture, Frame Visual Art Finland and the Consulate General of Finland in New York.

Walter Van Beirendonck with  Dream the World Awake , 2011, (c) SHOWstudio, as part of Kaat Debo's presentation

Walter Van Beirendonck with Dream the World Awake, 2011, (c) SHOWstudio, as part of Kaat Debo's presentation

Visual identity by Lotta Nieminen

K8 Hardy, 2012 Whitney Biennial, (c) K8 Hardy, as part of Nathalie Khan's presentation