High Holborn Street, London

Holiday Greetings to all my Friends!

Image by Robert Dolsneau 1912-1994 (Photoshop additions of text by Ingrid Mida)
It won't be a white Christmas in Toronto this year but you don't need snow to have a merry spirit and a happy heart! Here is wishing all my friends a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah or happy holiday! See you in 2012!

Blogging and Baudelaire

Gaga's Boudoir Window at Barney's New York by Ingrid Mida 2011
Poet Charles Baudelaire and theorist Walter Benjamin were fascinated by the concept of the flaneur, a figure who anonymously strolled through the city streets gazing into windows, embodying the concept of modernity in the specular relationship to urban space and consumer goods. I felt a bit like a flaneuse myself during my weekend jaunt to New York, strolling the city from the Museum at FIT (at 7th and 27th) up to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (at 5th and 82) and stopping to admire the windows like this fabulous Gaga display at Barneys. The weather was glorious and I drank in the sunshine as if I'd recently been released from prison (which is what I equate the library I've been living in of late).

Stepping away from for a weekend was refreshing in so many ways and it re-energized me.  I also thought of all the good things that have come my way from being a blogger -  the people I've met, the exhibitions I've seen, the friends I've made.... I recently submitted an abstract for a paper called "Blogging, Benjamin and Foucault" to the Fashion Tales 2012 conference in Milan. In equating bloggers to Baudelaire’s and Benjamin's concept of the flaneur and drawing on Foucault’s theories on the aesthetics of existence, I hope to recast the blog as a creative portal and a form of conversational erudition. Call me crazy.... I don't know if it will fly, but sometimes you just have to jump off the cliff....

Doo.Ri S/S 12 NY

Doo.Ri, S/S 2012, New York, Juju Lvanyuk and Mila Krasnoiarova.
Drapey directional amazingness. The purples in this collection were grdat too.

Derek Lam S/S 12 NY

Derek Lam, S/S 2012, New York, Aline Weber and Mirte Maas.
California! Cowboy meets Palm Springs. Those prints were amazing!

Alexander Wang S/S 12 NY

Alexander Wang, S/S 2012, New York, Mirte Maas and Magdalena Langrova.
Die for Mirte's look. She was the definition of Alexander Wang S/S 12.

Jill Stuart S/S 12 NY

Jill Stuart, S/S 2012, New York, Julia Nobis and Julia Nobis!
Dreamy sorbet collection all my favorite colours.

Richard Chai S/S 12 NY

Richard Chai, S/S 2012, New York, Codie Young and Lindsey Wixson.
A rose print made to look tropical, not an easy feat but pulled off beautifully!

Pausing to Reflect

It is my birthday tomorrow and I find myself in the midst of an existential crisis...  Although I've been so busy of late that I've hardly had time to breathe, I find myself questioning the choices I've made and what I want for the future. Sometimes I wonder why I push so hard and then there are times I wonder if I'm doing enough.... I know this means it is time to step away from the fray and take some time to reflect. I wish you all a happy holiday season, filled with love and laughter, joy and delight!

But if you have nothing at all to create, then perhaps you create yourself.
Carl Jung

Norwegian sweater, Paris

Prabal Gurung S/S 12 NY

Prabal Gurung, S/S 2012, New York, Josephine Skriver and Frida Gustavsson.
Top three shows on NY. That purple was lurex. LUREX! Amazing.

Jason Wu S/S 12 NY

Jason Wu, S/S 2012, New York, Karlie Kloss and Milou.
Had to draw Karlie, she was just gorgeous in this show. Plus LOVE pastel and acid!

Rachel Comey S/S 12 NY

Rachel Comey, S/S 2012, New York, Katia Selinger and Svieta Nenkova.
A bobble jacket?! I want! And double splits making their way back? Hmm...yep!

Peter Som S/S 2012 NY

Peter Som, S/S 2012, New York, Cris Urena and Melissa Tammerijn.
Perfect pairing of the right colours with the right fabrics.

BCBG Max Azria S/S 2012 NY

BCBG Max Azria, SS 2012. New York, Sara Blomqvist and Valeria.
Good colour blocking show, although I'm over that trend now;)

Creative Process Journal: If Marie Antoinette was a Blogger

If Marie Antoinette was a Blogger II by Ingrid Mida (Copyright 2011)

In this work, a dress once worn by Marie Antoinette from the collection of the Royal Ontario Museum is reimagined and recreated from a mash up of toile de jouey fabrics which depict an appropriated version of Fraggonard’s painting The Swing. This post-modern pastiche of the original dress is embellished with hot pink ribbons, a colour associated with third wave feminism. Instead of the panier and petticoat normally worn with a robe a la francaise, the dress is styled in a contemporary way with jeans and brogues to further emphasize the post-modern aspect of its creation.

In a nod to the construction of identity reflected in the phenomena of personal style blogs, the artist photographs herself wearing the dress while holding a mirror over her face. The mirror, a tool used by style bloggers to hide their identity, also symbolizes femininity. With further manipulation in Photoshop, multiple selves are depicted in the ballroom of the Palais Garnier in Paris as a play on the myth of photographic truth.

The title of the work, If Marie Antoinette was a Blogger, signifies the irony with which this project was conceived. In the post that would accompany the image, Marie Antoinette would quote theorist Michel Foucault on the aesthetics of existence from his 1984 work On the Genealogy of Ethics as follows:

What strikes me is the fact that in our society, art has become something which is related only to objects and not to individuals, or to life. That art is something which is specialized or which is done by experts who are artists. But couldn’t everyone’s life become a work of art?...From the idea that the self is not given to us, I think that there is only one practical consequence: we have to create ourselves as a work of art” (350-1).

With a blog, everyone’s life can become a work of art today and therein lies the ultimate irony of Foucault's statement.  

For further reading:
"Personal Fashion Blog: Screens and Mirrors in Digital Self-portraits" by Agnes Rocamora in Fashion Theory, Volume 15, Issue 4, December 2011

On the Genealogy of Ethics: An overview of work in Progress. In P. Rabinow (ed.), The Foucault Reader. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1984.

Project Clock: +12 hours for final embellishments and finishing of dress, photographs, manipulation in photoshop and preparation of artist statement
Total to date: 65 hours
P.S. This is the final post of the Creative Process Journal for this project. I hope you enjoyed the journey!

What's on the Fashion Calendar for December

In a month filled with holiday parties and festivities (not to mention a raft of deadlines), I find the reflective nature of art to be a balm to the soul. Here are some of the exhibitions I hope to visit this month:

Cecil Beaton 1948
The Museum of the City of New York presents the work of British-born photographer and designer Cecil Beaton (1904-80). The exhibition Cecil Beaton: The New York Years brings together extraordinary photographs, drawings, and costumes by Beaton to chronicle his impact on the city’s cultural life.
Museum of the City of New York, 1220 Fifth Avenue, New York

Daphne Guiness
Tom Ford once said: “Daphne is one of – if not the – most stylish women living." In an exhibition at the Museum at FIT, curator Valerie Steele collaborated with this fashion icon to present a selection of Daphne Guiness' collection of couture. Divided into six sections, the garments are organized into six themes including Dandyism, Armor, Chic, Evening Chic, Exoticism and Sparkle. 
Museum at FIT, 7th Avenue at 27th, New York 

In the exhibition Stieglitz and his artists: Matisse to O'Keeffe, the Metropolitan Museum of Art presents over 200 paintings, sculptures, drawings, and prints from Alfred Stieglitz's collection. These artworks were acquired by the Metropolitan in 1949 from Georgia O'Keefe. After reading the book "How Georgia Became O'Keeffe" by Karen Karbo and learning about their stormy relationship, I'm keen to see this exhibition, especially since many of the works were acquired by Stieglitz when the artists were relatively unknown.
Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York

Blue Circus by Marc Chagall
The Art Gallery of Ontario presents Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and features the work of Marc Chagall alongside his contemporaries of Russian modernism, including Wassily Kandinsky and Sonia Delaunay.
The exhibition of 118 works comes from the Centre Pompidou and features 32 works by Chagall and eight works by Kandinsky.
Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto

Oude Spiegelstraat, Amsterdam

A Conversation with Jeanne Beker about Fashion and Art

Jeanne Beker: AGO Collector's Series 2011
Jeanne Beker's personal art collection is whimsical, eclectic, and captivating - descriptors that can also be used for the woman herself. In a one-on-one interview with this fashion powerhouse, Jeanne and I had a lively conservation about fashion and art and she also gave me a tour of her favourite artworks now on display as part of the Art Gallery of Ontario's 2nd Annual Collector's Series Exhibition.

The Birthday Party by Marion Perlet
For Jeanne, each work of art in her collection evokes a memory. She said "They really serve as a kind of visual diary for me of my travels, certain stages I was going through in my life, of certain changing aesthetics I've had over the years." One of her favourites is an oil painting by Marion Perlet called "The Birthday Party" in which the artist painted her memories of her birthday party as a child. Jeanne said "This was a cherry pie but my girls always thought it looked like a pepperoni pizza. It sat right over our table in the kitchen of our old house and now it hangs in my dining room and it just makes me feel good. And yet, there is something about the look in their eyes, some of them look a little dysfunctional, or that they have their grudges or own stories to tell or their own feelings about themselves, their particular plight - they are your typical dysfunctional family I think."

Toller Cranston gave Jeanne her first artwork and encouraged her to start her collection. He told her to buy Canadian art and "just chose one artist that you really like and go with it." Jeanne followed that advice and has several pieces from Marion Perlet. She offers advice to other collectors and said "Just buy what you love. Don't buy as an investment."

Yves Saint Laurent by Andre Rau
Jeanne's collection also includes several exquisite photographs by David LaChapelle, Paul Alexander and Andre Rau that capture the intersection of the fashion and art worlds. Jeanne was surprised when I told her about my interviews with Valerie Steele, Chief Curator of The Museum at FIT and Matthew Teitelbaum, Director/CEO of the Art Gallery of Ontario on the relationship between fashion and art. She said "I just think it is old fashioned to not see fashion as art. Of course, I'm talking about a particular kind of fashion. Fashion with a capital F, not fashion put out there for mass consumption." 

Jeanne and I agreed that fashion and art have a complex relationship. She put it this way: "There are a precious handful of designers [that would quality as artists]. I'm certainly not intimating that all of fashion  is art, not by a long shot. But I do think that there are some fashion creators who are, without question artists, in terms of the techniques that they have learned, in terms of the statements that they want to communicate or in what they are saying in their impact of their creations on humanity. I don't know what the definition of art is, if it is not that."

In closing my interview, I asked Jeanne if there was anything left on her list of things she wanted to do given her long list of accomplishments to date as television journalist, as well as author and editor. She answered "I'd like to return to the places I've been to for work that I didn't get a chance to explore on my own, but really what I look forward to doing in this next chapter is to continue doing a lot of things that I have done, but just do them better. I want to continue to make great television - but better; I want to write more books - but better." When I told her that she must have a wicked perfectionist streak because so many people look up to her and admire her that I cannot imagine her having to do anything better, she said "Sometimes I feel like I've barely scratched the surface in terms of my potential. I am turning 60 next year and that only gives me another 20-30 years to go, but who knows. Diana Vreeland didn't start editing Vogue until she was 60".  I left utterly enchanted by Jeanne and her zest for life. 

The AGO's 2nd Annual Collector's Series
AGO Art Rental + Sales Gallery
481 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
November 30, 2011 to December 19, 2011

For more information, see the AGO website link here.

P.S. Jeanne Beker's interview of Harold Koda as part of the Bata Shoe Museum's Founder Series Lecture was published yesterday in the Toronto Star. The link is here.

What to Wear to Interview Jeanne Beker

Jeanne Beker (Source: CP24 News)
Although I have an enormous stack of work on my desk, I am obsessing what I should wear to interview Jeanne Beker today. The Art Gallery of Ontario Annual Collector's Series highlights the personal art collection of notable Canadians and Jeanne Beker is the curator of this year's exhibition which opens to the public on November 30th.

Even though I've interviewed people like fashion scholar Valerie Steele, rock star curator Harold Koda, and Director/CEO of the AGO Matthew Teitelbaum, there is something about meeting Jeanne Beker that makes me nervous.  On days like today, I really wish I had an assistant.

I have prepared my questions carefully and now I'm staring into my closet..... I'm leaning towards my black Prada suit or maybe a Balenciaga jacket -- something that feels like fashion armour....

I'll be posting my interview with Jeanne Beker on Fashion is my Muse! Stay tuned.

The AGO's 2nd Annual Collector's Series
AGO Art Rental + Sales Gallery
481 University Avenue
Toronto, Ontario
November 30, 2011 to December 19, 2011

For more information, see the AGO website link here.

Market Place, London

Creative Process Journal: The Dress

It's been one of those weeks.... I sort of feel like I've been to hell and back and so spending some time in the studio was a dose of joy. This is the dress - a post-modern pastiche of Marie Antoinette's dress from the Royal Ontario Museum

Post-modern Marie Antoinette Dress by Ingrid Mida 2011

Post-modern Marie Antoinette Dress Back by Ingrid Mida 2011
It's a mash up of 18th century and contemporary style with heavy doses of pink in reference to third wave feminism. I made the skirt to accommodate paniers and without them it drags at the sides somewhat, but that's all I had time for. Besides if Marie Antoinette were here today, she would probably wear jeans or a miniskirt under this get-up.

Post-modern Marie Antoinette Shoes by Ingrid Mida 2011
Instead of the pink Converse shoes, I decided to go with these patent leather pink and cream brogues with a heel by Bass. I fancy I can wear them myself - perhaps with my upcoming interview with Jeanne Beker of Fashion Television!

Project clock: +10 hours
Total to-date: 53 hours

How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living

There are many, many books on the life and work of Georgia O'Keeffe - so many in fact that there are multiple pages of listings on Amazon.... Her visionary brilliance as an artist, her fierce independence as a woman, and her turbulent relationship with Alfred Steiglitz give her a mysterious aura that fascinates us all. It is almost a wonder that there is anything left to write about her. And yet, this did not faze Karen Karbo when she decided to put her own spin on the life of this artistic legend. 

Karen Karbo is the author of The Gospel According to Coco Chanel and How to Hepburn. She has a unique gift for biography, crafting a narrative that both delights and amuses the reader, as well as mining that person's life for nuggets of inspiration and life lessons. (Read my January 2010 interview with her here). When Karen wrote to me about her new book, I knew that I had to put down my scholarly journals and get this book, especially since Georgia O'Keeffe's flowers were a huge source of inspiration in my earliest painting attempts. Not yet available in Canada, I ordered How Georgia Became O'Keeffe: Lessons on the Art of Living on Amazon and it has been my company in the wee hours of the morning during my latest bout of insomnia. 

Although I am not yet finished the book, I've read enough to know that this is another gem. Karen has a unique voice and is both frank and funny in her analysis of the realities of Georgia's life. One passage that encapsulates Karbo's style of writing is this analysis of Georgia's defiance of conventional standards of feminine beauty:

"With her fabulous rawboned frame, straggly brows, and schoolmarm's bun, her black vestments, man's shoes, and odd assortment of hats and turbans, O'Keeffe was out there. There was no one like her, then or ever. A few months before she left her teaching post in Canyon, when someone mustered up the nerve to timidly ask her why she wore her hair that way, O'Keeffe said, "Because I like it." Freeing herself from the endless demands of looking like other women released her into a parallel, and freer, universe. After people adjusted to her curious look, they accepted it and expected nothing else." (pg 13)

This is a book to add to your Christmas wish list!

Paul Klee on Art

I like living (All is Vanity series) by Ingrid Mida 2011
I've been reading a lot about the theories of practice based research in the arts and came across this beautiful passage written by artist Paul Klee:

"The artist has studied this world of variety and has, we may suppose, unobtrusively found his way in it. His sense of direction has brought order into the passing stream of image and experience. This sense of direction in nature and life, this branding and spreading array, I shall compare with the root of the tree.

From the root the sap flows to the artist, flows through him, flows to his eye.

Thus he stands as the trunk of the tree.

Battered and stirred by the strength of the flow, he moulds his vision into his work.

As, in full view of the world, the crown of the tree unfolds and spreads in time and space, so with his work.

Nobody would affirm that the tree grows its crown in the image of its root. Between above and below can be no mirrored reflection. It is obvious that different functions expanding in different elements must produce vital divergences.

But it is just the artist who at times is denied those departures from nature which his art demands. He has even been charged with incompetence and deliberate distortion.

And yet, standing at his appointed place, the trunk of the tree, he does nothing other than gather and pass on what comes to him from the depths. He neither serves or rules - he transmits.

His position is humble. And the beauty at the crown is not his own. He is merely a channel.

...The creation of a work of art - the growth of the crown of the tree - must of necessity, as a result of entering into the specific dimensions of pictorial art, be accompanied by distortion of the natural form, for, therein, is nature reborn."

Source: Paul Klee in On modern art (1948) London: Faber and Faber p. 13-19 as quoted in Art Practice as Research: Inquiry in the Visual Arts by Graeme Sullivan, Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2005

Worn Fashion Journal Issue 13

Cover of Worn Fashion Journal Issue 13
For some people, the number 13 is associated with bad luck. But in my case, it seems to be quite the opposite. I have a charm bracelet that once belonged to my mother with the number 13 as one of the charms and I also have a charm necklace that I bought in Paris a few years back and it too contains the number 13. I consider both pieces to be lucky and I also feel lucky that my book review for the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibition was one of the featured articles in Issue 13 of Worn Fashion Journal

Worn Fashion Journal is a twice yearly publication that offers a culturally rich and diverse approach to the world of fashion. Taking a scholarly perspective (especially in terms of rigorous editorial standards), it covers fashion trends and history as it relates to culture, arts and life. It is a unique bridge between a magazine like Elle and a journal like Fashion Theory. And although it is not widely available, issues of Worn can be purchased from their website.

I'll be wearing my "lucky 13" necklace today when I give a talk at Concordia University on art and fashion this afternoon. I'm wishing you all good luck and a good weekend!

Via del Pellegrino, Rome

Creative Process Journal: Constructing the Dress

Marie Antoinette Dress Back (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida
With all the work I did on the process journal for this project, the actual construction of the dress almost seems like an afterthought. But it is time to bring this project together.....

Marie Antoinette Dress Front (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida
In writing this post, I realize that I should have taken more photos of individual steps, but my time in the studio seems so limited that stopping to take photos is an interruption of the flow.

The construction process was complicated by the fact that it took me a while to remember how to sew with fabric.  Mesh handles differently than fabric and I'd been working with mesh for so long that I had to  redo certain parts more than once.

Marie Antoinette Dress Side (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida

One part that has not worked are the sleeves. Although they look fine in this photo, they sort of feel like mitts because the fabric is so heavy. I spent 3 hours just on these sleeves and at the end of the day ripped off the "ruffle" so I can rework them with a lighter fabric or lace. 
Dress Sleeves (in Progress) by Ingrid Mida
The next part of construction involves the panniered skirt. Wish me luck!

Project Clock: +15.5 hours
Total to date: 43 hours

Karl Is My Personal Shopper, Rome

Jean Paul Gaultier at the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts

Corcirico ensemble for men Haute Couture Fall Winter 2011/2012 collection Jean Paul Gaultier
This men's haute couture ensemble from Jean Paul Gaultier's Fall/Winter 2011 line is one of the additions to the exhibition The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier: From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk. This exhibition which was curated by Nathalie Bondil and Thierry-Maxime Loriot of the Montreal Museum of Fine Art opened yesterday at the Dallas Museum of Art. To read more about Gaultier's design aesthetic and this exhibition, read my article in Vintage and Modern here.

Photo credit: Photo by Patrice Stable courtesy of Jean Paul Gaultier

Creative Process Journal: Marie Antoinette and Elsa Schiaparelli

Insect Necklace by Schiaparelli
Sometimes inspiration comes from the least likely of places. Earlier this week, Harold Koda, chief curator of the Costume Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, showed a slide of Elsa Schiaparelli's Insect Necklace during his talk as part of the Bata Shoe Museum's Founder's Lecture Series. The surrealist whimsy of this piece captivated me and I had to know more.

According to the Met's website, this piece came to the museum via the Brooklyn Museum's Costume Collection and was created by Elsa Schiaparelli in 1938 for  the fall pagan collection.  "This iconic necklace epitomizes Schiaparelli's Surrealist tendencies, perhaps more than any other design she executed because of the unreal idea of insects crawling on your skin as a fashion statement." The necklace was worn by Millicent Rogers - one of Schiaparelli's "best clients who was brave enough to wear her outrĂ© designs."

As unlikely as the connection between this necklace and Marie Antoinette is, a light bulb went off in my head when I reviewed accounts of hygiene practices in the 18th century.

In an out of print book from 1932 called The Elegant Woman, From the Rococo Period to Modern Times by Gertrude Aretz (translated and with a preface by fashion scholar James Laver), the author wrote about the lack of hygiene in 18th century, including the rank odour of the lack of bathing that was covered up with heavy doses of scent.  "Marie-Antoinette was not altogether a vain and coquettish woman, nor was her elegance altogether consistent. Her clothes were rich and beautiful, but somewhat negligently put on, and she was often careless and untidy in her dress. Her personal cleanliness was not very strict, especially before she became Queen, and she used her bathroom but seldom..... The Rococo period, with all its luxury, was a period of dirt and lack of hygiene." (pg. 62-63)

The elaborate pouf hairstyles of the period were crafted out of false hair, pins, dye, grease, and powder and then laden with accessories like feathers, flowers, jewels, and even such implausible additions as vegetables and small ships. Aretz wrote: "It goes without saying that with such complicated coiffures elegant ladies could not pay much attention to cleanliness of the head and hair. Indeed, very little consideration was given to personal hygiene in the eighteenth century. The hair was very rarely washed, perhaps once a year or even not at all. Elaborate coiffures were expected to last for weeks, and it was no rare occurrence for vermin to nest in these monstrous edifices of hair and to attack their owners in a terrible way." (pg. 76) Caroline Weber in her book Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette wore to the Revolution  also wrote about the "Queen's hallmark hairstyles" and the "special head-scratchers (grattoirs) made from ivory, silver, gold, and even sometimes decorated with diamonds" (Weber: 111).

Our perceptions of the grandeur and beauty of this period are no more than illusions. And this I think is the key to adding a subversive element to my recreation of a robe a la francaise. Funnily enough, it seems to tie in rather nicely to my previous dress sculptures made out of mosquito mesh - which originated from a play on the word "fly" as a reference to both the pest and the tag word for "cool".

I am going to appropriate Elsa Schiaparelli's insect necklace and reinterpret it in the context of the 18th century as a reference to "all manner of vermin" that crawled out of the elaborate pouf hairstyles of Marie Antoinette's time (Weber: 111).

Aretz, Gertrude. The Elegant Woman: From the Rococo Period to Modern Times. London: Geroge G. Harrap & Co. Ltd., 1931. (Translated by James Laver)

Weber, Caroline. Queen of Fashion: What Marie Antoinette Wore to the Revolution. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2006.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute Collection: Elsa Schiaparelli Necklace 2009.300.1234
sourced: November 12, 2011

Project Clock: +3 hours
Project Clock to date: 27.5 hours

Mark Fast A/W 2011 LONDON

Mark Fast, A/W 2011, London, Viktoria Sekrier and Sopfia Bartos.
Half love this label because of it's creative consultant Julia Restoin Roitfeld.
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