Photo by ExhibitingFashion.com
E.V. Day’s “Exploding Couture” installation at the NYC Opera’s David H. Koch Theater is simply breathtaking. She was given free reign to use any decommissioned costumes from NYC Opera’s amazing and historic costume collection to make any sort of art work she desired. Using metal hoops with attached fishing wire, she strung the garments into architectural shapes. The wire created tension in the cloth, allowing her to create “potential motion or motion that has just happened” like “comtrails behind a plane.” The “Exploding Couture” series subverts the “archetypal value behind certain costumes”, like her earlier “Bride Fight,” pictured below:
Photo by Tom Powel
These fabric sculptures “animate, re-animate, and liberate” the garment’s inherent purpose. ”Conjuring the spirit,” Madama Butterfly’s Cho-cho San is finally able to fly free, while Carmen seeks revenge for her death.
This exhibition ends April 11th, and one needs an opera ticket to see it - I’m so thankful I was able to before it comes down. The combination of the grand promenade, beauty of the costumes, glittering of the wires and the overwhelming dynamism creates a truly magical experience.
I wish more fashion exhibitions could affect this amount of dynamic motion, rather than being static. Yet, as I know through experience, there is NO WAY that Day’s installation methods would be allowed due to conservation ethics. Her manipulation of the costumes using tension creates a new type of art - an art above and beyond just the physical reality of the costumes. These sculptures will be sold after the exhibition is over - thus, the garments will never return to their former lives as merely costume. Perhaps that is the only way we can truly affect a dynamism in fashion exhibitions - let go of conservation ethics, and embrace, even welcome, the ephemeral in exchange for a moment’s worth of art.