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04 April 2009 @ 11:44 am
Thursday was busy, what with the art and the dance.  
On Thursday Jeannie and I went up to San Francisco to see the Yves Saint Laurent and Andy Warhol exhibits at the De Young Museum. It was my first time at the De Young, but given its focus on art of Africa, Oceania, and Mesoamerica that's not much of a surprise. I generally don't much care for "primitive" art (politically incorrect to refer to it that way, I'm sure) and I haven't studied it extensively. But the De Young does also have an extensive collection of American art, so that must be how YSL and Andy Warhol ended up in their galleries. They also get Tutankhamun in June, which I guess is a space decision since the Legion of Honor is smaller. Anyway. We didn't take the time to explore the permanent collection, save for a few rooms of the Jolika Collection (New Guinea sculpture) and American art that happened to be on the way to see YSL.

YSL was really cool. None of the clothes were behind any sort of glass, so resisting the urge to touch a sleeve or run delicate fabrics through your fingers was REALLY hard. If a guard was not conveniently stationed every ten feet I probably would have reached out to feel how heavy the earrings a mannequin was wearing, or to finger the tassels on a matador's outfit. If nothing else, the YSL exhibit showed me that I really need to become a museum curator so I can have an excuse to touch these famous frocks. Anyway, the clothes covered the full length of his career as a designer, from the famous Mondrian dresses in the 60s to the floral bridal gown from Spring 1999. (Images can be seen here. We tried to take photos, but got busted by the guards. They're strict at the De Young!) Really neat.

Andy Warhol exhibit = meh. I mean, I like the guy and I've enjoyed his work. Those block-color celebrity portraits are interesting enough when you happen to see a Marilyn Monroe on someone's purse or Mick Jagger on a wall. But when they're all lined up and you suddenly see twenty faces all at once, colored in the same way...it just gets boring. (I suppose it doesn't help that anyone can achieve that effect with Photoshop filters in a few minutes.) I was a bit disappointed that none of his early fashion illustrations were included, but I guess they didn't really match the theme of the exhibition. Oh well. There was also a room that tried to recreate the 'Exploding Plastic Inevitable' experience, but kids were making out in there. Ew. (Warhol might approve, though.)

That evening, after Jeannie had left to sell a couch, I went downtown to see Ballet San Jose's A Midsummer Night's Dream, which was just beautiful. Shakespeare's play has a nonsensical plot that translates very well to ballet, although if the watcher isn't familiar with the play I imagine it's just a swirl of confusion trying to make sense of it all. But ballet is about dancing, and that can be appreciated whatever your understanding of the plot.
I tried to find some photos from this production so I could show off the amazing costume of Oberon, but of course there isn't one to be found. Oh well. If you're bored this weekend, go check it out. Very pretty, very lush, very fun.
Danny Darko: All Praise to Bob!saru_kage on April 5th, 2009 01:53 am (UTC)
I've always found Warhol to be a little underwhelming too. I mean, I totally get why other people like him; it's really easy to hang all sorts of meaning and nuance onto his work--possibly because it's so simple and spartan--but I've never really convinced myself that the meaning and nuance is actually there, or if people are just projecting it because they wish it was there. It always seemed like more shtick than substance to me. Plus there's the fact that Warhol was really more of an art designer than an actual artist. It never really sat right with me that he had minions to do all the heavy lifting while he took all the credit.

Also, I think the world of high fashion may be totally lost on me. One of my really good friends is a fashion designer who works for Levi Strauss, and she demystified a lot of it for me, but so much of it still seems to me to be really, I dunno, contrived, I guess. Possibly I'm just bitter because because the industry is almost totally geared toward women's clothing, meanwhile men have been stuck with nothing but business suits, trousers, and three kinds of shirts for the last two-hundred and fifty years (and the "utilikilt" was not a step in the right direction).
Suzik00kaburra on April 5th, 2009 04:01 am (UTC)
Fashion design is definitely contrived! I really liked my classes because, like sculpture, it involves taking a medium and using your creativity to transform it into new forms and structures. It's also a fun art that is ultimately collaborative, because the designer can make the most awesomest jacket EVER but they way its worn by the owner can change it a hundred different ways. I think it's fantastic, but at the same time it's completely superficial and when you get to haute couture, Paris-runway styles it's completely ridiculous and unfeasible.

But yes, men get the raw end of it. Yet if I stop and think about it, revolutions with men's fashion hasn't worked. About five years ago there was a movement to try and bring long skirts to menswear. There was a man-skirt in many major collections, but obviously it never caught on and diffused into the mainstream. Guys are tough to design for because they don't experiment with silohettes and styles the same way women do, and since nothing ever seems to catch on quickly, attempts to introduce new styles get abandoned before they really trickle down to mainstream clothiers.

...I do wish men's cloaks would make a major comeback, though.
Danny Darkosaru_kage on April 5th, 2009 04:57 am (UTC)
Somehow I doubt men's skirts will ever really catch on, barring some unforeseen total destruction of the traditional gender roles, and gender stereotypes. About the closest I could see would be something like the Japanese hakama (which would be so awesome because those things are hella comfy).

I think a large part of the problem is that a lot of designers just flat out don't want to design for men. At least a dozen of my friends have, at some point, tried their hand at fashion design at one level or another, and when I mention the serious shortage of cool men's clothing, and ask them if they've designed any, the answer is usually some variation of: "But men's bodies are so blocky, and--you know--bleh. Making clothes for boys is boring." And that might be true, but when the up-and-comers who are bursting with fresh ideas don't want to take up the challenge, it's not very surprising that jeans and a t-shirt have never gone out of style. I mean, what came along to replace them? Parachute pants? Yeah right.

I'm totally with you on the cloak thing though. There are a few pieces of Victorian/Edwardian outerwear which seriously need to make a comeback. Maybe something lucky will happen and some of the better aspects of Steam Punk will trickle down into the mainstream.
Suzik00kaburra on April 5th, 2009 05:37 am (UTC)
Let us just hope that codpieces never attempt tocome back. They're frightening.

Making clothes for boys is boring, at times, but it's more a limit of what they'd realistically wear. I mean, skirted items are out; the closest you can get to that would be a long coat. Otherwise, Western menswear usually has to stay relatively close to the body, and there has to be some sort of trouser.

In addition to a Victorian/Edwardian revival, I think it'd be grand to see more elements of older regimental dress brought into menswear.