As tweeted earlier, I am very excited about the new Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Met I was at the American Woman exhibit last year and the Superheroes exhibit in 2008 and I am sure that this show will bring in a whole host of fashionable viewers to the Costume Institute – those that think oohing and aahing aloud is a sign of respect for fashion instead a sign of bad museum manners. I love it.
Of course, preceding any art opening is the party and the red carpet photos. Looking through these is always a chore. AMQ’s exhibit, of course, was no exception. (See photos from Huffington Post here)
What I did find interesting about the event was Daphne Guinness, socialite, millionaire, and “artist.” (And, yes, she is from the family that makes beer. ) Guinness partnered with Barney’s and used a Madison Avenue front display window as the “stage” for her latest performance art piece. The piece was her preparing for the gala. Here is a link to the video. While NYers passed by, they caught a glimpse of DG shifting from one AMQ outfit to the next as a homage to his memory. Or was it an homage to herself?
I have to admit that reading about this caused a great deal of sorrow for me. Why can’t I be in NYC where I could witness such banal decadence hiding itself in 20+ pounds of feathers? Houston’s Neiman’s doesn’t even have storefronts that could accommodate this type of spectable. (Picture hand to the forehead) – How tragic.
After I moved through that, I came up with a few coherent questions like, is performance art’s function to make us more aware of things we do everyday? Is it’s purpose to make us mindful? Why would any of us want to watch Daphne Guinness get dressed in couture? And finally – through this piece are we to believe that DG is a work of art or is she a vehicle for the manifestation of AMQ’s work of art?
After these questions I became more concerned. My first gut reaction was that ths is decadent nonsense. And yet, if it were, why do I buy fashion magazines? How is a “moving” window treatment any different than a spread in Vogue? And besides, this is free. Why am I complaining?
And it is here that the true question arises for me – is this art or is it advertsing? The Met, Barneys and the House of McQueen couldn’t have asked for better publicity, could they? I know in m own work we are always looking for ways in which we can provide value as a mode of advertisement instead of self-adulating ads, flyers, etc. and here you see something comparable.
The folks who watched DG are not the ones who are ever going to purchase a $20,000 gown. They will, however, shop at Barneys or visit the Met. Through this spectacle, AMQ further institutes itself as an iconic brand (not as if Sarah Burton’s design of Kate Middleton’s dress didn’t already do that this season), Barney’s elevates its consumer function identity, and the Met takes on an image of glamour that most people do not attribute to that particular arts institution. (stuffy, old fashioned are a few words usually associated with the Met). Further Bergdorff’s regularly offers static window displays during specific music, art, and theatre events. Isn’t this the same?
And so although I am certain that DG thinks she is a moving work of art (she was named to the International Best Dressed List Hall of Fame in 1994) and I know for certain that she believes she is an artist, in this particular case, she was simply the spokeswoman for some of our most treasured luxury brands and I am not at all offended by it.