Wednesday, 23 June 2010

The concise dictionary of dress

This exhibition at Blythe House, the museum store for the V&A, was an intervention by between fashion curator, Judith Clark, and psychoanalyst, Adam Phillips. They chose 11 words that were linked to psychoanalysis and dress, Phillips then wrote definitions for them and Clark produced the installations linking them to dress.

The whole experience was staged, you had to be escorted through the store in a group of seven people, each exhibit was revealed to you in turn and you were then given the definition of the word being depicted. This theatricality enhanced the experience and made it feel as if you were discovering the installations for yourself. The 11 words were: armoured, brash, comfortable, conformist, creased, diaphanous, essential, fashionable, loose, measured, plain, pretentious, provocative, revealing, sharp, tight, and the link between them and the exhibits was not always obvious, although they provided food for thought. However, in a discussion in the evening between the artists and Lisa Appignanesi at the London College of Fashion they revealed that Phillips’ words were prompts for Clark rather than absolute definitions of the exhibits. Likewise, they seemed to be prompts for the viewers and Robert Frost was quoted ‘look after the sound and the sense will look after itself’.

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