...our artists remind us that the path towards empowerment—especially empowerment through fashion— is one that does not have a set way, but one of understanding with the self. Fashion is but an inner monologue brought to life in the shape of an external expression that comforts and empowers the self.
Paris, 10 a.m., 1947. The House of Christian Dior presents its first ever collection, a collection that would change fashion history forever. From 30 Avenue Montaigne to the world, the initially titled Corolle collection featured rounded shoulders, full skirts, a cinched waist, and padded hips, an unorthodox silhouette for the times, a silhouette that accentuated femininity rather than functionality. Later labeled the New Look by the American press, Dior’s collection at its core was a symbol of social rebellion by the designer. During the post-war period, fashion was not a focus, female fashion was all about practicality and monotony, made to serve a purpose and nothing else, resulting in boxy, masculine shapes, devoid of any grace. By contrast, Dior’s New Look encouraged female self-expression, it represented an ownership of personal identity and femininity.
Featuring artists Elly Azizian, Isher Dhiman, Vicky Martin, Fares Micue, and Sonya Revell & Queef Latina, Hans Withoos, Vicky Martin, Christy Powers, Anya Anti, Julie de Waroquier, Naomi White, Miss Aniela, Nikolina Petolas, Evelyn Politzer, Franck de las Mercedes, and Alice de Kruijs, Not Dior’s New “Look” III explores this concept of fashion as a source of empowerment and identity.
Isher Dhiman creates dynamic compositions through a variety of media, including charcoal, watercolor, and ink. The British-born artist is heavily inspired by the original masters of Fashion Art from the 40s and 50s, using this inspiration to capture iconic moments from the fashion industry, an inspiration that reflects on her use of brushstrokes, pops of color, and the overall gestural nature of her work. Her subject is one who is in sync with the nuances of fashion, one who exudes elegance and is in control of themselves. Dhiman’s work is a true statement on the symbiotic relationship that exists between fashion and art, one that has always and will always be present, and one that in the hands of the right creative mind can extrude something worthy of admiration.
Elly Azizian is an American artist whose work displays an emphasis on the effectiveness of clean lines, exacting a multi-faceted collage and mixed media approach to fashion illustration. With a highly stylized tone to her work, she creates pieces that are both figurative and slightly abstract in nature. The artist’s collage application on traditional fashion sketching elevates her compositions to a realm beyond simple illustration, resulting in a visual feast of color, form, and texture within a fashion envelope. Azizian often presents the viewer with rebellious characters that challenge social norms, exuding a strong sense of ownership while doing so.
Christy Powers, under her detailed but fluid eye, explores social scenarios often featuring faceless characters whose action and apparel are left as the only storytellers in the works. In so doing, Powers presents examples of how we act and react within different situations, giving us insight into who we are, how we behave, and how we can let individualism and identity slip into Powers’ ultimate argument: that we, as a society, have become detached and desensitized. Interestingly, her work often likens itself to stories in newsprint, where only the basics and ‘key points’ are discussed—rarely the journey that brought someone to be in the paper.
Anya Anti, a photographer from Ukraine based in New York, creates vignettes of the burden of a life embroiled in the mundane, and how easily we can take on the qualities on the inanimate objects that surround our lives. Her subjects are women who embody the object that she features, suggesting the ease with which one can be consumed with things like time and knowledge, and how, in that consumption, the loss of the individual is always the concern.
French photographer Julie de Waroquier sets stages, choreographed in solitude and self reflection to highlight both the uniqueness of each subject, but also the need to understand what brings one to A Cage of Lies. Looking back through history it is no surprise that women have been regaled and caged within social expectations meant to keep quiet and powerless. In de Waroquier’s works, we witness the actualization of a cracked display case, but can trust that she won’t be forever encaged.
Canarian artist Fares Micue brings her enigmatic self-portraits into the Not Dior’s New Look series. Her work is both highly personal and relatable, speaking of her own identity, struggles, and experiences as a human being while sending a message of superation, empowerment, and hope. Deeply conceptual in nature, her pieces are ever full of symbolism; Micue is meticulously intentional about every element within her compositions, intended to reflect entire narratives within a single frame—a silent telling of the artist’s personal story.
Naomi White takes time away from her exploration of the environment and our destruction of it to look within in The Living Mirror, an elegantly composed piece featuring a woman, climbing higher to see herself within her room. Instead of just being another, singular element in the room, the negligee’d woman elevates herself to transform into the center of the stage, likening her actions to that of climbing out of an abyss and into the spotlight.
American photographer Sonya Revell teams up with Miami drag royalty Queef Latina to create a series of photographic works that exemplify fashion’s historical condition as a source of freedom and self-expression. Revell’s imagery emerges from her delightful daydreams of dazzling candy colors and connects closely with complex and compelling characters—and as far as compelling characters go, Queef Latina stands tall. A pioneer of the Miami drag scene known for their feminine vintage aesthetic, which they define as “a polished housewife persona,” they exude ownership of their personal identity on the photographs styled by Revell, whose eye for color and narrative conceive compositions that are as immersive as her subject is striking.
Miss Aniela creates elaborate, surreal scenarios from days long past, of wealth and opulence, an image of singular woman embodying the wealth and power of he who has placed her in these rich and lavish rooms. Each piece is the result of detail preparation; location, models, costumes, and props bring forth a duality of desires. On one hand we relish and hunger for these settings of bygone centuries, but also mourn the trap that the woman is in because of the era she heralds from.
Nikolina Petolas turns everything on its preverbal head by stripping down her models to their briefs to make a point of consumerism, creating a contrast of soft lines and curves (the women), against the harsh lines of a factory setting (the patriarchal order). In orchestrating these scenes of repetition and conformity, as there are no individuals in her pieces, Petolas questions how this acceptance of the market, the daily grind of making, buying, wearing, and discarding, embodies both choice and control. Choice in that one decides what they will do opposing control in that someone else has decided the options available to the consumer.
Vicky Martin, a British photographer and returning artist to this exhibition, offers two works shrouded in monochromatic drama, creating stunning representations of the power and playfulness of fashion, coupled with an evoking of The Mad Hatter and Alice in Wonderland. These works and others serve as discussions on how the stories of our youth are rarely found in adulthood, but in Martin’s world of fashion-based works, not only can one encounter the characters from childhood, they can become part of adulthood under her careful curation.
Dutch photographer Alice de Kruijs' works with an artistic interest as wide and diverse as her lens. In the works selected for this exhibition, Family Members XII and Black and White Project XI, we are presented with somberly dressed women, where the form, angle, and position of the character control the point of view, suggesting that line and angle are the focal points of the works. In truth, though, their success is found in compelling the viewer to imagine: imagine the faces, imagine the lives of these women, and to become storytellers in their own right—because de Kruijs is just that, a storyteller.
Miami-based textile artist Evelyn Politzer is the solo fiber artist featured in this exhibition, with works dealing with breast cancer. Offering up playful and controversial textile boobs, Politzer highlights both a cultural obsession directed towards a woman’s breast, and highlights the objectification of breasts and the sorrow and stigma that accompany losing one, or both, to cancer.
To close the show, Hans Withoos, a Dutch photographer and descendant of Matthias Withoos, often recall the works of his ancestor and brings them forward to this modern era. His deeply detailed works juxtaposes the landscapes of Matthias Withoos’ works with modern models, retelling the original stories in a contemporary visual language, as seen in Milkmaid. His artistic exploration though goes beyond his Withoos Meets Withoos series, with his works in and about both fashion and setting. Building dramatic scenes in places such as Venice and New York’s 5th Avenue, he leans into to the idea of vices, such as vanity and greed. Withoos’ desire for beauty infuses a romantic quality into the works, permitting for an overlooking and, fundamentally, an accepting of these vices because the images before us awakens the desire for beauty—as beauty is what is sought.
For this third edition of The Contemporary Art Modern Project’s most fashion-conscious show to date, our artists remind us that the path towards empowerment —especially empowerment through fashion— is one that does not have a set way, but one of understanding with the self. Fashion is but an inner monologue brought to life in the shape of an external expression that comforts and empowers the self. An empowerment that differs individual per individual, based on dreams and hopes as much as it’s based on fear and insecurity. This inner dialogue is one of understanding with oneself and one's own need and wants, and that is where the true power of fashion lies — the power to change the perception of others and your perception of yourself, that which Christian Dior set out to demonstrate on February 12, 1947 in 30 Avenue Montaigne... There will never be another New Look, but it's not about what it once was; it’s about what it taught us.
By Melanie Prapopoulos & Andres J Mora
The Contemporary Art Modern Project (The CAMP Gallery)
The Contemporary Art Modern Project Gallery specializes in art advisory and contemporary art with a focus on emerging and mid-career artists working in: installation, painting, photography, sculpture, textiles, and video art with a specific direction of both self and worldly reflection. Looking at art, as a whole, through a reactionary and interdisciplinary approach, the gallery covers the ever-populating notion of society and life in general through art and curation, offering a creative space both in the gallery and out—where creativity and reality co-exist.
The Contemporary Art Modern Project Miami
791 NE 125 St., Miami, FL 33161
The Contemporary Art Modern Project Westport
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