Sunday, July 06, 2014

Fashion Follows Form: The Exhibit

If you know me well, or if you've seen me from a distance, you might get that I'm not a dedicated follower of fashion. I remember, once, being introduced by Nigel Devine at a venue in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne. "One thing you can say about Dave," Nigel said, in a serious tone, "is that he's never let success go to his clothes." I still think that is one of the funniest, and therefore one of the best, introductions I've ever had. And Nigel is right. My wardrobe is simple. Black jeans, black socks and polo shirts are my go to every morning wardrobe.

So it might then surprise you to know that I went to the Royal Ontario Museum yesterday to see an exhibit on fashion. We've been members of the museum for many years now and we try to see every exhibit, large or small, that comes to the city. It's a terrific way to spend some time, expand our mind and, of course, they serve a lovely, and relatively inexpensive, lunch.

As is our habit we arrived at about 11:30 and headed up to see the show, we'd have lunch afterwards. More on that tomorrow. I was actually kind of excited about the show, it was called, "Fashion Follows Form" and it was an exhibit about a clothing designer who has begun designing, rather than making, clothes for the seated form. I don't want to spoil the exhibit for anyone reading this that's going to rush over and see it, so let me just say that the designer began considering the needs of wheelchair users after having been requested to make a cape for someone with a disability, well known in Toronto, and in attempting to make the cape began to realize the fashion needs of people with disabilities.

While I liked the exhibit and the clothes on display, this time I really liked, and read every word, of the descriptions of what we were seeing and of the idea behind fashion design as it related to disability. I was fascinated. Right off in the show it points out that designers design for the standing, walking, body ... and from there I learned about fabric and about bodies and about how sitting changes the design needs. Even there in my black jeans and my black socks and my blue polo, I was transfixed.

I don't often get to see exhibits that look at life from the point of view of having a disability. Of being seated. So that was a treat. But, more than that, I liked how the exhibit talked about the disabled body and the needs of that body in such a respectful way. I left having learned more about my own seated body and, though I don't consider fashion as part of how I express myself, I understood more about how those who do.

Leaving any exhibit thinking means it's a good exhibit.

So, again, anyone in the area who might like to see the exhibit, just go to ... Fashion Follows Form ... be aware it's not a huge exhibit, but what's there is fascinating.

Congrats to the ROM for remembering that your job is to serve the whole community and bring in shows that are of interest to all parts of your constituency. You nailed this one!


Belly (Liz McLennan) said...

The ROM is on my little family's "Summer Fun List" so we will definitely check this exhibit out. I remember reading a piece in the paper about designs for folks who are in wheelchairs - this is the same designer?

Anonymous said...

What an interesting idea! I have a young friend in a wheelchair, and some clothing just is difficult. :)

Anonymous said...

Ooh, I wish I were near enough to visit this exhibit! Thanks for the pointer, Dave. I'm looking forward to finding out more information about this designer and her work.