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Present Imperfect: Disorderly Apparel Reconfigured

Start Date 12 May 2017
End Date 04 August 2017
Venue Fashion Space Gallery
Location London, UK
Curator Amy de la Haye and Jeff Horsley
Commissioned by Ligaya Salazar
Exhibition display of glass cases containing garments

Present Imperfect: Disorderly Apparel Reconfigured

Present1 Imperfect2

1. Disorderly apparel reconfigured

2. A playful project that tested the principal elements of exhibiting fashion: object, body, text, installation. A conversation between exhibition-maker Jeffrey Horsley and curator Amy de la Haye inspired by apparel which is damaged, worn-out or perished.

Object: fragile apparel framed by modular structures

Body: proposals that allude to the human form

Text: playing with format to express actual and associative narratives

Installation: configured as gallery and studio space to share working processes

Disorderly apparel described garments that are badly damaged, utterly worn-out or made from textiles that have perished over time. The items exhibited in Present Imperfect are prized for these very qualities. However, similar apparel can be overlooked or suppressed, left to lie dormant or languish in museum stores.

Selected apparel included a pair of Victorian kid leather gloves that are burned, forever contorted in corporeal gesture. A cotton ballet singlet, borrowed from the Rambert Archive, was once animate but now lies limp, imprinted by repeated exertion. Shattered linings are properties common to a contemporary Stone Island jacket and an afternoon gown crafted over a century ago by leading London couture house Redfern. Most recent was a template leather jacket by Alexander McQueen. It featured photocopied and glued pattern motifs and red felt-tipped annotation redolent of cut-and-paste zines.

These seemingly awkward garments were framed by modular structures that safeguard and actively communicate. Each structure proposed a strategy that alludes to the human form in its absence: a glove placed at the location of a hand; an impression of a dancer’s figure milled from a 3D body-scan; representation of a pattern-maker’s measures suggests process and proportion.

Text is a routine method for interpretation and engagement. Present Imperfect playfully subverted the conventions of text panel and label. Narratives – actual and associative – such as time, transience and trauma are suggested as possible themes for finding meaning.

In order to share working processes and reveal multiple alternative narratives, the installation was configured as gallery and studio space. An intention is to highlight that within the evolution of any exhibition numerous choices and ideas are explored, rejected and chosen.

Present Imperfect explored museal conventions: experimentation and innovation are core objectives of the University of the Arts research Centre for Fashion Curation.

Commissioned by Ligaya Salazar, Fashion Space Gallery and presented in collaboration with Centre for Fashion Curation.

Image © Fashion Space Gallery.