KMAC Couture 2021
"Beauty and the Beat"
This year, KMAC Museum introduces a musical theme into our yearly Couture event. Art, fashion and music often accompany one another amid cultural movements. Hip Hop and Punk, for example, were both guided by an aesthetic sensibility that was filtered through sounds, clothing styles, and distinct visual graphics. Soul, R&B, and Country music all continue to evolve in much the same way, informed by symbols, concepts and patterns that seem to pervade all aspects of how the genres are seen and heard. For KMAC Couture 2021 we encourage you to create a look to be worn at the intersections of art, fashion and music.
British fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner used the underground dancehall and dub reggae music scenes of second-generation Caribbean immigrants living in 1970’s London as the inspiration for her Autumn/Winter 2020 collection entitled Lover’s Rock. Wales Bonner says, “I’m interested in sound and in the way that it travels,” with music and the African diaspora often as her primary guides to new ideas.
Imagine the looks that can be created by taking inspiration from a song like Prince’s Purple Rain or Bob Dylan’s Tangled Up in Blue. Maybe you’re more drawn to creating a look inspired by bucolic scenes of nature, like Beethoven when he conceived his Symphony no. 6, also known as the Pastoral Symphony. Claude Debussy’s Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun can likewise summon idealized visions of country life.
The sounds of earthly transcendence heard in the spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane and the attendant Afrofuturist energies of Sun Ra were appropriately matched in the coordinating attire of both musicians.
Perhaps you would like to use a personal musician friend or music icon as your muse, as artist Mickalene Thomas did with rapper Cardi B in a 2018 photo session for W magazine. In one scene Thomas captures Cardi B posing in a rattan peacock chair, a reference to the famous photo of Huey P. Newton, cofounder of the Black Panther Party. The image intermingles representations of art, music, fashion, political activism, and Black Pride. A comparable action, with revolutionary women at the center, was spotlighted in Beyonce’s 2016 Super Bowl halftime show.
Ballet costumes are designed to correspond to the narrative of the production, but they’re also tailored for the choreography and the music. Oskar Schlemmer was partly inspired by Arnold Schönberg’s song cycle Pierrot Lunaire when he created the costumes for the Triadic Ballet, an avant-garde masterwork from the early 20th century. David Bowie and designer Kansai Yamamoto used Schlemmer as inspiration for the famous Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit from 1973. Bowie regularly helped propel his music with an inventive use of eccentric fashion and costume design. Popular music is now almost synonymous with such grand gestures, epitomized most notably by artists like Klaus Nomi, Lady Gaga and Björk.