Thursday, September 13, 2012

Alexander McQueen's Performance Art Dress

I almost ran out of ideas to explore for today's post and then I decided that I have to make another entry about the visionary and my idol, Alexander McQueen.

Alexander McQueen
Photo from: Google Images

As I was looking for some inspiration for several projects that I have to finish, I remembered an image of one of Alexander Mcqueen's most memorable pieces of art, a white cotton muslin spray painted with yellow  and black with white synthetic tulle underskirt.

Check the dress after the jump...

Alexander McQueen Spring Summer 1999
Photo from: The Metropolitan Museum

So what' so special about this simple dress? We all know that the materials used were very basic and the cut is something that we've seen before so why is it so important? It's because how it was conceived is nothing short of a magnificent performance art.

The Canadian model Shalom Harlow wore this iconic dress as she was spray painted by two robots as she stood on top of a circular revolving platform.

Shalom Harlow doing the performance
Photo from:  The Metropolitan Museum

In a post on The Met Museum's Blog, Harlow said that the experience was almost like an aggressive sexual experience in someway. She somehow related the performance art with the act of creation, that it was like how human beings were created, through sexual acts, or that of the Big Bang theory where chaos, violence, and surrender all took place.

Harlow as she steps off the platform and walks
towards the audience before ending the show
Photo from:  The Metropolitan Museum

I completely get Shannon Harlow's interpretation of the performance and I also loved how the spontaneity . Not only was Alexander McQueen able to push boundaries of how a dress can be conceived, he also gave the world a moment where one can contemplate about the idea of how creation is intertwined with sacrifice and destroying one's self.

Me as the lead character Dory
in J. Dennis Teodosio's Salise in Virgin Labfest 5
Photo by: Mr. Jojit Lorenzo

Just like in theater, in order to achieve "truth" in a performance, one must be willing to allow himself to be destroyed by the process in order create a complete character. When I was still a freelance theater artist, a close friend once told me that by being vulnerable we allow ideas, both good and bad, to come to us. We then filter those ideas in order to create something more majestic. It's just like in McQueen's performance art where chaos and peace both existed.

Filipino-American Drag Queen Jiggly Caliente
from RuPaul's Drag Race Season 4
Photo by: Mike Ruiz

In popular culture, the performance art was clearly the inspiration behind the first mini challenge in Ru Paul's Drag Race. It was a photo shoot with Mr. Mike Ruiz where the drag queens were asked to stand in a rotating platform while wearing a white tent dress as they were sprayed by the pit crew. It was Jiggly Caliente, a drag queen of Filipino descent, who won the mini challenge.

From high art to something on the kitschy side, it is undeniable that Alexander Mcqueen's white cotton muslin dress conceived something that's beyond anyone's imagination and that is to leave a mark in fashion history. Need I say that only a true visionary can make something basic into something iconic.

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