Fashion: Functionality or Art? – Isaac Mizrahi, The Jewish Museum

In August of last year, I was able to catch the Isaac Mizrahi exhibit at The Jewish Museum on 5th Avenue during its last weekend. The previous month, I’d gone to see the Manus x Machina exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which was very impressive. Assuming I would see something just as beautiful and fascinating, I was pretty excited to catch the Mizrahi exhibit before it closed.

I was somewhat disappointed. I think it’s because my expectations were high after seeing what the Met had to offer. The dresses on display at the Met were impressive, intricate, attractive, and, for the most part, they were outfits that I could picture people wearing in real situations. Mizrahi’s outfits bordered on the impractical or the odd, the sort of things you see in runway fashion shows but would laugh about if you saw on an actual person in the street.

Then there were things like this:

Unusual outfits at the Isaac Mizrahi exhibit at the Jewish Museum in August, 2016

Unusual outfits at the Isaac Mizrahi exhibit at the Jewish Museum in August, 2016

I was pretty put off by the whole experience. I found the most interesting parts of the exhibit to be the wall of cloth scraps in the featured image above and the chandeliers in the museum lobby. On the other hand, the exhibit made me re-evaluate my understanding of fashion. Does fashion need to be functional, or can it be art? Can it be both at the same time? Or one or the other?

Isaac Mizrahi Fashion Exhibit at the Jewish Museum - 2016
I suppose clothing can be art, rather than something that’s worn regularly or even occasionally. Even so, Mizrahi’s work didn’t appeal to me, but that’s a matter of personal preference. He’s obviously very talented.

An Afternoon at the Museum

Another week done. On the one hand, I feel like I should value my time more, but on the other, I’m always so glad when another work week is finished. Sometimes we’re too worn out to do anything on the weekend and we spend most of our time at home, just relaxing. This weekend, we’d made plans to try to get out and enjoy some art. We had originally planned to go to the Guggenheim on Saturday night. I did a little research on their website and found out that if you go between 5:45 PM and 7:45 PM on a Saturday night, you can pay whatever you want for admission, instead of the usual $25 apiece. I don’t mind paying to see art, but I can’t see paying $50.00 (the Met has the same suggested rate for adults, though it’s just a suggested rate) every time we decide to spend an hour or two inside a museum. We’re not tourists, after all.

We never made it out of the house on Saturday afternoon, so when we got ready to go out on Sunday we went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art instead. We can go visit the Guggenheim next Saturday, if we’re not doing something else. Our plan was to go to the second floor and look at the 19th and early 20th century European paintings, but we got sidetracked when we stumbled into the “Manus x Machina” special exhibit behind the medieval European art section of the first floor. We were actually heading to the restrooms at the time. The exhibit wasn’t too big so we figured we’d take a look before heading upstairs. It was incredible how many people were in that small area. In a few places I felt like I was wading through the herds of people that are always moving through Times Square.

The dresses on display were way beyond what I was expecting. I didn’t think I would be impressed, because I’m not seriously into fashion, but looking at the dresses on display there, I think I finally understood that sometimes fashion can be art too, as cheesy as that sounds.

Some of the dresses were fascinating:

IMG_8385

Some were terrifying (this one is made with real gull skulls):

IMG_8384

Others were whimsical:

IMG_8387

A few more images in a Flickr gallery:

Manus X Machina
We finally found our way upstairs, but immediately got lost in the 1600-1800s era galleries. It wasn’t until we were about to leave that we finally found ourselves looking at Van Gogh, Degas, and Gauguin. After having visited so many times, I got overconfident in my ability to navigate to the area we were looking for. Next time I’ll just download the app before we go so I have a map in my pocket.

I’d hoped to spend 20 minutes or so in the Arab Lands, Turkey, Iran, Central Asia and Later South Asia gallery, but I think I was being too ambitious considering how late it was when we got there, but there’s always next time.

We polished off the evening with some awesome burgers over at Shake Shack. It was a pretty good end to the weekend.

Dead Smiley

I found this shirt in the mall a few weeks ago and I’ve also seen quite a few people out and about wearing it here in Singapore.

Anyone who has used he internet much has been exposed to “smilies”.  They’re cute icons used to express an emotion in chat.  Sometimes they’re called emoticons.

Given that, what does this shirt say?  A dead smiley = “CHEER YOU UP”?  So, death is the way to be cheered up then is it?

Either people are blissfully unaware of what the smiley means, or there’s just some meaning behind this that I’m totally missing.  It’s not uncommon for Asians who have poor English language ability to wear a shirt with something totally screwy on it, but this should have been pretty easy to steer clear of.

Moleskine Notebooks

The first time I’d ever heard of a moleskine notebook was when I was reading a blog about a woman’s trip to Vietnam. She had taken a lot of notes in a moleskine and had scanned and embedded them as a slideshow into a blog post. I thought it was a really interesting idea, and a great way to record thoughts about a trip you take when you might not have a laptop handy. For example, if you’re on a hike through the hills you might not have time to whip out your laptop and jot down a few things. Despite the proliferation of digital media, there are still a lot of times when old fashioned notebooks are just the most practical and sensible thing to use.

Moleskines are appealing because they have an interesting name and an interesting history. I know it’s silly to feel more prestigious just based on an item you might have, but moleskines are just that sort of thing. They even advertise it and market it that way. The cover wrapper (seen in green and orange on the ones in the photo) say: “The legendary notebook of Hemingway, Picasso, Chatwin.” I suppose it’s something like how Apple promotes their products.

When you break open the plastic and flip it open, the first thing you’ll probably notice is a leaflet inside that details the history of moleskine notebooks. Apparently they fell out of production for a while, but some authors ordered a bulk of them because they were sad to see them go. Later, another manufacturer, in Milan I believe, picked up the production and they’re marketed world-wide again.

Typically I wouldn’t fall for something like that, but I really enjoy writing, and writing is all about frame of mind. If you’re in the right frame of mind, you’ll write well. If not, what you produce is at best bland. So, having something that’s touted as a notebook used by famous figures is just the thing to set the mood, and it also pushes you to only write things in it that are meaningful.

So, yesterday, my wife and I bought each other one each, as gifts. The one I got for my wife is an “Info Book” style Moleskine, with tabbed, labeled sections. She’s a fanatic for organizers and loved it. I got the plain, ruled paper moleskine. That’s appropriate for what I want to do with it, which is record thoughts that I have that I can later use for blog articles. I’m sure everyone has had a great thought or idea, only to realize later when they sit down they can’t quite grasp it again. This is my solution.

We picked the pocket sized versions because that makes for easy portability. It’ll slip easily into a bag or pocket. The quality is really nice. Each one is hand made, and comes with a defect-free guarantee that’s easy to cash in on. If you find a defect, all you have to do is take a digital image and e-mail it to a provided address. They’ll ship you a new notebook right away. Quality and service are important to this company.

So, if you’re looking for a quality notebook that you can shelf and cherish later on, this might be something you’ll want to look into. Just keep in mind that they’re a bit pricey since they’re premium items.