upcoming solo exhibition Haute Debutants at AFA NYC Gallery
Exhibition: September 12th – 27th, 2015 Opening Reception: September 12th, 2015, 6 – 8pm
A debutante is a young woman being introduced to polite society through an elaborate ceremony. Traditionally, she is a very rich young woman, or at least her parents are. Paradoxically, a haute debutante is not an even richer, haughtier debutante. My idea is that she is something else entirely.
Every woman is a debutante in potential. Every step outside—into society—involves a ritual of presentation. Fashion was once the preserve of the upper classes, but today it belongs to everyone and its inspirations originate in strange places. Punk, ghetto fab, Elizabethan court dress, Russian peasant garb—all this is where fashion comes from now.
Haute couture and pret-a-porter (ready to wear) were born together and both took shape in the 1920s. Haute couture looked back to the traditional high culture of the aristocracy, but it was of that brave new world we live in now. Like the art deco illustrations from which I draw inspiration in this show, it was ultra modern yet rooted in the artisanal skills and aesthetic tastes of an earlier age. The real basis of those skills and tastes was not so much any particular styles, cuts or materials. It was a respect for skill and taste themselves: attention to detail, knowledge of tradition, the practiced hand.
A haute debutante is not an especially rich brat. She may or may not wear haute couture at all. She does take upon herself the task of appearing in the world in a certain way, a way that takes the art of dress seriously. But neither is she bound by the claustrophobic mannerisms of the traditional debutante cotillion. She is haute—above all that. Her knowledge and skill provide her a basis for creativity, allow her to transcend the accepted conventions. The haute debutante aspires to create a world of her own.