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Mudam exhibits a selection of pieces by nine designers from Europe and Asia
Installation view.

LUXEMBOURG.- This new collection display showcases the diversity of artistic disciplines that has defined Mudam’s collection since its inception. Curated by design consultant Sarah Zigrand, the exhibition focuses on the museum’s holdings in fashion, offering an insightful take on the collection.

Zigrand made a selection of pieces by nine designers from Europe and Asia. Most of these creations are being exhibited at the museum for the first time. Predominantly dating from the turn of the 21st century, they represent a pivotal period in which fashion echoed the critical changes taking place in society. These include shifts in both ideas and behaviour: the growth of the Internet and digitalisation, accelerating globalisation, the challenging of gender stereotypes that emerged at that time.

The multiple references deployed by these designers and the way in which they are combined with and contrasted against one another can be seen to link the designs presented in mirror mirror. Presented within a scenography devised by designer Georges Zigrand, the display follows a fluid path of crossovers and intersections, reflecting the hybrid nature of these pieces. The mix of genres – from chic to sporty – in the work of Helmut Lang; the subversion of social and dress codes in the creations of Bernhard Willhelm and Walter Van Beirendonck; and the blending of cultural identities in the designs of Hussein Chalayan are brought together. The vitality of the experiments with form and fabric can also be seen in the deconstructive work of Martin Margiela and Junya Watanabe, and in the innovative techniques and materials adopted by Grit and Jerszy Seymour and Hiroaki Ohya.

Sarah Zigrand (b. 1967, London) is an independent design consultant. She works between London, Paris and Italy, and has her studio in Luxembourg. After graduating with a Master’s degree in Fashion/Footwear & Accessories from the Royal College of Art in London in 2002, she went on to design menswear and womenswear for many international fashion brands. Head of Shoe Design for fashion designers such as Stella McCartney, Céline and Dries Van Noten, Zigrand has also collaborated for many years with Hussein Chalayan and Damir Doma.

Georges Zigrand (b. 1971, Luxembourg) graduated from the École supérieure des arts décoratifs de Strasbourg in 1997. He began his career in London, working for ten years for leading design companies, including Casson Mann Designers, designing exhibitions for the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Science Museum and the Imperial War Museum, London, among others. On his return to Luxembourg in 2007, he founded his own studio and now works as an independent designer. His projects, include furniture and exhibition design in addition to establishing comprehensive design strategies for institutional clients.

Presentation of the works

Establishing his own label in 1994, Hussein Chalayan (b. 1970, Nicosia) is known for his engaged and poetic approach to fashion. Combining new techniques with traditional craftsmanship, his collections blur the boundaries between art, architecture and design. The installation Afterwords (2000), is one of his most emblematic designs, linking the worlds of fashion and art. This piece, in which living-room furniture is transformed into clothing and accessories, draws on the childhood memories of the designer. As a Turkish Cypriot who was raised in Cyprus and in the UK, Chalayan refers to the plight of refugees of the Kosovo War (1998–9) who were forced to flee suddenly, taking their possessions with them. The film shows the final runway scene of his Autumn–Winter 2000 collection revealing the transformation of the furniture – the seat covers becoming dresses and the coffee table a skirt. The Ambimorphous dress shown at his Autumn–Winter 2002 show collages various richly decorated ethnic fabrics. It is part of a series of dresses which, viewed one after another, gradually evolve from traditional Turkish attire to a Western-style black dress, illustrating the interchange between cultures.

Helmut Lang (1956, Vienna) opened his first fashion store at the age of twenty-three. He went on to create the label that bears his name in Paris in 1986. In 1997 he left for New York. There, his fashion shows – which, in keeping with his reputation for austerity, he called ‘working sessions’ – were received with great acclaim. Lang’s company was acquired by the Prada Group in 2004, and a year later he decided to leave his post as artistic director and has since left the fashion world entirely. An innovator in many areas, in 1998 he launched his autumn collection online, a statement of his inclusive, forward-thinking approach. Men and women were seen together, to walk in designs that represented a stripped-back minimalist style. Lang’s work is characterised by a streamlined and androgynous look, combined with multiple layers in sober tones. Utilising both high-tech fabrics (including thermochromic textiles) and unconventional materials (like rubber and metallic fabrics), he blends sports clothing with evening wear and dinner jackets with tracksuits. Collapsing the boundaries between popular and high culture, combining street style with luxury clothing, he has left a lasting impression on the world of fashion and today continues to exercise a decisive influence on many designers.

Martin Margiela (b. 1957, Leuven) graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp in 1980. From 1984 to 1988 he worked for Jean-Paul Gaultier (b. 1952, Bagneux) before establishing Maison Martin Margiela in Paris. The fashion house was bought up in 2002, and Margiela left in 2009. In his work, Margiela questions traditional oppositions such as male and female, large and small, interior and exterior, ordinary and extraordinary, beautiful and ugly. He also explores the continuous deconstruction and reconstruction of clothing, as in his mauve half-coat (1997), which appears unfinished. In this series of garments, only one of which is on display here, he makes visible the preliminary work of assembling pieces of fabric, leaving in place technical elements – such as basting stitches – which normally are removed once the work is finished. In more general terms, it is the very idea of fashion that is being questioned, by a designer known for working with limited resources, for sidestepping the excessive media coverage given to designers and models, and for using recycled materials. In Casque-sac (2006), for example, the label reads: ‘Clothing, fabric, accessories and new and old elements have been brought together and reworked by hand to create this piece. The greatest care has been taken in the selection and origin of these materials. This creative process makes this piece unique and intentionally emphasises signs of the passage of time and wear inherent in such materials.’ His work, with its somewhat surrealist edge, remains timeless and extremely influential.

After graduating from Bunka Fashion College, Tokyo, in 1992, Hiroaki Ohya (b. 1970, Kumamoto) joined the Issey Miyake Design Studio before going on to create his own brand in 1996. Ohya incorporates futuristic and poetic narratives into his creations, which are often seen as works of art. Incorporating references to popular culture, including Japanese manga comics, he often adopts critical distance when it comes to the superficiality of the fashion world. Wizard of Jeanz (1999) is directly inspired by the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) and is composed of twenty-one books that unfold into garments. Coming across collections of old books in a flea market, he was struck by the fact that books are an enduring and stable way of conveying ideas across time. In opposition to the transitory nature of fashion, he decided to create ‘book clothes’. Once opened, these reveal a folded and hidden unexpected world that purposely plays on illusion. Once unfolded, denim fabric turns out to be polyester printed with an image of fabric, denim, fake pockets, fake buttons and fake seams. Some of these pieces involve the use of cleverly folded, very fragile red materials. Folk (2003–04) has its origins in the same book-based principle but differs in that each volume represents an element that is added to others to construct the final piece.

Grit Seymour (b. 1966, Halle) and Jerszy Seymour (b. 1968, Berlin) – the former a fashion designer, the latter an industrial designer – created the fashion label T-A P-E® in Berlin in 2001. Their designs are based upon an original concept for assembling pieces of fabric, replacing sewing with the use of adhesive tape, thus inventing a new way to produce clothing and freeing themselves from fashion’s conventional restraints. Clothes-20 pieces forms part of their Spring–Summer 2003 collection and blurs the boundaries between fashion and art. The installation consists of twenty garments – trousers, skirts, tops – assembled using the innovative T-A-P-E principle and suspended freely in space. The interplay of bright, solid, contrasting colours renders their technique visible: here, adhesive tape is as much a technical element as it is decorative colour, forming a key feature of the designers’ visual vocabulary. Experimenting with the idea of ‘cut and paste’ clothing, this collection takes the term literally. Their presentation method – using hangers – accentuates the two dimensional perception of garments capable of being worn in three dimensions. Although their collaboration ended, Grit and Jerszy Seymour developed an original language and means of production that made it possible to work more spontaneously with materials and fabrics.

Walter Van Beirendonck (b. 1957, Brecht) graduated from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp in 1980 and now heads up the fashion department there. He was one of the Antwerp Six fashion collective, along with Dirk Bikkembergs (b. 1959, Cologne), Ann Demeulemeester (b. 1959, Courtrai), Dries van Noten (b. 1958, Antwerp), Dirk van Saene (b. 1959, Louvain) and Marina Yee (b. 1958, Antwerp). The group of the six then students at the academy, was active in the 1980s and brought Belgian avant-garde fashion to the international stage. Van Beirendonck launched his own brand in 1982. The Terror Mask is part of his Winter 2003–4 collection, presented under the anonymous aestheticterrorists® label. It reflects Van Beirendonck’s fondness for masks and hoods, which can transform the way a person looks while concealing their face. His label is characterised by a mixing of genres: the idea of guerrilla warfare and combat, driven by a biting humour, is a recurring feature of his work, which frequently incorporates cartoon and science-fiction elements. Van Beirendonck also likes to use unexpected combinations of fabrics and materials and to mix quirky colours and motifs with outsize styling.

Junya Watanabe (b. 1961, Fukushima) joined the Comme des Garçons label in 1984 as an apprentice after graduating from Bunka Fashion College, Tokyo. Loyal to the brand and close to its founder, Rei Kawakubo (b. 1942, Tokyo), he gradually ascended through the ranks and, in 1993, presented his first collection there under his own name. The solid-colour khaki dress shown here forms part of the Autumn–Winter 1998–9 collection and is characteristic of his approach: the fabric is cut with great simplicity and elegantly structured by means of a spiral metal rod. Although very limited resources appear to be involved, the creation of this piece requires a high level of skill and absolute precision in the cut. Watanabe describes his creations as ‘techno-couture’, combining traditional fabrics such as tweed or flannel with innovative assembly techniques to produce folds and flounces. In this way, his pieces deconstruct traditional fashion codes and rewrite them to create unexpected and experimental forms.

Bernhard Willhelm (1972, Ulm) b. 1972, Ulm) studied at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, and during this time was an assistant to Walter Van Beirendonck (b. 1957, Brecht), Alexander McQueen (b. 1969, London), Vivienne Westwood (b. 1941, Tintwistle) and Dirk Bikkembergs (b. 1959, Cologne). In 1999 he created his own label with the designer Jutta Kraus (b. 1972, Eppingen) before moving to Paris in 2002. Since 2013 he has been based in Los Angeles with his team where he designs fashion collections as well as works of art, theatre productions and music. He has developed a colourful and exuberant oeuvre that is both subversive and playful. The garments shown here are worn by yellow-, blue- and flesh-coloured mannequins, a concept the designer created for his exhibition Bernhard Willhelm 3000: When Fashion Shows the Danger then Fashion is the Danger at MOCA, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, in 2015. Willhelm’s work is multi-layered, playing with numerous cross references and motifs and drawing joyously on popular culture. He makes extensive use of accessories and marketed products to give maximum volume to his pieces. Vigorously rejecting the minimalist trend of the 1990s, Willhelm’s work shows a consistent preference for quirky fashion sportswear.

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