Tuesday 6 October 2009

SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution at Somerset House

Earlier today I wandered down to Somerset House to see the SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution exhibition. I figured as I was having lunch with a certain sister on the Strand it made sense to pop in to while away my afternoon, and as luck would have it Somerset House also doubled up as a lovely shelter from the rain. Faced with a £5 entrance fee I was pleasantly surprised, as I was expecting to pay in excess of £10, but at the same time I was a tad sceptical that there wouldn’t be enough on display to keep me entertained for my money. To say that I was wrong would be an understatement and I can honestly say that this exhibition was a real treat. If you’re interested in fashion and are looking for an exhibition to get lost in- then this one is for you. I actually almost made myself late for drinks with H this evening as I completely lost track of time and spent in excess of two hours in there which is a record, even for me.

SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution, charts this rise of the iconic site from its creation in 2000 and was bursting with installations of some of the best videos, podcasts, interviews and most importantly their live projects. Split over two levels, as I entered I was greeted with a room comprised entirely of mirrors that were designed to make each person entering ‘really’ look at their reflection. Luckily as I entered there were two teenagers excitedly bounding around taking photos of themselves, so in order not to spoil their picture (yeah, right) I snuck through avoiding my reflection at all costs. As I entered the next room I was faced with the giant 3-D sculpture of Naomi Campbell. As impressive and imposing as it was I was a bit scared of saying anything near it as I knew that there were hidden microphones, however in hindsight it would have been good to get involved.

For me there were many personal highlights in this exhibition. I think the best was watching a loop of the project ‘More Beautiful Women’ which pays homage to Andy Warhol’s ‘Thirteen Most Beautiful Women’ screen tests of 1964. It’s such a simple idea where Nick Knight invited several iconic models from the 1960’s through to the present day and asked them to stand in front of a video camera for two minutes. Models involved were Twiggy, Marie Helvin, Kate Moss, Liberty Ross, Stella Tennant and Gisele to name but a few. The best one that I saw was that of Stephanie Seymour who looked rather bored throughout and remarked ‘This is the longest two minutes of my life!’ which I thought was absolutely hilarious!

Another project I really enjoyed, and regretfully was unaware of until today was the 2004 collaboration between Brad Pitt and SHOWstudio titled ‘Freedom of Love’. The short film showed Pitt frantically painting over an enlarged passport sized photograph of himself adding in captions and blurbs, whilst reciting Breton’s sixty line poem of the same name. I thought this was really original and something I would never have expected to see within this exhibition, and was surprised that Brad Pitt was the subject. In all honesty I wouldn’t have thought he’d be game for something like this- which just goes to show that you or at least I shouldn’t always judge celebrities.
Near the end of the exhibition by the gift shop there was a small section dedicated to Fashion Film, which was comprised of a reel of 16 short films created for SHOWstudio. My favourite one was titled ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ and saw a topless and rather energetic Kate Moss doing some sort of frantic dancing which was quite punky and saw her head banging. I really enjoyed this as I feel it showed much more of her personality than you would usually see in a still image and also had a funny moment at the end where she started ripping the red paper roll background and gets so into it that she suddenly drops, and well it was one of those classic buckle moments that for me makes her even more endearing... Watch it now!

Any fans of SHOWstudio.com would absolutely love this exhibition as it was great to see highlights of the work together in one place, but most importantly it was humbling to see how fashion in general has progressed during this past decade which I feel can partly be credited to Nick Knight, the wealth of contributors and of course the unsung heroes that are the SHOWstudio team. Everyone and anyone will comment on the wonders of technology and how its advancements have done so much for many industries, but I truly believe fashion is a completely different ball game to what it was ten years ago when SHOWstudio.com was a mere idea.

I feel that as a keen fashion enthusiast and frequent visitor of SHOWstudio.com even I didn’t realise until seeing it laid out tangibly before me, just how much this project has achieved to date. It has really pushed the boundaries of what is possible and helped guide fashion into the mainstream sphere by applying and manipulating all the modern technologies to bring it to the masses, most importantly looking forward to new and innovative ways to make fashion accessible to anyone and everyone who has even the slightest interest.

Whilst any of the things on display (bar the garments) can be viewed (on a smaller scale) on the SHOWstudio.com website, it was definitely a whole other experience seeing everything collated together on such a large scale. The best thing I thought about the exhibition, and is coincidentally the primary reason I would urge people to visit; is the interactive element that is impossible to get from our computers at home. This exhibition truly stimulated my brain and several senses as there was so much to see, hear and touch, that if anything it was almost overwhelming. I realise until I’ve been getting so excited writing about it, but I honestly believe that this is the best exhibition I’ve been to so far this year, hands down. Take a look at some of the extra pics...

SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution is running until 20 December.

1 comment: