The fashion world seems desperate to ally itself with the art world these days. Years ago it was the other way around. Remember Man Ray's fashion photos or Dalí's designs for Schiaparelli? While the Surrealists' interest in fashion had to do with eroticism in clothing, the fashion industry seeks validation from the art world so that its creations might transcend mass consumerism and vulgar commercialism. In short, fashion's encroachment in the art world, for the most part, seems forced or insincere.
Issey Miyake is the one fashion designer who could make credible claims to both worlds. The Japanese-born designer approaches his clothing as sculpture, and over the years he has collaborated with some bonafide practitioners of the avant-garde art world.
The works of "Making Things," which debuted at the Fondation Cartier in Paris, are divided into seven sections with titles such as "Jumping," "Starburst," and "The Laboratory." By far the most engaging section is "Pleats Please: Guest Artists Series," where Miyake showcases his collaborations with artists such as Yasumasa Morimura, Tim Hawkinson, Nobuyoshi Araki and Cai Guo-Qiang.
On view is a video of the Miyake/Cai collaboration, in which the artist known for using explosives in his work spreads and ignites gunpowder over many yards of the designer's trademark pleated fabric, arranged in the shape of a dragon. The outfits made from this poetically scorched material cover one wall of the gallery. This is the most provocative merger of art and fashion since Dalí's famous "shoe-hat" of 1937.
Issey Miyake, "Making Things," Nov. 13, 1999-Feb. 29, 2000, at Ace Gallery New York, 275 Hudson, New York, N.Y. 10013.