Amelia’s Magazine | Triple Threat Textiles by Nick Cave

nickcave1topsAll images courtesy of Nick Cave.

Put a cape or tutu on a kid and the only thing stopping them from becoming a superhero or princess is our own stunted adult imaginations. Inside Nick Cave’s towering suits of orbiting toy tops, price twig quills, sildenafil human hair and bouncing ceramic birds not only is the wearer transformed but our world along with it. Cave’s work is often compared to Shamanism and its role as both community healer and liaison to the spirit world. The ceremonial quality of his suits, much like the talisman covered robes of tribal shamans are, along with dance and music a means to entrance and suspend our earthly consciousness long enough to open our spirits to the messages being conveyed.


Art, fashion, music and dance….sound like yet another glossy lifestyle magazine? Mercifully not so this time. The Chicago-based artist and his small army of 7′ tall wearable-art pieces has finally forged a convincing bridge between the multiple personalities of artistic expression. The alchemist in this case draws from his experience as an Alvin Ailey dancer and textile artist, currently Professor of Fiber Arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Nick Cave’s legion of 40 “soundsuits” and their fantastically embellished skins are also instruments themselves, producing audial textures through movement and dance.


Cave’s magpie use of materials evoke everything from kitschy nostalgia to a visceral “cousin It” trepidation. Always sewn never glued Cave lauds both the physical history as well as surface beauty of the found objects in his top heavy costumes. Although some pieces are made specifically with performance in mind others go directly into galleries. Cave remarks of his technicolor yetis, “You know it’s hair, but you don’t know where it comes from. It’s seductive but also a bit scary.” In fashioning a piece out of doilies, he said, “I might be thinking about Kuba cloths, Haitian voodoo flags or Tibetan textiles.”


But it was his first piece constructed entirely of twigs that set the bigger-question-cogs in motion. “It was a very hard year for me because of everything that came out of the Rodney King beating,” he said. “I started thinking about myself more and more as a black man — as someone who was discarded, devalued, viewed as less than.” Suddenly the twigs on the ground in a park took on “a new light: they looked forsaken too.” New York choreographer Ronald K. Brown animated the suits while they made their temporary home at SanFrancisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts earlier this year. With complete artistic license in dynamizing the “costumes” Brown chose to set them to rhythm of Sabar, a dynamic dance style from Senegal opting for it “because the arms and legs are very expressive. The legs extend so far from the body.” Check out the suits in motion video link here.


It doesn’t stop there, Cave’s creations are the unequivocal triple-threat: Visually intricate, physically explosive and a cacophony of audial textures. The materials of each suit define its voice, sometimes metallic, clanging others whispery or rustling. Cave sees no limits to their evolution, “More and more I’m thinking of using the Soundsuits as a kind of orchestra. You could take three or five and record a concert. Or you could take 90 Soundsuits and make a full symphony out of them.”

His extravagantly decorative one-man-band suits address issues of identity, physicality and . The materials themselves are elevated simply by their being collected, placed voiced and performed. Now we just have to make sure we’re listening.
“Soundsuits” is currently on exhibit at the Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art and will be at UCLA’s Fowler Museum in 2010.

Categories ,Alvin Ailey, ,Jack Shainman Gallery, ,Nick Cave, ,Rodney king, ,Ronald K. Brown, ,Sabar, ,sabrina morrison, ,School of Art Institute of Chicago, ,Scottsdale Museum of Modern Art, ,Shamanism, ,UCLA’s Fowler Museum, ,Yerba Buena Center for the Arts

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Amelia’s Magazine | LFW 09 – David Koma – The Jetsons meets Barbarella


David Koma blasted Hot Chip ‘do it do it do it now’ as the models strutted along the catwalk attired in the outcome of the Jetson family crossed with Barbarella. The tight body conscious dress hems (a trend still occurring on the majority of catwalks) were adorned with black tubular piping and Deep Space Nine style jewellery. This was fun fun party fashion.

The solar system number was a particular favourite of mine, as a careful balancing act was required in the wearing of the piece. The use of rainbow coloured jewels screamed –definitely a positive point- Fred Butler Fred Butler


The second half of the collection was the interpretation of the designer’s inspiration, the painter and sculptor Niki de Saint Phalle.



These dramatic dresses covered in bold primary colour block certainly grabbed the attention. The variety of materials embellishing the garments added a sense of tactically, whilst retaining a definite Star Trek alien ‘babe’ theme. 


Sci-fi was a strong running theme at London Fashion Week,  with fembots seen at Blow Presents and  Lousie Goldin S/S collections 2010.

The strapless pink nipple dress was an interpretation of Niki di Saint Phalle’s voluptuous abstract sculptures celebrating decadent femininity. A successful application of the artist’s bold lines and block colours presenting the viewer with an abstract version of the colour block trend reinterpreting the artist’s designs onto the shape of the 60’s (the cut of the dresses celebrating the cuts of Mary Quant and Biba).


The use of bright colours embellished hips and shoulders blocking and revealing parts of the body at the same time.



The entire collection continued Koma’s interest in the female silhouette with the tight-tight dresses exaggerating the (fairly non-existant) curves of the models. The show concluded with overt references to the designer’s A/W 09 collection with the exaggerated curving in the construction of the dresses.

All Photographs by Sabrina Morrison

Categories ,Covent Garden, ,Fashion Scout, ,fembots, ,Holborn, ,London Fashion Week, ,Louise Goldin, ,Merit Winner, ,sabrina morrison, ,Sci-Fi

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