Earlier last week I ventured down to Somerset House to see the eagerly anticipated SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution exhibition which charts this rise of the iconic website from its creation in 2000. This large-scale retrospective of sorts was bursting to the seams with installations of some of the best videos, viagra 100mg podcasts, there interviews and most importantly– 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. After a few moments of looking at myself and feeling rather vain and awkward I felt obliged to move on and make way for the hoards of teenagers waiting to pull pranks on each other and the non-suspecting public.
In the next room I found a giant 3-D sculpture of Naomi Campbell, which was linked to an etch-a-sketch computer where visitors could get involved and draw images which were in turn projected onto Naomi’s imposing frame. Interestingly I discovered after my visit that there were several hidden cameras dotted around the Naomi sculpture to record the best comments made by visitors, so I was very relieved that I had gone alone therefore having no one to talk to.
There were many great fashion moments and highlights peppered throughout 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 based on 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 clip that I saw was that of Stephanie Seymour who looked rather bored throughout and remarked ‘This is the longest two minutes of my life!’ This was sheer brilliance in its subversive undertones both perpetuating and playing upon the underlying opinions most people have of models.
Another project that was popular with all visitors was the 2004 collaboration between Brad Pitt and SHOWstudio titled ‘Freedom of Love’. The short film depicted 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. Whilst I was there this installation drew the biggest crowd and I believe was so popular due to Brad Pitt’s global fame and heartthrob status rather than everyone’s love of the great poet Breton.
Just when I thought the exhibition was coming to an end I stumbled upon a small section dedicated to Fashion Film, which was comprised of a reel of 16 short films created for SHOWstudio. My favourite was titled ‘Sheena is a Punk Rocker’ which depicted a topless and rather energetic Kate Moss doing a frantic pogo dance which saw her head banging. This was great as I feel it showed much more of her personality than you could possibly gleam from a still image and also had a funny moment near the end where she started ripping the paper background and gets so into it that she suddenly falls to the floor which is the finishing shot.
All 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 and the wealth of contributors who make up the SHOWstudio team. Over the years 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 available to bring it to the masses, whilst looking forward to new and innovative ways to make fashion even more engaging. SHOWstudio: Fashion Revolution is running until 20 December 2009 and costs £5.
- Maison Martin Margiela 20 at Somerset House
- Space to Draw
- Royal Academy of Arts: Summer Exhibition
- Fashion Listings 14th 20th September
- Desconocida Unknown