The Coded Couture exhibit at The Ulrich Museum is stunning and powerful. I arrived to view art. I also found a social investigation as to where we are heading as a people and how we communicate.
Couture is fashion driven by the wealthy, afforded by the affluent, and paraded before us as a mindset. When today's idea of what haute couture -"IS"- plays out, the remains are sold to the masses in malls across America for a so-called original look that 30 million people could wear at the same time. While the industry has always had a sinister feel to me, I view fashion design itself as an important art form. Coded Couture is a show of wearable art. It features futuristic styles, without the silly stereotypical 60's shiny surfaces, geometric designs, and cutouts.
The HOLY DRESS features a built-in lie detector and shock collar. It analyzes voice stress and punishes the wearer for lying with an electric shock.
Ying Gao's garment INCERTITUDES allows the wearer to feel either protected or threatened when the piece's lighting is activated by another's gaze.
Amy Congdon's backpiece, neckpiece, and earpieces study the science and ethics involved with creating jewelry with materials at a bio-technician's disposal--human tissue. They simulate growing one's own jewelry using one's own bodily tissue.
Magazines laud fashion design for its ability to bring an individual persona to the wearer and the Coded Couture exhibit suggests that. But what is one willing to sacrifice for beauty?
The show's power, for me, was not in any garment on display, but in mankind's ongoing loss of even the most basic human interaction. By donning these garments, we are no longer using verbal skills to communicate and have reduced our interactions to quantifiable biological data.
It removes the mystery of the human being.