FASHION'S FUNDAMENTAL OBJECTS TO RUNWAY BACKDROP
Event: Tribeza 2012 Style Week Fashion Show, Austin Texas
Design Team: Matt Fajkus, AIA; Audrey McKee; Sarah Johnson; Sydney Mainster; Erika Stojeba, ES Consulting
“Fashion[ING] Objects” is an original backdrop installation piece designed and fabricated for the 2012 Style Week Fashion Show, designed by MF Architecture and collaborators. This fashion show, held on September 28, 2012, is the annual premier fashion event in Austin and is hosted by Tribeza Magazine and other various sponsors.
The initial concept for the backdrop was to create an abstract instrument for pattern, light, and shadow as the focal point of the fashion show. Beginning with the simple idea of an Erwin Hauer inspired screen, the intention for the backdrop was to veil the models as they emerged from backstage, to dapple light as well as to convey a sense of depth and movement beyond. The means to this end were initially unclear, but the desired effect was a vast wall washed in exquisitely filtered light.
Moving forward, the question remained of how to filter the light to achieve such extraordinary dappling. Approaching the topic of “context” from an atypical angle, the design process was spawned by the simple object of the wire clothes hanger. This object, although simple, can be truly extraordinary when arrayed by the thousands. It also engages themes embedded in the fashion industry in its direct association with clothing and thus the human body. The goal for the backdrop was not to create sculptural form for the sake of it, but instead to reappropriate a seemingly quotidian object. The artist Tara Donovan has paved the way for playful reinterpretations of “plain” objects into extraordinary and unexpected follies, and this backdrop is no exception. When arrayed, the hanger itself falls away in favor of an ethereal collective whole. Upon closer inspection, however, there remains the mundane everyday structural component of the fashion industry: the wire hanger.
The architectural design of the fashion show runway backdrop incorporates both rigid and fluid layers, establishing a tension between a grid system and an amorphous organic form. These two systems are known as “feathers” and “diamonds,” respectively, and it is the interplay between these two seemingly competing systems that lends richness to the system as a whole. The feathers are the soft underbelly of the system, and they are protected/skinned by three rigid layers of diamonds. At times, this diamond shell erodes to reveal an organic feathery beast beyond, and it is the cooperation between these two systems that achieves the desired depth and dapple. The wall as a whole is then backlit to yield a confounding yet intriguing organism, utterly removed from any association with its simple modular unit, yet impossible without it; thus, even the plainest of objects can be celebrated.