New York, September 14, 2012 – This is Not a Fashion Show read an entrance sign of downtown New York’s Bortolami Gallery. The Imitation of Christ Spring/Summer 2013 Dada-like performance and installation featured women of all ages from as young as seven to 70 facing weathered antique mirrors as they frustratingly changed in and out of clothes. Models applied layer upon layer of make-up, struggling for self-approval by way of various duck-faced poses. Some took turns riding a stationary bike and in a separate room, a group of contorted nudes donning plastic surgery marked masks performed to music, a video and a light show.
The staff, stylists, PR, etc. were not coached or briefed in any way so when I asked questions there were no responses just blank looks. I cornered the creative force behind Imitation of Christ, which I had inadvertently become a vicarious fan of through Jeanne Beker’s extensive FT coverage of the label throughout the years. “I wan’t you to figure out what this means to you,” explained Tara Subkoff. “Well, it’s clearly about the female struggle,” I replied. “The struggle of female sexual objectification and to highlight the experience women feel when battling the world’s depictions of beauty. It starts at about seven, perhaps even younger, and goes well into their 70s.” Subkoff’s body language seemed an agreement, “That’s great, if that’s what it means to you, then that’s great.”
Admittedly, it was about as difficult to make out what was Imitation of Christ and what was just costume or vintage wear, as it was to photograph the skittish models/actresses. If you looked close enough, you could make out messages on the apparel. “What is this? Some Prada Pyjama Bullshit,” read one outfit, “The Rule is Perfect: In All Matters of Opinion Our Adversaries Are Insane,” read another. In an industry full of narcissism and superficial shallowness – it’s nice to run into a thinking man’s / woman’s fashion exhibition.
Photos: Spiro Mandylor, Olympus Digital Photography
Gallery [WARNING: NUDITY]