Exhibitions and Installations, Getty Center

Four for Fashion: Free Events, Expensive Outfits

It’s the summer of decadent outfits here at the Getty. Just opened is Fashion in the Middle Ages, which gives you a peek at clothing, real and fantastic, in the pages of manuscripts; continuing is the all-things-Rococo blockbuster Paris: Life & Luxury, an introduction to the fine art of 18th-century French living, and dressing.

A brocade ensemble or medieval headdress might be out of your price range, but these fashionable events aren’t—they’re all free.

1. Hollywood Fashion

Dressing the Part: Historical Costume in Film

Sunday, June 5, 3:00 p.m. | Event details »

John Malkovich and Glenn Close look fabulous, act malicious in <em>Dangerous Liaisons</em>. Photo: Photofest

John Malkovich and Glenn Close look fabulous, act malicious in Dangerous Liaisons. Photo: Photofest

Wonder what it was like to dress Michelle Pfeiffer, Glenn Close, and John Malkovich in Dangerous Liaisons? Find out this Sunday from costume designer James Acheson, a three-time Oscar winner whose range also extends to the Qing Dynasty (The Last Emperor) and Kafkaesque sci-fi (Brazil), at this conversation about creating historical costumes for the big screen.

James is joined by Deborah Nadoolman Landis, who’s created the look for memorably dressed characters including Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark and Michael Jackson’s zombie horde in Thriller. (Come dressed in an Indy hat, maybe?)

Bonus: the conversation starts with an intro to French fashion and medieval dress from art historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, who contributed to LACMA’s gorgeous Fashioning Fashion: European Dress, 1700–1915, and whose essay in our Paris: Life & Luxury book tells you everything you wanted to know about the morning toilette.

2. Fashion How-To’s

Artist-at-Work Demonstration: Paris Fashion

Sundays, June 5, June 19, July 3, and August 7, 1:00–3:00 p.m. | Event details »

Come meet Maxwell Barr, czar of the costume shop at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television—a designer with such a zest for historical accuracy that he’s been known to create period-appropriate undergarments.

With the aid of a live model, Maxwell presents 18th-century couture he’s designed and crafted himself, including a formal gown and the all-important “lunch outfit.” Examine up close historic fabrics and tools, gather tailoring how-to’s, and get tidbits on the etiquette required of you when you dress fabulously.

3. Fashion on Screen

Film Series: Vive la Magnifique!

Saturday and Sunday, June 25 and 26 | Event details »

Nick Nolte (as Thomas Jefferson) gets some French culture from Greta Scacchi (as Greta Scacchi) in <em>Jefferson in Paris</em>. Photo: Photofest

Nick Nolte (as Thomas Jefferson) gets some French culture from Greta Scacchi (as Maria Cosway) in Jefferson in Paris. Photo: Photofest

Okay, this movie weekend isn’t about fashion, but all four films—Jefferson in Paris, Dangerous Liaisons, Ridicule, and Danton—feature dazzling period costumes and dramatize the mores (or lack thereof) that went along with those extremely pinchy aristocratic threads.

Three of the movies feature re-enactments of the toilette, the morning dress ritual that required an entire staff. And do you remember that great opening sequence in Dangerous Liaisons—the powdering, nose hair plucking, waist cinching, wig choosing, and attiring of the Vicomte de Valmont and Marquise de Merteuil? Never has fashion looked so…evil.

4. Fashion, Medieval Style

The Medieval Clotheshorse
Thursday, August 4, 7:00 p.m. | Event details »

The seven liberal arts in their educated best: detail from an illumination in a French manuscript of Boethius's <em>Consolation of Philosophy</em>, attributed to the Coëtivy Master, about 1460–70

The seven liberal arts in their educated best: detail from an illumination in a French manuscript of Boethius's Consolation of Philosophy, attributed to the Coëtivy Master, about 1460–70

Centuries before Chanel, fashion revolutions were taking Europe by storm. Hear the story of one such upheaval from Roger Wieck of the Morgan Library, who has just published the definitive work on medieval dress in art, and whose fashion exhibition now underway at the Morgan includes four costumes brought to life from the pages of illuminated manuscripts.

He’ll talk about the birth of modern men’s attire in the 1300s, a time that also saw innovations for women: the plunging neckline and peekaboo cutout. Plus, get a look at some beautiful painted books of the time, and learn how artists used clothing to slyly comment on characters’ social status and even their moral fiber.

Put on your best wig, and we’ll see you there.

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      A Chat with Photographer Tomoko Sawada

      A conversation about Japanese matchmaking traditions, self-portraiture, clothes, and identity.

      When did you start photographing yourself?
      I began making self-portraits when I was 19. It was an assignment for a photography class. I can’t even explain in Japanese why I liked them so much. It was instinctual. It’s as if I knew that this was going to be my style, that this is what I wanted to do. And I’m still doing it because I love the self-portrait, but I don’t know why. 

      What themes are you exploring in your work?
      I’m interested in the relationship between inside and outside. If you wear a sexy dress or if you wear kids clothes or casual clothes, people treat you differently. Even though you are you no matter what you wear. It’s that relationship that makes me think. 

      My new work is from when I was living in New York. When I was in New York, people didn’t think I was Japanese. Sometimes they thought I was Korean or Chines or Mongolian. Even Singaporean. It was funny, when I would go to the Japanese market, they would speak to me in English. When I went to the Korean market, they would speak to me in English again. I don’t seem to look Japanese outside of Japan. I was surprised because I think I look totally Japanese. It’s funny that people’s points of view are totally different.

      Could you talk a little about OMIAI, the series that represents a traditional Japanese matchmaking technique.
      OMIAI is a tradition that is somehow still working today. Usually, there is a matchmaker and photographs are exchanged before meeting. If both sides are interested, they can meet for lunch or dinner accompanied by their parents and steps for marriage proceed from there. In the old days, some people chose their marriage partner just through photographs, without even meeting each other. 

      When OMIAI was exhibited in Japan I saw people making various comments in from of the work. People would say things like, “she looks like a good cook; surely she would prepare delicious meals every day,” or “ this girl could be a perfect bride for my son,” or “I can tell she would not be a good housewife,” or “she’s such a graceful girl; she must be the daughter of a decent family.” Comments like that. 

      What was the process of making that work?
      I gained 10 pounds before I started taking the pictures, and in six months I lost forty pounds, because I wanted to look different in each photo. I wanted to change the way my legs looked. 

      Every weekend I went to the hair salon and put on a kimono. Then I went to the photo studio on the street in Japan. I would take a picture and then change my clothes to western dress. Then I would go to the studio again the next weekend. 

      Did you tell the photographer how you wanted it done?
      I told him I was an artist and wanted to make photographs with him. I told him to think that each weekend new girls would show up to make the OMIAI. I didn’t want him to think of me as the same girl who came every weekend. He understood the concept. 

      We had fun. While he was taking pictures, his wife would tell me how to lose weight. She gave me many tips.


      Tomoko Sawada’s work is on view at the Getty until February 21, 2016 in “The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography”

      02/11/16

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