This exhibition featured a spectacular selection of original metal tunics by Paco Rabanne, extremely rare presidential candidate paper dresses for Nixon, Kennedy, Rockefeller and Trudeau along with the Warhol inspired Campbell’s Souper Dress and vintage magazines.
Manufacturing Mod: Metal Tunics to Paper Dresses examines challenges to the couture industry in the mid to late 1960s. The garments imply simultaneous anxieties and curiosities about technological ’progress’ and provoke questions about the interrelationships among 1960s women’s clothing design/production and an expanded market economy. Shifts in consumer culture, the global dynamics of the space race, new technology and contemporary art intersect in these experimental garments. Paco Rabanne’s metal tunics reference medieval armour with a futuristic vision of clothing as an erotically revealing and decorative form. Paper dresses reject the pretense of corporeal protection while picturing icons of consumer culture and contemporary art. These experimental garments exemplify the utopian ideology of modern living, propose liberation from the labour of regular clothing maintenance and promise a carefree lifestyle—ideas that are as timely now as they were in the 1960s. Fashion, politics and art were as entangled then as they are now.
This exhibition was the second in a series of exhibitions curated by Master of Arts candidates in the Critical Curatorial Studies Programme at the University of British Columbia. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Alvin Balkind Fund for Student Curatorial Initiatives.
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