Photoblog – Downton Abbey to That Seventies Show: Fashion, architecture and design collide #BuildWR

Street Style

The Waterloo Region Museum (with partners Fashion History Museum) is currently exhibiting Street Style –  focusing on fashion and architecture in the Region of Waterloo. The exhibit is on of the many shows presented as a part of Building Waterloo Region – a festival focusing on architecture and design excellence.

The floor opens with a show film, morphing a dancing from decade to decade, changing the music, fashion and architecture behind them. The style of dance is also made to match the decade of design.

Following is a lineup of mannequins dressed in costume from La Belle Epoque to The Trench.

Compositionally, the exhibit is exquisite, featuring clothing design juxtaposed with architectural design. In spaces that would normally serve as negative space, the gallery wall images of Waterloo Region buildings echo the structure in the costumes themselves. The result is uncanny: a concert of geometries and flourishes orchestrated in symphonic harmony. Even if you are uninterested in women’s fashion or architecture throughout the decades, this exhibit presents some tantalizing eye-candy for the lover of design.

Fabric swatchesThe opposite wall of the exhibit has a timeline, contextualizing women’s fashion, architecture, art movements, world events – drawing parallels between radical changes and design itself. Someone the later leading the former. Also for the tactile types, there are mounted swatches of fabric for the express purpose of touching.

Now wait for it: There are also shoes.

The image below are presented in an order – first are general images of the costumes, second are images of juxtapositions that I found particularly interesting. Finally… there are shoes.

Details down to the complex undergarments

Details down to the complex undergarments

La Belle Epoque etais belle

La Belle Epoque etais belle

Regal coats and bustles

Regal coats and bustles

Trains and geometrics

Trains and geometrics

Glamorous gowns, and hats.  Elaborate design.

Glamorous gowns, and hats. Elaborate design.

Details down to gloves, umbrellas, hats and shoes.

Details down to gloves, umbrellas, hats and shoes.

A last breath of bombastic Edwardian matched with downtown fronts

A breath of bombastic Edwardian matched with downtown fronts

Downtown ladies. Laces, velvets, frills.

Downtown ladies. Laces, velvets, frills.

The Late Edwardian lady - simplicity with stunning detail.

The Late Edwardian lady – simplicity with stunning detail.

Decades of transition. Late Edwardian, First World War to 20s Swinging.

Decades of transition. Late Edwardian, First World War to 20s Swinging. In a few decades, hemlines went up. Emphasis on gender goes down.

Simple 30s Depression to the Second World War working woman.

Simple 30s Depression to the Second World War working woman. I need to re-photograph this one… Apologies for the poor quality. It may be my favourite transition.

Wartime simplicity. Austerity and heavy geometries.

Wartime simplicity. Austerity and heavy geometries.

Forties and Fifties formalities and frivolities.

Forties and Fifties formalities and frivolities.

Clean lines, sharp design.

Clean lines, sharp design.

Lovely late Fifties and Sweet Sixties colours and lengths.

Lovely late Fifties and Sweet Sixties colours and lengths.

60s minidress polyester crimplene and heavy geometrics.

60s minidress polyester crimplene and heavy geometrics.

Patchwork peasant Seventies.

Patchwork peasant Seventies.

The Trench. And a slick silk.

The Trench. And a slick silk.

The following are photographed considering the negative space with the costumed mannequins. 

IMG_20140619_154515 IMG_20140619_154527 IMG_20140619_154609 IMG_20140619_154617 IMG_20140619_154631 IMG_20140619_154659 IMG_20140619_154719 IMG_20140619_154727 IMG_20140619_154743 IMG_20140619_154758 IMG_20140619_154808 IMG_20140619_154821 IMG_20140619_154834 IMG_20140619_154851 IMG_20140619_154933 IMG_20140619_154942

 

And finally… Shoes.

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Those of you who made it this far deserve a final treat. Detail from the Late Edwardian lace bodice and the back of the lace Edwardian coat. These is are exquisite pieces.

Late Edwardian Bodice -Lace Detail

Late Edwardian Bodice -Lace Detail

IMG_20140619_153720

Building excellence. Building Waterloo Region.

If you follow me on Twitter, you will notice that I have been raving lately about a new festival this year.

Waterloo Region has a demonstrated excellence in architecture. With several award-winning buildings, to a strong history of reuse and settlement, this Region tends to be more of a gem than how it’s generally perceived. Building Waterloo Region hopes to change this and cast a spotlight on architecture and design excellence through a series of events.

The calendar is ambitious. From walking tours, to a grand list of participating venues, you can engage in the festival for the entire summer. Certainly I have some highlights:

  • First builders is a walking tour that will wind us through the 10,000 years of settlement in Waterloo Region. It culminates with three sites that all have displays about different building styles in the Region focusing on the Longhouse, the traditional settler building, and modern eco-sustainable techniques.
  • Ex Industria is a particular tear at the heartstrings. If you go up to the top floor of Kitchener City Hall – into the cafe, you can see up to a dozen factories in the city centre. Ex Industria is an exhibit that focuses on the industrial development of Waterloo Region using maps, drawings, models and digital reconstructions. This one will be at Design at Riverside/Ideas Exchange.
  • No Small Plans: Award winning buildings in Waterloo Region 1982-2014 will take a look at award-winning buildings in Waterloo Region. The site says it best: “Waterloo Region is home to more major award-winning buildings than any other municipality in Canada save the three largest metropolitan centres: Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal. This concentration of design excellence is one of the hallmarks of the Region and is increasingly important in maintaining its position as an attractive community with an active culture, a lively urban environment and an excellent quality of life.”

The best things is that you can walk into just about every museum or cultural space in the Region and they will have some offering. The festival will also be bringing speakers and lectures including renown architect, Alison Brooks.

Their calendar features events throughout the summer, including ones for the kids. Even if you don’t try to make it to this festival, you are likely to stumble upon it somewhere. However, I do emphatically recommend getting to their Gaukel Street hub: A Christie Digital projection will feature a special exhibit on the virtual plane – and from what I hear, it will be exceptional.

Waterloo Region, It Should Always Be This Way

Brandon Vickerd satelliteIn 2009, I stumbled upon a satellite that had tumbled out of the sky, tracing a dirt patch across the grass in the middle of Victoria Park. What conspired to have this man-made celestial body land in the middle Kitchener of all places? And more importantly, how come no news source was warning people about this object? Where were the RCMP or the FBI or whatever government body in charge of marshalling such instances? The situation seemed perfectly and completely out of control through the calmness surrounding what should be a big event. Turns out that the satellite was an installed sculpture by Brandon Vickerd called Satellite. No panic necessary.

CAFKA transforms the city into a landscape where art happens. Or… where one happens upon art. From a perfect replica of a shopping cart calmly floating about in Victoria Park lake (what shopping cart floats?) to ephemeral projected graffiti on the side of Kitchener City Hall, the streets, alleys, parks, public buildings shift away from the mundanity of everyday and turn into a journey through the unusual in our own backyard.

This year, CAFKA’s theme is “It Should Always Be This Way”. This theme absolutely endorses this artist run festival in its position as a beloved cultural event that has profoundly affected the community. The calibre of the art, the surreal presentation in the element of surprise in seeing a usual landscape made unusual, and the innovative offerings that encourage the mind to meander provides great escape, even if only over a lunch break from work.

This year, CAFKA is joining forces with Open Ears and a new festival of architecture called Building Waterloo Region. The three are joining forces to create a culmination of activity through May and June. This collaboration is pushing new boundaries in the unification of exhibit-based events combined with the performative nature of sound and music.

Open Ears has collaborated in the past with CAFKA with installation based sound events. The building of musical and sound experience through the drawing of talent from all over the world marries perfectly with the installations placed by CAFKA. In the period of a few days, Open Ears will open our minds and palates within the possibilities of sound. The sense of hearing – the one that alerts us to danger, coos us into love affairs, and provides soundtrack to our lives is profoundly transformed in a space of exploration and experimentation. Sound is one of the few senses that can never be turned off. Even when we try to remove sound, it can still be felt through the vibrations it creates. Open Ears plays in this space by building moments in which we can indulge in being present, alert, and in tune with this most captive, and taken for granted sense.

Building Waterloo Region is a naturally positioned festival celebrating development and innovation in the ever evolving liveable cities that are part of the Region. This festival will be located at several institutions and in surprising locations throughout the Region. More details will be released soon, and I can’t wait to explore the schedule being presented by this new endeavour in culture.

You can support CAFKA this in its pursuit of bringing excellent art to the Region of Waterloo in an Indiegogo campaign.