Exhibit shows fashion illustration as art form

The “Fashion as Art” exhibit in the Kinetic Gallery (pictured above) opened on Thursday Nov. 1. This collection of illustrations shows fashion can be a form of creative expression (Catherine White/ Editor-in-chief).

Dresses at the Met Gala or on the runway of New York Fashion Week may not seem equivalent in creativity to a Picasso or a Rembrandt, but fashion has proved itself to be just as creative as traditional art. 

“Fashion as Art” opened on Thursday Nov. 1 in the Kinetic Gallery and explores the important role art plays in fashion. The gallery contained splashes of colors from various drawings by fashion artists Mayandree “May” Michel and Jessica Durrant. Michel was present at the opening to create live drawings of eager students.

Geneseo Campus Activities Board arts and exhibits coordinator sophomore Sarah Michel was inspired by the fashion illustrators, such as May Michel and Durant, she follows on Instagram. Sarah Michel reached out to both the artists to ask them if she could showcase their work at Geneseo.

Sarah Michel specifically invited May Michel to campus because she noticed her ability to create live drawings of people within a short period of time. 

May Michel makes a career creating live drawings at department stores in New York, like Bloomingdale’s and other fashion events. She studied at Parsons School of Design in New York and followed her love for fashion illustration after gaining experience as an associate designer.

The exhibit displayed May Michel’s drawings of celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez and Blake Lively at famous fashion events like the Met Gala. Another piece entitled “Not So Hidden Anymore” features a watercolor painting of the three black actors—Taraji P. Henson, Janelle Monaé and Octavia Spencer—who starred in 2016’s Hidden Figures. 

This particular work caught the eye of psychology major sophomore Melaya Harriett. She admired it for how it portrays the beauty of black women, especially considering black women are not always represented in such a positive light.

“I think it’s a beautiful expression of womanhood,” Harriett said of the painting and the exhibit as a whole.

In addition to enjoying the gallery as a whole, business administration major junior Shenea Walker appreciated learning more about businesses in a creative way. 

“I think the exhibit is amazing and having an illustrator is amazing,” Walker said.

May Michel appreciated the attention both her work and her profession received from the gallery opening. She hopes that students see that a career in fashion illustration is lucrative and is starting to make a comeback.

“I think fashion is art, if you look at it from a clothing perspective. I think we’re all artists in our own way … you put your own ensemble together and people will look at you and interpret it in their own way,” May Michel said. “Fashion could be the way you carry yourself, the way you decorate your house, it’s everywhere. You just got to be looking for it, but it’s there.”

“I love the idea how fashion is an art form in a sense because you’re using your creativity to form outfits,” Sarah Michel said. “I wanted to showcase [fashion] through the artwork.”

Sarah Michel admired the unique and bright designs. 

“I love how simple [May Michel’s work] looks, but at the same time the designs are so artistic and creative, and some of the portraits are of people that I’ve seen,” Sarah Michel said. “I loved [Durant’s] artwork because it has lots of details and patterns in it. I think her detailing and pattern in her artwork brings the piece together and it makes it look all bright and vibrant and colorful.”

“Fashion as Art” is an innovative set of works for the Kinetic Gallery and the Geneseo art scene in general. After such thought-provoking displays such as “What You Were Wearing” and “Artwork from Guantanamo Bay” in the Kinetic Gallery earlier this year, “Fashion as Art” is a lighter, yet fresh concept for Geneseo students to enjoy.

“Fashion as Art” will be on display in the Kinetic Gallery until Nov. 14.