Fashioning the Object | Bleader

Fashioning the Object


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Hairbrush by Bless
  • Image cima
  • "Hairbrush" by Bless
As anyone who has seen couture on the runway or seeks out inventive clothing from lesser-known designers knows, the line between fashion and art can be blurred. From producing unusual pieces to presenting work to the public in nontraditional ways, some designers choose the road that's beyond less traveled—it's an unexplored land.

Pool Position by Sandra Backlund
  • Ola Bergengren
  • "Pool Position" by Sandra Backlund
“Fashioning the Object: Bless, Boudicca, Sandra Backlund,” which opens at the Art Institute of Chicago on Saturday, presents the work of three labels that approach contemporary fashion with new ideas and strategies for everything from the work itself to the documentation of its creation. It’s not a strategy that often translates into mainstream success, so you may not have heard of most of the designers taking part in the exhibition. Boudicca, a partnership between British designers Zowie Broach and Brian Kirkby, is probably the most well-known of the exhibit participants. Having attracted a fair amount of attention from the fashion press since its founding in 1997, they prove that even highly conceptual work can find an audience—or target market, as the case may be. Sandra Backlund, from Sweden, designs pieces that reference multiple societal and cultural influences, including art history and street culture. Austrian designer Desiree Heiss and German designer Ines Kaag, the people behind Bless, are influenced by found objects, recycled items, and traditional techniques; their work has a playful element with echoes of Marcel Duchamp.

On Thursday evening the School of the Art Institute's Fashion Resource Center hosts a multimedia presentation with Boudicca's Broach and Kirkby that will cover their research, experimentation, and concept development. It's at 6 PM in room 735 at 36 S. Wabash. Tickets are $20, $10 with ID from the school or the museum; call 312-629-6731 or email

It’s exciting that the museum is finally producing more exhibitions focusing on fashion, especially since it’s such a focus of the School of the Art Institute. Here’s hoping that the expanded confines and mission of the Modern Wing will result in many more.