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Cynthia Rowley’s Show Is Open to Artistic Interpretation

The big question at Cynthia Rowley’s show at the Stage at Lincoln Center yesterday — other than whether Julia Stiles’s new bangs were working for her (they were) — was, “What was up with the models in their underwear?” As the show began, a model in a fifties-style peach bra and high-waisted satin panties entered stage left, walked quickly across the top of the runway, and exited stage right. Then a fully clothed model entered where the half-naked model had exited and did a normal walk down the length of the runway. Two girls later, another underwear-clad model entered stage right, walked across the back part of the runway, and disappeared stage left. This continued without explanation throughout the show.

Alan Cumming, whose fab eyeliner was exactly the same as his seatmate Glenda Bailey’s, liked the effect. “It was like the set was turned around and you saw backstage with the girls with no clothes rushing around.” Artist Tom Sachs felt it gave the show a wonderful transparency. “It was gratifying to see the process,” he said. “I think it’s indicative of the artisanal movement of our time, where people are showing how they make stuff and they’re not hiding their techniques.”

Artist Ryan McNamara, who’d collaborated with Rowley on the show concept and walked the finale with her, agreed with both interpretations, but added that they’d also been trying to evoke the sense of a doll factory; the runway had been made of worn wood, and it was meant to look as if we were watching interchangeable girls going from unclothed to clothed in five seconds and then being spit out upon the runway.

Finally, in further artist collaboration, Rowley closed with a demo track from the new musical duo Kalup and Franco, made of performance artist Kalup Linzy and James Franco. Linzy, who was at P.S. 1’s MOVE! this fall collaborating with Diane Von Furstenberg at the same time Rowley was there collaborating with Olaf Breuning, hadn’t even heard Rowley’s version of the song: “The Mishaps mixed it,” he said, then a friend corrected him. “Sorry! The Misshapes! Ha!”

Linzy tends to attend “normal” shows like Rowley and Proenza Schouler, but see them all as a form of performance art. “Just like artists make paintings to go on a wall or perform in a way to fit a space, they’re designing clothes to fit people’s bodies. It’s like watching a moving sculpture,” he said. He encourages touching the art; at Tim Hamilton’s presentation on Thursday night, he got so into some of the shoes that he started lifting up the legs of the models to examine them more closely. “I literally got a pair of shoes off the runway,” he said, proudly showing off the pair, with gold and black lifts, that he’d taken off the model (with Hamilton’s permission) and worn home that night. And his favorite part is watching the models walk; he thought McNamara and Rowley’s concept of fashion as factory was particularly apt. “I’ve noticed how the walk has changed,” said Linzy, who is a longtime Fashion Week veteran. “They don’t walk the same anymore. They walk a straight line almost. They used to cross their legs and models, they, like, had their own personalities. But now all the girls have the same personality. Which is exciting in its own way.”

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Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC.
All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013, New York Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.


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