Willis Smith: Street Couture Review: Where Accessibility Meets Vanguard

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Enter Cooper Hewitt’s exhibition “Willie Smith: Street Couture” traverses a small triangular space painted in white. On the left wall is a timeline that began in 1948, when African American Willy Smith was born in Philadelphia. He arrived in New York in 1965, studied at the Parsons School of Design and worked for various brands from 1968 to 1976. It was the year he and Raleigh Mallet founded Williware. In 1982, Smith had taken the plunge. Until it was abbreviated in 1987 with the phrase “Smith died of AIDS-related complications at Mount Sinai Hospital on April 17,” the creative and collaborative results of each year became richer and more economical. I’ll succeed. He was 39 years old.

Installation “Willismith: Street Couture”

Photo:
Cooper Hewitt / Ansunwoo

At this small entrance, there is a door-sized opening on the right wall covered with a white canvas. The space across the canvas contains a reproduction of an installation to which Smith was invited at PS 1 (now MoMA PS1) in Long Island City, Queens in 1982. When Smith was alive and well, but as a prelude to this exhibition, it is unforgettable. Criticizing the wasted six-month fashion cycle, Smith froze her work with white plaster. We knew the shape of the jumpsuits, shirts, pants and paper dolls, which were a staple of the collection, would never go out of style. Placed them on the ground in a way that suggests a graveyard of smitten snow angels. He called the installation “art as damaged commodity.”

Installation “Willismith: Street Couture”

Photo:
Cooper Hewitt / Ansunwoo

In fact, the art was an angel on Smith’s shoulder. Yes, he was known for his designs called “street coverings” or “pedestrians”. In other words, it was not meant for the rich or the few. “I didn’t design for a particular age or breed,” he says in the show’s catalog, “but for those interested in the world.” In New York in the 1970s, Smith became interested in creativity. With the booming club scene, a new generation of downtown artists gaining momentum, feminism on the rise, and Stonewall spurring gay liberation, it has great art, street expression, mashups with Americana, and more. I was using the aesthetic energy of the moment. Global Ethnic. Alexandra Cunningham Cameron, contemporary curator of Cooper Hewitt, curated this delinquent exhibit even later with the Covid-19 museum closing in March 2020. In the text on the opening wall I wrote: Basics with avant-garde performance, movies, art and design. “

Willis Smith: Street Couture

Cooper hewitt

Until October 24

This is a point Cameron emphasizes by using Smith’s 1982 art installation as a keystone for the next section. The Willy Smith exhibit isn’t exactly a fashion show, as his clothes were a means to an end. WilliWear was a great gathering of cutting edge artistic soulmates. Cool kids invited everyone to the party. In fact, Smith is Agnes b in America. I was doing it in France – turning a fashion brand into a super hip, egalitarian statement of anti-luxury and professional art. Popular fibers, such as cotton and linen, which look great as you wear them, have been the backbone of both designers. And a fun, one-time collaboration (implicitly accepting the community) was the name of the game.

The is See the clothes. Smith’s roomy figure (large overcoat, chunky suit, full skirt, clothes that can be pulled together if needed) is like a photo from the era showing them to the model, a layered dance from the early 80s. It hangs close by. of the image that captures the clutter. But the exhibition focuses on a broader vision than clothing. Four intensive sections of runway, dance, film and design, each with its own multimedia art installation. Cameron includes Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer (T-shirt), video artist Nam June Paik (a runway experience he created for the 1984 “City Island” collection) and choreographer Bill. ・ Collaboration overview de Smith with artists such as T. Jones and Arnie Zane. (Smith wore the 1984 “Secret Pasture” dance costume), filmmakers Lelevin and Max Vadukul (made experimental films for Smith in 1984 and 1986, respectively), paper magazine founder Kim Hastraiter (she edited the newsletter “Willi Wear News”), and environmental artists Christo and Jeanne Claude (Smith has T-shirts and guards for two monumental rap projects. I designed the uniform).

This exhibition embodies and celebrates Smith’s feelings for the neglected beauty of urban infrastructure. Cinder blocks, wire mesh fences, wooden pallets, milk boxes, and concrete floors are all calm and unified with a warm gray paint. These are the elements of the design vision that he realized in the architectural firms of James Wines and Alison Sky. Smith’s glass office, reconstructed here, is a rectangular gray brick structure, with the front corners turned upside down like a wrecking ball, a constructivist triangular on the outside. I went. That’s what Smith was doing, breaking down the walls and letting in the light.

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Willis Smith: Street Couture Review: Where Accessibility Meets Vanguard

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