Double Vision: Duality in Dress

March 9 - March 23, 2013


The perpetuation of the cultural phenomenon of fashion relies on both the contemporary cult of individuality and the machine of mass-manufacture. Imitation filters into every element of fashion through historic inspiration, clandestine copying, and the layering of artistic traditions and complex meanings. This exhibition will examine the power of fashion to manipulate or reinforce identity structures by engaging the eye with manufactured repitition or reproduction.

The subtle and overt expressions of duality that permeate the art of fashion confront both connoisseurs of couture and sartorially-minded street-wacthers. From the seamless cohesion achieved by several popular design partnerships to the double-take elicited by identical twins identically dressing, fashion pairs confront the prejudice towards individualism in design and dress. Fashion design partnerships like The Row and Costello Tagliapietra challenge the dictatorship of the singular vision with a dynamic sharing of strengths to produce fashion through accommodation that does not compromise. A different kind of fashion partnership, that of identically dressed twins, like San Francisco’s Brown sisters, presents a dramatic and appealing performance of duality in the face of normative attitudes about the value of individuality. Reflecting these concepts theoretically, design houses like threeASFOUR and Hoelck Goble employ digital reproduction to shift the perspective of duality from the creators and wearers to the fashion itself. Engineered photo-prints enable the creation of illusionistic garments that live a double life: photographic projections capturing a single moment in time and wearable works of art.

For more about the exhibit, visit here.

Dress, Costello Tagliapietra
Spring 2013 Collection

In both cut and creation, this dress by the house of Costello Tagliapietra epitomizes the successful coming together of two perspectives. Its duality is visually expressed in the asymmetrical cut, literally two different halves forming one consistent whole.  It combines non-Western traditional elements, like the kimono-inspired crossover and tied details, with the contemporary vision inhabiting the New York fashion industry. Despite these obvious signs of the influence of opposing forces on this design, the most compelling argument here for dynamism through dualism is found in the collaboration of two individual designers. Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra have worked together for a number years and their partnership has resulted in cohesive collections season after season. Their collections consistently meld two unique personalities and intellects into garments that are recognized as one unified style. Here, the successful fashion partnership challenges the tyranny of the singular genius and embraces connections and human relationships in the creative process.

By Elizabeth Way

 Mary and Vivian Brown’
Dave Golden Photography, April 2001

In a society that largely encourages difference, replica dress is remarkable and appealing to the human eye.  Mary and Vivian Brown, identical twins whose own father couldn’t tell them apart, have dressed identically for their entire lives.  Born in Kalamazoo, the sisters are now well-loved  local celebrities in San Francisco, where they have organized and won a plethora of identical twin competitions.  The playful visual engagement of mirroring and repetition in dress invites inquiry and curiosity.  Perhaps we are taken with the appearances of twins —especially in terms of dress through which we literally see double — because we wonder what it would feel like to have our own duplicate in the world.  For the Brown sisters, their indistinguishable adornment is an individual expression of their singular experience as twins.

by Jazlyn Dow

Dresses, threeASFOUR
Fall/Winter 2012

Wildfires, Vest and Pants, Hoelck Goble, Spring 2011

The fashion-art label ThreeASFOUR expresses the forward thinking philosophy of its creative directors and co-owners Gabriel Asfour, Adi Gil and Angela Donhauser.  Their unique perspective on fashion-art has encouraged their experimentation with photo-prints, which includes innovative, cutting edge manipulation of dual modalities.  For example, the use of shards of tapestry fabric bearing photo-printed images of landscapes, arranged haphazardly, break-up the expected continuity while transporting the viewer to an incongruous, enchanted ulterior scene.  In this way, designers like threeASFOUR and Hoelck Goble elevate the status of their minimalist designs from static garments to intellectually charged art objects, ripe with historical and cultural associations. Engineered photo-prints have been skillfully employed to create illusionistic garments that reinforce identity structures by engaging or fooling the eye.  Moreover, the carefully curated photo-print has the ability to transform its wearer’s body into a mobile habitat, while transfiguring the garment into a binary symbol of past and present design aesthetics.  The group’s highly idiosyncratic sensibility, which includes slashed wrap jackets and asymmetrical organza dresses, have gained them attention from prestigious institutions like the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, who have acquired pieces for exhibitions.

by Max Avi Kaplan