Sunday, June 12, 2011

Insights from the CFDA Awards

Last month, I was selected to be a volunteer for this year's CFDA Awards, which I was massively excited about!  I basically served as a placeholder for some of the choreography (no, I wasn't dancing haha) and helped with a few other things twice before the show.

On Monday night, I got to the venue in the afternoon, but there wasn't anything really for us to do so we just watched the models practice the choreography for the Mark Jacobs Lifetime Achievement Award we worked the kinks out of previously.

The stage was incredible...  There were a ton of sweet visual effects projected against the jagged skyline-looking shapes and a brilliantly glittery Swarovski encrusted podium.

Though there were no empty seats or places for me to perch up to watch the show from in the crowd, as a volunteer, I did have a backstage pass.  So after we were finished for the day, I went right back to the Green Room and made friends with the guy in charge of handing out the boxed meals and just posted up and chilled for 3 hours until the awards started at 8 pm and I could watch it on the screen back there.

We started talking about all kinds of things, but one idea that kept coming up was that he was very insistent that being a successful artist means tapping into a particular lifestyle that a subset of culture also identifies with.  Among many examples he gave, one was the rapper Wiz Khalifa.  He was talking about how easy is was for him because since his lifestyle is "weedhead," there's automatically an audience for that by default.

I kind of resisted at first until I realized he was kind of saying something I really believe in, but in a different way...  I think it is massively better and more valuable to listen to people and find out what they're asking for and create something in reaction to that as opposed to making something YOU think is cool and convincing people how much they should like it.  One sells itself, the other requires a lot of effort to get it sold.

On a sidenote, this is only if serving other people's needs and wants is in part of your gameplan.  To the degree that personal expression and art is what you're trying to accomplish, is the degree that this is less and less important.

As the "get-to-your-seats" bell started ringing 15 minutes before the show, I started to get really excited.  I'd seen a lot of the show already since we'd done two run-throughs with many of the intros and speeches pre-submitted.  Of course, I didn't know who the winners were and obviously, there's always the x-factor of a live event...

There were a lot of things that stuck out, but there were two I've found myself thinking over the past week.  The first was from Founder's Award winner Hal Rubenstein, who actually quoted someone else, saying, "When someone wakes up in the morning, the first things that person asks himself is what am I going to eat and what am I going to wear."

The other thing that stood out was something Lady Gaga said about how the clothing that someone wears can alter their mood, thanking all the CFDA members, "It was all of you who made me feel like a star before I was one."

I found myself later in the week, while running errands in the Garment District, looking at each person walking by and being aware that everyone, at one time, decided to aquire every single article of clothing they were wearing, for their own individual reasons.  On top of that, each person woke up only a few hours prior and went through a series of mental yeses and noes to select the whole outfit covering their body based on how they were feeling or wanted to try to get themselves to feel that day.

I don't really consider this a good or bad thing...  I mean, for me personally, I want to evolve in a direction where I can draw whatever good feelings I want from within, and not be affected as much by random factors around me like the weather or the latest sensational story in the media or if my hair's not cooperating with how I want it or if my shirt is new enough.

However, the world doesn't always need to be a serious, philosophical place and, frankly, it can be boring when things get all theoretical or cerebral.  This used to be an issue I thought about, but, quite frankly, letting yourself feel better based on what your wearing is just like going to a comedy show to laugh and have a good time.  With clothing, the designer's own vibe or mood is carried through to that garment and picked up the same way a comedian does with the crowd.  However, unlike a comedian, the feelings from the expression aren't as fleeting.

All designers and artists want to express themselves but unlike graphic designers, painters or architects, a fashion designer's creations and visions for the future affect people's moods and feelings more than the  others by far.  For 99% of people, fashion has the ability to make someone feel good... or bad.

Just look at the absurd degree some girl's body images are affected by the artistic vision of fashion designers.  The designer or design community as a whole moves in a direction that they prefer a certain body type or look, which seems to always change over time.  And from that, there are all kinds of issues that come up from people with no sense of standards of beauty of their own as they are whipped around simply by what we in the fashion design community choose to showcase our new clothing on.

Some people hate fashion and the whole idea of it.  They say things like, "The fashion world is not just frivolous but utterly vacuous and ultimately meaningless. There are so many more important things in life."  In defense, I wonder what life would be like with no entertainment, art or imagination...  Artistic expression is, in essence, emotion translated into the physical world.  Sometimes people wish they could bottle the good feelings they have and share it with others; artistic expression (music, writing, drawing, photography, you get the idea...) is the only way this is done.

Further, the artistic expression that allows this to have the most impact on the person enjoying it, is fashion.  I stand proud to be a part of that community.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful! you are so right and I needed to hear this.