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Art Meets Fashion At The Timken

Above: Designer and Art of Fashion participant Jeffrey Parish in his South Park retail and gallery space Junc Boutique.

On a recent episode of “Project Runway,” the remaining ten designers were asked to create original fabric designs while venturing into New York City to capture the stories behind their inspirations. One clock gear patterned design generated much discussion as the ever-outspoken Michael Kors declared, “Times a tickin’ when you’re wearing that dress.” This prompted the question of how literal is too literal when using another visual object as inspiration in fashion?

This question rang true for the fifteen local Fashion Careers College (FCC) designers participating in the Timken Museum of Art’s upcoming Fourth Annual Art of Fashion exhibition. FCC students and graduates are asked to create original designs inspired by works in the Timken’s permanent collection of fine art. Models will display the designs in front of the museum’s masterpieces—with works by artists ranging from Veronese to Rembrandt to Raphaelle Peale. The final designs will be displayed this Saturday with event proceeds going to the Timken’s art education programs.

One of those designers is Jeffrey Parish, owner of Junc Boutique in South Park. Originally from Denver, Colorado, Jeffrey has transformed Junc into a retail and gallery space. I spoke with Jeffrey about his design for the upcoming Timken event, his inspiration, and his thoughts on Lady Gaga’s infamous raw meat dress:

Which painting did you choose as inspiration?

I chose Raphaelle Peale’s “Cutlet and Vegetables.” It’s a slab of meat and some vegetables on a cutting board and it’s supposedly his most revered piece of work. It’s weird that’s what we consider a master work of art, a still life. I guess that in the time those kind of paintings represented either death or abundance.

What was your vision for the work?

Well, Lady Gaga already wore a dress made out of meat, so I wanted to look at it from the perspective of the animal that’s in the painting. Something beautiful had to die for that to be painted.

Raphaelle Peale, Cutlet and Vegetables, 1816, oil on panel, overall dimensions: 18 1/4 x 24 1/4 in., Collection Timken Museum of Art.

Above: Raphaelle Peale, Cutlet and Vegetables, 1816, oil on panel, overall dimensions: 18 1/4 x 24 1/4 in., Collection Timken Museum of Art.

What was the creation process like for you?

Fifteen minutes in my head and you would need therapy! It was basically thinking about the textures of an animal, of a calf and the imperfectly perfect cowlicks in their fur. I wanted to go innocent and the color of innocence to me is white, so I used a lot of white fabric, but I also used cheesecloth in the dress because they used to wrap meat in cheesecloth to protect it from flies and all that kind of stuff. I wanted to be a little subliminal in the way I put it together. I wanted to be thoughtful, but then I wanted it to be Frankensteined together, with seams exposed on the outside and frayed with different fabrics. There’s silk chiffon, there’s lace, there’s the cheesecloth, there’s chiffon flowers and there’s the Swarovski crystal. But, to represent the death of the animal, there’s a cut in the left side of the dress that’s covered in Swarovski crystal. Then I designed a print on the fabric that looks like smoke or fluid blood flowing from the slice in the side of the body. So it’s kind of this beautiful creature that’s bleeding out.

What was your experience like for this year’s Art of Fashion versus last year’s?

This year I was a little more prepared and a little less nervous. Last year I was excited to be asked to participate. The work I used last year was “St. Basil,” a Russian icon. An icon had never been used before for the Art of Fashion so I was really excited to do that. That painting had never been chosen before and a lot of them have been used numerous times. The idea was that I wanted to choose a piece of work that didn’t have clothing or bodies in clothing in it, so that I wouldn’t be tempted to copy what they’re wearing. I want to make something that’s modern and wearable rather than creating a costume.

What are your plans for the dress post-event?

Oh, the dress post-event! Last year the Timken kept my dress on display a month after the event and hopefully they’ll do it again this year. I would be honored if they did, but if it doesn’t happen or even if it does, afterwards a friend of mine and I are going to take it out to the desert on an old, vintage dress form and film it burning to Delibes for my website. I’ve always wanted, for some reason, to burn one of my creations. I don’t know why. I don’t know how quickly that chiffon’s going to burn, but we’ll see. I think it’ll be fun.

Saturday September 24, 6:30pm-9:30pm. Timken Museum of Art in Balboa Park. Tickets are $100. V.I.P. Tickets are $250 and include admittance to the VIP Reception: Le Hot Club at 5:30pm. The exhibition will be on view October 1-30. For more information visit http://www.timkenmuseum.org/exhibition/fourth-annual-art-fashion

In related news, Project Runway’s Tim Gunn hosts a Fall Fashion Show at Fashion Valley Mall Saturday September 24, 1:00pm-3:00pm. Open to the public.

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