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Q & A

the Radical Face of Fashion

FASHION AS “the last gritty, gutsy avant-garde”? The words are those of the Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute’s Richard Martin. Writing in the Los Angeles Times this past February, Martin argued, “In a more tranquil world for art, only fashion insists on acting out dissonance and stirring up the kinds of social ruckus that art once lived by.” In a 1994 New Yorker piece, Ingrid Sischy, though somewhat more temperate in her claims on fashion’s behalf, compared the buzz around fashion in the ’90s to that surrounding art in the ’80s: “For a while art was the center of cultural attention. Now fashion has taken over.” Her remark suggests that, when it comes to vital news of our cultural condition, she too looks to fashion first.

How do these fashionable views play in the art world? With the media ever more fascinated by fashion and artists turning to the runway for inspiration and/or subject

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