I have been to several events and talks held at the Tate Modern over the past few months, and this conversation between Marc Jacobs and architect Peter Marino was by far the most entertaining. The funnest, most frivolous, and most dramatic evening I have experienced at the Tate, or at any art gallery. This (unfortunately) inevitably meant that it was also the least critical of the talks I have experienced. It did come across as a self-congratulatory event.
However, despite this lack of criticality it still proved to be a thought-provoking evening. Marc Jacobs began by revealing the simultaneous success and failure of his first career: he ‘thought it was his job to make other people happy’, which although made him successful in his work, didn’t make him happy. He admits, “it just made me busy”.
I was also interested in the (decadent) idea Jacobs put forward when he said he believed fashion is “the art of living”, rather than art itself. This does prompt thoughts and questions about the nature and function of art , and its relationship to life and the everyday. The relationship of fashion to the everyday was clear when Jacobs revealed that he hates to see fashion in museums because it needs people to bring it to life. Otherwise, it is misleading and not the way people really perceive it, (which is also true of architecture and architectural photographs).
Another aspect of discussion that I liked about the relations between art, fashion and the everyday, was Peter’s point that fashion shows take place about four times a year and so can react to, and shape, people’s values and behaviours immediately within a specific timeframe. Whereas architecture is a delayed reaction to social and political events. Architecture therefore has to be longer lasting (and therefore possibly less expressive?). Peter’s architecture, which is highly influenced by fashion and Marc Jacobs designs (hence their conversation together), looks for ‘essence’ in fashion – it distills and abstracts its aesthetic and structural qualities.
I also liked the way Penny Martin chaired the conversation. She added helpful reference points, probed the speakers for answers to her questions, and helped to steer the event into its most interesting and unusual corners.