3 different exhibits, museums, artists and media create an intriguing glimpse into style and beauty



CLOTHES CALL | The traditional garb of Peru from Mario Testino, above, the gowns of Japanese designers, top, and the abstract merchandising of ready-to-wear clothes, right, highlight three new art exhibits. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

ARNOLD WAYNE JONES  | Executive Editor

New York City has long had a costume museum, but ever since the Dallas Museum of Art put on the w­­­ork of fashion designer Jean-Paul Gautier, local galleries have seen the value in wearable art — even if it’s not wearable for you. Indeed, three current exhibitions highlight issues of fashion in unique (and mostly unrelated) way.

The most direct is the Mary Baskett Collection of Japanese Fashion at the Crow Collection of Asian Art through Feb. 22. Featuring contemporary gowns across five decades from three major Japanese designers (Miyake, Yamamoto and Kawakubo), the tightly-curated showcase of edgy couture is a dazzling display of how culturally diverse art is, even when in a seemingly universal and familiar field as fashion. The angular, colorful and boldly-patterned dresses insist you rethink how you relate to western clothing.

Isa Genzken is not a fashion designer by any stretch, but this peripatetic multi-disciplined German artist — not widely known in the U.S., but enjoying a remarkable retrospective at the DMA through January — touches on themes related to fashion (and certainly the human body). From her early videos (in which the slender artist and a zaftig friend exchange clothes silently, showing how they transform their naked bodies) to several works that merchandise items from her own closet, she makes you look at fashion in a critical and interesting way.

You can’t even steal the clothes off the models in Mario Testino’s show, Alta Moda, at the Dallas Contemporary through Dec. 22.

Testino has been an in-demand fashion photographer for years, but the Peruvian native returned to his homeland for this project.

Focusing on the traditional garb of the indigenous peoples of the mountainous nation, Testino imbues peasant clothing with a high-fashion sensibility in these gorgeous, large-format photos — which, incredibly, have not been retouched or photoshopped. The colors, textures and textiles are all real, but the effect is otherworldly.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 31, 2014.