Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Suffer for Fashion

The belt of bourbon from Evangelo’s is settling nicely inside me; it crawls up my spine onto my head like a skullcap, making the post-sunset cold manageable as I huff to Palace Avenue where Lewellen Contemporary awaits with a confusion of well-dressed people meandering inside.

Project Runway’s current season features Elisa Jimenez, a couture fashion designer from New Mexico who relocated to Santa Fe after spending a number of years in New York making clothes for the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Courtney Love. Lewellen is hosting a fashion show featuring the work of Jimenez, who is also the daughter of famed sculptor Luis Jimenez.

I was made hip to this shindig and invited by CeCe Kurzweg, the wife of music producer John Kurzweg, who is also one of the models for the show. I drank warm honey wine and watched beautiful people who couldn’t possibly consume more than 200 calories a day slither in expensive clothing, looking bemused, uninterested, yet delighted to see one another.

I run into Larry Mitchell who has just been nominated for a Grammy for his work as producer of Johnny Whitehorse's Totemic Flute Chants in the Best Native American Album category. Brian Hardgroove, who I haven’t seen in a while, tells me about his own production work in Hong Kong with Chinese punk band Demerit.

Before the actual show begins a blue line of tape is laid down on the floor like a landing strip, which will guide the models to their final destination. Then announcements, then images from Project Runway show providing contextual information on Jimenez. But like any reality show we only see a character, a blip of images and segments pretending to construct a person; it’s a lesson in post-modernity where one reality views a faux reality for insight on what’s about to happen in front of our faces.

One by one the models cascade down the stairs where 100 or so my newest and most fabulous friends await. The women wear a series of multi-colored shreds with puffy backpacks, and the men (who are shirtless for some reason) sport the backpacks and smile sheepishly; I’m reminded of my neglected gym membership going to waste.

Once all have descended and congregated around a table with a tied bundle of clothing upon it, Jimenez appears at the foot of the stairs to a round of applause. She too wears the strategic shreds but somehow makes it work to her full advantage. After a few announcements, we are instructed to untie the bundle and try on clothes. It’s like spilling a bucket of chum in shark infested waters with the airs of a JC Penny fire sale. The pile of clothing comes apart like an anthill in the rain. I don’t participate...