Backstage at Maison Martin Margiela’s fall 2012 haute couture show. (Photo: Tyrone Lebon)
If you know fashion, you know Fashion Television. Hosted by the indefatigable Jeanne Beker, the Toronto-based fashion news show ceased production in 2012 after 27 seasons of designer interviews and from-the-collections reports. (In many American markets, it aired before or after its Canadian counterpart, Fashion File, prompting viewers to wonder why stateside networks jettisoned the newsy angle on fashion after the CNN run of Elsa Klensch.) Beker is now making her curatorial debut with “Politics of Fashion | Fashion of Politics,” an exhibition that opens September 18 at Design Exchange in Toronto.
The Canadian design museum will showcase more than 200 works that reveal fashion as a powerful tool of expression, including the (relatively) scandalous non-gown worn by Margaret Trudeau to the White House in 1977, a gold leopard print burqa from Jeremy Scott‘s spring 2013 “Arab Spring” collection, and an artisanal leather poncho from the fall 2013 Maison Martin Margiela collection. Fashion designer Jeremy Laing is masterminding the exhibition design, while Design Exchange curator Sara Nickleson worked with Beker on organizing the show. The bold and often subversive pieces, which span from the 1960s (a star-spangled Bobby Kennedy-for-president paper dress) to today (an androgynous Rad Hourani jacket) are organized around five themes: Ethics/Activism, War/Peace, Consumption/Consumerism, Campaign/Power Dressing, and Gender/Sexuality.