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Arts and Entertainment

Mint Museum exhibit puts the haute in couture
Focus on fashion-forward designers, patrons
Published Monday, October 16, 2017 2:38 pm
by Ashley Mahoney

Fashion is art.

“Charlotte Collects: Contemporary Couture and Fabulous Fashion,” explores the architecture of clothing as it relates to Charlotteans such as Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton, while also engaging the posterity of designers such as Jason Wu, designer of former first lady Michelle Obama’s 2009 presidential inaugural ball gown. The exhibit opened at the Mint Museum Randolph last weekend, and remains on view through Feb. 4, 2018.

While Newton’s outfits may appear avant-garde in postgame press conferences, the fashion world worships his wardrobe.

“Fashion can express who you are, and he understands why fashion matters,” said Annie Carlano, the Mint’s senior curator of Craft, Design & Fashion. “It took us a while to engage him, but in the end, leading into the exhibition, he himself curated what you see here.”

Continuing their tradition in this aesthetic, the Mint has been collecting fashion for over four decades. “Charlotte Collects” carries on their theme of a “Year of Fashion,” which consists of three parts (“William Ivey Long: Costume Designs 2007-2016” at the Mint Museum Uptown, and “The Glamour and Romance of Oscar de la Renta” which opens in the spring at Mint Museum Randolph).

“There is such masterful craftsmanship and innovative technology in contemporary fashion from the cloth itself – hand embroidery, digital printing, pressure pleating – to the pattern-making, construction, and draping,” Carlano said. “What visitors will see in the galleries is both traditional centuries-old sewing techniques and 21st century inventiveness.”

In addition to Newton, featured pieces are from: Ann Tarwater, Lisa Dargan, Amanda Weisinger Cornelson, Alex Holleman, Dr. Kim Blanding Putney, Myra Gassman, Ashley Anderson Mattei, Deidre Grubb, Laura Vinroot Poole and Chandra Johnson.

“The specific fashions in the exhibition were selected because innovative examples by the fashion designer are on the museum’s ‘wish list;’ as we build the museum’s holdings of 21st century international fashion, it is hoped that these and or similar examples will enter the permanent collection soon,” Carlano said.  “Consider, for example, the neo-Romantic silhouettes of the Giambattista Valli in the collections of Dargan, Anderson Mattei, and Vinroot Poole, which conjure up Cinderella at the ball. Equally sculptural but with more of an adventurous vibe are the fashion designs of Issey Miyake, Junya Watanabe for Comme des Garcons, and Rodarte, in the collections of Myra Gassman and Chandra Johnson.

“Timeless elegance is interpreted by Jason Wu, Isaac Mizrahi, and Carolina Herrerra from the collections of Alex Holleman, Chandra Johnson, and Ann Tarwater. Eclecticism is represented in an ensemble by Versace, as worn by Cam Newton.”


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