Project Runway: Fashion is Art

Greta Chapin McGill - April 12, 2013

'Congratulations to Patricia Michaels. The Lady From Taos is going to NY Fashion Week'

Congratulations to Patricia Michaels.  The Lady From Taos is going to NY Fashion Week.  I was very close to tears tonight watching this installment of "Project Runway."

Last week was surreal,  I didn’t think I had the strength to watch the last few minutes of the episode.  Michaels made it through an intense judging after being paired with someone unable to see her vision or help her to execute it properly.  Richard clearly did not understand her esthetic.

This past week I was in New York to see a special exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art,  "Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity."  The show is based on the idea that fashion influences art.  The curator tuned in to what successful artists of the time in Paris during the 1860s  were seeing and transitioning into artistic creations. The appearance of fashion magazines and photography during this time is how  Paris became recognized as the fashion capitol of the world.  What struck me was a quote from Edouard Manet: "The latest fashion is absolutely necessary for a painting.” As an arbiter of fashion, Nina Garcia seems not to understand.  Her comment, "fashion is not art,” was totally in my opinion out of line. Fashion is clearly art. How serendipitous for Michaels to be chosen to go to Paris for this challenge. 

One of the things  Michaels said while she was in Paris was that she could feel the history of city, of the artists who had lived and worked there.   I personally applaud her insight to create something no has ever seen before.  As an artist, I understand her creative process.  It is not “artsy fartsy.” Some will never understand the art of Picasso, Manet, Pollock, or others.  There are some who will never understand the internal passion of creativity driving an artist to create. 

I am so proud to have been able to follow this journey.  I saw myself in her as I prepare for my own European adventure. Michaels' point of view helped me to understand my own aesthetic better. Cannot wait to see what her fashion week collection will bring, what  this intense journey  inspires her to create.  Excited to be able to shine a light on her.

To see the art and tradition in Michaels' work in an entire cohesive collection is an exciting prospect.  This is the best season of "Project Runway" I have seen and I have been a fan of this show since its inception.  Having seen the talent that exists in the Native American community, I hope more designers will come forward to show the world the rich cultural past, present and future of the work of Native American designers.  Institutions like the Institute of Americn Indian Arts  and the Southwestern Association of Indian Arts also deserve recognition for helping these artists and designers to realize their dreams.

I cannot wait to see the entire picture of Michaels' work accessorized and finished in her own style.  As she so eloquently stated to “show what I have in the eyes of a Native.”  Congratulations again to the Lady from Taos, you have certainly inspired me.