Fashion has its rightful home on the catwalk, while visual art resides in contemporary art galleries. Both of these creative realms have traditionally existed as close but distinct neighbors, respecting and pulling from one another only as creative inspiration necessitates. But as Matrix Fine Art Curator Regina Held notes, “While fashion is often more craft than fine art, I stopped separating art from craft years ago.” For Held and co-organizer Stephen Cuomo, local fashion and local art need not exist as next-door neighbors. Thus, The Art of Fashion was born.
“I think Albuquerque’s crying for something like this,” says Las Vegas-transplant Cuomo. The founder of Buzz Networking Abq, Cuomo arrived in Albuquerque about a year ago and wasted no time in organizing glitzy, high-energy fashion events around town, most notably the Imbibe launch party and a recent soiree at The Cooperage. A few weeks ago, Cuomo approached Held, the German-born director of Matrix Fine Art and New Grounds Print Workshop and Gallery. As Held is curator of one of the largest contemporary art galleries in the city, Cuomo proposed that she exhibit pieces at an upcoming fashion show. Instead, Held suggested using the gallery space at Matrix for Cuomo’s next event, and the event took off from there.
Cuomo hopes The Art of Fashion will raise the bar for fashion events in the Duke City. Indeed, the agenda for the event is meant to evoke the aesthetic of a high-society cocktail party: a wine sampling from St. Clair and Vivac wineries, hors d’oeuvres and DJ Rhino—all the usual suspects of a smartly executed social event. But the real aim of The Art of Fashion goes beyond the staging of a good party. As Cuomo asserts next to Held’s concurring nod, “I give designers a turnkey with which to exhibit their work—this is all for Albuquerque, for Nob Hill.” It proves to be the common thread for the evening: the promotion and celebration of very local, very genuine talent.
Using the entire gallery space for the evening (all 6,000 square feet—smaller exhibition areas will become “green rooms” for the models, a vestibule for hors d’oeuvres and a cove for the music, while guests circulate through the serpentine exhibit halls), the event is structured so that the events will move fluidly from an art gallery opening to a very different kind of fashion runway. At one point in the evening, models swathed in the creations of three New Mexico designers—Kat Ford, Mondo and Eilen Higgins—will strut out unannounced and take their places on raised platforms among the pieces on display in the gallery (Earth Narratives, a series of paintings by Marilyn Dillard, and sculpture by Harriette Lawler). In this way, a discourse will be created between the art around the gallery and the artistic energy of the clothes.
When asked if she hoped the show would herald a new chapter of art gallery-fashion shows in Albuquerque, Held appears hesitant. “We don’t want to saturate the market,” she says. “We want this to be a very special, refined evening.”