MICA

Now I’m going to contradict myself after the last post.

In theater, they say it’s always easier to pull back.  Directors always preferred working with actors who brought a lot to the rehearsal so it gave them something to work with.  People who push the idea, extend the idea, let it grow and change.  I think the same can be true of fashion.

Several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending a day at the Maryland Institute College of Art, also known as MICA.  They have an incredible Fibers program that has been nurtured and developed by some of the most intelligent, creative, and talented people I’ve ever met.  Not being from the “art world”  it was inspiring to visit the beautiful space and discuss a side of fashion where the constraint of time is a little further down on the list.

You know, just an old train station to get your juices flowing.
This is the Mount Royal Station in which the program resides. The light in here is amazing.

They have every kind of facility, resource, machine, table, station, computer, bucket, and book you can imagine.  Get ready to swoon.

Get your weave on.
Get your weave on.
Tables for getting messy.
Tables for getting messy.  Knitting machines in the background.
I forget what this is called but you mix dyes here.
I forget what this is called but you mix dyes here.  Don’t you like the orange sign above that asks,  “Have you EATEN today?”

So, if you can believe it, they have a Studio Concentration in Experimental Fashion that made me want to go back to school RIGHT NOW.  The description says “The program balances practice and theory and placing fashion in its broadest cultural context, from consumption to the global market.”  FUN.

At MICA, there are no  dumb dresses.  They create dense work that is intimate and personal, the discussions are thorough and philosophical, and the processes are involved and prolonged.  This is done with the notion that ideas can always be made smaller.  While I don’t want to characterize it too much, the work is what some may call avant-garde and for the record, I consider that a compliment.  It seems to be in the more european tradition of fashion schools like the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp that gave us the Antwerp Six or Central Saint Martins that gave us Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney.

Batiste getting the Shibori treatment.
That ain’t just scrunched up fabric.  That’s shibori!

Today I’m meeting with a talented student from the program, Zenata Kruszelnicka.  She’s taking the next step to get her product into stores and make her big ideas sellable.  The fashion process is long one, full of puzzles, deadlines, and egos. Once the ball is rolling, people don’t have time to care so much about your “vision” and just want to get the product made and out the door on time.  In the words of a factory manager I once knew, “I don’t celebrate Christmas.  I work.”  Making sure that students learn the subsequent skills for the real world is the challenge.

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2 thoughts on “MICA

  1. The entire staff at Fabric Horse aside from me went to school for industrial design. I’m amazed at what they can create in school with their facilities. I really resent that our teachers always told us our ideas weren’t doable except for “in the industry.”

  2. “In the industry.” I grew very tired of that expression. I’m grateful for the practical knowledge but there was still so much to learn once I was actually in it. After hearing about this program, I kind of wish I could have (and had the guts to have) broken the rules more.

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