Merce Cunningham challenged modern dance with this question: “But, what if...?” Rejecting accepted wisdom, he changed the way the dancers, choreographers and producers thought, and he inspired the spread of a neo-dada mentality. Since his death in 2009, a Legacy Tour has been making its way around the world. This past October, Brown University and Rhode Island School of Design paid homage to the collaborative spirit that drove Cunningham’s work. In cut and sew knitwear class inspired by his vision, we created costumes for dancers at Brown.
The reality of motion becomes most apparent to a designer working in real time with real bodies. In this collection, I translate the questioning curiosity of Merce Cunningham’s movements to the very shapes of the clothing. From Split Sides, a performance almost limitlessly combining Costumes, Choreography, and Music, came the concept for an “Infinite-wear Shirt,” a piece of apparel that can never be worn the same way twice. From the image of Merce’s design for a four-armed sweater in Antic Meet I developed a six-armed piece with manifold functions and configurations.
Clothing in this collection functions in everyday life, but reflects the freeness and protean possibilities of clothing designed for modern dance. As the wearer converts the garments from one form to another, the silhouettes become as manifold as the moves of a dancer.
Drawing on the collaborative spirit of the original project, I include two co-creations in this collection as well. The blue print is a cyanotype designed by me and Wen-You Cai, Sculpture ’12. Simone Paasche, Jewelry and Metal-smithing ’12, created the jewelry.