Paint the Town: Fashion Follows Art at the Phillips

by Editorial

Phillips After 5 explores Jason Wu’s fall collection, inspired by Robert Ryman’s art.

By Julie LaPorte

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

In conjunction with one of their special summer exhibitions – Robert Ryman: Variations and Improvisations – the Phillips Collection partnered with Neiman Marcus Mazza Gallerie and Project Beltway’s Rachel Cothran to celebrate the art-inspired fashion of Jason Wu at Phillips After 5.

Jason Wu – the designer brought to fame when First Lady Michelle Obama chose his dress to wear to the Inaugural Ball – said he drew inspiration for his fall 2010 TSE cashmere collection from Robert Ryman’s art. Several of his pieces were on hand, worn by models who strolled among the crowd, bringing the art to life. The clothes were stunning – beautifully textured with rich dimensions, playful color blocking and inventive lines. It was easy to see Ryman’s influence.

“Painting is about the visual, the meaning of painting is painting.” The words are Robert Ryman’s and he prefers to be labeled as a ‘realist’ artist rather than ‘minimalist’ or ‘monochromatic,’ though both those labels would fit. Ryman’s belief of painting for the sake of seeing paint on a surface is physically expressed in this exhibit by small squares – smaller than I expected from images seen online – with paint scraped over the surface or piled in gooey layers like frosting on a cake. They are simple and beautiful from a distance, complex and energetic close up.

“For more than five decades,” reads the introductory plaque. “Ryman has been making non-narrative, non-illusionist paintings that speak through their physical presences, surfaces, textures, and supports. Concerned above all with their own materiality, Ryman’s works are not issue or theory driven but are paintings about painting.”

“Since there is no picture, there is no story…and there is no illusion,” said Ryman.

In addition to the Ryman exhibition, guests were able to sample a selection of white gelato from Dolcezza Gelato, take part in a Fashion Follows Art scavenger hunt, find a new fragrance at the Jo Malone scent station in the gallery’s shop or enjoy food, drinks and the music of Federico Pena and Friends in the music room. For more information on future Phillips After 5 events and to buy advanced tickets, visit the Phillips Collection.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

Phillips After 5. Photo by Julie LaPorte.

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