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Dead Black Flamingos

Published by Judith Brachem on 29-May-2013 Fashion

The audience seems expectful. The lights go on and the first model comes down the runway. Some men dressed in black hang tubular birds. It’s January in 2013 in Copenhagen. Henrik Vibskov is presenting his new collection.
For a long time fashion and art have been meeting, connecting, uniting. Sometimes hating each other, sometimes needing each other. But in the end always finding each other. Salvador Dali and Elsa Schiaparelli collaborated, Diana Vreeland brought fashion into the museum, Erwin Wurm used luxury fashion goods as material for his art. Over years many fashion designers have designed clothes that were as adorable as they were unwearable. But can something we use every day, we just wrap our bodies in and which is actually protecting us from cold and shame be actually declared as art?

Nowadays fashion becomes faster within each second. Trends are swift to go when they have just appeared, designers try to do as many collections as possible, high street brands copy and imitate trying to bring out new clothes every week. In times like these it’s balm for the fashionable soul to see some creatives slowing down, bethink and cherish the artistic manner of clothing. So does Henrik Vibskov. The Danish designer works in a context of interaction between fashion and art. His fashion shows actually are none – they are more like an installation, like a play. Models walking through a panoptical housing, models standing with donkeys on a lawn. At his latest fashion show it has been dead black flamingos out of plush, hanging from the ceiling.

For years he has been creating a whole Vibskov universe with his unique presentations, his extraordinary clothing and his actual art works. Accepted as a fashion designer as well as in the art scene he manages the branch between the two fields. The two fields that are almost too close to converge. “In a period when many claim that there cannot be any relation between art and fashion, Henrik Vibskov proves the contrary. He is a major artist, and fashion is only one facet of his talent. Some of his works deserve to be acquired by museums. With no publicity, no scandal, and a tight financing, he gathers season after season a public of faithful partisans.”, says the president of the Fédération Française de la Couture Didier Grumbach. Vibskov even tries to change the roles of the performer and the viewer in his presentations. Visitors take part in his fashion shows. Models become actors. Thought-out concepts, coherent meanings, fascinating frontier crossing. Henrik Vibskov is so much more than a designer.

Art as well as fashion has always been the expression of personality. You can read politics from the colour someone’s wearing, you can see the scene someone’s in by the way he does his hair and you can above all feel what a designer had in mind while regarding his collection. Can something be more artful than bringing your emotions, your experience into something people all around the world need and wear? Critics have always said that something as superficial as the fashion scene can’t be characterised as art. But fashion is indeed more than what you pick out of your wardrobe each morning. It is a communication medium, it is affiliation or assignment, it is the deepest expression of your personality. And finding an artist not wishing all of this would apply to his work won’t be easy.

Judith Brachem studies Fashion Journalism at the AMD Academy for Fashion and Design in Hamburg and writes for various online publications.

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