Thursday, February 19, 2009

thread bares all.

my puns are deteriorating.

the strength of my jokes notwithstanding, today was a semi-unintentional foray into clothing and meaning. aitor and i are entertaining a friend from brooklyn so we got out into the blustery city. our guest had suggested the bata shoe museum (to which we had never been) so we decided to start with a trip to honest ed's. visitors always freak out about honest ed's. plus, it reveals itself so perfectly from the bathurst subway station. i had almost forgotten about honest threads, an installation tucked away on the second floor that displays the clothing of toronto citizens and the stories attached to them. conceived by german-born artist iris häussler, the little boutique serves not only as a gallery of clothing but also as a clothing lending library! you can borrow the clothes of strangers and see what it feels like to be them. you can even borrow honest ed's shoes.

after some picking around, reading the wall-mounted stories attached to the clothes and pawing through the racks, i discovered the above dress - a white synthetic gown with a strange quote machine-embroidered onto it. it came with a beige threadbare acrylic cardigan, which made the whole outfit look exactly like something i would have worn, especially in my grunge-era pacific northwest youth. that said, the cardigan and dress combo is a staple of my performances with iron cobra. for me, the collection of blue dresses i have worn on stage was a very deliberate choice and a direct rip from the uniform of the earliest second city casts in chicago. i saw a picture of the post-compass second city cast and (although some of the female performers might have resented their uniforms then) it really seemed to resonate with me. i like that it looked like a uniform without being devoid of gender. that said, i usually wear a cardigan so that graham doesn't have to deal with the fact that i have boobs (which always seems to make him uncomfortable). the cardigan strips me of sexuality which feeds well into the needs of an improvised comedy duo. and yet i don't have to hide the fact that i am a woman. plus, dressing like a novice nun allows me some major leeway with crass material. am i revealing too many trade secrets?

i tried on the dress/cardigan combo and, although tight around my ribcage, i decided to check it out for a few days. as luck would have it, graham and i are hosting a big show tomorrow night to launch steve fisher's toronto performance blog, gracing the stage. let's see what dressing in a stranger's clothes does to my hosting/comedy skills. interestingly enough, this outfit had no story on the wall of the gallery. and it is so intriguing. what kind of stranger am i even going to feel like?

wow, serah-marie. i did it. i thought about fashion! i guess ms. häussler is onto something with this project.

i should also say that the bata show museum was a strange surprise. although shoe history is a little beyond my ample areas of interest, i really loved the current exhibit on native american footwear. everything was so beautiful and practical and meticulously crafted. i am not sure when this exhibit ends (perhaps it is indefinite) but i may, in fact, have to go back for a lengthier visit with the moccasins.

just look at this one! it features tufted moose hair details made with techniques taught to indigenous peoples by ursuline nuns. many of the pieces in the exhibit display markings of this tumultuous time of western intervention. it kind of makes all the bead work into the saddest kind of beautiful. the craft of it is absolutely incredible, but we all know where glass beads came from and what they brought with them.


leah b said...

I love it! What's the story behind that dress? I searched around, but I couldn't find any info on the contributions received - do you know if there is one?

Also, the Bata Museum is a pretty incredible place housing some incredible craftspersonship.

H Munro said...

You know I lived in Toronto for 5 years and I think I only went into Honest Ed's once. I had no idea Honest Threads existed. Next time I am in Toronot I will have to check that out!

sweetie pie press said...

a) as mentioned above, i couldn't find a story on the dress.

b) what i neglected to mention is that honest threads is a temporary installation and is only on until the end of march (extended from its previous march 8 closing).

Anonymous said...

I just skimmed this post, cause I'm a lazy friend, but that dress totally reminds me of Locher's. Pretty sure this was written with you and me in mind:

Anonymous said...

I just got home and came directly to your blog. Great great great post. Thanks for making my brain think and I'm happy I made yours do to.