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Back in the Saddle Again: Project IMA

Project IMA: Fashion Unbound, 2010. Winner: Jeremy B. Hunt.

The first IMA organized fashion show, Project IMA, debuted in 2008 on an idea and a shoestring. The idea was simple: engage our community through fashion in order to promote the traveling exhibition, Breaking the Mode: Contemporary Fashion from the Permanent Collection, Los Angeles County Museum of Art. It seemed therefore fitting to draw from the community for participants. Having only moved to Indianapolis six months prior, I scoured the web and attended multiple fashion events to quickly discover, much to my delight, a strong assembly of designers, wearable artists and stylists within the city. As a result, we asked 16 designers to participate in the fashion show. They had four months to visit the exhibition, study the accompanying catalogue and devise a plan for one to two ensembles that “featured outrageous, beautiful, irreverent and glamorous designs.”

Not only were the pieces created interesting, varied, and thought-provoking, but the public’s response was overwhelming. So many people attended the show we had to schedule an impromptu second show for all those who couldn’t make it in the first round. There are even rumors that the amount of traffic flowing into the parking lot actually (temporarily) shut down 38th Street. Not bad, eh?

Project IMA: Fashion Unbound, 2010. Designs by Francis Stallings

So, in 2010, we decided to try it again. Only this time, we used our own exhibition, Body Unbound: Contemporary Couture from the IMA’s Permanent Collection, as the stimulus and opened the call for entries internationally. The response was exuberant.  We had over 50 people submit proposals for inclusion. Of those 50, we selected 40 participants who met the guidelines and, just like that, Project IMA: Fashion Unbound was in full swing.  Two back-to-back shows (having learned from experience) took place in The Toby to enthusiastic crowds. The concepts employed and the quality designs, almost 80 in total, were impressive. There were pieces made from paper, plastic bags and rubber bands while others, confronted, amused and referenced history. After much deliberation, the judges selected a piece by Jeremy B. Hunt as the best of show and awarded him the Elizabeth Kraft-Meek fashion design award. Afterwards, guests, designers, models and crew attended the official Behind the Seams after party, hosted by the newly formed affiliate group, FAS. Here audience members viewed garments up close, lined up for photos by Got Shot, and listened to the music of local pop sweethearts, Beta Male.  All in all, the event was a success.

So, here we go, again…

Project IMA: Fashion Unbound, 2010. Designs by Nancy Todd.

The IMA is currently inviting artists and fashion designers to submit original work for inclusion in a spectacular, one-night only fashion event, titled Project IMA, IN:spired which will take place in The Toby on Thursday, October 11, 2012.

The theme for this year’s show is based on works included in the IMA’s latest fashion exhibition, An American Legacy; Norell, Blass, Halston & Sprouse. Entries must be the exclusive work of the submitter (or submitting team) and be wearable objects that exhibit unique, innovative, inspirational and creative artistry.  The works must be based on the gowns, outfits and dresses designed by legendary Indiana fashion designers, Norman Norell, Bill Blass, Halston and Stephen Sprouse currently on view in the IMA’s  free exhibition.

Do you live outside of Indianapolis? Not to worry. We encourage submissions from people all over the country, and will be updating the exhibition webpage regularly so you can view all of the pieces from afar. Just check in periodically for updates.

Does this sound like you? Please review the guidelines, fill out the application form, and submit all your materials to by Monday August 20, 2012.

Filed under: Public Programs, Textile & Fashion, The Toby, Uncategorized

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