Style

Fashion

When do clothes become wearable art?

LINEHAN PHOTOGRAPHY CSL@LINEHAN (far left)

What’s the difference between simple clothing and wearable art? A group of fashion experts will explain at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester on Sept. 7 at a salon presented by the museum and the Society for the Encouragement of the Arts on Cape Ann.

“Wearable Art is handmade. It’s one of a kind. It’s art on your body. The only common definition of wearable art is using the human form as the basis. Even tattoos could be in that category,” says sea-glass jeweler Jacqueline Ganim-DeFalco, cofounder and chair of Celebrate Wearable Art (CWA).

CWA is a recurring event for artists to dip into fashion and showcase their wares on the runway. A fashion show and market, Celebrate Wearable Art IV, happens on Oct. 1 at Cruiseport Gloucester with elaborate dresses and accessories, many for purchase.

Advertisement

“The salon is the educational portion of the event,” says Ganim-DeFalco. “In this discussion, we’re exploring: Is wearable art embroidery? [Is it] hand-painting a piece of silk or any other techniques in fabric? Is it replacing what people think of as haute couture? This is really boundary-less, in a sense.”

Get The Weekender in your inbox:
The Globe's top picks for what to see and do each weekend, in Boston and beyond.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

Salon panelists include Jay Calderin, executive director of Boston Fashion Week; Jennifer Varekamp, a professor of fashion design at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design; and wood sculptor Rick Crangle, who won a CWA “best of show” award for a wooden skirt. Paula Bradstreet Richter, curator for exhibitions and research at the Peabody Essex Museum and a champion of the wearable art movement, moderates the discussion. The museum recently hosted the “World of WearableArt” (WOW) exhibit, showcasing clothing made of everything from fiberglass to taxidermy.

Ganim-DeFalco is enthusiastic about Cape Ann’s thriving artistic community finding a new medium for their work. The salon and runway show help to spotlight local artists who are often inspired by the area’s natural beauty, like Camilla MacFadyen, whose hand-dyed silks are printed with seaweed.

“There are so many artists here from every genre — the number I’ve heard thrown around is 2,000,” says Ganim-DeFalco.

And wearable art fans are willing to pay big money for a one-of-a-kind piece.

Advertisement

“We have people who come to the runway show and spend $25,000. They feel the same way they do when buying a piece of art for a wall. They feel proud, different, special. That’s what I love about it. They know the artist. It’s a personal connection,” Ganim-DeFalco says.

Panel tickets are $10 for museum and Cape Ann arts society members, and $15 for nonmembers. Learn more at www.capeannmuseum.org and www.wearableart.org.

Kara Baskin can be reached at kara.baskin@globe.com.