With holiday travels behind, we enthusiastically return to the international cultural whirl that is our lives the other 50 weeks out of the year. And the first show to have decisively caught our attention is Charles Fréger’s Fabula, opened this month at Milan’s striking Armani/Silos museum.
The Rouen based French photographer has made a mission of documenting the dress codes of various communities of peoples around the world, whether they be soldiers, swimmers or sumo wrestlers. His images (taken from 2000 to the present) explore how our sartorial presentations define us as both individuals and as groups, and help to develop boundaries of codification that specifically effect the way we carry out our daily existences.
The exhibition seeks to create a dialogue between different groups that Fréger has photographed, from the Sikh Regiment of India, to the Finnish ice skating team to painted elephants in Jaipur. The work plays upon the fears and anxieties connected to the human need to belong or fit in (FOMO Art, if you will).
“It feels like visualizing the works chapter by chapter,” he explains “as if the sublime architecture of the Silos was giving the rhythm to the photographic exhibition. There’s a sensation of time and evolution, a conversation with the rooms, the grey concrete walls and the precise lighting giving the best possible echo to the color of my photographs.”
Fréger caught the eye of the museum’s namesake, Giorgio Armani himself, via the the bold expressions of color that characterize his images. But the idea of messaging through stylistic / aesthetic presentation also plays particularly well to the designer’s ultimate mission for the museum.
‘The vitality of color is what caught my eye first,” Armani enthuses. “That color, however, is no mere visual feat: it is a depiction of human energy. As a fashion designer, I know clothing is charged with a great symbolic meaning: Fréger constantly reminds us of that, scavenging the deepest aspects of dressing up as a way of communicating.”
Fabula opens January 12th (during Milan Men’s Fashion Week), and will be on show through March 24. For full immersion, book into the glamorously understated Armani Hotel Milano, perfectly positioned in the heart of the Italian style capital’s dazzling fashion/shopping district. Prepare to burn up the Black Card.