''Corn is the new black''

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Posted by HSG on April 17, 2005 at 18:47:34:

In Reply to: Re: An environment of beauty posted by Melanie W. on April 17, 2005 at 16:59:37:

Speaking of "corn-coloured" dresses, a reader of this forum recently encouraged us to tune in to a re-broadcast of a television show titled Project Runway.

Like America's Next Top Model, this is ostensibly a fashion-based "reality show," although in this case, the competition involves a group of budding young designers, rather than models.

Hosted by Heidi Klum (one of those rare supermodels about whom it can be said that she has "such a pretty face," and who might actually be attractive, if only she were to double her dress size), the show gives its contestants one design challenge per episode. At the end of each episode, the designs are presented on the catwalk, and evaluated by a panel of judges. The designer whose creation receives the lowest score is eliminated, leading ultimately to a single winner.

The challenge in the first episode was rather a clever one. The designers were given fifty dollars each, and instructed to assemble a "sexy evening dress" exclusively from the materials that they could purchase in . . . a supermarket.

A supermarket?

If you stop to think about it, it's quite a brain-teaser. After all, what is there in a supermarket that anyone could use to make even a rudimentary article of clothing, let alone a wearable evening dress?

Most of the competitors loaded up on synthetic items: garbage bags, chair covers, tinfoil, mop heads, shower curtains, and just about ever other prosaic household item that is a staple of our plastic, prefabricated world.

The results were predictably awful. Garbage-bag couture:

However, one inspired contestant avoided the synthetic housewares altogether, and instead made a beeline for . . . the produce section, where he purchased the store's entire supply of corn.

That's right. Corn.

The other competitors thought that he had surely lost his mind. But he calmly took his ears of corn back to the studio, and began shucking the husks off of his plunder.

One look at the vibrant greens and yellows in the husks reveals why this item caught the designer's eye. Nature is an infallible colour-coordinator, as anyone who has ever marvelled at the sight of purple thistles and yellow wildflowers in a green field, or red cherries against lush foliage, can attest.

The choice was a practical one as well. As the designer himself put it, "My main ingredient are the corn husks, because, if you think about it, it's really 'nature's fabric.' It's a fibre. It even has a weft and a warp to it."

He then proceeded to arrange his material into the shape of a skirt,

and a bodice.

And here is where the true brilliance of his choice became apparent. Unlike the very flat, stiff, inorganic fabric-substitutes that his competitors used, his natural material could be woven into a rounded form, ready to embrace the living curves of the woman who would be wearing it:

The result was a work of actual beauty.

Needless to say, his design won the top prize.

* * *

The lone mistake that the designer made, however, was failing to realize that the corn husks would dry out between the time that he wove them together, and the following day, when the runway show was to take place.

The judges therefore only viewed a dessicated, shrivelled-up version of the corn-husk dress, one which merely hinted at the beauty of the original creation:

Still, as we have said, the designer won the challenge.

But looking at the above image, one can ascribe to it a certain symbolism. There is something quite fitting about seeing this work of natural beauty wither and dry, when draped over the gaunt frame of a bone-thin runway waif,

especially since the shape of the dress would have accentuated the lush arms, shapely back, and curvaceous legs of a lusciously-proportioned full-figured model particularly well.

Better, then, to remember the original look of the dress--when it was fresh and alive--and imagine what it would have looked like on a model with the replete "plus-size vitality" of Barbara Brickner, or Christina Schmidt, or Lindsey Garbelman.

The fashion world is finally tiring of redundant expressions of urban malaise, and is instead turning for inspiration to a much more fruitful source--the beauty of the natural world, which has provided artists with inspiration throughout history. It is realizing that natural, timeless beauty is far more artistically fulfilling as a design concept that synthetic modernism.

Now, if it could only they could take the next logical step and embrace full-figured femininity as a harmonious compliment to that those principles of timeless beauty, then the results would be wondrous indeed.

The natural allure of Lindsey Garbelman:

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