EMPEROR NEW CLOTHES
Object:ANDRÉ COURRÈGES organza semi-transparent mini dress (2011)
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s short tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, American artist Charles Ray assigned a group of actors / models to be photographed ‘in imperial nakedness’, convinced of the beauty of their imaginary apparel. The artist borrowed elements from this cautionary tale in order to examine the power of fashion, branding and art and how it can occasionally mislead people.
The artist aims for that youthful clear-sightedness found in the 1837 story. When the Emperor paraded naked before his subjects – with clothes supposedly invisible to anyone who is incompetent or stupid-, everyone seemed to admire the craftsmanship of the garments. Only when a child cried out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” did the public admit the truth. The crucial question that both writer and artist raise, is how many of us dare to use this clear sighted knowledge and admit that many of the things around us are without substance.
Charles Ray chose to keep his selection for the 2011 destefashioncollection invisible, apart from one vintage André Courréges semi-transparent mini dress. According to the artist, “this see-through dress is the only real fragment of the emperor’s new wardrobe”. Brief descriptions of the rest of the items are included in a caption found in the last page of the booklet “The Emperor’s New Clothes”, designed by Charles Ray for the 2011 destefashioncollection.