LA Now Lecture Series
February 18 2020
Lun*na Menoh, 2001, A Ring Around The Collar, the Wedding Dress, used men's dress shirts.
Fashionista, always “too busy,” with eccentric music taste and exhibitions galore, Lun*na Menoh is truly a prismatic vision. Lun*na Menoh grew up in Japan in the hometown, Mojiko. Here, her environment was dictated by the culture of how, “artists are only artists in Tokyo if they make money.” I believe this is not a quality that should ever be considered when discussing the validity of the artist. Yet, following the Japanese mindset, money equals fame and fame equals power, so in Tokyo you are only an artist if you have the power of recognition propelled in an audience setting by the reactions of the viewers. This immediately creates a barrier between the artist and onlooker, while also devising a fraudulent system - seemingly unknowing to the average viewer, yet painfully obvious to those who identify the push and pull of social trends. I believe it is important to categorize, not quantify art.
Towards the beginning of her lecture, Lun*na touched on a story about a very important woman in her life who is also her namesake. She explained that while, “[she] makes her clothes, [Louisa] reads poetry” and this creative connection “changed her life.” She views fashion as “art in performance” and she exhibits this through her latest project, The Sewing Sisters. In this traveling performance, she combines music - made with the needle press of the sewing machine and the hum of the footer clicking through the fabric - “crazy fashion show” dance and all the objects in the room as props. After traveling to Tokyo to pursue an education in film, she realized she enjoyed working with wearables instead. Before the four months spent on the eighteen-minute Bolero of pins and needles, pushy-passionate Lun*na was assiduous in her approach to entering the industry.
Her decision to study film in Tokyo, eventually took her to New York where “[she] realized she didn’t know how to paint,” and she needed to “smash,” her artistic direction “first then reconnect,” the pieces. This launched her into the world of fashion and imagined “clothing as art.” So, she went to New York, and there she found the Fashion Institute of Technology. Lovely Lun*na called the MOMA and explained that “[she was] from Tokyo and [she] needed to speak to the curator.” Lun*na used her wit to wager her way onto the LA art scene, which worked out well as the curator’s response was,” you are going to be part of the London show.” Her story is the epitome of Bauedelaire’s ideas about going out into the world to create something new. This was to be her “big start” and it began with joining the Fashion x Surrealism fashion show. For her very “first fashion show,” Lun*na depicted the history of costume design in sheer floating garments in which her words wrapped around the body. These pieces floated from a track on the ceiling and hung like ghosts until the models added life to her historical timeline. This piece, along with the multitude of other shows she has since put on, highlight her artistic intuition, drive, and her obsession with creating art as a spaz-with-pizzazz.
To me, Lun*na seemed to weave the backbone of the phrase, “and then I did ____,” to progress her story throughout the entire speech. Fantasy-like, her life shimmers and sparkles like the spotlight she has created for herself. She, like designers such as Iris van Herpen, continues to push the envelope of innovation in the fashion industry. Whether it be the hundreds of white sweat-stained collared shirts or the countless 3D printed plastic models for Herpen’s collection innovators of this kind, drive the industry by utilizing these new technologies to create a new way for garments to move. Truly, the goal to create “dresses that move with life,” as Lun*na exclaimed, was achieved. With this ingenuity, these creative minds open the sky for a new range of reactions from their audience with their flair for foresight in material and construction.
“I have learned when I make something I have to make sure to measure the door first.”
Here are a few photographs I took from an exhibition I attended in Grand Rapids, Michigan at the GRAM in October of 2016.
And here is the lovely Lun*na in 2000...