8/01/2014

Fashion designer Vilma Mare a personal exhibit called "Independence in Vogue"

 Fashion designer Vilma Mare is having a personal exhibit called "Independence in Vogue" in Lithuanian contemporary textile gallery "Balta". It is a rear opportunity to see her fashion art installation in Kaunas, though designer had entered her works into major boutiques in  Lithuania - Vilnius, Kaunas, Klaipeda.

For over two decades Vilma Mare is living between two cultures and continents, studying and penetrating to the soul manifold ethnicities and subcultures. This latest full year she spent with her family in her native Lithuania, which she left since 1990. Vilma's plan is to repeat it every other year for the best development of her children and her own perceptions. Undoubtably such lifestyle does influence artists creativity. Besides nostalgic feelings one is exposed to the hottest by-coastal national issues  and is obliged to react w/ worldly responsiveness and consciousness.
Coming from one of the oldest cultures on earth, the Baltic civilization, she finds very limited references in the world's literature due to the recent past iron curtain, prolonged occupations by soviet and czarist Russia and a thousand year long catholic invasion, that extinguished, prohibited or ridiculed all indigenous rites and believes.Therefore Vilma Mare's theoretical aim is to recognize still alive ethnic traits and conceptually propagate them as essential links to the lost spirited perception of the universe. Author's creativity has profound connection to the Origin, she recognizes in contemporary oeuvre the need for the old world prudence.
Designer has organized a public event calling many outstanding Lithuanian ladies to pose for a photo shoot called "Sovereign Woman". Many high-end professionals enjoyed such role, but the star of the project became World Olympic champion, Silver medalist in Athens 2004 Austra Skujyte, who's image fulfilled the aspirations of a beautiful and identity strong woman. The artist achieved press recognition by expressing Austra's native poise and adding much versatility to her portrait. Hence the athlete was asked again to pose for a mythological character Egle, the Queen of the Serpents, who's spirit continues to live in Lithuanian mentality as an extraordinary female figure. This was the theme for Vilma Mare's personal exhibition.
Vilma was observing Austra as she trains a young generation of athletes in Kaunas track and field stadium and noticed a netting hung in the background for the safety reasons. Here the artist saw a perfect setting for a post-modern improvisation of this particular myth, where Egle, the youngest daughter of a fisherman, dwells on as a modern, strong, independent and highly in demand young woman (professionally. politically and as a "good egg", therefore not too far from the plot!).
The photo image embraced efficiency and tranquility, the powerful feminine state of elegance. Designer achieved it with customized and specifically designed clothes for the Olympic perfectionist Austra. With these accomplishments on hand, and the Day of Lithuanian Independence approaching, the name for the show "Independence in Vogue" was fit timely.
Artist Vilma Mare presented a new modern reflection of an ancient myth in heterogenous and multi-sensory manner and conveyed theoretical interpretations by influential ethnologists on the hangtags, that usually accompany new clothes. These quotations were taken from the series of studies on the subject by many scientists compiled in six heavy books. Notable folklore researchers discovered a number of cultural mythological symbols and coherences: ethnologist Norbertas Velius noticed intonation of a ritual chant, accordingly this genre music echoed in the background of Vilma Mare's installation. N. Velius comments the symbol of fir (which is called herringbone in english)and serpent to be of fertility. Hence fir tree ("egle" in Lithuanian) has that power for the flora on earth, and the serpent - for the animals and humans. Both personages have ties w/ green color (serpent's name is Zilvinas comes from zalias, that means vegetation and green color) which represents life, nature's cycles and verdure. These facts were very important to the artist, therefore manifested in the coloration of the outfits: warm and cold greens, navy matched w/ turquoise, also white and grey (identifying water, earth and air elements), coding for Zilvinas, the Lord of the Underwaters and his wife Egle a deep green cloak.
Historian and philosopher Juozapas Algimantas Krikstopaitis explained this fabulous plot as a tragedy of a mixed marriage where Egle is "normal" out of land, and Zilvinas - from the sea, the underworld). We may perceive nowadays a Lithuanian girl taking for a husband a foreigner and ambitiously keeping her identity or completely forgetting about her personal indigenous traditions. No doubt such associations are current and poignant in the search for an identity.
On the other hand explicationg her show, Vilma Mare was resting on writer Viktoras Katilius's thoughts about the culmination of the events, when Egle acts as an epic personage proceeded by her self-sacrifice and attachment towards her husband, a dedication that reminds us of particular heroic defense acts by Baltic women against the Crusaders. The author of this installation projects for spectators several semantic lines to elucidate.
Composition wise this fashion exhibit has installed 12 mannequins concentrically oriented around the center of the space. The mannequins easily turn around it's axes as a viewer may walk through the installation, carefully exploring the details, because the clothes are most important here, they have monumental, sculptural qualities and an authentic look. Predominantly suits or matching jackets w/ dresses. Tops and bottoms vary in length suggesting flexibility for contemporary formal attire. vests and vestments for a special occasion and accessories like capes, cloaks, wrist warmers, caps, hats, mantles, scarfs -they are all unified by one trace - a textural decor. Vertically oriented, rhythmical lines stitched into an intertwined composition, that helps shape and fit the silhouette, therefore decor is functional as pointed out by designer's motto. This key attribute hoists (exalts) Vilma Mare's clothing design and makes it easy recognizable among her coterie. As designer explains, she received an inspiration by studying ancient Baltic artifacts and recognized an integral aesthetic system  - a script of symbols, cosmological and semantic manifestations. By transferring them onto the boiled wool or rayon knit fabric (usual designer's choices) she originated her sartorial technique and aesthetics that she attributes to Baltic style. She also started embellishing textured seams w/ beads that luxuriously outlines them expressing the opulent image of Egle, the Queen of  Serpents.
Designer executed all exhibition pieces w/ a help of professional tailors and technical designers, many of them were her colleagues in Kaunas technical school of tailoring, that used to prepare sewers for the ateliers around the country. (This economic sector in Lithuania died out too at the end of the last century).

Overall accomplishments by Vilma Mare, artistic and technical, are considered impeccable.

The art critic


Dr. Raimonda Simanaitienė