A Fashionable Perspective: Kaleidoscopic Animalia

Kaleidoscopic: made up of a complex mix of elements, multifaceted

Animalia: animals are organisms within the kingdom of Animalia – Latin

Currently, the Glenbow’s Artist in Residence is a Canadian-born, internationally acclaimed fashion designer, Paul Hardy. His collection, Kaleidoscopic Animalia, brings a new layer of complexity to Calgary’s ever evolving and flourishing fashion + arts scene. It transports you back to significant eras of time within a whimsical metaphoric dimension, addressing man’s complex relationship with animals and it’s societal and cultural influences.

The exhibit is laid out to represent a metropolitan city street with 15 unique window installations for viewers to stroll past and ponder, such as one of Tiffany’s or Bergdorf Goodman’s window displays on 5th Avenue in New York. Each window is labeled with a witty pun and contains elegant couture, historical artifacts and animals juxtaposed in a cultural setting representing a powerful symbolic connection between humans and animals as art, fashion and culture. Some of the different themes that Hardy explores and plays around with in his work is Pop Culture, the Fur Trade, Children’s Toys, Hunting game and Fashion Accessories.

Hardy does a fantastic job of pulling from his Canadian roots in this exhibit, taking the term ‘multiculturalism’ to a whole other level. You begin with the exhibit “Trapped in Tradition” which includes a map of Canada, products produced in each province/ territory and a mannequin dressed in an elegant gown created out of the classic Hudson’s Bay wool blanket. Through his exploration of different time periods and cultures he always ties in Canadian heritage to each window and theme, representing our diverse and unique traditions that have been crafted over time.

At the heart of each story that is told, is a beautiful piece of couture fashion; designed and curated by Hardy himself. Each fashion piece helps to tie the story together through the material it is made out of, the print on the textile or even the way the mannequin is positioned within a plethora of rich colors and textures. Hardy used many different types of textiles to show the influence that animals have had on the fashion industry and how they have been utilized in items, such as a beaver top hat, leather moccasins, skirts made out of feathers and fur jackets. The amount of detail that is accounted for is incredible, making each look luxurious and chic as if the mannequins just stepped out of a time capsule and onto the runway.

What I loved most about this exhibit, other than the stunning couture fashion pieces, was each exhibit’s ability to tell a different story, sparking different conversations and prompting challenging questions about time and culture. It was exhilarating to stand in front of each window and be taken on a thought provoking journey to a different time and place.

If you have not had the chance to check out this glorious exhibit I suggest you do before September 5th, 2016 you will definitely not regret it.

Trapped In Tradition

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Artificial Tundra

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Beyond The Looking Glass

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Everything Isn’t Always Black And White

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Harvie’s Blue Plate Special

On With The Show…

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Homestretch

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G’ma’s Curio Cupboard

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“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”- Edgar Degas 

xoxo Kristy

Photos by Kristy Archibald

To write this article I used different documents and descriptions provided by the Glenbow Museum. Read more on each individual window and the exhibit overall here.

Learn more about Paul Hardy and the other unique fashion lines and collaborations he has done here.

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