2017 National Mature Media Award WINNER

2017 National Mature Media Award WINNER
The Creative Landscape of Aging Wins a NMMA Award!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Exploring the CREATIVE WORLD OF PLEATS in Art and Function

Pleats have a history and in their history they have served as a mechanical function and also as an art form. The construction of a pleat is simply consecutive multiple folds in a material that can be sustained when ironed, stitched or otherwise fastened to secure it in place. There are 12 different pleat styles that have been documented and they are often identified by the width of the pleat and their placement in a garment.
The virtue of a pleat is its compact nature and ability to expand which provides purpose in both utilitarian items as well as in fashion and art. Consider one of the earliest fashion statements was made by the famous pleated collar of Mary Stuart.  It was actually referred to as the “ruff” collar probably because it created a rippling of ruffles around the neck; it was detachable and supported by a wire frame.  In 1634, the Dutch painter Rembrandt painted a portrait of vanHaesje v.Cleyburg which beautifully exemplified the ruff collar. In the next century, the Scottish pleated kilt evolved and was used initially by the British Army and then became popular with everyone..
Fashion has always had a love affair with the pleat. In the early 1900s, Fortuny a Spanish designer who grew up in Paris, created the famous Delphos gown. It was a shift dress constructed from finely pleated silk with glass beads that weighed down the fabric while holding its shape and also allowing it to flow on the body. His genius was not limited to fashion design; over a period of 30 years he patented more than twenty inventions.

In the 1930s, pleats were styled on pants for both men and women and with film stars wearing this new style, there was a new buzz in fashion. Fast forward to the present and there is wonderful artful play with fashion using pleats by designer Issey Miyake which are extraordinary and sculptural. By translating the pleated garment as an art object with a mechanical approach, Industrial designer/mathematician Li-Rong Liao created a pleated paper dress which fans out and looks like a cross between a prom dress and a lamp shade yet is constructed with compelling elegance .

For functioning pleated products, there is the accordion instrument which arrived here in the 1800s. It became popular for dance music because it generated loud sound and amplifiers were not developed yet. More pleated products with a long history that manipulate air are the bellows http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bellows and the decorative hand fan (the oldest existing Chinese fans are bamboo and date back to the 2nd century BC). Using the pleat attribute of  efficient expansion, there are many products in many fields that can be identified. For example in the field of medicine, there is the surgical mask, the balloon catheter and even folded track doors separating room areas.

Yaacov Agam enjoys bridging art with technology. He is an Israeli artist who has generated work on canvas using the pleat to create a three dimensional approach to a two dimensional art form. He plays with illusion and color to engage the viewer. From each visual approach, the right, left and full front, every view holds a distinctly different play of colors, shapes and composition.

And finally there is the static pleat. Yes, a cemented pleat which is actually steps to a building but if it were in fabric it would be able to contract and expand. A wonderful example of this is the painted steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the Dali show. Each step was painted with a part of the entire image in sequence. From a distance, the eye reads and unifies all the steps as one flat painting..

So many pleats in so many ways in our world. Extraordinary. Functional. Artful. Visionary. You be the discoverer.

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