+  Edited and photographed by Iké Udé, author of Style File. Selected as one of Vanity Fair’s 2009, 2012 and 2015 International Best Dressed Originals.  +

special guest/ CHIU-TI JANSEN talks about her 5th OUTFIT: 5 in 15 acts





What items did you use to compose this particular outfit?
-Madeline Gruen custom-designed tiered structure silk charmeuse gown in shades of purple, lavender and lilac organza covered horsehair
-Pink and white crystal drop earrings
-Prada midnight blue and silver ombre sequined sandals

How did you arrive at the decision to compose such an outfit?
Not another strapless mermaid gown! So I asked Madeline to work on a top-heavy dress, contrasted with form-fitting bias-cut flowing skirt with generous godets.
We originally designed the dress with fitted long sleeves, but later we made the sleeves detachable to reveal the long slim arms.
As a member of the Board of the Couture Council at the FIT Museum, I believe in investing in young talents. Having built a collection of contemporary art and nourished a number of young artists, I consider myself the fashion/art equivalent of an angel investor in the world of finance, except that I do not measure my success by financial returns. Believing in talents before they are discovered or recognized by the world means taking risks. Without the guidance of critical discourse or market forces, one has to trust one’s own instinct.

Did you compose this outfit spontaneously or was it planned ahead of time? 
This pre-contemplated dress evolved significantly from its drawing stage.

On a scale of 10, how pleased are you with this composition/outfit? 

What roles do color, the fit, and integrity of fabric play in this particular outfit? 
The hand-sewn purple sequins add shine and depth to the rich shades of lilac and lavender. The top is almost translucent in the light, like the wings of a dragonfly.

How soon would you repeat/wear this same outfit again?
I would wear them with the detachable sleeves.

There is perhaps a spiritual, emotional, intellectual or psychological aspect to the what/how we dress. What is your personal experience in relation to this outfit?
The upper bodice makes torso the center of attention. It reminds me of a Russian Futurism show that I saw at the Guggenheim Museum years ago. At that time, I was amazed by how Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural design lent itself to the display of Futurism’s aesthetics, as the gallery spiraled upwards in a progressive continuity.


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