TIES: GREG LEONG WITH TRUDY HUMPHRIES

An article for Remade Fashion Show by Deb Malor

Trudy Humphries has been in Greg Leong’s closet. It is a treasure trove for someone who works with textiles, as does Trudy, as the contents have been accumulated by another artist to whom textiles are central to their practice, in Greg. I can see them together, feeling each garment-as-fabric between thumb and forefinger, talking colour, pattern, texture, cut and embellishment. Thinking possibilities for remaking.

An email arrives from Trudy, with images attached of the haul (a “small plastic bag”) from just two of Greg’s closets: “items that currently swing, loiter, and await physical melding … the ideas are coming together with the items offered”.

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Image by Trudy Humphries

Even this point has been reached through some sort of curatorial consensus, of two practitioners with long experience of each other’s ways of working treading through and around the stories and memories each closet holds. The word “exotic” comes up a number of times, in reference to the costumes, to unique printed wearable objects (hardly the usual image of “clothes”), even to cast-offs and unfinished pieces. Amongst the lushness of the collection, choices must be made – for Trudy, to limit the scope of what she can re-make in a short amount of time; for me, what I might take from Trudy’s images that will encapsulate this private curatorial practice and its potential outcome.

I find something of Trudy’s project, of Greg’s closet, in a photograph of ties, neckties, insinuating themselves together like snakes in basket. Towards the top of the pile, labels. Some belong to fashion houses of known style but here in surprising relationships: Hardy Amies, meet Versace. All carry stories, some of which we can only guess. Like the stories the ties appear almost chaotically entwined, which only goes to enhance the patternings, to stress the strength of design, the seriousness of choice. Tone on tone, blocks and lines, textures for hand and eye. Each tie, in its individuality, shows the purposefulness of its owner, Greg’s eye for the tie that (visually) binds an outfit together and yet is in itself an object with integrity, of beautiful design. Right down to the label.

What will the finished item look like, this remaking? How will its required “ex-ot-eekness” (thank you, Trudy, for that one) be expressed? Certainly there will not be “leather, fur, or pale and pastel tones”, rather I’m expecting strong juxtapositions of form, colour, pattern – the bundle of ties writ large. A touch of Vivienne Westwood, perhaps – certainly a sense of design that extends any ‘eekness’ into some sort of formal and refined madness. Eyecatching; intelligent; simultaneously refuting and celebrating any labels that have been let out of the closet for remaking.

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