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[whitespace] Dressed for Art: Model Semberlyn Crossley shows off one of the Seventh Sense creations.

Photograph by George Sakkestad

Body Verse

The Seventh Sense Fashion Show creates art using the human form as substrate

By Julia Chiapella

AS APPEALING as the fashion industry can be, it often has its down side: fickle, expensive, dictatorial. Remove the industry, and the world opens up. In essence, that's what the Seventh Sense Fashion Show has been doing since its inception in 1997.

At this fashion show, there is no expectation to buy--no pressure to fit in. The nature of the beast is the human form as substrate: what adorns that form is undeniably the star. Performed for three nights starting Oct. 20, the Seventh Sense Fashion Show can be seen at the 418 Project, formerly the Santa Cruz Dance Gallery.

It's held aloft by 418 Project director Chip (no last name) and So Say We bistro owner David Jackman. Don't expect a skewering of the fashion industry. That isn't the point. "The show exists not as a satire on fashion or fashion shows," says Jackman, who directs the show.

"It exists," he continues, "as an exploration of the interface between fashion and identity. It's that moment where we translate what we're feeling into what we wear. What I like about the Seventh Sense is that artists who work in another medium can participate in this show and this form, and do something they've never done before."

The results speak for themselves, Jackman indicates, as he cruises through the computer files of costumes from previous years. And it would seem that just about anything goes, although Jackman claims absolute creative control.

There is, for instance, no room for demeaning material. "This is not a forum for political statement," says Jackman, who implies that the essence of the event gave rise to its moniker. "The Seventh Sense doesn't perceive things from the outside and translate them to the inside. It perceives them on the inside and translates them to the outside."

Translation? The Seventh Sense Fashion Show is a kind of poetry using the human body as the means by which to write the poem. At prior years' shows, there have been costumes fashioned out of silk organza and look-alike barbed wire actually constructed from silver leather. There has been a wearable table that opens up to reveal the host of a three-woman cocktail party. And there was the achingly simple gown adorned with 500 hand-sewn rosebuds that wrapped around the torso while the bottom of the gown revealed a weaving of prickly thorns.

Parasol Fantasy: The Seventh Sense Fashion Show highlights some creative solutions to dressing up, as model Semberlyn Crossley demonstrates.

Photograph by George Sakkestad

This year, 27 presentations by 10 artists will glide down the runway for the formally attired audience. With an emphasis on glamour, the Seventh Sense Fashion Show features a surprise offering for guests at intermission, as if the fashion seen here isn't surprise enough.

Last year, Marrysch Mozdierz designed a piece that included swarms of silvery fish projected onto the backdrop as two dancers--dressed in layers of swirling veils and lit a deep indigo blue from within--swam across the catwalk only to ultimately shed their skin as the lights brightened. Add to all this creative imagery a bonanza of technical wizardry that includes the possibility for fiber optics, reflective backdrops and some top-notch lighting design and the Seventh Sense Fashion Show comes out one of the more experimental art events of the year.

Jackman says the spectacle regularly sells out the day before the opening. So grab that feather boa from the back of the closet. Outside of your charity ball, the Seventh Sense Fashion Show is the sassiest place to wear it.

The Seventh Sense Fashion Show takes place Friday-Saturday (Oct. 20-21) at 8pm and Sunday (Oct. 23) at 7pm at 418 Front St., Santa Cruz. Tickets are $12 (545.9547) (Full Disclosure: Metro Santa Cruz is one of the sponsors of this event.)

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From the October 18-25, 2000, 1999 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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