Who doesn’t love denim?
In all its permutations and connotations, it’s a constant in our lives now, no longer just for the working slob, but the haute couture designer, the artiste and the Artist.
On one hand, it’s utility, conformity and cost effectiveness, on the other, it’s history, comfort and individuality.
As jeans, no matter the placement of a pocket, a waistline, a leg flare or not, everyone has them. We deliberately rip, stain and fray, cut and scribble on them, use them to rub out the ashes of our illicit smokes, and can place timelines in movies by the cut. (Guys in the 70’s may look silly with all that hair and the pointy collar shirts, but OH those jeans….)
Denim is a rugged cotton twill textile…in American usage since the late 18th century.
The word comes from the name of a sturdy fabric called serge, originally made in Nimes, France, by the Andre family. Originally called serge de Nimes, the name was soon shortened to denim.
Denim was traditionally colored blue with indigo dye to make blue “jeans”, though “jean” then denoted a different, lighter cotton textile; the contemporary use of jean comes from the French word for Genoa, Italy (Genes), where the first denim trousers were made. For a deeper dive into denim, check out this great post at Cottonworks.
Ol’ Serge is a popular companion in many studios. Thrift stores abound in racks of jeans, dresses, jackets and shirts that are fodder for many imaginations and treatments. The fabric is supple, homey yet modern, easy to manipulate, takes stitch treatments like nobody’s business and is perfectly acceptable as re-purposed clothing or cut, torn and transformed into new clothing or accessories, and innovative art.
Denim is often elevated to new heights, for example this incredible evening gown by Kevin Freeman aka Renaissance Couture:
And traditional Japanese clothing remade in denim by Rina Karibe:
No online info about Ms Karibe, but thank to Tatsuya Ishiguro for the images.
Denim can be dyed, discharged, stitched on by hand or machine, be clean and fresh looking, grungy and old, sexy or demure, shibori’ed or painted.
Denim is an increasingly popular medium for sculptural art. This installation by Jim Arendt is stunning as is his portraiture work.
It is fair to say that Denim is as much a part of textile art as it is fashion. It’s ubiquity and familiarity provoke instant affection for many people, and it’s great to see how diverse it has become as a medium for expression.
Art is in your Jeans, Genes, Genes/Jeans both applicable, Jean Jeanie!