Joan Spain Gallery, first floor, Perelman Building
“ Almost all of what's out there today has some element of Patrick in it.” Gerlan Marcel, 2013 The legacy of the late African American fashion designer Patrick Kelly (c. 1954–1990) endures in the whimsical street-wear brand Gerlan Jeans. Launched in 2009 by New York–based designer and graphic artist Gerlan Marcel (born 1976), Gerlan Jeans reinterprets Kelly's signature bows, buttons, and other bold embellishments to create clothes for men and women "who have a sense of fearlessness in the way they dress." Similar to Kelly's fashions, which were inspired by the designer's Mississippi childhood, Gerlan Jeans reflects Marcel's Midwest upbringing, in particular her teenage experiences with American mall culture and admiration for 1980s and 1990s jeans brands such as Esprit and Benetton.
A graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London, Gerlan Marcel honed her talents working for Jeremy Scott and Patricia Field, among other designers. As with Kelly's clothes, Gerlan Jeans reveals Marcel's extensive knowledge of Western pop culture, from the fluorescent green, slime-covered designs of its Mall Witch Spring/Summer 2012 collection (inspired by Nickelodeon's hit TV show You Can't Do That on Television) to the appropriation of Disney's Minnie Mouse as the muse for its polka-dotted, bow-dazzled Gerl Power Spring/Summer 2013 line.
Marcel's admiration for Kelly and his provocative collections ("All his energy as a designer is in every single piece") is seen not only in Gerlan Jeans' creative use of Kelly's trademark motifs, but also in its imaginatively printed fabrics and love of fully accessorized, head-to-toe dressing, all presented with a sense of humor: "I'm very, very serious about taking myself less seriously."
In addition to Gerlan Jeans designs, this exhibition will showcase videos of Patrick Kelly's high-spirited runway shows, a complement to the exhibition , concurrently on view in the Perelman Building's Special Exhibitions Gallery.
Laura Camerlengo, Exhibition Assistant in the Department of Costume and Textiles