Soapbox Savings: Symphonic Stylings, June 23

Managing Editor’s Note: Soapbox is the media sponsor of Symphonic Stylings. Click the link above to receive a discounted ticket ($35 instead of $50) to Symphonic Stylings and confirm your Soapbox subscription at the same time.

Jonathan Sears sits in his one-room office with 10,000 square feet of event space on his mind.

There’s not really a word for his role in this weekend’s Symphonic Stylings, an event that combines vintage and modern fashion, visual art and music (of the classical and dance party variety) in an electric warehouse in Northside.

“Curating was the easy part,” says Sears, co-founder of ParProjects, a community arts center in the making, and mastermind of the Factory Square Arts Festival last year. All ticket and beverage sales will benefit the non-profit arts center, which is still raising the $60,000 needed for its first phase of building and development.

Sears got the idea last fall for an event that mixed the work of visual artists with a fashion show, an event that would incorporate classical music and even a DJ. He won a grant from Artswave to hire members of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and started working with artists and fashionistas to round out the evening's agenda.

“The idea is to force people to start paying attention to art via different avenues,” says the artist who likens his Stylings’ duties to those of a project manager.

He lined up visual artists, including Susan Byrne, who will exhibit “lingerie flags,” political statements made of cast paper; and Rob Wolpert, who is creating a 16-foot wide installation of more than 1,000 pieces of translucent cloth that visitors can walk through.

Sears also invited two East Coast artist friends with whom he’d worked before. One is Billy Colbert, whose video projections will document the role of mannequins in modern society.

The other, Dana Ayanna Greaves, will bring her ARTAYA fashions to Cincinnati for the first time. Erykah Badu and Jennifer Hudson wear clothes she describes as “culturally curious.”

Contrast those fashions with vintage pieces selected by Emily Buddendeck, owner and operater of NVision, a Northside boutique.

She’s culled from the estate collection of a local fashion diva who mingled with the likes of Ingrid Bergman during her career with Prince Matchabelli. Though the woman died 15 years ago, her family held on to the designer pieces until last fall, when Buddendeck got them.

She’s also pulled out high-fashion items she’s owned for much longer, pieces she’s saved from the sales floor for just such an occasion—what will be the only fashion show she takes part in this year.

Combinations range from variations on the little black dress to lingerie to Hollywood glamour items from the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. “For me, it’s finally getting to see these things I’ve held back for so long on a runway and on a body,” Buddendeck says.

Duru Armagan of Sloane Boutique makes her Cincinnati fashion show debut, providing hers-and-his paired stylings in partnership with high-end menswear designer, Cincinnati-based Jonathan Mezibov.

Sears’ concept offered a fresh opportunity in the local fashion scene. “They wanted to use fashion to have a dialogue with the art on display,” Buddendeck says. “Something like this is an opportunity to tell people to step it up.”

The NVision owner was also swayed by the chance to work with artists from the CSO, something she’d never done before.

The four CSO members who will perform are also members of concert:nova, the local chamber group with an evolving roster of rock-star musicians who use unusual performance spaces and unexpected collaborations to illuminate classical music. Ixi Chen, a CSO clarinetist and acting artistic director of c:n, took on the challenge of curating the music for the event.

“I love that Jonathan envisioned a classical music setting for his fashion show event,” Chen says. “We have not previously partnered with fashion designers, and I’m looking forward to sharing the runway with the designs and models.

"Talk about bringing art to life—to bring these vastly different worlds together is brilliant, and really, is at the heart of the ideas behind c:n performances.”

Chen worked with the musicians to create a program of Haydn and Ravel to accompany the fashions, which she says range from “traditionally formal to funky, to vintage and handmade.”

She also looks forward to hearing the music in the “found space” of the Bertke Electric warehouse in Northside.

“This space is impressive,” says Sears, who had originally planned the event for a much smaller venue. Support from Bertke, though, saved the day when the original space was booked on the one Saturday in June when CSO musicians could play.

Sears plans to take advantage of it, including leaving lots of room for DJ Pillo to end the night with a dance party.

Considering the number of moving parts involved in producing this fund- and consciousness-building event, his expectations remain simple and clear.

“I would like people to leave knowing they’ve experienced something they haven’t before,” he says.

Click the link below to receive a discounted ticket ($35 instead of $50) to Symphonic Stylings and confirm your Soapbox subscription at the same time.

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