Scene & Heard: Best Foot Forward at the ICA's First Fridays

Scene and Heard: ICA's Fashion Forward
Ann-Marie Y Barrett

Like so many birds of paradise, Boston’s pretty young things and cultured grand dames flocked to the Institute of Contemporary Art for its First Fridays: Fashion Forward event.

I arrive with my friends and we beeline to the café for complimentary cocktails, weaving our way around clusters of stiletto-shod women and their dapper beaus, nudging past arms adorned in heavy, glinting jewelry, and ducking beneath dramatically balanced hats. Finally, we find our way, dazed and distracted, to the end of an idly-lounging line.

People are here to see and be seen and the mood is high. We exchange smiles and compliments with total strangers, the conversation flowing as freely as the drinks. At a fashion presentation, models strut—or hobble, knock-kneed—along the makeshift catwalk, showcasing looks inspired by the museum’s featured artists, Os Gemeos.

Afterwards, we join a guided tour of Os Gemeos’ exhibition. Balletic in both movement and speech, curator Pedro Alonzo gesticulates enthusiastically, referencing Aldous Huxley and MacGyver to explain the artists’ improvisational process and vision of expanding the realms of reality. Photographers who have buzzed and clicked their way through the museum gather downstairs among the mingling melée.

One photographer pulls us aside to take our picture in front of an intricate wall installation. Peeking at her notebook, I make out that we are titled respectively: Fish Dress, Beaded Dress, and Pink Shirt. We wonder if she has also taken photos of Slinky Knit Dress, Blue Steel, Python Print Pants, or George Michael After Bleach Job.

Cocktails melt into ice and water as chatter turns to murmur and, one by one, patrons flit away into the glittering Boston night.

On the waterfront steps outside the ICA, my friends and I sit for a while, trying to capture a sliver of frozen time to hold us together as we are in that moment. But the moment has already started slipping away—smudges of color, echoes of conversations, already a blur of memory.

I am reminded, this Friday night, of the opening lines of a Frank O’Hara poem:

Have you forgotten what we were like then/when we were still first rate/and the day came fat with an apple in its mouth

However, the next day, it is the closing lines that I repeat to myself, over and over again:

I wouldn’t want to be faster/or greener than now if you were with me O you/were the best of all my days