NY Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2012 seems so far away now, yet one show remains on my mind. Imitation of Christ by Tara Subkoff is the one that I will remember. The dress that ended the show worn by Lydia Hearst was a wedding dress partially made out of glass. This was a collaboration with Ivan Lee Mora. Ivan happens to be a friend so I lucked out getting some backstage images and an interview from him.
SYD & PIA: When and how did you know that working in glass is what you wanted to do?
IVAN LEE MORA: I was a 19 years old painter that was experimenting with mixed media when I wandered into the glass studio at my Art School. I saw people playing with what looked like hot lava….I was hooked! I elbowed my way into the glass program (no easy task) and I’ve been working with glass now for over 10 years.
S&P: What inspires your creativity?
ILM: I am inspired by patterns and forms in nature…I see inspiration almost everywhere…especially in this city and that has a lot to do with fashion..NYC is full of the most beautiful women from around the world and they express themselves in a very sexy and sophisticated way…the feminine form has a direct connection with the organic beautiful line so often seen in nature….organic life like flowers and women represent the true connections of life and this inspires me to create.
S&P: How has your work developed through out the years?
ILM: To look retrospectively at my technique shows me that I have moved away from being a purist in the glass arts. I don’t only blow glass. I am in love with the material and work many different techniques. I am now casting glass, slumping/fusing glass, glass painting, glass carving, and mixing other materials into the work. This allows me more ways to express my thoughts. My work is moving from a very organic sculptural form to a very figurative form… I can feel that my roots as a painter are returning to me. I want to be more narrative with the art I create…there’s a lot to be said of this specific time we live in.
S&P: Tell us about your collaboration with Imitation Of Christ, from concept to actual day of show.
ILM: Mid-August Tara Subkoff approached me about creating a glass wedding dress for her IOC show. My series of Glass Corsets led her my way. We had a Brunch meeting at La Esquina… we were armed with sketchbooks, iPads, and strong coffee. She showed me her 20s inspired fashion sketches and I love that era! I showed her some of my work (e.g. corsets with lace pattern carved into glass) and she loved it. We brought all our ideas together and I sketched out the final design. A lot of sleepless nights, an earthquake, and a hurricane later…we had a beautiful glass wedding dress! Working with Tara was wonderful…she is really an artist at heart.
The whole process was a wild whirlwind full that really helped me push glass art into a new level. The show went so smooth and was so elegant…it started with a lusciously haunting and live acapella version of Billy Idol‘s “White Wedding“. It was beautiful and I was simply amazed by all the work…I loved every piece of Tara’s…so sexy and elegant. A very brave and striking use of exquisite vintage lace that was reconstructed into a modern silhouette without pushing it out of its original elegance…superb!!
S&P: What was one of your biggest creative challenges with the piece you created for the show?
ILM: There were so many obstacles and intense moments due to time constraints… Tara being stranded in Spain during Hurricane Irene prevented her from arranging a model to work with….which is one of the most important aspects to create a custom glass piece. I needed to create a mold of whatever body would be wearing it. When Tara got back State-side she quickly worked some magic and got Lydia Hearst into my studio. Lydia, is a very lovely women and unafraid of anything….she didn’t even grimace when she was required to lather vaseline all over her body. Lydia is so TINY!!! 21 inch waist!! She is 5’8″ and has one of the more beautifully sculpted bodies I have had the opportunity to work with. Very strong…she is currently learning Ariel Silk Dance. After we got all the vaseline and plaster off her she was off and running for another project… very fun process but the timing was very tight…I only had 6 days to make some magic happen after that!
Everything of course took to the last moment…I arrived at the Union SQ “W” Ballroom at 1:20pm …coincidentally at the exact time Lydia arrived…we both gave a quick “oh shit we’re late smile” and ran inside. I will always remember how dramatic it all was…I sandwiched her inside the glass dress while another dresser slipped a beautiful lace slip over her and the rest is fashion glass history.
THE WEDDING FINALE FOR THE SHOW:
S&P: any project(s) down the pipeline that you want to share?
ILM: My most immediate project will be with Tara Subkoff in early December…more details to come … then I’ll be showing my latest body of work at the Berengo Gallery in Murano, Italy! Very Excited!! This Gallery has shown works by a wide range of artists from Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, and even Pharrel Williams.
S&P: Do you have representation in the US and outside the US?
ILM: I was represented by Strychnin Gallery in New York and EU for the last two years. I am now self represented and collaborating with a new Luxury Lighting Company to design a line of High End Glass Chandeliers.
S&P: Where do you exhibit? tell us about your first show
ILM: My first NYC show was at the Madison Avenue Steuben Gallery last year with Urban Glass. I debuted my series of wearable Glass Corsets with a fashion show that was heavily slanted towards the prohibition era. There was live old – style jazz and the beautiful models wearing my work really encompassing the mood perfectly…it was a great time and turned a lot of heads. Berengo Studio in Murano, Italy will be the soonest anybody can view an exhibition this March.
S&P: If you were not a glass artist, what field would you be in right now and why?
ILM: I’d probably be a “Smoke Jumper”…I’ve always admired the heroism of Firefighters and merging that with jumping out of airplanes sounds pretty great.
To see more of Ivan’s work, please visit his website at :