After a year of sweatpants and loungewear, and as the world starts opening up, our closets are beckoning again. A new immersive pop-up installation in Georgetown, Inside the Wardrobe, celebrates society’s return to dressing up.
The installation is one of the first post-pandemic events produced by Design Foundry, a DMV-based firm that specializes in creative events.
Annie Senatore, the firm’s creative director and CEO, describes the project as a “part art exhibit, part pop-up and part interactive selfie engagement.”
Senatore, who has a background in fashion public relations and marketing, says she was excited for her first project back to be on a subject she was already very familiar with. Senatore found inspiration for this installation in a unique place.
“Back in April, I saw a cartoon that was a woman sitting in front of her wardrobe closet saying, ‘Hi there, [old] friend, it’s been a while,” Senatore says. “Clothing is all about self-expression, right? I think after Covid, we are all reevaluating who we are.”
After a quick turnaround time of nearly five weeks, from conception to creation, the installation will feature 20 different interactive aspects, highlighted by a runway for guests to strut down.
When it came to planning the different themes and aspects of the installation, Senatore explains they had to start by exploring what they could accomplish with the available space — a 100,000 square-foot warehouse in Georgetown Park.
“And then it was how do I take that [space] and tie it into the broader story of what is in a closet and what are clothes,” she says. “So we peeled apart the clothing,” describing how they found different aspects like textures, fabrics, and patterns to focus on and build around.
After a year of being inside, Senatore says she wanted to create a visually engaging experience for visitors.
“I was looking to do something that was just beautiful because I was so sick and tired of looking at my own four walls.”
Once the team got going the ideas seemed to fall into place.
“Okay, well if we’re doing prints, we’re doing stripes, and we need to do frills, and then we need to do lace, and then we need to do wool,” she says, describing the process that brought about the colorful and engaging rooms that make up the installation.
From a daybed made out of vibrant florals, a black and white room covered with checks, stripes, the silhouettes of different garments, large screens that show a kaleidoscope of different patterns, and even large cartoon-like paper doll cutouts visitors can pose with, the exhibit allows visitors to be fully immersed in all the different aspects of a wardrobe.
The installation gives visitors many opportunities to take selfies and share their experiences on social media, something that Senatore believes goes hand in hand with fashion and style.
“If you’re expressing yourself via clothing then the perfect outlet for that is social media.”
But, she also wanted to make sure the exhibit offered more than just photo-ops; the installation will also shed light on some of the environmental impacts of the fashion industry.
“Fashion is a big problem. We didn’t want to be negative in how we talked about it, but, unfortunately, there is a lot of garbage that comes with fashion.”
Not only will guests learn about the harmful impacts of fast fashion, but they will also have the opportunity to donate their own gently used clothing.
Through Design Foundry’s partnership with Retold Recycling, visitors will be able to purchase a reusable bag for carrying their used clothing. Retold Recycling will then ensure the donated clothes end up going to local thrift stores, charities, or recycling companies instead of in a landfill. Additionally, a portion of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to the organization.
In the end, Senatore hopes visitors will walk away from Inside the Wardrobe inspired.
“To me, that’s what art should do, and I hope we did it well. Whether it’s a new outfit, a drawing, sketch, [or] lipstick, if we inspire somebody to go out and make something pretty somewhere, then I’ve done my job.”
Inside the Wardrobe will be open Thursday through Friday 5-9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. – 9 p.m. until August 29th. Tickets are available at Insidethewardrobe.com.
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