Omega Workshop

  • Location:
    The Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts Project Space 323 W. 39th Street, 2nd Floor, NYC

Omega Workshop: An Experiment in Counter-Fashion

January 26 – March 10, 2018

At EFA Project Space, 323 W. 39th St., 2nd Floor

Opening Reception: Friday, January 26, 6–8 pm

EFA Project Space presents Omega Workshop, an exhibition that functions both as a survey of contemporary experiments in revolutionary and utopian dress, and as a laboratory for exploring alternatives to the current fashion system.

Curated by the Rational Dress Society

Artists: Carmen Argote, Elaine Byrne, Nick Cave, Sky Cubacub, Frau Fiber, Friends of Light, Abigail Glaum-Lathbury, Ruby Hoette, Project KOVR, Fawn Krieger, Jennifer Moon, Marloes ten Bhömer, Marisa Williamson, Andrea Zittel

Since the birth of fashion in the 19th century, counter-fashion—the practice of dressing to signal political solidarity—has been a site for critical intervention and utopian experimentation amongst activists, artists, and designers. Fashion is often mobilized to effect political change in moments of unrest. Omega, the last letter of the Greek alphabet, continues this tradition, suggesting clothing for “end times.” In Omega Workshop, our clothes are reconceived as an act of resistance in dark times—a collective reimagining of our relationship to dress.
For Omega Workshop, the members of the Rational Dress Society bring together artists, designers and activists who mobilize the language of clothing to critique the existing fashion system and offer alternatives. The exhibition will function as an archive and a laboratory, intended both as a tool to spur the production of future counter-fashion, and a resource for artists and designers interested in pursuing alternative dress. Omega Workshop features experimental garments that represent a variety of approaches. Included in the show are Andrea Zittel’s Personal Panel Uniforms, 1994, a uniform for daily wear based on the flat geometric designs of Soviet Constructivist fashion. Fawn Krieger’s 2016 project OUTFIT is a line of modular, unisex garments informed by the history of East German and Soviet mail order catalogues. Sky Cubacub’s Rebirth Garments represent a new movement in QueerCrip dress reform, gender- nonconforming wearables for people on the whole spectrum of gender, size and ability. Marloes ten Bhömer’s experimental footwear critiques the fetishistic portrayal of the high-heel shoe in cinema and mass culture; her work Bluepanelshoe, 2013, employs kinematic and anatomical studies of the female foot in motion, producing a new design that rejects traditional gender stereotypes.
Presented as a flexible studio, the exhibition and display will be combined with workspace and public discussion. Participants are invited to attend workshops to make their own experimental clothes and learn about the politics of the fashion industry (see list of public programs below.)

Omega Workshop coincides with New York Fashion Week, offering a necessary counterpoint to the consumer-driven spectacle of the industry in New York’s historical Garment District. The diminishing footprint of the Garment District, once the largest employer in New York City, is a direct result of the fast fashion economy. Dominated by fast fashion conglomerates such as H&M and Zara, producing massive amounts of cheap clothes at a rapid pace, contemporary fashion has become an industry whose labor practices and environmental impact are unethical and unsustainable. Clothes are the interface between the individual and society, and, as such, Omega Workshop proposes fashion as a site for critical intervention within consumer culture.

Press inquiries: please contact Meghana Karnik, EFA Project Space Program Manager at or 212-563-5855 x 229.

Kamiko / Japanese Paper Clothes with Daphne Mohajer Va Pesaran
Saturday, February 3rd, 12 – 3 pm
Practice the Japanese art of kamiko (clothes made from handmade washi paper), clothes made from handmade paper, with Tokyo-based designer and researcher Daphne Mohajer Va Pesaran.

Call to Sew a Transformational Soviet Hippie Poncho! with Frau Fiber
Sunday, February 4th, 12 – 5 pm
Learn about the history of the Soviet Hippies and make your own transformational poncho with artist and garment activist Frau Fiber.
In this workshop we will learn how paper can be made into a textile using traditional Japanese methods.

Copyright, Trademark and Sumptuary Law Panel Discussion
Wednesday, February 7th, 6 - 8 pm
Join designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury, artist Elaine Byrne and representatives from the NYU Intellectual Property Law Clinic to discuss the relationship between the history of sumptuary law (laws that attempted to restrict dress in order to maintain social control) and the similar function of contemporary copyright protections.

Fashion and Democracy Panel Discussion
Thursday, February 8th, 6 - 9 pm
Join the RDS, Political Science professor Joshua L. Miller, designer and theorist Otto von Busch, designer and garment activist Frau Fiber and Sky Cubacub of Rebirth Garments to discuss the relationship between fashion and social hierarchy. We propose counter-fashion as a democratic alternative to the current fashion system.

Make-your-own-JUMPSUIT with the Rational Dress Society
Saturday, February 10th and Sunday February 11th, 10 am – 4 pm
Learn to sew your own ungendered multiuse monogarment with the Rational Dress Society! After the workshop, we will throw away all of our clothes.

Unpick the Fashion System / Collage a Collection with Ruby Hoette
Friday February 16th, 10 am - 4 pm
During this workshop you will dissect a garment to reveal the possibilities hidden in its materials and construction. Using the resulting garment elements we will collectively collage a new fashion collection.

Forming a Worker Cooperative with Friends of Light
Saturday February 17th, 11 am - 2 pm
Worker cooperative ‘friends of light’ invites you to join them in thinking through the valuation of skilled labor involved in the production of fashion and textiles. In this 4-hour workshop, ‘friends of light’ will present their business and pricing structure, developed during a transformative 6- month course at the Green Worker Cooperative Academy in Bronx, NY in an effort to integrate their values, activities, and economic needs. Through reflection and discussion, participants will work to establish a realistic price point for their products or services by evaluating the cost structure of their current practice or business in relation to their values and economic needs. All are welcome, with a special invitation to artists, designers, and makers engaged in the production of fashion or textiles.

The History, Anatomy and Construction of a Pocket with Michaela Hansen
Sunday, March 4th, 12 – 3 pm
In this beginner-level sewing class, designer and historian Michaela Hansen will introduce participants to the hidden (feminist) history of the pocket. The workshop will culminate with the opportunity to add a pocket to an existing pocket-less garment of your choice.

Closing reception with performance by Rebirth Garments
Friday, March 9th, 6 – 9 pm
Join us for a closing event and prompt for the future with a performance by Rebirth Garments.

The Rational Dress Society is a counter-fashion collective founded by Chicago-based
designer Abigail Glaum-Lathbury and Los Angeles-based artist Maura Brewer. Together they produce JUMPSUIT, an open source, ungendered monogarment to replace all clothes in perpetuity. JUMPSUIT has been presented at venues including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Machine Project in Los Angeles and the Dome of Visions in Copenhagen. The Rational Dress Society is a 2016 recipient of a Cultural Economic Development Fund grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation in Los Angeles, and received an International Cultural Exchange Grant from the Swedish Art Grants Committee in 2015. Press includes the New York Times, the Guardian, the Huffington Post and Surface Magazine.

Omega Workshop is sponsored by The Garment District Alliance, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and GESSO.
EFA Project Space is located at 323 W. 39th St., 2nd Floor, NYC. Gallery hours: Wed - Sat, 12 - 6 PM