It's 10 in the morning, and Daniel Chimowitz already simmers with energy. He speaks with an impassioned flair that accentuates a hint of a twangy West Coast accent. (The London-born international artist and fashion designer grew up in San Francisco.) Mere minutes in conversation with Chimowitz pass before a moment of reckoning dawns on his companion: People who find themselves in the artist's company never grow bored.
Chimowitz's audacious, engaging charisma complements an equally daring creative repertoire. "Style is for yourself. When I dress, I only try to make myself grow. I don’t care what anyone thinks about what I’m wearing," Chimowitz proclaims, "because that's all that fashion should be about — taking risks for yourself."
With little warning, he launches into a string of analogies, one linking to another in an abstract train of thought.
Chimowitz's communication approach is a lot like his style. The artist combines graffiti art and painted images with hand-sewn clothing to produce what he calls "walking canvases." A fitting label that doubles as the title of the designer's upcoming exhibit at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, "Walking Canvases," is the fashion designer's first museum show. But it's not his first fashion rodeo. His designs have been shown on the runways and in the galleries of Paris, London, Bejing, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, and Miami.
Headlining the museum's Miami Art Week offerings, the exhibition includes installations showing Chimowitz's antiestablishment, do-it-yourself fashion. Influences on his various fabrics originate from London, South Africa (where his forefathers migrated to in the 1900s), Latin America (from the designer's mentors in California), Alaska's indigenous Tlingit community (a nod to one of his mothers), and his Polish and Jewish heritage (his other mom's ancestry).
If your head is spinning from that melting pot of ethnicities, fear not. What can be gleaned from his stories of trips across the globe and a background as extraordinary as they come is the vision of an artist seeking to revive a universal philosophy. "We’ve lost our warrior culture. The average man is disconnected from our past of being warriors, from being in the jungle... My pieces are about being a warrior."
The designer says his compositions are targeted to more than just one gender. "It's not just for men; it's also for women. It's them feeling like warriors and pretty and strong — an alpha. I guess that's what I’m trying to cultivate, an alpha person."
This wearable art isn't intended for the thin and pretty. His work is meant to be celebrated by those who don't measure up to rigid industry standards: "My fashion is not for 5-11, size 2 women." He proudly declares that his customers are "all shapes and sizes and ages." The transformative artist speaks to his mission of promoting self-confidence through what you wear. "I feel like there’s this stigma with fashion that you have to be young and tall and pretty to be fashionable. My favorite fashionistas are in their 80s or 90s!"
Allow your expectations of "Walking Canvases" to roam unchecked and free, much like the creator behind the exhibit. He has many plans for the event, including parking a fire truck in front of the museum and printing Willy Wonka-style golden tickets for potential night viewings. Chimowitz is committed to making this show an affair to remember, just like he's dead set on making fashion art accessible. He says one of the best parts is that the collection is interactive: Visitors can try on his works. "My mission is to transform people and to heal them," he says, "heal them through color therapy."
"Daniel Chimowitz: Walking Canvases." Through February 3, 2019, at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, 301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305-672-5044; jmof.fiu.edu. General admission is free for members, $12 for nonmembers.
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