City Island

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Willi Smith for WilliWear, City Island Spring 1984 Presentation, 1983, from Cooper Hewitt on Vimeo.
Runway video produced by Paul Tschinkel, video art by Nam June Paik.
Courtesy of Paul Tschinkel, Inner-Tube Video.

Smith’s Spring 1984 City Island collection presents his “total understanding and involvement in contemporary art and lifestyle.” Smith and Mallet commissioned video artist Nam June Paik to create a runway experience that mixed cutting-edge video graphics with WilliWear’s everyday basics. Paik’s work deconstructed and repurposed the television—the primary structural unit for mass communication—while Smith’s affordable basics and accompanying home-sewing patterns for McCall’s provided a toolkit for consumers to mix, match, accessorize, and even recreate runway looks withtheir own fabric choices, undermining seasonal trends of the fashion system.


An audio-described version of the video can be found here

00 04

From the archives of Paul Tschinkel’s Inner-Tube


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Nam June Paik and Willi Wear—Puck Building, SOHO—October 31, 1983’


00 17

Three female fashion models dance down a U-shaped runway wearing headscarfs, strapless bikini twist tops, and high-waisted patterned skirts over knee-length capri pants. They dance off the runway.


00 28

Our view from the audience pans up from the runway to focus on a row of TV screens which feature live images of the fashion show.


00 36

Approaching us on our left, a model swaggers onto the runway past stacks of live televisions. She wears a bikini twist top, baggy tapered pants, and an open pleated dress shirt. The pants and shirt feature the same pattern of colorful squares on white fabric.


00 50

Two more models in matching outfits join her on the three-sided runway. They walk toward us on the left, spin at the first corner, then cross the runway from our left to our right.


01 04

One of the models shrugs the oversized shirt off of her shoulders, exposing her patterned bikini twist top. The models pause and spin at the second corner, then walk away from us, exiting on our right through a spilt in the slate-blue backdrop.


01 18

Three more models enter on our left, spinning in unison.


01 24

They wear long pleated skirts with the same pattern of colorful squares.


01 34

As they make their way to the exit, we quickly scan to the left where the next models enter.


01 42

A model with teased-back hair and rainbow makeup on one side of her face prances in pleated patterned pants and a white shirt with rolled-up sleeves.


01 54

Behind her, another model wears a gray blouse, gray pleated pants, and matching headscarf, all featuring the same pattern of colorful squares.


02 03

Another model wears a white shirt and headscarf in the same pattern, and gray pleated pants which taper at the ankles.


02 16

We scan the dark room, catching glimpses of the televisions and dim flashing lights.


02 22

Live-streamed footage is displayed on the slate-blue backdrop, which features images of the models as they enter the room. A bright white spotlight follows two female models who wear flowing pleated skirts and headscarfs in the colorful square pattern.


02 42

They spin at the corner on our left, then shimmy to our right across the front of the U-shaped runway.


02 53

They wear knit tops with off-the-shoulder necklines and buttons down the back.


03 05

They make their way off the runway shimmying their hips from side to side.


03 15

Another woman spins onto the runway wearing white pants and a long white top which is open at the back like a hospital gown.


03 26

Behind her, a man walks the runway in a hat, a T-shirt, an open pinstriped dress shirt with a popped collar, and pinstriped pants—all in white.


03 37

Another man enters wearing a fabric porkpie hat, pinstriped blazer, dress shorts and socks—again, all in white.


03 50

He stops at the corners and poses with his hands in his pockets.


03 57

A man and a woman enter together. He wears loose white capris pants and a tan short-sleeved polo shirt, and she wears patterned shorts and a white dress shirt with a popped collar. Images of other models appear on the dozens of televisions which are lined up and stacked around the room.


04 25

Photographers with flash units mounted on their cameras line the outer edge of the runway, snapping pictures of the passing models.


04 41

A camera operator stands near the left corner of the runway aiming a boxy shoulder-mounted television camera at two female models. One wears an oversized dress shirt and bracelets up her forearm and the other wears a bright orange blouse and matching headscarf.


04 58

The overhead televisions feature an image of the moon floating across a digital grid.


05 12

Two women cross the runway wearing white overalls that expose their bare backs and shoulders. A third model follows in a similar outfit.


05 32

On the overhead TVs, images of the models are shown against a background of shifting computer graphics.


05 43

Two models cross the runway in loose-fitting jumpsuits that have popped collars and rolled-up sleeves.


05 56

They follow a third model who wears a similar outfit with short pants—a romper.


06 03

Three models cross the runway wearing loose-fitting garments in the colorful square pattern, and sleeveless white knit tops with cowl necklines.


06 20

The overhead televisions feature images of the models in diamond and circle patterns.


06 40

Similar images projected onto the backdrop feature a model in a yellow headscarf, tied at the front.


07 00

The model steps onto the runway wearing a flowing skirt, bikini twist top, and long sheer wrap, all in the same neon yellow of her headscarf.


07 16

A pair crosses the runway. He wears a white hat, sleeveless T-shirt, sneakers, and brick-orange pants that match the color of his partner’s skirt, bikini top, and sheer wrap.


07 29

The next model also wears a flowing skirt, bikini twist top, and sheer wrap, all in pale powder blue. Following her is a male model who walks to the beat with his hands in his pockets. He wears baggy pale blue pants with exposed white socks, a sleeveless white T-shirt, and a white fabric porkpie hat worn back on the crown of his head.


07 58

Another pair approaches. The man wears a sleeveless white T-shirt, white porkpie hat, and baggie khaki pants. The woman with him wears a layered, flowing skirt, strapless bikini twist top, sheer wrap, and tied headscarf, all in mustard yellow. They amble across the runway, more subdued than most of the models.


08 25

Another pair crosses the runway wearing similar clothes, with the woman’s burgundy outfit matching the man’s pleated pants. The phrase City Island is written across the man’s white T-shirt in an informal font.


08 49

A female and male model enter. She wears a layered miniskirt over capris pants, a bikini twist top, thick socks, and a tied headscarf. He wears baggy pants and an open, oversized vest. Both are dressed entirely in white.


09 13

Another couple steps onto the runway, arriving through the exit on the right, dressed in the same outfits as the previous couple. They pass between their counterparts and stop at the corner to pose for the crowd.


09 33

As they make their way to our left the man pulls open his vest to expose his abs.


09 42

Another model shimmies onto the runway, quickly passing the couple. She wears a skirt of white gauze, a white bikini twist top, a tied headscarf, and a prominent white necklace.


09 57

She makes her way to the exit in white sneakers and socks, twirling several times.


10 04

All of the models parade across the runway in singles and in pairs, wearing examples of every style previously on display. On the televisions, the name Willi Wear flashes in white and green.


10 16

The racially diverse models applaud as they make their way around the U-shaped runway.


10 37

WilliWear continues to flash on the televisions as the models try to squeeze through the split in the slate-blue backdrop.


10 47

Televisions stacked in the shape of a W continue to flash the name WilliWear. Soon after, Nam June Paik and a woman share a microphone.


11 00

Nam June Paik is interviewed.


11 49

Clips from the fashion show are shown.


11 54

Nam June Paik and Willi Wear—Puck Building, SOHO—October 31, 1983


12 01

Paul Tschinkel

copyright 1983

Inner-Tube Video


12 12 Black screen


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