Life & Style: Dressed to Impress

SAM rejoins the fashion-exhibit trend with a stylish tribute to Yves Saint Laurent.
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The idea of fashion as artistic expression isn’t exactly new. But museums have latched on to it in a big way, ever since the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York surprised itself in 2011 with a record-shattering show on the work of the late fashion designer Alexander McQueen.

Fashion exhibits — as distinguished from fashion shows — are now all the rage in museumland. The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) mounted its first major fashion exhibit in 2013 with Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion. Bellevue Arts Museum closed a successful three-month run of Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair in August. EMP Museum has the eye-popping World of Wearable Art running through January 2, 2017. 

And now SAM is back with Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style. Colorful and stylish without being over the top — just like an Yves Saint Laurent design — the YSL exhibition provides via 110 outfits a thorough examination of the French designer’s 40-year career as high priest of haute couture.

The reason for such thoroughness is that Saint Laurent and his partner, Pierre Bergé, saved everything. From sketches and swatches to actual garments and accessories from each year Saint Laurent was designing — 1962 to 2002 — the SAM exhibit is a fashionista field trip.

Yes, the Mondrian cocktail dress from 1965 is here. Ditto the women’s tuxedo (1966) and the women’s pantsuit (1967), which helped move from outré to de rigueur the notion of women wearing slacks for dress-up occasions. Exhibit guest curator Florence Müller of the Denver Art Museum succesfully conveys Saint Laurent’s belief that garments should reflect attitude.

And whether the garments — even Saint Laurent’s exquisite pieces — move fashion from craft to art in the esthetical conversation is ultimately immaterial. As the fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi told CBS News when the Jewish Museum in New York City showed Mizrahi’s own work earlier this year, “Good work meets a level. … Good work deserves to be looked at.” 

Yves Saint Laurent: The Perfection of Style
Through January 8, 2017. Seattle Art Museum, 1300 First Ave.; 206.654.3100; seattleartmuseum.org.

Bright Idea: Mechanics Making House Calls

Bright Idea: Mechanics Making House Calls

Wrench wants to take the hassle out of car repair.
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Need a quick oil change? Maybe a complete tune-up? A year-old startup called Wrench dispatches a certified mechanic to your home or workplace and eliminates the hassle and cost of having to drop off your car at the car dealer or repair shop.
 
“We’re 30 percent cheaper than a dealership and on par with an independent shop,” says Wrench cofounder and CEO Ed Petersen. “But we’re more convenient.”
 
Petersen adds that the pitch to consumers is simple: “Our goal is to make owning your car completely hassle free.”
 
To request service, customers can visit Wrench’s website — getwrench.com — or they can use a smartphone app. Its most popular service is an oil change, which starts at $68. Wrench also offers memberships, which include quarterly visits for oil changes, tire rotations, safety inspections and fluid top-offs; memberships cost $14.95 a month for cars and $19.95 for trucks.
 
 
Last June, the Madrona Venture Group contributed half of a $1.2 million seed round. Managing Director Len Jordan says the big market potential, clear pain point and compelling solution sold Madrona on Wrench’s concept.
 
“We like the market opportunity,” Jordan says. “There are more than 120 million cars on the road that are more than three years old.”
 
So far, Wrench has serviced more than a thousand vehicles. Jordan says the startup is still in its infancy, so the focus is less on making a profit and more on establishing a presence. Demand, however, is apparent. Wrench expanded to car-happy Phoenix in November and is studiously eyeing other markets.
 
Wrench has a contract to service vehicles for Lyft, the ride-hiring service. And it hopes to expand its services to office and industrial parks; it already has deals with Bellefield Office Park in Bellevue and North Creek Business Park in Bothell.