343 Dresses: Exclusive Q&A with L.A. Artist Mary Younakof


Mary Younakof’s interactive art project consists of 343 different colored dresses structured around the seven colors of the rainbow (ROYGBIV). Each of the seven dresses were expanded into 49 tones, totaling 343 different colored dresses. Throughout 2011, Younakof wore one of her colorful handmade dresses consecutively throughout the 343 days of the year and documented her experiences accordingly. The setting she chose to film the urban performance at was also consistent with the color of the dress she wore that day, and the objects she entertained herself with. Youkanof’s project highlights the colorful scenery of Los Angeles, the artistic side of fashion, and the playful child-like spirit in all of us.

We asked Younakof how she came up with the idea to develop 343 dresses structured around the seven colors of the rainbow?

I was interested in working with the idea of the rainbow. I started researching mythologies and all of the things associated with the rainbow, and theories surrounding the rainbow. At the same time I started to look to the city for inspiration, and realized that Los Angeles is a city of color, and I could use the setting as a background. I figured I could wear my dresses and live in the project 100% of the time.

What was is like wearing a different color of the same style dress for an entire year?

For 343 days I wore 343 colors and I never got sick of wearing my dresses, because I was putting on a new dress every day. It was almost like I had been shopping and had a new dress waiting for me every day. I would have never thought I could wear this color. It wasn’t about how it fit; it was always about the color. Some colors were so happy and I couldn’t wait to be outside.

How did people respond to you in the dress? How did people respond to the different colors?

Red: I started out wearing a very light pale red almost pink color and as I started traveling through my day to day project and I started wearing pink, people would wink at me or nod almost implying that it was cute.

Orange: What was happening when I was wearing orange was that people would stop me on the street and would talk to me and tell me stories that inspired them about the color orange from childhood.

Yellow: When I transitioned to yellow, people would howl or cheer at me. I got a lot of attention when I wore yellow.

Green: Green was really interesting because people didn’t know what to say, because 50% of the greens were really neutral greens, so I was very incognito. Then there were really bizarre color Shrek greens where people would look at me in surprise and say, “You are very green!”

Blue: These were very non-existent colors, nobody said anything to me, it was very quiet and it felt like a very long period, because a lot of people knew that I was in my project.

Indigo: I had a lot of people talk to me about what the color indigo actually is. It’s not a blue, but not quite a purple. Indigo was interesting and sparked a lot of conversations.

Purple: Purple was a favorite color of many people and people would come up to me and say, “Wow what a beautiful purple color.” A lot of people told stories about purple and shared that it is considered a royal color and a very highly regal and spiritual color. I felt very elegant in purple.

What color did you enjoy wearing most and why?

Originally red was my favorite color, but now it is orange. It was very endearing to hear about the impact that the color orange has in the lives of other people, and all of the history behind the color.


A repeat performance will take place Thursday May 17, at 7:15 p.m in space B-215 at the Pacific Design Center. Those that want to participate in the performance should arrive at 6:30 p.m. Interested participants can select a dress they would like to wear and can change into it in the coat-check area, B-239. The performance is 14 minutes long. 


The display of the 343 dresses can be viewed at the Pacific Design

Center, 8687 Melrose Avenue, West Hollywood, California 90069.

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