We expect the fashion coming out of London to push boundaries, and it does. But interestingly enough, men’s shows this season while still challenging, felt incredibly wearable. They were more mature, more thought through, concentrating on how the clothes translate to the street without losing sight of the message. And God did AW17 shows have strong messages…
We had the norm gender-bending, gender-defying message, a stable for British brands, but this time it was less gimmicky. It felt less of a concept for the fashion crowd’s internal consumption, and more of a discussion on how modern men view their masculinity. For example, why is it ok to wear lycra trousers when doing sports and not when walking down the street? Why does playing with proportions, and distorting the balance of the body, is a womenswear only preoccupation? It was less of a drag show, and more of a sincere question on gender defining attributes.
But what raised a few eyebrows in the post-Brexit referendum era, were the political messages communicated by many designers. In a few shows the message was very subtle; with clothes that looked battle-ready, or with clothes that felt as if they have been bruised by a battle. However, Christopher Shannon, not shying away from a clearer stand on Brexit, sent models down the runway with melted flags obscuring their faces. And to make things even more straight-forward his play on Hugo Boss’s logo, spelling ‘Loss international’, summarised the feeling many young people have in the UK.
But to the point, there were a few distinctive trends emerging from the AW17 runways. Menswear brands overcame the division between performance-wear and daywear; the merging of the two was complete and did feel sincere; a fresh approach to “athleisure”. What also excited me was how ‘utility’ was brought to the next level; proving that juxtaposing utilitarian and a design-focused approach can be irrelevant. Designers showed us that a happy co-existence is possible. But there was a micro-trend, related to these utilitarian-performance-daywear hybrids, I cannot wrap my head around. What is it with all the ski-wear down-filled jackets, trousers, and separates? Even my ski-crazy friends will struggle to stand behind this…
All the questions, asked in the previous post, were answered after I finished walking through the exhibition. Whether you are a fashion lover or not, you cannot but marvel at human creativity and ingenuity. Putting the hand-made against the machine-made is as if you are trying to put mind against body. How can the body exist independently of its mind’s commands? There is continuity and interconnectivity. And there always will be. And the curators of the exhibition expertly show off this continuity by displaying all garments, whatever their age and technological achievement, on the same old-fashion mannequins as if they are still in the designer’s atelier.
But this continuity can be disrupted, and it is being disrupted already. Take away a key ingredient in the process of conceptualisation-experimentation-creation, and disruption becomes disorientating. Take away the ingredient of time and the process becomes a case of chasing your own tail.
Alber Elbaz at a lecture associated with the exhibition, very eloquently sums-up why ‘Manus x Machina’ is important. He said “It was almost an exhibition that was done for designers and with designers’ work. It was about workmanship, about know-how, about time, and the one thing that impressed me the most was that it was almost silent. . . .” (from vogue.com). But how does this kind of silence go with our obsession of over-exposure, and shouting about everything we do from the rooftop?
In this post, we are looking at technologically brilliant garments; where technology marries well with traditional ways of dress-making. These garments could be science fiction but are truly wearable. We look at avant-garde pieces made of resin and plastic. But, we also look at techniques such as pleating and plisse making. These techniques were considered ground-breaking, almost science fiction when they were first used, but now can be found everywhere…
The MET’s exhibition ‘Manus X Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology’ (May – September 2016) was the most relevant exhibition regarding fashion creativity, and what is happening in our industry right now. Its aim was to show how, since the creation of the sewing machine, the binary opposition between hand-sewn and machine-sewn was created. But at the same time, the exhibition emphasized the juxtaposition between the hand and the machine.
Karl Lagerfeld’s haute couture wedding dress creation (2014) for pregnant Ashleigh Good is a case in point. The dress was the first thing a visitor saw, displayed beautifully in a domed room, as if the work of deities. A closer look revealed that it was made of scuba knit and its train hand-painted with gold, machine-printed with rhinestones, and finished by hand-embroidered pearls and gemstones. The perfect marriage (excuse the pun) between man’s creativity and handiwork, and a machine’s precision. Before you enter the exhibition, the curators have answered the question for you; there is no either or… Coexistence is possible and preferred.
Walking through the beautifully curated rooms I was taking in the unique experience of being up close and personal with haute couture fashion. But I wasn’t completely lost in the beauty; I found myself keep on asking certain questions. All the exhibits were haute couture pieces painstakingly made. They were creations that took time not only to make but also to conceive. Then it became obvious to me. Creativity needs time and what is lacking right now is exactly that. Everything is faster, instant. See-now-buy-now, until the next trend is used and discarded. Do we allow enough time for creatives to create? Think about the next best thing? Does our industry really values talent and craft less than growth, marketing success and social media exposure?
Which made me question further what is the relationship between haute couture and ready-to-wear (Prêt-à-Porter). Of course there are differences between the two, but if the former still has the benefit of time, and the latter the disadvantage of instant gratification, doesn’t the gap between fashion as an art, and fashion as a consumption object grow bigger? Does the lack of time make ready-to-wear and high-street fashion less valuable, throw-away-prone?
In this first post I want to share with you the amazing creations made of sequins, lace and flower decorations, sometimes all three put together on one garment…
I am a huge fan, it is not a secret. I have been since I was 15 when I first listened to her music. It was like a slap to the face, a burst of my middle-class safe upbringing bubble. It was right then that I first realised the world was a much bigger place, full of possibilities. It was 1994 and I was listening to a cassette version of her 1994 album “Under the Pink”. I do not remember how I discovered it, but I never looked back. I have bought all her albums, and tried to go to all her London gigs since.
Exactly 25 years ago, today, her debut album “Little Earthquakes” was released in the UK. 14 albums later she remains the same. A fighter, an artist who refuses to compromise, still remaining the most original female artist of all time. She is still fighting for women’s rights, against violence, and religious oppression.
This post is about her work, the inspirational imagery that accompanied her musical landscapes (a few images used in this post), and the issues she addressed throughout her career. It is nice to think that artists like her could inspire creativity in principles such as fashion designing. Where have the days of muses inspiring fashion designers gone? Being inspired by how people choose to wear and combine their clothes on the street is great, but I get the feeling that fashion is at a “what-came-first-the-egg-or-the-chicken” crossroads. Time to look elsewhere for inspiration.