“If Browne has always been determinedly, even defiantly, sui generis in his work, the outside world was tapping at his window today.” This statement from Tim Blanks’ enjoyable writeup on Thom Browne’s Fall 2013 show got me thinking about authors of their own reality. In fashion, this means folks like Diana Vreeland, Alexander McQueen and John Galliano. They are storytellers (were, in the case of Vreeland and McQueen, but I get sloppy with tenses when someone’s legacy is still so vivid. The internet keeps everything alive.) and aspire to archetypes. Their stories elevate us above the mundane, and they are often controversial figures. In the case of Vreeland’s authorship, she never let facts get in the way because that would be boring. “There’s only one very good life and that’s the life you know you want and you make it yourself.”
Entanglement at John Rocha, Lagerfeld Channels Werther de Goethe, Medievalism, Moulded Hourglass Shapes and the Tie Stain for Fall 2011
Favorite looks for the F/W 2011-2012 season come from John Rocha, Junya Watanabe, Valentino, Mary Katrantzou, Thakoon and Alexander McQueen. Trends include Medievalism, moulded hourglass shapes, fuzzy skirts and oversized, misshapen coats. And the humble tie stain makes an appearance at Anne-Sofie Back.
Alexander McQueen was a visionary and losing him extends beyond the realm of fashion.
Tanya is a Belarusian model that has been very popular over the past couple of seasons. Her strength lies in the the ability to morph easily from Pre-Raphaelite fantasy - heavy on the nostalgic view of nature - to Chobit, a modern fantasy dreamed up by CLAMP.
Tanya Dziahileva, Versace s/s 2007, detail www.style.com
Learning how to sew and design clothes leads us through many stages of development. These stages are borne out differently for all of us, depending on how we are taught. Early stages might be dominated by prints with simpler patterns. Intermediate stages are an exploration of various color and fabric combinations, along with silhouettes from the past. A good many designers – while they may have a fine command of the craft - find comfort or success at an intermediate level of development. Masters, however, have acquired such a fine-tuned attention to detail embracing all aspects of design that the effect they achieve has graduated to the realm of subtlety.
image: Chanel spring 2006 couture www.style.com
Over the last few seasons designers have been surrendering to enchantment. The mood, executed lightly or darkly, is a surrendering to the fog of history and folklore. Considering current events, it may reflect the Zeitgeist. Then again, it may not. However, one thing is clear: exploring the richness of fairytale and legend will provide designers with a neverending supply of themes.
In fashion the right combination of instinct, skill and innovation shows true mastery of the craft. It is critical to be inspired by the past, but it is equally critical to invent. At the big shows there seems to be a line drawn between what is wearable and what is merely artistic gesture. Unfortunately this translates into looks that are sellable and looks that aren’t.
There is no need to belong exclusively to either the Gareth Pugh camp
image: Gareth Pugh a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
…or the Monique Lhuillier camp.
image: Monique Lhuillier a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
The progressive or the play-it-safe.
Fashion is about the seamless blend of tradition and modernity. There are designers who tread the delicate line of being inspired by timeless elements and original conception. This is a testament to skill. I would argue that a good many Japanese designers tread this line gracefully. Examples include:
Tao Kurihara of Tao
image: Tao a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
image: Yohji Yamamoto a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
Mami Yoshida and Patrick Ryan of Yab-Yum
image: Yab-Yum a/w 2006-7 www.yab-yum.com
image: Tsumori Chisato a/w 2006-7 www.aufeminin.com
Jun Takahashi of Undercover
image: Undercover a/w 2005-6 www.style.com
As much as I am obsessed with the talent coming out of Japan, the fusion of timelessness and modernity can also be found in the work of:
image: Prada s/s 2006 www.style.com
image: Alexander McQueen a/w 2004-5 www.style.com
(look for Sabyasachi at Olympus Fashion Week
in New York next season!)
image: Sabyasachi Mukherjee, the snail collection 2006 www.specials.rediff.com
Nicholas Ghesquiere of Balenciaga
image: Balenciaga a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
Alber Elbaz of Lanvin
image: Lanvin s/s 2005 www.vogue.co.uk
image: bruno Pieters a/w 2006-7 www.vogue.co.uk
image: Alexandre Herchcovitch a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
Viktor & Rolf
image: Viktor & Rolf a/w 2006-7 www.style.com
(Her work is so inspirational I’m posting two images.
For more see link below.)
image: Sandra Backlund, perfect hurts collection www.sandrabacklund.com
image: Sandra Backlund, body, skin and hair collection www.sandrabacklund.com
Fashion needs its visionaries, even if there seems to be little tolerance in the industry for them at the moment. Jum Nakao and Gareth Pugh are visionaries. An example of Jum Nakao’s work:
image: Jum Nakao s/s 2005 www.dailytimes.com.pk
The extent of their “vision” or “progressiveness” is a matter of eventuality. In other words, the measure of modernity in their designs – if not already clear - will become clear when imitations or watered-down versions emerge either on future runways or on the street. I believe this is what’s meant by Cathy Horyn’s comment in reference to John Galliano: “The modernity of Mr. Galliano’s torn-apart approach was eventually borne out in the imitations.” (www.nytimes.com May 21, 2006)