Fashion, Film & TV, Opinion

Movie Costumes as Wedding Attire

Up until about two or three years ago, the whole concept of a wedding was just not interesting to me. I was never a little girl who fantasised about the big white wedding with cake and 200+ guests. To be fair, I’m still not.

Things changed when I became hooked on Say Yes to the Dress, the TLC wedding dress show set in Kleinfeld Bridal in New York. The whole idea of finding this beautiful gown that makes the woman wearing it feel like a trillion bucks became so appealing to me. I decided I too wanted to say yes to the dress, or say I found the gown (there’s so many spin-offs now). However, a traditional big poufy dress doesn’t call out to me, nor does a sleek little mermaid silhouette with the embellished belt that seems to be oh-so-common nowadays. Don’t get me wrong, these often look amazing on people but I just can’t imagine myself ever having a wedding where a dress like this would be appropriate. If I ever get married, I want it to be a small affair and I need an outfit to suit. In 2014 I made a post about “non-traditional” bridal outfits and I still stand by what I said in that. (Olivia Palermo was the coolest bride of the past 10 years.)

I often find myself watching movies and seeing dresses that I think would look great on a wedding day, especially a low-key event. For that reason, I’ve decided to compile a list of some movie looks that I think could be modified or recreated for a wedding outfit. I do prefer the traditional white and neutral tones for a wedding look so if there’s anything in colour I’d more than likely modify it.

See some picks below:

This dress is one of my favourite Marilyn costumes of all time. I think the fabric is so sleek and the train adds such glamour. For a wedding, I can envision this dress recreated in a white silk, or even champagne.

One of Elizabeth Taylor’s most iconic costumes, this pleated white dress from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof would be perfect for a summer wedding. The dress swings as she walks meaning that it would look so good if you’re dancing.

019-gilda-theredlist

Rita Hayworth in Gilda is a dangerously sexy look. However, for a wedding I’d suggest closing up the leg slit a little (it is Angelina Jolie at the Oscars big) and of course, changing the color. I can imagine you’d walk with a wiggle wearing this.

Grace Kelly’s casual outfit (although nothing was casual about the way she dressed) in Rear Window could work if you substituted the green skirt for a white.

Michelle Pheiffer’s white skirt suit in Scarface would look fabulous, especially if you added a short veil under the hat.

Advertisements
Standard
Fashion, Opinion, Shopping

Reading about Rent the Runway

I’ve noticed a lot of buzz about Rent the Runway recently. They are in the midst of a new marketing campaign promoting their new, lower priced subscription, and, as a result, coverage of the service has been myriad, from sites like Fashionista all the way to AdWeek. For $89 a month, you can rent four pieces per monthly cycle. This is in comparison to their unlimited subscription which costs $139 to have any three pieces at once (which can be traded for another item at any time) instead. Rent the Runway is an interesting concept to me, because you are paying either a monthly fee or a single-time fee for the actual item (depending on how often you think you’ll use the service) to essentially borrow clothes and return them. You spend all of this money and don’t actually keep anything at home.

Rent the Runway was founded in 2009 by two Harvard Business School graduates. The initial concept was to provide occasionwear. You could rent a dress for a formal event like prom, a wedding, a gala, anything. The idea was that instead of spending $200 on a dress that you will wear one time and then banish to the back of your closet, you could spend under that dollar amount to rent a dress and return it afterwards (no questions asked, different than what would happen if you tried to do the same thing to a store). You could also rent a designer style which you may not be able to afford in a regular store like Barneys but you could wear one-time for a manageable price-point. Since then, the service has expanded into all categories of clothing and accessories. They want to be the go-to source for a woman’s everyday wardrobe, not just for the once-a-season event that she may have to attend.

In one of the articles linked below, a representative from Rent the Runway mentioned that under the new subscription plan, each item only costs around $20. The point being made with this figure was that the service was intending to compete with fast-fashion stores in capturing the women’s dollars. Instead of buying a cheap shirt from Zara, rent an expensive one from Rent the Runway. You get the quality you can’t normal afford for a price that you can. However, I wonder how many women would be comfortable with not actually owning their clothes. What if someone compliments your cute sweater and then you can never wear it again? That’s what seems weird to me because I can’t imagine having something I love and then not owning it, then not being able to afford it if I actually did want to add it into my closet.

Currently, Rent the Runway operates across the US with physical stores where you can try on the clothes in a select few cities (New York and Los Angeles included). They also ship all across the US. With the new round of marketing campaigns they are targeting the US in its entirety. They’re putting adverts on national tv. Besides the lower cost subscription, a huge thing that the brand is pushing is the sustainability factor. According to representatives from Rent the Runway, the brand is entirely sustainable as it uses reusable garment bags and 100% ‘green’ dry cleaning practices. Furthermore, because the customers aren’t actually purchasing the clothes and are sending them back after use, clothes that are unwanted are going back to Rent the Runway, not ending up in the landfill.

I think that Rent the Runway is a great concept but I’m not sure how I would feel about having my entire closet “in the cloud”, as they put it. I like to own my pieces and wear them again and again and again. I think that is a pretty sustainable option. I would consider Rent the Runway for an occasion if I needed to rent a gown. However, for everyday use I’m not quite there yet.

Further Reading

“How Rent The Runway’s “Closet In The Cloud” Is Changing The Face Of Sustainability” – Fashionista

“Rent the Runway’s National Campaign Wants You to Convert Your Closet Into Anything You Want” – AdWeek

Standard
Fashion, Opinion

Flappers Didn’t Wear Fringe

A vital historical inaccuracy which we continue to perpetrate is the premise of flappers wearing fringe. I didn’t actually know this was the case until I read an article on Racked detailing the history of the infamous flapper dress. Think about every flapper costume you’ve ever seen on Halloween, any photoshoot in a magazine, any movie set in the jazz age – the dresses all look the same. Short and flirty with lots of fringing. Only when Hollywood tried to portray the 1920s party girls on the big screen did the extra fringing, filled with embellishments, become part of the look – and it was done for that reason, the look. Hollywood costume designers embellished the dresses so they were striking on screen, catching the light and sparking for the cameras. Real flappers didn’t wear heavy fringe. Nor did they wear super short dresses. The hemlines of their dresses were much longer than the above-the-knee styles that we wear today, and although that length seems “long” for modern standards it would’ve been too risque, too scandalous for the 1920s.

On the back of this inaccuracy, I began to think about other periods in fashion. When we think of each decade, we tend to be able to give a vague description of the styles. For example, the 1950s conjure up the full-skirted prom style dresses and Americana – blue jeans and white t-shirts like what James Dean wore. The 1960s are mini skirts and go-go boots. The 1970s are hippy-chic with flares. The 1980s are all about big, big, big with shoulder pads and power suits. The 1990s are minimalist. The 2000s were tacky-chic. But what is the present day? And what will they get wrong about us in the future?

The 2010s have been strange. Nothing new has come out of this time period in terms of fashion. Everything is instead a look back to the past. That can even be seen in the styles of denim we wear. Something as small as jeans can show a lot about culture. We started the 2010s off in skinny jeans, a run over from the 2000s when bootcut jeans disappeared to be replaced by skinny jeans, originally called drainpipes. Even these were a hark back to the past, popularized by the likes of the Rolling Stones in the 60s or even Elvis Presley in the 50s. Acid wash was a popular style in 2011 – 2012, and this was a reach back to the 80s. High waisted styles of skinnies were popular too, always with lots of elastane inside.

The silhouette got a little bit more relaxed for some people starting in (I think) 2013 when Topshop introduced the Mom jeans. Originally intended as a little bit of a joke, Mom jeans are meant to be like the jeans worn by mothers in the 1980s and 90s. High-waisted, rigid denim in an often unflattering shape, they tend to flatten and elongate your butt. I never got into these. Early adopters started wearing these towards the beginning of the decade but by 2015 onwards they were as commonplace as skinny jeans. It has now gotten to the stage where people have proclaimed skinny jeans to be dead (but we all know they will never be gone fully).

In 2017, the most coveted jean style is a pair of vintage light blue Levi’s that make your butt look amazing. Some people DIY the hems to be raw edge too. If buying vintage isn’t looking back to the past, I don’t know what is. We are in a phase where anything goes now. Denim is embellished, ripped, slashed, frayed, patched. Anything you can do to jeans, we now do. I think the increasingly casual way of dress and the impact of denim is what the 2010s will be remembered for.

Danielle Bernstein from WeWoreWhat in vintage Levi’s

What about denim will they be able to get wrong in the future? In 2050, when they are making a movie set in the 2010s how can they really go wrong when we have everything all at once? I just hope people keep their old Topshop jeans because, genuinely, I use the new Topshop styles as an indicator of where things are going with denim -100%.

Standard
Fashion, Opinion

Clear-Outs

I’ve spent a lot of time this summer watching Keeping Up With the Kardashians. I don’t know why but for some reason I got the urge to start on the very first episode and work my way through. I’ve made it to season 8 where Kim is pregnant with little North. Because I’ve dedicated so many hours of my life to watching the family and their transition from typical Hollywood princesses with little true class and/or knowledge of actual runway fashion to fashion industry fixtures, I’ve been paying more attention to Kim in the episodes and her style. What she wears chronicles her place in the world. As soon as she met Kanye West, she became a real star in the fashion sense. Out with the old, tacky outfits and in came Kanye’s high fashion makeover. That’s not to say all of the looks work for her, but it is an improvement on her old style, even though it doesn’t seem entirely true to her character. Of course, 2013 Kim Kardashian is a very different person than the 2017 edition – stylistically and characteristically. What struck me the hardest was when, in one season 7 episode, Kanye brought in his stylist Renelou Padora  to clean out Kim’s closet. They were ruthless, going through all of Kim’s possessions and leaving her with very little (according to the show anyway). Rows of shoes lined up her hallways and piles and piles of clothes were donated to charity. In comes Kanye with racks of designer clothing in various shades of neutrals. This marks the new era for Kim. Of course, it wouldn’t be KUWTK without a little drama so Khloe comes round and gets upset by what Kim is getting rid of, taking it as an insult to her style as she has so many similar items too. Looking back at this episode in 2017, it’s funny because all of the sisters dress so differently now and have definitely had the Kanye West makeover. Kim’s submissiveness throughout the closet ravaging was strange to me. She allowed herself to be completely changed by Kanye. She was like his little Barbie doll to play dress-up with, a new project. In losing her typical mid-2000s Hollywood style, she lost a bit of herself.

Clearing out your closet doesn’t have to herald a change of identity for a person though. I find myself scouring through my belongings on a trimonthly basis. During my clear-outs I tend to get rid of anything that I haven’t worn for a while or that doesn’t fit me any longer. I think doing the process continuously and gradually means you won’t wake up one morning and start with a whole new wardrobe. You can introduce new styles without it seeming so dramatic and you can phase out things you no longer like without feeling like you are changing yourself.

I’ve had a couple of clear-outs over the past few months for various reasons. Firstly, I am moving so I am trying to make it that I have as little stuff as possible to take with me. I wear very similar things on a daily basis anyway so there is no point in me hanging onto items that I haven’t worn once since landing in the United States. The new rule is if it hasn’t been worn since coming here, it isn’t staying. I think that is pretty fair. I don’t think my style has changed too much in the past year besides the fact that I wear black skinny jeans on a near daily basis in the winter – something that I didn’t do before. I also don’t wear long skirts as frequently nowadays. I used to work in a corporate-style office where pencil skirts were the norm. Now that I’m working in a fashion office the dress code is nowhere near as strict and I fortunately can dress in a way that feels more true to me. Besides work, I’m a college student which means I have had to force myself to dress more casual. Whilst you will never catch me in leggings or sweatpants outside of the house, mini-skirts and slip dresses are back in my regular rotation.

I have started to think of inventive ways to get rid of my things. I have listed a few items on Depop – @evegardiner – but have ended up doing more buying than selling. I have donated some stuff to Goodwill. I have sold things at Buffalo Exchange (although not a lot because their buyers tend to be kind of rude) and Beacon’s Closet (which is my favorite because their staff are great and they give you fair prices for your items). Finally, I sent a bag to Thred-Up. Basically, with Thred-Up they send you a huge postage paid bag for you to fill with clothes and you mail it back to them. Anything that they can sell, they will list on their website and you will get a percentage of the sale price. Anything that is not in sellable condition will be recycled for you. It makes clearing out so easy and gives you the chance to earn a little cash on top of it all. The only downside to this service is the processing time. I sent my items back in mid-July and received an email saying that they wouldn’t get to going through my bag until August 8th. I waited until August 28th before I got any word from them and the payout was rather tiny, but I’m  I’m just happy that my unwanted items aren’t in my apartment anymore. I’d say that Thred-Up is a great service because it is totally hassle free, but if you want to make cash quickly I’d gravitate towards Beacon’s Closet or a similar store where you can get money same-day.

As I have been clearing out, I’ve found myself adding more things to my closet too. I have been a sucker for a good sale recently and have topped up my wardrobe with some summer pieces. This is my first real summer in the city and I didn’t realize how underprepared I was for the heat. I quickly realized that my regular summer attire wouldn’t cut it in 30 degree celsius temperatures. Going forward into the Fall season, I already have a rough idea of a few pieces I’d like to pick up. I want a new black overcoat, quite a masculine style perhaps with some military inspired trims. I’d also like some flat black leather boots with lots of buckles. Topshop already have a great pair but they’re eye-wateringly expensive in USD. Finally, I’m looking for a really cool hat. I can see a great look already so I’m trying to figure out how to execute it. It’s likely that I have until at least October until the temperatures drop low enough to try it out. In the meantime, I’m going to enjoy the summer heat and the newfound style it has afforded me.

Standard
Fashion, Opinion

The KarJen Fashion Empire

I hate to admit it but I’ve fallen into the Kardashian’s trap. It started off innocently, watching their show whilst eating breakfast in the morning if I had nowhere to rush off to and now I’ve found myself invested in their external businesses, purely because of what I’ve seen on the show.

I’ve been vocal in the past about my distaste for the Kardashian/Jenners in the fashion industry and I still stand by that partially. I don’t think Kendall should be booking all of the modelling jobs she is but you also can’t knock her for getting a paycheck and taking advantage of the awesome opportunities that come her way. You can’t knock Kim for sitting front row at fashion shows or wearing vintage Galliano or Vivienne Westwood (as she has been favoring recently). If she gets invited to the shows and has the resources to wear these clothes, of course she would. And finally, I can’t knock Kanye for his Adidas line because that truly is his passion and you can see that clearly.

The things that I refused to give the Kardashians a pass for in the past were their clothing lines. I’m not a huge fan of the celebrity designer trend and the fact that just because they have a well known name they can easily find financial backers and launch a line like its nothing. However, since watching the show and learning a little bit more about the brands coming out of the KarJen klan currently, I’ve become slightly more intrigued.

First off, there is Kendall + Kylie, a contemporary line sold in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom. They sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. It was a full-on brand from its very first season. On an episode that I just watched (a late repeat), Kendall and Kylie are at their showroom in New York with Nicole Phelps from Vogue Runway. Phelps is there to review the collection. When the pair are taking her around the showroom, they pick up some of their favorite pieces and describe them as cool and simple and can’t say much more than that. They can’t describe their customer besides the fact that she used to be a California girl but is now more than that. Phelps doesn’t seem too impressed. I know that the show is scripted to some extent but I do feel like Kendall and Kylie’s lack of descriptive adjectives to really explain to Phelps what their collection meant and stood for was genuine. They aren’t really involved in the creation of the line besides giving final approval and being the face of the brand and that is evident. Their role aside, the merchandise is actually cute and if you were to see it on the floor in a Nordstrom store you would probably buy it. The only downside to the brand is the price-point. They wanted to differentiate the line from others they have done in the past, like the PacSun collection or the Topshop collaboration. This was meant to be more high-end and the prices reflect that, although I don’t think there is that much of an evolution in the styles shown. In the end, Nicole Phelps wrote a very fair review for Vogue. 

Screenshot of the Kendall + Kylie Instagram account which boasts 4.4m followers

The next KarJen brand that I was interested in is the Kids Supply, Kim and Kanye’s childrenswear capsule collection. Because of the size, I instantly find childrenswear adorable. It helps that North West is the best dressed child in the world (besides the extremely age-inappropriate lace and mesh shirts that they used to dress her in) so I feel like the couple know how to dress kids. The collection featured an embroidered bomber with “Calabasas” motifs (which was reversible too), mini slip dresses, caps with “kids” embroidered across the front, and t-shirts. There was a small product selection but it sold out within the weekend. Some items are on pre-order. I liked this line and I’m honestly not mad at the couple for trying to enter the childrenswear market. The pricing was high but you also cannot criticize someone for that. It’s like when people laugh at Gwyneth Paltrow and her exorbitantly priced gift guides on Goop. It’s not for everybody and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that it is an invalid market to target just because you don’t fit into their income demographic.

Screenshot of the Kids Supply e-store

Finally, the brand which I was actually the most impressed with and would love to see in person is Khloe’s denim line. Launched in October last year and entitled Good American, the line features jeans, skirts, and jackets in sizes 00 – 24. It is meant to cater to every body shape and fit and flatter all. I think that’s a bold statement to make yet everybody who I’ve seen wearing the jeans looks amazing. Khloe and her partner have done a good job on the fits, with the Good Cuts with the released hem being my personal favorite style. The premium denim market is pretty full, with brands like Paige, Frame, and J Brand being longstanding stars. However, Khloe’s line managed to disrupt the norm and proved to be Nordstrom’s second biggest launch ever. The line itself was the biggest denim launch of all time. It made $1 million on its first day. Pretty impressive for a reality tv star, huh. I think that figure alone just shows the bankability of the KarJen family. It makes sense that they want to capitalize on the fashion industry while they can. Their looks are some of the most influential.

Kylie in Good American

I have softened on the KarJen family. I used to think of them as representing the decline in culture (and I guess that argument still could be made) and everything that was wrong with modern society, but now I can appreciate their hustle. This family is damn good at business and knows how to build brands. It will be interesting to see how long each of their brands continue for. In the past, there has been Kardashian Kollection (a collaboration between Kourtney, Kim and Khloe) which was sold at Sears. This line was unsuccessful. They have the DASH boutiques which are more of a tourist destination than a fashion spot. Then Kendall and Kylie have their previous collections and brands. As with everything, the brands will live as long as they continue to be popular. Judging by social media and sales figures, they’ll be here to stay for a while.

Standard
Essays, Fashion, Opinion

The Importance of Creative Directors to Musicians

I came across an interesting article on Billboard recently about how in the digital age, a musician or an artist having a creative director in charge of their branding is more important than ever. This makes sense, especially because being in the social media spotlight can be highly beneficial to an artist and the key to gaining this kudos is by having a clearly defined and well managed brand – something cool for people to look at and aspire to. Branding is everything nowadays whether you like it or not. We all even have a personal brand, even if it is not monetized. If we all have a brand, are we all creative directors? Maybe on a micro-level. An artist needs to hire somebody to direct their brand because it is the most important thing they have, arguably. Songs can blow up and become a summer jam but are easily forgotten about a year later. A brand leads to longevity – something that is vital, and often missing, for musicians today.

So what does a creative director do exactly? To my understanding, a creative director is in charge of how things look overall. A wide, encompassing statement, I know, but I think it all comes down to imagery. Creative directors control the vibe, the style, the look of everything. Whether that be the clothing worn by the artists (acting as a wardrobe stylist, deciding not only tour outfits for on stage but everyday looks in case of candid paparazzi shots or the all-important Instagrams), the style of photography used in Instagram shots or album covers, or the color schemes, products, and locations used in music videos. Anything that you see can be, and is likely, conceptualized by the creative director and brought forward to the artist. That’s not to say that the artist is not in charge of their own style in any way. It is more so that the creative director comes up with ideas and then work with the artist to make something that feels authentic and right for the artist instead of a singleminded vision: a collaboration.

Virgil Abloh and Kanye West

I think the importance of a creative director can be best demonstrated via Kanye West and his longtime collaborator Virgil Abloh, who has become a star in his own right in the past year. Abloh has his own brand (Off-White, formerly operating another brand called Pyrex Vision), he DJs, he hosts events and parties all around the world, and he has degrees in Architecture and Engineering. He’s a smart guy. He’s also partially responsible for keeping Kanye West so relevant as he knows exactly what people want. Abloh has his finger on the pulse and has no problem telling people that he listens to the kids on Tumblr and realizes their spending power and also their knowledge of fashion. No bullshit passes by Tumblr kids, especially the fashion ones (myself included) as we have been given the resource to learn everything online. Abloh understands this and uses it to his advantage. He has taken things that he has found on Tumblr and presented it to West in the past, as mentioned in one of the interviews linked below. It’s no secret that West loves fashion and has tried various times to break into the industry, with his Yeezy line for Adidas being extremely commercially successful but other ventures failing or floundering. West has also found great success in the merch game, perhaps solely starting the trend of people wearing concert merch as fashion items, beginning back on the Yeezus tour in 2013. We hit peak merch in 2016 with the Saint Pablo tour and the trickle-down effect with merch-inspired pieces being sold in fast-fashion stores like Forever 21 (who were accused of copying West multiple times) and Zara. H&M currently sell a range of “band t-shirts” with various rock bands’ graphics printed on them. Everyone jumped onboard – retailers and other artists alike. Now everyone needs to have merch, and to have merch that sells you need a brand. That’s where your creative director comes in.

West is not the only musician with a creative director. In fact, most of the biggest stars in the music world have one right now. The Weeknd has La Mar Taylor, a friend from Toronto who created the now iconic mixtape trilogy covers and continues to manage the artistic outputs. The XO brand, the collective of individuals associated with The Weeknd, has gone from being an underground icon, big on Tumblr with a cult-like following but not yet mainstream, to being an easily recognized symbol that is even tattooed on loyal fans. The Weeknd recently done a collaboration with H&M, featuring shirts with the XO logo prominently posted. That wouldn’t’ve been possible if he didn’t have the brand. Some other stars just have stylists. There’s a difference. A creative director’s role is much bigger, and arguably much more important. I could go on for days and days about this topic because one of the things I love the most in life is seeing how fashion intersects with other industries. In this sense, fashion and music and art all collide into one, and everything, in turn, becomes one commercial product. That’s not to say that art for art’s sake doesn’t remain, it’s just that everything nowadays is monetized. Pure artistic endeavors still exist, but creative direction takes something from that level and makes it something bigger. Something that can help you pay the bills for years to come.

The Weeknd’s brand is XO

Further Reading

“The Secret to Being A Modern Pop Star? A Creative Director Pulling The Strings” – W Magazine, September 2016

“Virgil Abloh: From Pyrex to Paris” – Dazed Digital, 2016

“The Life of (Virgil) Abloh” – GQ, August 2016

“From Kanye to Kings of Leon, Why Artists Need Creative Directors in the Age of Instagram” – Billboard, April 2017

 

Standard
Fashion, Opinion, Personal

Rei Kawakubo / Comme des Garcons exhibition at the Met

I. don’t. get. Comme. des. Garcons. 

Really, I don’t. I went to the summer costume exhibition at the Met to check it out and, like almost everyone else who was visiting, I didn’t know what to think. It feels almost blasphemous to say that I didn’t like it or didn’t get it because there is this unwritten rule that if you are seriously into fashion (or claim to be) you must love Comme. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things from the brand I like. Dover Street Market is an amazing store with great merchandising techniques. The diffusion line with the little heart logo is branded perfectly. I can appreciate a really cool avant garde piece. I think they photograph brilliantly and I think they look really insane on the body (think Caroline Kennedy at this year’s Met Gala, or even Rihanna) but I don’t understand them and I know that the majority of people in my company at the museum felt the same way.

The exhibition was in a different gallery than the Manus x Machina one was last year and I didn’t like the space as much. It was lit very brightly with everything on stark white pedestals and some pieces were displayed well above eye-level, meaning it was easy to miss things if you didn’t realize you had to look up. The pieces featured spanned decades of Rei’s work. The exhibition was split up into various different segments, each representing a different aesthetic expression (e.g Clothes/Not Clothes) and there was no text explaining anything on the walls, nor credits for the clothing’s season etc – all of this information was to be found in a paper exhibition guide that was available at the entrance. Because of this, I found myself going around the exhibition faster than I normally would when I stop to read things because I didn’t actually read the guide until I sat down at the end and compared the guide with photographs I took. I still feel like I need further clarification though because I don’t understand the meanings of the pieces. I am a very imaginative person but I cannot immediately see the meaning of these clothes.

Ever since I got into fashion as a young teen, Comme des Garcons was a name I’d seen thrown about always in extremely high regard. On Tumblr, nobody dared disrespect Rei, thinking of her as the high priestess of fashion. I guess this mentality was ingrained into me without realizing it and for years I’ve always thought that I liked Comme, without actually thinking too much about it. Now I realize that I don’t like Comme, not because I think the clothes are bad but because I just don’t understand it at all and I can’t see the depth that others do. That includes most of the designers in the Japanese conceptualist movement, like Yohji Yamamoto, too. This year at the Met Gala, I was hoping for more out-there pieces because what I’ve seen from Comme des Garcons in the past and I do stand by my criticism of that red carpet. It was boring and could’ve been so much more if people were willing to push the boat out and not worry about looking hot for one evening.

I have compiled a little video, linked below, which is a get ready with me where I do my makeup, then once I have finished that I have included a lot of shots from the exhibition. I actually got a new camera recently and I’ve been playing with it, trying to work out its capabilities. The makeup video was actually just shot for fun, hence the unprofessional set-up, but once it was done I actually quite liked it so I decided to make something of it. The shots from inside the museum are taken on the same camera. I’m impressed with the quality.

Overall, if you’re in New York I think you should check out the exhibition and see what you think for yourself. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. It didn’t help me gain any further understanding of or appreciation for the designer, but I did enjoy seeing it. I’m a huge advocate for fashion exhibitions and preserving garments like art pieces, because I do think of fashion as a form of commercial art, so I will always go along and see things even if I’m not a huge fan as I will always find it somewhat interesting.

Standard
Fashion, Opinion

Why Do People Think That Fashion is Frivolous?

As I discussed in a previous post, I went to a talk about sexuality in fashion that turned out to be a little bit more focused on sexuality in general. However, I’d like to bring it back to fashion as I think it is an equally interesting issue. I thought about more than sexuality but about gender. Men and women, and our differences. More specifically, I’m thinking about the dominance of female fashion and the trivialisation of it. When did fashion become thought of as frivolous? Was it when women got involved?

Fashion, like most businesses, is a male dominated world. In fact, merely a few hundred years ago fashion was more important for men. They wore high heels and elaborate outfits (just think of old paintings of kings and the get ups that they wore), and red heels were associated with a position of power. I found a parallel between this and the infamous Christian Louboutin red bottoms, and the level of luxury which they connote. They convey status, exactly how the red heels used to back in the time of Louis XIV. Male fashion is making a return in a major way, especially because more and more famous men, especially musicians, are embracing a strong look and are willing to experiment more. However, when you think of people working in fashion, going to fashion school, you think women.

There was a historical shift at some point in time between men and women and who had to dress up. At some point, male fashion dropped out of the psyche and utilitarian clothes became the norm. But maybe it was always like that in the lower classes who typically weren’t painted in portraits? When we look at history we almost always hear about the upper class and royalty. In the past hundred years or so, female fashion has triumphed. Look at a photography book and the changing styles of womenswear is always exciting. From the straight waisted dresses of the flappers, playing down the female form and creating a boyish figure, to the wasp waists of Dior’s New Look and everything that has come since then, the major changes in female fashion always relate to the body. We either look super feminine, with emphasised curves, or young and waif-like with no hips or waists. Fashion doesn’t often have inbetweens, especially not groundbreaking, memorable looks. It is all about extremes, whether that is hem lengths or silhouettes. And who decides on these changes? More often than not it is men.

Dior’s New Look (1947)

Even though fashion is typically associated with females, the people in the positions of power are typically male. Dior got its first female designer in Maria Grazia Chiuri, before that it was all men. Chanel is headed by a man. Calvin Klein, a man. Almost all of the biggest fashion houses, especially the historical ones, are headed by men who design clothes that doesn’t even work for their bodies. They design clothes for women, to be worn by women, to make women look good. However, there is a very different treatment of the female body by homosexual men than heterosexual men, and the large majority of male fashion designers are homosexual. The straight male designers can be counted on one hand – Rick Owens, Christophe Lemaire, Christian Louboutin and a few others.

Mr Louboutin has stated that he doesn’t care if his shoes hurt to walk in, as long as they make the wearer look good. I think a female designer wouldn’t have the same attitude. Women designing for women often make a point of creating clothes that they know others could feel comfortable in, and look good. It is possible to do both but sometimes males don’t understand the female body in the same way. This may be a rather ridiculous example but I was watching an old series of Project Runway a few days ago and one of the designers didn’t know how to create a look for a woman with D cup breasts. Women would understand that.

Josephine Baker in a typical flapper look (1920s)

The homosexual male designer’s relationship with the female form is often different than a heterosexual male designer’s. They look at it with adoration rather than lust. They often idealise it too. That is not to say that they cannot partake in the objectification of women though. They can still create ultra sexualised looks. I personally think, as long as their is no ill intent, that this is ok. It is important that people remember that runway fashion is fantasy, not real life. I am aware of this but I know that others are not. Often people don’t understand that what they are seeing is an ideal to aspire to, not an order to replicate. Honestly, even the models don’t look like that on a daily basis.

The point that I wanted to explore was the seemingly frivolous nature of fashion. I don’t think it is fair that people have to constantly justify the validity of fashion as a career, as an industry. It is more than clothes when it comes down to it. It is a business that employs millions of people worldwide. It is a large portion of many counties economies – imports and exports are important. It is an industry that makes billions per year.

Jennifer Aniston in a slip dress (1990s)

Was fashion always thought of as frivolous it is this a new thing? Was it always just women playing dress up or was it previously thought of something else? All throughout WW2, British Vogue was published, never missing an issue, as a way to keep up morale in the country. That is significant. In a time of great struggle and pain, fashion helped to keep people going. Sometimes you need a distraction.

However, for people like me and many others, fashion is not just a distraction. In fact, it is my life. I don’t know any other world because it has always been my primary interest since I was a young child. I’d almost say I’ve been known as the one who “likes fashion”, but sometimes that is just reduced to “likes clothes”, and I don’t think it is fair to have to justify the industry as more than clothes and shopping, because when you think about it, the fashion industry has so many complex issues just like other industries that are perceived to hold more weight intellectually.

Another issue that I think is important, and related, is that if fashion is thought of as for women and gay men, what happens to all the straight men who are interested? I often wonder if there are any young straight men, who would like to be involved in fashion (either work in it or go to fashion school) but are too afraid to jump in for fear of being called gay or stupid? After all, people consistently make jokes about fashion schools being filled of girls and gay men. What about all the straight male designers that want to design for men? Or even that want to design for women? Virgil Abloh is straight. The Gvasalia brothers are straight.

Grace Jones in shoulder pads (1980s)

I think sexuality is perhaps the most complex of issues relating to the fashion industry and I have really just scratched the surface of this issue, mostly relating to the difference between the male and female treatment of the female body. It goes much deeper than that. I want to explore that further too. There are subcultures that shouldn’t be ignored yet I haven’t even touched on that today.

I also think that a major problem relating to the public perception of fashion and its frivolity is that women are the main focus. That’s what it boils down to. It is like people almost don’t want women to succeed and have an area to thrive in. It has to be diminished, to be lessened, when really it is as valid a business as banking, for example, and being a fashion buyer is just as important as being in procurement for a construction company. All roles are essential, all industries are essential, and all of the sectors are important, regardless of what people may think fashion is like.

Standard
Fashion, Opinion

The Return of Paco Rabanne

It’s funny how things work out. I made a note on my iPhone of things I wanted to talk about on my blog at some point and one of them said, I quote, “Paco Rabanne is so cool to me and they have been making cool, futuristic clothes since the 1960s”. This thought was initially spurred by seeing Emily Ratajkowski in one of the dresses from the most recent runway collection and thinking she looked incredible. I knew instantly from the chainmail design that it was Paco Rabanne and I proceeded to look up the entire collection on Vogue Runway. As I said before, I really didn’t manage to keep up with things this fashion month so I had only noticed sporadic updates on Instagram, depending on what outlet showed up at the top of my feed. This train of thought then developed further after I chanced upon a vintage design by Paco Rabanne himself during a tour of the Museum at FIT’s “Paris Refashioned, 1957 – 1968” exhibition. The exhibition highlights the revolution that occurred in Parisian fashion, starting from Dior’s New Look and moving into the 60s with designers like Yves Saint Laurent bringing out ready-to-wear, and Andre Courreges and Pierre Cardin rising to prominence. It is easy to associate the sixties with London as normally when that decade is discussed, it is London based designers that are mentioned like Mary Quant and icons like Twiggy. However, Paris was in the same period of change. The exhibition ends in 1968, the year of the student protests and when Balenciaga closed his house. How ironic is it that the current creative director of Balenciaga is most definitely a streetwear designer when Balenciaga himself shuttered his business after feeling that he was unable to create couture due to the increasingly casual and ready-to-wear aspect of fashion. I encourage you to visit the exhibition if you can before it closes (April 15th) if you’re in New York City. Finally, the day I made this note on my phone I looked at Vogue.com, as I often do, and seen that on their homepage there was an article about Paco Rabanne and how the brand was having a comeback. After spotting that headline I knew I was onto something.

 

What I’ve always found most fascinating about Paco Rabanne are the various futuristic, radical styles that would’ve been oh-so-relevant during the space race of the 1960s. The concept of space exploration was so crazy at the time and the breakthroughs in science to make it possible were incredible and a real achievement that we tend to gloss over today (especially due to conspiracy theories about the moon landing). Fashion was inspired by the otherworldly and interpreted this through lots of metallics. Paco Rabanne was mainly known for his use of unconventional materials to make his pieces. I attended a lecture at FIT on the aforementioned exhibition and found out that Rabanne’s pieces were actually made of metal and some had real diamonds. They were very heavy, very expensive, and very unwearable. You see many iconic images of the looks but they were just images. Performers used to wear them on stage to make a statement.

Costumes from the unofficial Casino Royale

Nowadays, Paco Rabanne is overseen by Julien Dossena. I’d say this is his biggest collection for the brand yet in terms of buzz. Dossena’s work first came onto my radar a couple of seasons ago (after I’d heard that he was dating Nicolas Ghesquiere) but he has actually been working in the industry for quite some time, previously working under Ghesquiere’s direction at Balenciaga for many years. He commenced his role at Paco Rabanne back in 2013 so this collection has been a long time coming. Dossena began exploring the iconic chainmail designs last season but in this season’s collections it stood out greatly. It helps that the pieces were worn off the runway by models and influencers, and also that the timing was right in terms of giving the public what they need. We are at such a shitty time in the world that we need outrageous fashion, we need over the top impractical designs to serve as a distraction from reality. This wasn’t outrageous, per se, but it does mark a real shift away from the minimalist aesthetic that reigned supreme until perhaps two years ago. What made this collection distinctly different from Paco Rabanne in the 60s was that Dossena found a way to make the chainmail look fluid. It looked lightweight and almost liquid as it draped over the model’s body. The asymmetric cut was flattering both on the runway and on @emrata as featured below. These looks coupled with the high shine, reflective silver shoes hammered home the new trend. You know that chainmail is back. You know that silver is the color. Zara already makes little silver booties.

I’m excited to see the Paco Rabanne brand being discussed again in such a mainstream way instead of confined to discussions about wacky fashion from decades long past. I think the Fall 2017 collection has given the brand the much needed injection of press and I’d like to see it in the spotlight for seasons to come, especially if the collections continue to be of the same quality as this one.

 

Further reading

“The Space Age Designer Making a Comeback Over All The Fall Runways” – Vogue.com | the article mentioned at the beginning of this post which reflects on Paco Rabanne’s influence on modern day fashion and how the Fall 2017 collection contributes to this

“Paco Rabanne Fall 2017” – Vogue.com | the review of this season’s show by Sarah Mower, click through to see the full collection too

“I prefer fast girls to cute girls” – The Telegraph | an interview with Julien Dossena about the house and his goals and inspirations (also the source of the Casino Royale image)

Standard
Fashion, Opinion

Coachella Capsule Wardrobe – 2017

COACHELLA WARDROBE

 

On the back of my previous post about Coachella and the influence that the festival is having on retailers, I decided to style a set of what, in my mind, would be a perfect Coachella wardrobe. I tried to have as few pieces as possible, especially ones that I thought were interchangeable but still looked good as when you’re at a festival you don’t want to take your entire wardrobe. Some of the items I included were high-end (which is not uncommon at festivals nowadays) but they are also substitutable for fast-fashion pieces as well.
The first look is a lace bralet with lightweight flowly culottes and Puma sneakers. I could actually wear this look as I have most of the elements at home (besides these exact sneakers). My reasoning behind this was that you could wear the sneakers on all three days so your feet stay covered (no open-toe sandals at festivals), and the other elements were so you didn’t get too warm. Coachella is held in the desert and it seemingly gets crazy hot. I added bangles and a watch to this look because your arms would be on display so it added something fun. Finally, the crossbody bag is so you can be handsfree. The second look consists of the same shoes and accessories (minus the bangle) but this time with a mesh top and denim cut-offs. The same denim cut-offs would be worn the following day, this time with a spaghetti strap bodysuit (or tank). The final look has the matching kimono for the culottes from the first look.
Let me know what you think? Who could you picture in these looks?

Looks I liked from previous years

Standard