Monday, December 10, 2007

death by fashion (theory)

I am ten to twelve pages from having a life again (at least till Spring semester begins--oh the final lap to my MA!)

Currently I am examining advertising and editorial content relating to cosmetics in Glamour Magazine/Glamour of Hollywood Magazine from 1941.

Tomorrow I start examining the development of dress in Skinhead subculture from its preracists British origins to the development of right wing factions within the subculture and how they relate, similarly or differently, to their dress.

My brain aches.

Friday, October 12, 2007

There is nothing new under the sun.

While looking at the spring 08 shows, it really hit me hard that contemporary fashion designers are taught to recycle. Sometimes they simply recycle their own label, as this years Calvin Klein designers reworked the minimalism of the '97 collection (I heard from a little bird in the archive) and Nicolas Ghesquière's of Balenciaga drew heavily from their own textile archive as well as the design principles of Cristobal Balenciaga (albeit very successfully and in a non derivative way). Many designers however pull heavily from fashion and art history. Although this does show that at least formally many contemporary designers know their elders it has begun to feel a little heavy and uninspired (as in the case of CK) than it does refreshing and inspired (something Ghesquière's achieves by updating Balenciaga's design philosophy to contemporary shapes and structures.)
to illustrate: a 1950s perugia plus a 1959 delmanette equals a marc jacobs, spring 2008.

The world of fashion has a short memory, but fashion critics shouldn't.

Monday, September 10, 2007

the end of summer

As summer comes to a close and my Louise Brooks bob finds itself more in the company of Uma Thurman's look in Pulp Fiction, I regret not spending more of my summer in heavy black eyeliner and dark lipstick. I oscillate between hacking it all back off (and to committing to an autumn of cloches) and wishing I had never cut it off in the first place. Thus, saving myself the awkwardness of growing it out and the period of length from my chin to my shoulders. The abyss between ends up with my hair in what my mother refers to as the Alabama flip. A look, which in everywhere but Alabama, went out of fashion with the cancellation of the Dick van Dyke show.

Images for reference:

Louise Brooks

Uma Thurman

Mary Tyler Moore (and Dick Van Dyke- but I don't really care about his hair)

but then I remember the world doesn't see me in a black and white film still.

It may seem strange but I am in fact having a crisis of style (and harboring a new lasting disgust with the fashion industry in general?) these days. I guess my
dissatisfaction with my coif and outward appearance may just be a superficial manifestation of it... but since I was a child I have been fascinated by clothes-- everyones clothes, not just my own. I was always interested in the history of clothing and fashion and the way clothing was used as a tool of communication, expression, protest, and has functioned as a tool of reform. The fashion industry today is somehow different. I guess its easy to idolize the past, its not like i am not completely ignoring the history of injustice, exclusion, and general classism that has always been present in the fashion industry. I feel, however, that somehow today's fashion industry--by way of chain fast fashion stores and a variety of other developments of the past 30 years-- has managed to nullify the social and political power that clothing used to have. Although plenty social codes still exist in our garments-- since the demise of grunge at the end of the 90s it seems that clothing has lost its ability to magnify injustice and ills within our society. Even more quickly than earlier anti-fashion movements, grunge was commercialized and packaged in mall chains across the nation and world. It is the natural cycle of things that anti-fashion be absorbed by mainstream fashion and eventually robbed of its original meaning but serious inspiration in dress seems less and less common.

Fashion seems to have destroyed style.