Store branding research: Dover Street Market

FASHION

I visited Dover Street Market as research into store branding as it is interesting to see how somewhere can combine several designers with very different aesthetics into a shopping environment with a sense of continuity. I had only visited Dover Street Market once before despite it stocking the majority of my favourite designers. It was set up by Comme des Garçons and their team and therefore is heavily stocked with their items but also serves as a haven of design talent from the newer designers like Molly Goddard to the classic brands such as Gucci. In terms of the sensory experience created here, music plays a big role with carefully curated choices for each of the floors. Starting off with calming atmospheric music on the men’s bottom floor building in volume as it reaches towards the top of the building. This floor is the most relaxed of them all and features a small cafe. In the entirety of the store, there is no defining smell except a slight aroma of comme perfume around the section it is stocked in. Comme des Garçons are known for their anti fashion, pro art stance in terms of their garment design and ethos and this really shows in the way the store has been created using wood, concrete and exposed brick that alludes to an art installation: this can be seen especially in the singular hut like changing rooms dotted about the different floors. To reach the floors, you have to go up the very plain stairs that are almost reminiscent of an office but this only serves to create an experience of entering new worlds as you push open the doors onto the next floor. In term so flighting, it is a very comfortable light that is not harsh or oppressive in any way and particularly in the brand Undercover’s section of the menswear floor, their is a really gorgeous light installation using singular bulbs that are gathered together. All in all, this store uses a simplistic, anti retail aesthetic and vibe to create a shopping environment that makes you really focus on the artistic craft of these luxury items.

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Exhibition design: V&A Fashion collection-Meadham Kirchoff SS12

FASHION

I decided to visit the V&A fashion section to explore the idea of exhibition design in context  of one featured artefact as I wanted to see if having a focus to the visit would engage me more with the collection as museums are somewhere I really struggle to feel engaged. This is down to the glass box, dull lighting methods of display given to most museums as opposed to the clean, bright galleries I prefer to visit. The McQueen exhibition at the V&A over the summer completely turned this idea on its head and for me breathed life back into this museum however the same cannot be said about their permanent fashion collection. It is displayed in a circular method with the sections distinguished by decades and their aligned movements with very low lighting in the general areas and specialised soft spotlights on the garments themselves. I chose to look at the full look by Meadham Kirchoff from their SS12 collection, A Wolf in Lamb’s Clothing as it is one of my favourite collections within fashion to have ever been created. I feel that the lighting and cramped glass cases did not do the garments and shoes justice as it really was an incredibly beautiful collection with sugar sweet pastels and intricate detailing but the poor light did not allow viewers to really get this from the display.

Using an archive: CSM magazine research

FASHION

I decided to look at an issue of Arena HOMME+ from the reference collection at Central Saint Martins. It was the winter/spring 15 issue featuring a lot of editorials and references to Morrissey, of whom I am a big fan. To access the magazine, I had to request to see it and then fill out a form requiring a variety of details ranging from the course I am on to the reason for looking at this item. I also had to sit on a special table reserved for the items that have to be requested to look at. This issue interested me in particular as menswear is one of my biggest interests and this magazine in particular looks at editorials in a more abstract way. The photography of David Sims within the magazine has an ethereal, painterly quality to it not dissimilar to the expressionist streakiness of visual artist Gerhard Richter. The use of Morrissey within the magazine is a clear reference to the ideas perpetuated by the editorials within the magazine as Morrissey, former singer of The Smiths and solo artist, is someone that garners a fan base that see him in an aspirational manner and attempt to mimic his style and attitude within their own aesthetic. This idea of imitating an idol is clear within the editorials as the boys that are shot do not simply model the clothes that have been styled but the images create an allure that build a lifestyle that can be bought into. These types of editorials are that which are most successful in enticing consumers to purchase garments that will create this lifestyle and are great at engaging readers into feeling as if they too can live vicariously through the dream world created by Sims and his team.

Interview evaluations-Claire Barrow with Hunger TV

FASHION

I chose to explore the interview of new British fashion designer, Claire Barrow on the online platform run by magazine, Hunger. It is published online at http://www.hungertv.com/feature/lfw-claire-barrow/ and explores what inspired her AW14 collection and general questions about her career. I am unable to tell whether the interview was conducted in person or over the phone.The questions do not seem to link or flow naturally within the interview as the topics swap and change as each question is asked. This indicates a lack of rapport built between Claire and the interviewer as it seems as if it was very scripted and did not divert from the questions planned, which would allow the designer to get across her own views and ideas she wanted to dictate to the interviewer. I didn’t get a sense of aggravation or antagonisation from the interviewer towards the designer or as if they were trying to get some kind of gossip or headline worthy quotes, more just an insight into her practise. There is no kind of indication of the myth of the damaged artist within the interview as it is more of a question and answer format and therefore relies more on what the interviewee has said to shape the ideas gained from reading this interview.

Ostentatious shoes

FASHION

After receiving the image of what appeared initially as an early incarnation of a woman’s kitten heel, I was somewhat disappointed as this area of footwear is not something I find particularly interesting. As a group, we decided that it may have actually been a man’s shoe around the period of the 18th century as the excessive frills and gold colouring seemed reminiscent of the Baroque period; a time known for excessive decoration and an ostentatious aesthetic. This lead us to deciding our key label for our shoe was in fact the adjective ostentatious as it perfectly summed up the luxury that can be seen despite the marks of ageing.

After learning about the different angles fashion can be seen from, for example class and wealth, I decided to focus on finding a reading that explored the idea of how fashion can be a clear depiction of one’s status. According to Lurie whilst discussing conspicuous division (2000, P.144), ‘it is also possible to advertise one’s rank by wearing more clothes consecutively rather than simultaneously’. This indicates the place of this particular shoe depicting status and wealth as it is not an item that would be worn on a daily basis, but rather for a specific occasion; hence suggesting the wealth of the owner in their ability to have different wardrobes for different occasions. My group members focused on other aspects such as that of gender and function over aesthetic. These ranged from that the shoes placed beauty over usefulness to that of the lineage in which ostentatious design has been passed through genders.

Lurie, A. (2000) The Language of Clothes. 2nd edn. New York: Henry Holt.