The work of Yves Saint Laurent spans decades however there is one dress he will forever be synonymous for and that is the Mondrian dress of Haute couture collection A/W 1965. A collection that sits between the borders of fashion and fine art due to the clear inspiration from famous modernist artist, Piet Mondrian. This collection is featured in the film biopic of the designer directed by Jalil Lespart, released in 2014. A pivotal moment in his career, the event is dramatised in the film as Yves (Pierre Niney) is seen to be lacking inspiration and has a eureka moment when reaching for the Mondrian book. These dresses will forever be heralded in the career of this legendary designer but they also served the purpose of reminding audiences of the work of Mondrian. To a contemporary audience, his creative output is hugely well known however Saint Laurent once said the dresses ‘helped to make the general public aware of a tremendous yet forgotten artist’. Others also suggest the idea that Saint Laurent was trying to align himself with the masters of the purist forms of art and expression and somewhat distancing from the business matters that increasingly dictate the fashion sphere. As a designer that began in Haute Couture, becoming creative director of Dior in his very early twenties, his practise was one that would potentially sit further to this idea of what is truly art. Saint Laurent did not however shy away from the wider fashion world in fact he was a pioneer of the broadening of fashion’s spectrum. A true maverick figure, not only did he dare to place women in tuxedo suits and jeans, he was arguably one of the first designers to be seen taking inspiration from the street and naturally stylish people. His first ready to wear store, Rive Gauche, translating as Left bank, featured garments inspired by the beatniks he hung around with in Paris’ left bank area. By pioneering a combination of artistic influences such as the work of Mondrian and the style of the Parisian locals around him, Yves Saint Laurent was a visionary that transcended the ideas expected of his role of a fashion designer and is what I would deem as a true artist.
Yves Saint Laurent (2014) Directed by Jalil Lespart [Yves Saint Laurent]. Worldwide: SND Groupe M6.
Chenoune, F. (2010) Yves Saint Laurent. New york: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.
Using the definition of fandom culture as a ‘participatory culture’, this essay explores the way in which this particular event of the sale of Buffy the vampire slayer’s jeans has been used to elongate the popularity of the show. Indicating that the use of the internet allows a show to live beyond it’s air time, due to the dedication of the fans and the obsession displayed with the demand for the props sold when the Buffy series ended. Described as having a long standing emphasis on style, the sold items have multi faceted levels of desirability from use as a collectors item to a fetish object. The timing of the series with the increase of the internet to society but also crucially with the coinciding of the internet’s popularity amongst teens is intrinsic to Buffy’s popularity. This article also discusses the central dichotomy that runs throughout the characterisation of Buffy in that she is described to be a strong riot grlll esque example for teenage girls but yet is perfect in her aesthetic and highly image concious. This raises several issues within feminism of unattainability and an image of the perfect girl created in the male gaze. Also discussing the value vs. gained value via association debate, this explores the way in which items can be fetished in an attempt to live vicariously through the items. An interesting idea raised in this is that of the ostracisation of the fans due the items in the auction being priced at an unattainable amount for most fans. Thus highlighting that the auction ‘for the fans’ was actuly one for collectors and opportunists. The article ends on a really interesting point, suggesting that the greatest rebellion and sense of ownership the fans could have was their ability to not purchase any of the items in the auction. It allowed them still to participate and follow the event of the auction but put to the rest the series in the present day providing an opportunity to revel in nostalgia; exploring the fans obsession not purely with the show itself, but a period of time that symbolised a jovial youth and hope amongst them all.
If I were to design a new garment, it would be a jacket that facilitates a variety of different weathers and heat levels as it is something that I struggle with living in London. Going from the cold winter weather on the street and then into an overheated tube environment is a daily struggle and so I would want to make my jacket human centered to allow for these kind of temperatures. It would be a denim hooded parka style jacket but with an oil cloth covering to provide rain protection. It would also have a warm puffa style detachable lining to allow for warmth when needed but that can be folded down small as not to overbear the wearer once on public transport and in warmer situations. I would also make sure the jacket had several zipper pockets to hold a variety of things that I carry day to day including phone, oyster card and a notebook etc. The audience participation would include an ability to select the pockets and design the coat to facilitate the needs of the individual. This process would begin during the manufacture process to enable the design to be human centred and to establish a dialogue with buyers from early on in the process.
The music video for Glass & Patron by FKA twigs is significant in displaying the use of contemporary British fashion within the world of music, featuring garments from a range of designers including Craig Green and Liam Hodges. I have chosen to look at the blue outfit designed by Craig Green and is from his SS15 which was known for evoking such emotion from the audience of the fashion show, most ended up in tears at it’s beauty. With influence from uniform and workwear, Green (2014) described how “Everything was meant to have a delicateness and a beauty even though it was kind of hard and padded and drapey and a had lot of fabric. It was the movement of it”. This is interesting in the use of these garments within this music video as FKA twigs is known for her expressive movement and exploration of contemporary dance within her music and world she creates with her art. The dichotomy of delicacy and strength padded within the garments also represents this contrast that is within the profession of a dancer. The ability to push physical potential within a body whilst appearing to have a sense of transience and movement is one which can also be seen in Greens’ beautiful work.
Green, C. (2014) Craig Green SS15. Available at: http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/20336/1/craig-green-ss15 (Accessed: 9/11/2015).
The debate of fast and slow fashion is one that has become of prominence as more and more people within the industry question the sustainability of the pace of fashion that many are struggling to keep up with. Raf Simons’ recent departure from Dior has really brought this to attention as he has questioned the need for as much as 6 collections a year as it leads to a lack of time for ideas to be incubated. Menswear traditionally has been considered to ere more on the side of slow fashion as it is assumed men buy pieces that transcend the idea of trends and seasons. This coat below designed by Margaret Howell, is an item that is functional whilst also in my opinion is aesthetically pleasing. It is a jacket that can be worn in several ways and is therefore more sustainable. The example to the right however is what I would deem fast fashion and is a look from Moschino, headed by Jeremy Scott. It is not something that will last over years in terms of style as it very much riding on the coat tails of popular culture. Featuring a motif from Spongebob Squarepants, the TV show, it tends to be something that is more likely to be copied by high street brands that also encourage fast 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.