Monday, May 31, 2010

there appears to be a hole in your dress

My friend F. said - I paraphrase - that she couldn't bring herself to see fashion as more than a cash cow based on consumerism and glamor. I was surprised to hear this from a person so clearly aware of the power of self-expression that exists in choosing what to wear. But I don't even have to take that road to demonstrate that fashion need not be consumerist. There's a simpler way: so much of what high fashion produces isn't supposed to be pretty (in the consumerist 'buy me' sense) and isn't wearable. Take Viktor&Rolf. These designers have an architectural approach to clothing. Some models really look like they're wearing a building on the runway. I'm pretty sure Viktor&Rolf didn't set out to design clothes that will sell when they came up with these tulle ball gowns:

I'm trying to imagine how would one advertise this dress. 'You want to look like the Sydney Opera House? We have just the thing for you!':

This one is wearable, although the top looks like a fan, and anyway, this dress doesn't say 'consumerist fashion' to me:


  1. :)

    Consider though that "hole" is homophonous with "whole". ;)

    Noo, I don't think fashion is all about making money. In fact, I find it more artsy the more I read your blog. I just cannot relate to it innocently like to movies or theatre plays where I never think about the actors or the production machines. I always think about anorexia when I look at those models, and about how they've never loved, at least judging from how they look, and how they have no say in what they're gonna wear. Poor career driven girls.
    See... I still take it very literally. Not like a real art for which it's always great if people suffer. You're gonna need to put up some more pictures... ;)

  2. P.S. I would like to look like a hut in the woods, can you help me out?

  3. so the suffering you're talking about: is it anorexia? it's true that there have been mortal cases among models (i wrote about this elsewhere), but that had an impact and things are getting a little better. Also, there are wrong ways of keeping oneself in shape,and right ways. Take yourself, for instance. Would you say that you're, dunno, suffering? Yet you have the parameters of a model. Also: remember what you said to me about treating one's own body as a work of art, some five years ago in Rome?

    As for the faces, it's all a matter of directing the show. Take a look at the pictures from the Sonia Rykiel runway, which I posted several weeks ago (under the title 'knits', i think): the models smile. That's how the show's supposed to be. And check out the 'Sonia Rykiel pour H&M' presentation of last fall: you'd say the models were having the time of their lives there..

    next up: you think they should have a say in what they're wearing? But why should they? For them it's about serving the work of the great designers. It's division of labor, if you like. Just like in any other field. This is how jobs are. It may be alienating, but it applies to paid work in general, not only to modeling. Apart from that, so many models speak enthusiastically about the designers they present for.

    I may have taken your doubts to literally here, so pardon my zeal. As for looking like a hut in the'll give that some thought)) In the meantime, check out the first picture in my Prada post (at the bottom of this page): does it say 'hut in the forest' to you? I have some associations...

  4. the body as a work of art? what did i say? seems i had interesting thoughts five years ago.

    exactly, it's all a way of directing the show. what we get to see is not fashion as a means of self-expression. i'm missing the authenticity that comes with choosing what you're gonna wear today according to mood and character.

    are there no weighty models? i would really like that. i would prefer variety in shape to the dummy kind of factory kind of same bodies displayed on the runways. and where are the men? why is it always grubby men casting gauging glances at the slimmest of women? please post some pictures of men, dear fashion expert.

    about the hut: i was picturing something with unshapely planks... but i think the wool is cool.

  5. well, i don't remember your exact words, but after the visit to that ancient art museum which is somewhere in the area of the railway station (on the first day of our trip), you became fascinated with the idea of crafting one's body. because of all those ancient sculptures.

    But what's wrong with directing a show? aren't shows supposed to be, you know, directed? as for the authenticity of self-expression, I'm afraid you're looking for it in the wrong place. presenting clothes on the runway is a job like any other: nothing would get done if everyone did what they feel. designers are artists, but models are not.

    oh yes, there are weighty models! they're not talked about as much, but they're out there, of course)) Ok, i'll do a post on that soon.

    wait, are you calling Jean-Paul Gauthier GRUBBY?))and don't worry, there are plenty of women trend-setters. In general, I see where you're going with this, but the more I read about fashion, the clearer I see that it's not meant to be oppressive. models aren't meant to be looked up to and religiously imitated. they're just fashion professionals who happened to be photographed a lot, often in gorgeous outfits. i'm not sure about the reason why there is this standard for models, but again, the more I read, the more I understand that models are women who present clothes on the runway, not necessarily beauty standards.

    yes yes, glad you asked: pictures of men are coming soon!

  6. well, "meant to be"... it's very real that many many women feel bad once they weigh more than the lower limit of accepted weight for their size. and you couldn't say that the fashion industry has nothing to do with that.

    and i'm not looking in the wrong place, i meant it the other way around: insofar as i'm interested in clothes as means of self-expression, i'm less interested in model clothing.

    looking forward to all those big and male models! ;)

  7. so you think that anything that happens to be misunderstood should be changed?

    of course fashion industry has something to do with the phenomenon you're describing, but I don't like that take on the problem because it places insufficient responsibility on the public. we don't want to say that women are these passive creatures so easily absorbing role models from popular culture, would we?

    model mean that you're not interested in runways but more in stuff like street fashion blogs containing pictures of dudes and dudesses that decide what to wear today? fair enough. for what it's worth, i don't quite understand that. when I look at an outfit, i can't appreciate how much of the person is in it (unless I know the person very well). There's only the outfit in the picture, and that's what I can appreciate. which is why i can't make a radical distinction between runway pictures and lookbook pictures.

    not sure how relevant this is, because I'm still trying to understand what are you saying, but when I look at runway pictures I try to figure out what's going on in those outfits. 'aham, so you're trying to combine different textures here, aham, you're trying to do something with the traditional hourglass shape, aham, you're playing with gender roles, aham, you're mocking the it-bags here etc etc. Usually, designers have their own philosophy (for lack of a better word), and each collection has its own main themes and tropes. I'm trying to say that runway shows are also self-expression, but not from the part of the models.

  8. please, don't pull sweeping rhetorical blows on me...

    i think most people take images from popular culture for their role models, and that it's difficult for everyone not to. (also for men).

    yes, i imagine for the designers designing is a nice artsy occupation.

    i like looking at people's outfits in the street...

  9. 'don't pull sweeping rhetorical blows on me...'

    not my style.

    for the rest, alright.