Wednesday, 31 October 2012

The Face: McQueen cover 1998

I wanted to share with you all a copy of 'The Face' magazine which I bought at car boot it is 1998 edition McQueen special. It was after McQueen A/W London Fashion Week collection which was inspired by Joan of Ark he wanted to evoke the passion and independence of Joan of Ark into women, the finale involved model dancing in ring of fire as symbolism of Joan being burnt at the stake.

He collaberated with Nick Knight for The Face cover and photo shoot entitled 'This is Britains emperor of style and his Joan of Arc. At work, rest and pray.' Inside the magazine he explained the image he created with Nick Knight in hand written response -:


Deep inside of me I have no regrets of the way I portray myself to the general public. I will face fear head on if necessary but would run from a fight if persuaded. The fire in my soul is for the love of one man but I do not forgot my women whom I adore as the burn daily from Cheshire to Gloucester

Alexander McQueen,98

This was his Joan of Arc -

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Surrealism impact on fashion

Surrealism inspired

The Surrealism art movement began in Paris 1924 and was officially announced that had finished in 1969. In that period I aim to show not individual artists contribution to the movement but instead the resulting impact on fashion and style influences which can still be referenced in 2012 fashion.
The Surrealists aimed to banish taste values by recording inner visions by automatic drawing techniques which were a mode of pure expression free from political or society constraints. Their work was shrouded in mystification as the imagery had no recognisable predecessors where it could be compared to instead the Surrealists were opening up their minds exempt from any aesthetic concern. This can be compared to fashion in the sense that like Surrealists, fashion aims to not be immediately recognisable; it is unique each season to the designer it works by encouraging the spectator to become involved with the garment in individual process in creation of identity. Fashion like surrealist art actively encourages the dislocation of taste barriers and actively creates own aesthetic values.
Andre Breton, ‘Amid the bad taste of my time I strive to go further than anyone else in such a manner as to leave nothing to be desired from the viewpoint of comfort.’ This can be seen by Surrealists technique of conjuring the uncanny by using everyday objects but in a way which was not their original function to mystify and create paradox of how spectator views object in correlation with the text we use to describe object. Surrealist artist Meret Oppenheim explores this in her 1936 ‘Fur breakfast’ which is cup, saucer and spoon covered in gazelle fur it immediately removes the original aim of cup and saucer by fur so creates dislocation of object from meaning as well as offering paradox of desire and repulsion to the object. This is referenced in fashion by Hussein Chalayan 2000 collection ‘Afterwords’ where he rethought fashion as kind of portable architecture therefore removing the original aim of fashion as an aesthetic covering of body but instead giving new innovation in form as a means of transportable furniture.  Like Surrealist art innovative fashion designers aim to offer new meanings and form to existing conventions of how we perceive and view objects.
Meret Oppenheim

Hussein Chalayan

Salvador Dali the infamous Surrealist artist I feel has had the greatest impact on fashion designers it was his 1936 ‘Aphrodisiac Jacket’ which showed his engagement with consumer culture by acknowledging fashion as art he adorned a dinner jacket with liqueur glasses in a juxtaposition of the sensibility of jacket with destruction of character caused by the emptiness of the liqueur glasses in comical effect. He worked in unison with surrealist fashion designer Elsa Schiparelli in creation of iconic ‘Lobster dress’ in 1937 and ‘shoe hat’ in 1938 it was their combination of art and innovative fashion which secured fashion as status of art.
His influence can be seen in Agatha Ruiz de la Prada Autumn/Winter 2009 collection by referencing Dali 1936 ‘Giraffe on fire’ and his ‘Venus de Milo with drawers’ you can see the direct influence Dali work had on Prada designs in the use of drawer symbolism.
Giraffe on fire

Venus de Milo with drawers

Agatha Ruiz de la Prada

Diane Von Furstenberg paid homage to Dali in her Spring/Summer 2012 advertising campaign by her use of lunar landscape and displacement of models face with circular transparency. Her influence can be seen in Dali 1934 ‘The atavistic vestiges after the rain.’
The atavistic vestiges after the rain

Diana Von Furstenberg
Other designers which can cite influence by Surrealism are Viktor and Rolf in the way they deconstruct the silhouette in creation of new forms. Dolce and Gabbana in 2009/10 had collection named ‘Heart Elsa Schiparelli’ where gloves were designed as hats and belts in the rejection of original aim and recreating in bizarre way to offer new uses of gloves. Stephen Jones headwear can be related to surrealism by his use of juxtaposition of objects in creation of hats which have peculiar objects balanced in new aesthetic manner. More recently Mary Katrantzou in 2012 fall collection by her use of colour and printing techniques.
Ultimately fashion and surrealism are linked by the ‘idea that the spectator must complete the work of art and expose him/her self to the possibility of experiencing a new reality in the process.’

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Fashion glistens towards the East

Fashion glistens towars the East

The East is growing at a rapid rate of consumption with China leading the way. China is developing from an export orientated economy into a consumption driven economy, mainly due to urbanisation and with that comes a new surge of young money. The new clientele consists of young fashionistas who have an interest in the heritage luxury brands of the West, they are cash rich and now due to relaxed legalisation of tax laws and increased travel they are visiting the West to experience the fashion and culture.

Eastern fashion is based heavily around religious beliefs, cultural obligations and tradition it stretches back generations in representing their culture. Western designers are using the culturally well known Eastern motifs and redefining in fresh, modern way in new designs to embrace the growing Eastern clientele. There has been an explosion in colour of fuchsias, oranges and yellows brightening up the catwalks into an Eastern sun set. Lighter, luxurious materials are being used such as silk and sheer linens, they work best in layering of fabrics creating a gliding effect in movement. 

Eastern fashion has had an influence over Western designs for many years Paul Poiret in 1910 was the first to bring Eastern fashion to a Western audience with turbans, Indian style trousers and his famous lampshade tunics.
Louis Vuitton Autumn/Winter 2012 collection had a polished touch and expensive character behind the clothes, garments included fur collared fitted jackets, dazzling jewels and ornate embroidery of detailed dresses and trouser suits. The collection had Eastern influences which could be seen by the styling choices with the aura of the collection being one of refined, polished wealth.

Mary Katrantzou fall 2012 collection embraced the Eastern trend of colour, her beautifully crafted print dresses were in a range of bright, acidic colours. You can feel an Eastern influence by the vivid use of colouring and the hand printed design treatment of the dresses.
Givenchy Spring 2012 Couture collection saw the most recognisable characteristic of an Eastern influence by use of nose rings and drop earrings. Givenchy nose rings consisted of silver embellishment reaching to the wearer’s lips, coupled with gigantic embellished drop earrings. 

The Far East influence cannot just be seen by the style of the designers collections showcased but also in the budding front row presence at many shows, especially at Paris for the Chanel and Dior show where famous Chinese actress Lin Peng was an important guest.
Designers are not just influenced by the East they are setting up stores there as they recognise where their clientele is based and want to cater towards them. Maison Martin Margiela and Alexander McQueen opened stores in Beijing last year, whilst Gucci, Burberry and Hermes opening up shop since 2009. As well as more designers using eastern models in fashion advertisements to attract growing market.

Watch out for explosion of colours, glistening embellishment, sculptured layering and ethereal aesthetics as fashion turns East wards.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Decorative Arts and History museum, Dublin

Housed in the Army barracks of the Decorative Arts and History museum is a Charles Frederick Worth (1825-1895) late nineteenth century designed dress for the wife of Lord Mayor of Dublin from 1898 to 1900.

The designs of the time had a Parisian influence with lavish fabrics and took on historical influences with tight corset framing the wearer into hour glass shape which is then supported by crinoline stiff framework underneath the dress to hold characteristic full bell shape. The rear bustle worked by holding the lavish, heavy fabric so it could drape over the back which had opulent feel.

The overall effect of the dress was elaborate and decorative as seen in the baroque inspired corset with opulent beading. The dress was designed to be seen and represent their husband’s wealth.  
It is a good representative of late nineteenth century Parisian design which Charles Frederick Worth was famed for by his couture designs.

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Ugly shoes the new craze

Ugly shoes the new craze

Next Spring 2013 if what we see on the catwalks is to come to fruition the shoe once seen as a sexy accessory has all gone Pete Tong. Flats are in but not the brogues we saw last season of polished leather giving masculine yet sophisticated feel but weird mixes of fur, plastic and futuristic sheen making next Spring seem set in never reaches of shoe envy.

Phoebe Philo for Celine has made comfy shoes the ones for the season, no longer tired feet from walking on pin point stilettos but shoes have furry lined bottoms in bright, garish Eskimo covered ballet pump style.
Prada’s two tongued plastic flats are the worst offenders for me. Firstly who likes wearing sandals that cut in between your toes and secondly they have plastic sheen to them which no doubt will make for a sweaty mix. Prada also shown wooden platform shoes with circular hole cut out of the platform that I like but it all goes bit strange with metallic ankle covering which looks like a sock wrapped around foot.

There's not much can be said about Marc Jacobs pilgrim style shoe, it looks like it been created by Amish on acid.

So for next Spring I don’t know if I’ll be following these crazy shoe trends I think it may be one left for the catwalk where fashion meets ugly.

National Gallery of Ireland

I recentley just visited Dublin and had a wander around National Gallery of Ireland the collection that I most enjoyed was that of Jack B Yeats (1871 - 1957) the Irish impressionist painter. His work is full of expression via his use of vivid colourings, bold brush strokes and romantic connotations. It was housed not in the main gallery section but in corridors running off inbetween rooms it made the collection have its own stance and not comparable to others work. 

About to Write a letter 1935

Men of Destiny 1946
The singing horseman 1949
Grief 1951

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Check out my article for 'ACE Liverpool' an Arts, Culture & Entertainment magazine based in Liverpool.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Science inspired garments

Designer Brooke Roberts merged her previous history of working as radiographer with her fashion design and pattern cutting skill to create garments inspired by CT scans and Xrays, she progammed knitting machines to specific patterns to create the garments. I love the merge of science and fashion in her garments in creaing futuristic print. I also like how the garments are knitted it is the mix of knitting and science inspired inspired print which I think is merging old and new techniques. 

Friday, 5 October 2012

Eco Fashion

The growth of eco fashion
Oscar Wilde, ‘Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.’

The fashion cycle rate of consumption is adversely impacting on the environment in each of its production stages from the cultivation of raw fabric to shipment of finished garment. Eco Fashion formally not widely known by mass market is now becoming more accessible by the work of environmentally conscious designers who use, produce and/or promote sustainable and ethical products.  Gone are the connotations of free love, hemp and earth colourings replaced by the respect for people plus planet plus profit in equal measurements.

The timeline of eco fashion.

Eco fashion can be traced back to the 1950s when the social elite wore couture and others who couldn’t afford to buy would follow the trend by making their own clothes. There was a great emphasis on investment purchases of high quality, long lasting goods they were eco friendly without being aware by their slow rate of consumption.
The natural looks that emerged in the 1960s can be linked to the hippies there was a trend for the re-working of vintage clothing into new garments which embraced creativity and individuality therefore rejecting the dehumanising effects of mass production and consumerism.

The 80s and 90s was a time when truly the effects of mass produced goods became common knowledge in the form of sweatshops catching worldwide attention, which encouraged the public to become more aware of what they’re buying into. Katherine Hamnett was one of the leaders in eco fashion became well known by her 1989 ‘Clean up or die’ Autumn Winter collection in which she used organic cotton on slogan t-shirts. Moschino in 1989 used his reputability as a form of expression by models wearing slogan t-shirts such as ‘stop using our waters as a W.C’ on the runway.
The work of Martin Margiela in the 1990s was that of upside down dysfunctional beauty by his re-working of existing garments by first deconstructing them then reconstructing into new forms, for example jacket made from multiple silk scarves. His ecological approach became known for its avant-garde qualities his garments were viewed as works of art which don’t follow passing fashion trend but instead encourage investment on high quality goods.

The twenty first century saw the introduction of green as the new black as legendary fashion journalist Suzy Menkes said in 2006. The same year ‘Esthetica’ by the British Fashion Council was established to showcase cutting edge designer’s committed to working eco sustainably.
Esthetica S/S 2012 London Fashion Week, Henrietta Ludgate one of the designers was one of my favourites by her use of structured colourful designs. As well as Victim Fashion Street her use of reclaimed materials in reconstruction of garments is skilfully done by mix of print.

In proof that the notion of eco fashion had become well received by mass market came in 2007 when designer Anya Hindmarch released the bag with slogan ‘I’m not a plastic bag’ on and was snapped on arms of many a celebrity and in doing so became the bag of the moment with stocks selling out. Eco fashion is now seen as eco cool.
Now to the science that is needed to inform the continual progress of environmentally conscious garments is still in development some possible new techniques consist of biodegradable clothing which is growing clothes out of biomaterial the bacteri al-cellulose is spun and made into material fibre, literally means the possibility of growing a dress out of science beaker so no resources would be depleted.

Designers Andrew Sneider and Diffus designs have managed to incorporate energy production into garment process by creating a solar bikini and solar panelled hand bag retrospectively. They produce enough energy to charge mobile phone and can act as energy capacitors; we will be our very own walking energy producer.
Another concept to reduce energy usage is being researched into the production of a fabric that has a coating made from compound of titanium dioxide which acts as very own washing machine so reducing energy usage as well as water usage. This compound would have capability of breaking down dirt molecules while killing microbes by being activated by UV rays.

To reduce the amount of fabric waste a concept has been developed which utilises a loom attached to computer that weaves made to fit garment sections which can then be sewn together by hand, therefore no fabric waste so saving on raw material.

Ultimately all these innovations in fabric development are concepts at the moment and to promote eco fashion is down to the consumer as consumers drive fashion by their demands. The appeal of slow fashion which is less driven by current trends but dictated by style and high quality garments is the promotion of an ecologically friendly fashion movement.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Tattoos and the self fashioning of identity

Tattoo and identity

Tattooing is a form of self expression in construction of a cultural embodied identity. Tattooing has always been a symbol of identity in that the tattoos of the wearer represent their cultural standing be it the stereotypical notions of prisoners tattoos as they are stripped of any form of identity by the wearing of uniform prison jump suit, so their tattoos show their cultural position and act as expression of identity that not allowed to express in form of clothing.

But what when tattoos surplus the mode of expression that clothing entails and takes its own expression of identity that no longer does a person who have a tattoo is immediately classified as member of deviant social group. Tattooing is now seen as art form and the actual tattooist as contemporary artist with the body as medium instead of traditional canvas. Tattoos now are no longer individual symbols of self identity but can work as a coherent piece of art work; it is a combination of owners identity mixed with tattooist’s vision that creates individual art work that becomes a talking point and representative of the owner.

The twenty first century is an image obsessed, over saturated society in which images are over consumed via media outlets. Brands have signifying identity traits which we as the public signify with certain brands and the related aspects of status and identity. Artist Dietrich Wegner highlights this with his use of babies covered in fake tattoos of corporate brand logos, it aims to show the world in which they will be brought up in. Therefore the want of people to distinguish themselves by forms of tattoos is growing in the removal of brand symbolism and the related taste values associated so tattoos act as own form of identity in the dejection of brand symbolism.

Ironically tattoos are now being accepted and encouraged by fashion industry once when models were not allowed to be in high end fashion shows with tattoos as it breaks the barrier of model as hanger for the clothing foremost. Now many models are booked for their individuality. Chanel and Betsey Jackson have both released collections of temporary tattoo motifs the role of the tattoo as symbol for deviant social class is reversed by high end fashion designers promoting tattoos as latest form of fashion and accepting them, will this mean that the original aim of tattoo as form of individualism identity will be taken over by the very commercial giants that it is trying to resist?