Friday, 26 April 2013

Inspirational designer Christopher Nemeth.

Christopher Nemeth (1959-2010)

Whilst looking through street style blogs based in Japan I noticed a British designers name Christopher Nemeth, I hadn’t before heard of him but after researching I have come to realise that his design process has inspired many designers after him such as Chalayan, Miyake and Yamamato.

He was a graduate of Camberwell College of Arts in 1982 where he was not known as a clothing designer but an artist who took apart pieces of clothing and used as materials on his canvases. He was interested in the development of a project and what stages he went through to get a final image; it was more about how he learnt as he went on rather than a desired aim he wanted to produce.
Soon after college in the mid 80s he became interested in clothing and was the first designer really to deconstruct a previous garment and then remake into a new shape. His process of deconstruction and manipulation of fabrics has inspired many designers who like Nemeth look for the beauty in the imperfect in their final garment – an unfinished hem, asymmetrical cut.

Early on in his design career he relocated to Tokyo it was while he was based there that his raw aesthetic took on shape and became popular among the Japanese youth. He became well known for using old postal sacks, he enjoyed recapturing the texture and history of the post sack and changing into a wearable garment imprinted with a past.
While he may not be too well known over here his influence has defiantly been imprinted on Japan fashion with later Japanese designers using the principle of Nemeth’s deconstruction techniques in their tailoring and style aesthetic.

Images from 2011 S/S Pop Magazine, all Christopher Nemeth clothing


Saturday, 20 April 2013

The influence of sportswear past and present.

In the fashion world where sportswear used to be an ugly word it has now done a fashion one eighty with trainers and drawstring waists being style staples of the moment.
Vogue 1926, ‘Sportswear has more to do than anything else with the evolution of the modern mode.’
Sportswear throughout the twentieth century has had its moment in each decade influencing the fashion zeitgeist of the time.
 The 1920s sportswear trend can be seen in Jean Patous designs for tennis star Suzanne Lenglen it was the first time when comfort became a key factor in dressing. He raised the hem to knee length, made skirt pleated for easy movement and teamed with sleeveless body. Suzanne Lenglen became the first women to play tennis without a corset. This inspired women to try and copy the sporting design for a day time setting pleated shift dresses with sleeveless button down sweater became in fashion.
Suzanne Lenglen in Jean Patou design

The 1930s was a period of increased relaxation around women and how they dress they were becoming more active and wanted a sophisticated style to reflect this. This is where Chanel stepped up she allowed women to be comfortable but still respectable in their clothing by creating her wool jersey suits. Her sportswear influenced suits appealed to many women and her popularity was further increased in 1931 when she was hired by MGM boss Samuel Goldwyn to provide clothes for his studios major stars at a cost of 1 million. By dressing the movie stars in her jersey suits they were cemented as an indicator of good taste which women could easily copy for themselves.
Chanel Jersey Suit
The 1940s was when sportswear became totally fashionable; it was the period of ‘American ready to wear’ being launched. American designers such as Jo Copeland, Vera Maxwell, Normen Norell and Claire McCardell all created sportswear inspired garments, they took influence from sportswear by its shape and comfort then transformed the relaxed shape into evening garments. The waistband disappeared altogether, bodies became unadorned and simple, garments were shaped around the natural lines of the body and not contorted to give a previous stylised shape, it was the period when mix and match separates were at its height. Wool ribbed sweaters over polo shirts, midriff peaking through matching shorts and cropped top. It’s the fashion that we now reference as preppy chic.
Claire MCardell

Norman Norell

Vera Maxwell

The only sportswear trend that I noticed came out of the 1950s was slacks, ill fitting casual trousers that the new teenager market wore and the less said about them the better I reckon.

1960s fashion has a futuristic acid vibe and this was reflected in sportswear of that period it was a time when designers were creating collections specially suited for sportswear past times, such as Emilio Pucci Ski wear which was commissioned by Harpers Bazaar. It was a kaleidoscope of colours and print resulting in sportswear being seen as fashionable and for the first time truly colourful.
Emilio Pucci
The 1970s is best known for its sportswear influenced fashion, it was a time of D-I-S-C-O. Lycra and acrylic knits came in all shapes varying from hot pants, vests, legging and leg warmers. The use of lycra previously just worn by dancers became a fashion craze that’s influence still can be felt today in the form of leggings (Jury still out on them). The sportswear trend was also seen by high end designers, Yves Saint Laurent 1971 collection featured 1940 gangster style trouser suits and the baggy trousers have their roots in sportswear.
The 1980s sportswear fashion trend is intrinsically linked with hip hop music. It was the time of bodycon, bling and full tracksuits by Nike, Adidas and Reebok.  The influence of sportswear was seen in body conscious designs, stretchy lycra was transformed into figure hugging dresses by Azzedine Alaia and Norma Kamali in mid 80s started using the sport grey sweatshirt fleece fabric and making into separate pieces which had a luxurious style.

Azzedine Alaia

Norma Kamali

1990s influence of sportswear is owned by Tommy Hillfiger, he was best known in this period for the logo taking prominence in design. Sportswear was now seen as a fashion brand in its own right. Fashion recently has been inspired by 90s sportswear with cropped logo t-shirts becoming must haves teamed with gold chain link necklace all seen in shops on the high street such as Topshop and River Island. 

Tommy Hillfigger
Since the 2012 Olympics which saw Stella McCartney design the GB team outfits, the excitement and success of the athletes has reached fever point in the public eye, now we are looking at the sportswear trend with gold medals in our eyes.
 It is now not seen as sportswear but instead as just fashion – Isabel Marant hightops, Nike air max trainers, Sport luxe trousers all are trends of the moment. You only need to look at the many designer sport collaborations occurring such as Alexander Wang-Nike, Richard Nicoll-Fred Perry, Stella McCartney-Adidas and Y-3 to see that it sportswear is a market fully accepted by fashion.
Here are my most recent sportswear inspired buys
Marks & Spencer silk sports luxe trousers

Nike at Office

Monday, 15 April 2013

Fashion films.

Fashion films are breed from an increased knowledge of various techniques and editing skills resulting in truly innovative artistic fashion films that show not just the designers garments but the feel and mood of the collection by choice of music and set. They are becoming widely accepted as an alternative to a fashion show, they merge the commerciality of show with entertainment and visual spectacle that has an immediate public reaction. It is this immediate response which stems from the power of internet so designers are looking to fashion films as sources of media content to highlight minute details of the construction of garments which can be missed in catwalk presentation and also to enhance the collection with an overall aesthetic which a designer wants to project.

As a journalist said about McQueen’s F/W2006 fashion film ‘The witches of Culloden’ it projects,’ the wizardry of fashion and its ability to move the spirit.’ Fashion films can create a bigger theatrical spectacle which is more than just showing the garments at a catwalk, you instead become privy to background knowledge of the collection, increased awareness of the feel and mood of the designer which I feel is central to becoming interested and therefore excited by the collection.
However, this is not a recent fashion sensation as Poiret in 1911 shot a promotional film which included full history of the designs and footage of his famous ‘mannequins’ kitted out in his designs which he took on tour with him to show off his designs. Couturier Norman Hartnell released film named ‘Making fashion’ shot by Humpray Jennings in 1938 for S/S collection which similar to Poiret showed how garments were prepared and his inspiration a kind of behind the scenes look from a leading designer.

This is different from fashion films of today as they are not so focused on being commercials of design but more interested in projecting film as body of art, this I feel can be traced back to Erwin Blumenfeld who from 1958 to 64 shot fashion films which experimented with body distortions, design, kaleidoscopic framing and college techniques all in a way to enhance the body with movement.

In the 70s and 80s fashion photographers Richard Avedon and Helmut Newton who previously were both known for shooting fashion models with dramatic movements as to look like shot a captured moment in time, it gave the image the aesthetic of a film still. They were motivated by how body transforms and moves when adorned, and as fashion as a mobile, dynamic entity.

 Helmut Newton

Richard Avedon
They became involved with Japanese brand Jun Rope and between them directed fashion films that were truly innovative and focused on garments as an expression of art.

Since Spring London Fashion Week in 1990 when designers such as Rifat Ozbek, Jasper Conran and Anthony Price decided to show fashion film instead of catwalk presentation some of my favourite designers such as Hussein Chalayan, McQueen, Gareth Pugh all have made fashion films.

Margiela F/W 1998
Hussein Chalayan S/S 2008
Gareth Pugh Fall 2009
To the future I don’t think the catwalk will be replaced totally with fashion films they will instead be incorporated as an extra inclusive entity to showcase the designer’s collection. What I do think though is they will become more artistic, innovative and entertaining to compete with the garments they have to make them come alive through the lens creating an all encompassing visual 3D spectacle.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The Wabi Sabi Aesthetic.

In one of my earlier posts I mentioned the Japanese theory of Iki in terms of a fashion aesthetic – which means that it concentrates on simplicity in design as to sustain physical and emotional distance between the opposite sex, but not completely losing it. It is a mode of self expression that doesn’t aim to bring attention to oneself, it is sophisticated, muted and minimal in styling.

Going on from that I have come across another Japanese aesthetic named ‘Wabi Sabi’ it has similar connotations as Iki but is more about the allure of unadorned clothing and finding beauty in imperfection. The Wabi Sabi aesthetic is not just defined in clothing but is more of a lifestyle choice – it is in respecting organic processes, of being in tune with nature, of accepting the natural growth and decay in life, of accepting an unadorned materialistic life and being humble by choice.

As Richard R Powell the author of ‘Wabi Sabi Simple’ explains, ‘nothing lasts, nothing is finished and nothing is perfect.’ I would like to say I have some of the qualities of a Wabi Sabi aesthetic but in reality I am materialistic as I would rather spend my last twenty on a top then donate to a wildlife trust (don’t judge) and have no proper knowledge of the ecosystem in living with an ecological mindset and what that fully entails.

However when it comes to the fashion of a Wabi Sabi aesthetic that excites me as some of my favourite Japanese designers embrace the Wabi Sabi aesthetic – Rei Kawakubo for Comme Des Garcon, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamato.

It is all about discovering a difference between something being pretty and interesting, clothing which is elegant but has traces of history and time within them. Deconstructed tailoring, frayed unfinished edges, ripped couture, monochrome palette, asymmetrical hemlines, distressed treated fabrics and androgynous style all reflect aspects of a Wabi Sabi aesthetic.

In that I can say I do embrace a Wabi Sabi aesthetic because I like not looking too put together, I’d rather be a jolie-laide than a Chelsea ra. In summary I’ll leave it to Yohji Yamamato who said ‘I think perfection is ugly’ and I fully agree.

Issey Miyake

Yohji Yamamato

Rei Kawakubo for Comme Des Garcon

Saturday, 6 April 2013

New Designers X High Street

Collaborations between new fledging designers and established high street chains are what help cement the designer into the public eye and with the sponsorship enable further collections to be created.

Claire Acton who only graduated in June 2012 from University of Central Lancashire has collaborated with Asda G21 line based on her graduate collection which she has re-tailored to suit a cheaper budget and a more wearable design. Normally I wouldn’t recommend supermarket clothing but with this line it is full of daring bright coloured garments which have a high end approach behind them that I love and prices are redonculous as well.

Her inspiration is from the 60s with bold photographic print and use of pop art colouring throughout. My favourite look from the collection is the pinafore dress which I feel is bang on trend this summer coupled with the bold eye design shirt underneath – the mix of shape and volume I think will really balance off each garment.

The hairclip print dress is also a winner I think - it is based on her graduate collection where she sanded, primed and spray painted 800 hair clips then sewed onto dress, Lady Gaga snapped up this dress and wore it on her recent tour.

Georgia Hardinge a graduate from Parsons Paris school of Art and Design has taken over from Rhianna in being the next collaboration sponsored by River Island her 14 piece collection for S/S takes inspiration from surrealist artist H.R.Giger. She has used architectural, dramatic print which gives a 3D effect to the garments. They range from bodycon dresses to my favourite a maxi dress which still has the dramatic print but has a loose textured shape that gives a feminine yet edgy look for this summer.

This collection has a sophisticated, edgy yet countered feel by use of print mixed with cut to give a sculptured shape to the garments. Shoes, shirt, bag and dress all have the same treatment a powerful architectural yet feminine flow perfect for this summer.

Both designers collections are available to buy online now – could be a future investment piece from promising designers.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Exhibition Review - Black: Masters of Black in Fashion and Costume.

I have recently come across images from the 2010 exhibition ‘Black: Masters of Black in Fashion and Costume,’ at MoMu (Mode Museum Antwerp) which ran from March 25 to August 8, 2010 curated by Wim Mertens, Karen Van Godtsenhoven and Kaat Debo.

I absolutely love the look of this exhibition I like how it explored the use of the colour black within fashion and historical costumes and showcased a selection on designs from some contemporary designers such as Van Herpen, Comme Des Garcon, Ann Demeulemeester, Raf Simons and Gareth Pugh among others.

I enjoyed the spectacle from the images, by juxtaposing fashion design and costumes garments alongside period works of art: such as Viktor and Rolf next to Van Dyck painting from 1637. It shows the correlation between fashion and art, also how fashion has similarities, such as the light and shadow created in garment when worn is also seen in painting with the depiction of shadows across the surface, it highlights how black is not just a singular colour but has many different shades.

The garments were all displayed on black headless mannequins adding to the spectacle of the exhibition and there was no use of labels, instead guests followed their own path around the exhibition in which they were visually stimulated to first, the explanatory text was within the exhibition catalogue which created increased user interaction.

I feel that the exhibition aids to and strengthen the argument of fashion being seen and recognised as work of art by garments being displayed side by side to historical paintings.

How can a Alexander McQueen machine lace dress from his S/S 2007 collection situated next to a historical taffeta cape from 1890-1910 not both be deemed as works of art that is the question.