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Sunday, February 19th 2017

10:16 PM

Facets Of Engineered Inspiration

P  lease forgive how this starts...

Unauthorized copying or transferring of any aspect of content in any articles within this platform without expressed permission of the author of this blog is not allowed (I loathe to name names that precipitated this as more formal action is bring explored. The price of growing popularity...sigh).

Now, let's return to your reason for reading.

The Fall Winter 2017/2018 collections are in full force with matters wrapping up in New York and London now capturing media attention, and one of the more prominent expressions is the clever articulation of deconstruction that has been taking place. Those who know fashion history have seen some clever technical expertise in the exploration of this design approach executed over the years when deconstruction has been explored. 

Part of the evolution lies in the technology at one's disposal to take imagination and inspiration from conceptualization into actualization. Over the years, as technology has become more sophisticated, so have the results. Right now, a lot of the deconstruction is within craft lines, with extended dimensions to morph proportion, accent layering aspects and accentuate new silhouette variations. It almost is like genetic mutations of classic design where portions are being stretched and cut apart. But not all deconstruction follows this formula. That is, other approaches take the recombination of elements that is traditional deconstruction and adds proportion play and element distortion to produce new elements to incorporate into construction and this create new design. 

This blog foresaw how this evolution coupled with technological advancement would evolve as we morph towards a more 21st century design as per the Fashion Observed article "Recombinant Deconstruction Is It's Name-o" (Sept. 19, 2015). Here, as seamless weaving and 3D printing becomes more commonplace regarding technical execution (most likely merged with VR imaging in the design process for enhanced design conceptualization), we would see more organic expressions in design; it would be like a 2.0 version of deconstruction. For example, a dress with a collar that slowly drapes into a sleeve that would have a segment becoming a cape, all seamlessly together as the textile slowly morphs from a tweed into a solid wool felt from one of the tweed's colours while an underlay of nearly clear translucent silk degrades into a solid monochrome micro-plaid with fiberoptic threading in places for added glow and cross-threads with binary colour range based on temperature sensitive dyes transforms from a sheath to a drape in a skirt-train that splits into multilayers to complete a wrap skirt and separate from behind like petals of a flower, the whole layer itself also seamless, with various pockets woven within to add volume in strategic places (neat stuff). 

​While the technology mentioned above is in various stages, right now such technology that studios have access to now is enough that we can design the type of deconstruction that resembles such morphing, and various collections this season that have deconstruction are taking this possibility to the kind of levels of execution that requires a textile engineer of sorts; the combinations of drape and element inclusion that verges on cubist or surrealist vision is fast becoming more present on the current runways. A glance at some of the pieces within collections by ADEAM, Casely-Hayford, Monse, Ports 1961, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Proenza Schouler and VFiles' Snow Xue Goa & Danielle Cathari show hints of this alluding to the kind of transformative handiwork that will one day involve complex weaving and textile "printing" to inspire even more sophisticated future efforts as intricate technology becomes more accessible.

The cubist effect that these design results conveys fits nicely with the 20s/30s themes that have been seen in some collection influences as well, and we know of course the reasons for such presence of those decade influences that fashion has been flirting with in seasons past. Well, if you have been reading this blog for a while you will. For those who are newer to the blog, we will revisit and revise the background behind these...and other...retro influences again. That is, just as the collections seem to have this season.

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Monday, February 13th 2017

5:21 PM

Long Division

N  ow the fashion floodgates fling open as the Falll Winter 2017/2018 collections stream in. While other world capitals have shown, the Big Four really got formally underway at the beginning of last week. But those who have been watching know that collections started streaming in earlier in the month from London, Paris and New York in advance of their proper calendar. The fabric of formality is slowly being torn asunder as she collections test the "see-now-buy-now" model while others stay with tradition with pragmatic caution.  

The collections so far are being scrutinized in a large part to the past political changes represented in ideological shifts within various western nations. The struggle of "left" versus "right" has seen the kind of political overhaul that brings great stress. Not only form a business standpoint as immigration sentiments and tax changes loom, but also the revelation of the degree of xenophobia and nationalism that prominent  democracies contain leave the fashion community in a range of turmoil that the largess of the general public is radiating.

But as fear-based division threatens the kind of growth first-world societies have cultivated, just as many are holding fast to uphold what we know makes sense for the greater good of mankind. As New York is near the epicentre of the most aggressive of tumultuous change, it seems fitting that it conveys this chaos succinctly. Vogue Runway in particular is finding a few choice approaches designers are making regarding the translation of sentiments that reflect the public's equally diverse mindset, especially where economics is involved.

The segmenting of the public is one influence that cannot be missed that is easy to translate in fashion almost literally. Collections from Beaufille, Milly and Prabal Gurung took to segmenting to emphasize the growing division (similar at Katie Eary on the "other side of the pond") while those from Custo Barcelona, Gary Graham, Gypsy Sport and Public School had the ecological effort of textile collaging or even patchworking (with sentiments reflected overseas at Cedric Charlier and Vivienne Westwood) to show a diversity at odds yet still together somehow. And most collections involved the haphazard styling of incongruous pieces layered to form our 21st century uniform of confusion; wearing our chaos in mismatched print or contrast of textile and textures seems more the norm for now as we struggle to find our footing now that we know we are not all on the same page.

And yet, we are together. While some find comfort in feeding ignorance, fear and ultimately separation, many more know the cost of this is too high and are seeking ways to find a solution to keep us together. It is a long journey that comes from not just recognizing the sources of division, but to find ways to reach out in the name of cohesion. The recognition of the value of each others diversity is a good place to start.

We'll see what else the collections have to say about us...next article.

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Saturday, February 4th 2017

7:49 PM

Doing The Two-Step Back

I  n the previous article, we last left you pondering the observations that the recent Spring Summer 2017 Haute Couture shows presented with a promise to continue discussions based on what was noticed. Today, we do not disappoint.

The haute couture world is a special one indeed. One might think this has to do with the level of expense associated with the collections, or the length of time to create them and they wold be in the right...to an extent. This is a world that many will never see nor have contact with: the movers, shakers and money makers one only dreams of being compose this world. These are people who know much more than most will ever get to hear about, given that theirs is a world connected to much more that controls versus inhabits the world we see. This is a world privy to information from top sources, with access to advance knowledge and developments that eventually shape what we have around us. Haute couture dresses them and dresses them well.

To do so requires time as the intricacies of each garment can take months of hand-made expertise. Some garments, such as those by Guo Pei, take upwards of two years to produce. Given that these garments take the time that they do means that consideration regarding relevance becomes even more essential; there is nothing worse than knowing that you paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars for something upstaged by a fast fashion cast-off. This is a level of humiliation that is simply not acceptable given the circles these fashions were meant for. However, as pret-a-porter becomes more sophisticated, involves more luxury composition and becomes more the norm for those in the upper classes, haute couture must pull out all stops to retain integrity and remain supreme in the age of information. The exclusive world of haute couture accommodates accordingly.

​It costs a lot of money to have access to the type of forecasting a trending company provides, and you can be sure every successful design house has access to this information incorporated into their budget. Haute couture, of course, has a bigger budget and better connections that provide the kind of information that ensures their relevance to compensate for the lag time it takes for inception to finished product. Thus, any information we can gleam from the collections are the type of information we would find much more reliable for a sociological standpoint.

While there are many trend points form the larger wave of various global collections touching on the 60s through the 90s, the interesting observations hint at something less joyful in expectation, enhanced by current global political shifts. The tension of  a potential war is inescapable these days and were long anticipated as we saw the rise of xenophobia and protectionist stances that remind us all to well of the sentiment that propelled the war years we fear are returning. Be it hats worn as halo hats or in the simplicity of sleeve construction at Chanel; skirt simplicity and proportion at Dior; 40s glam and Schiaparelli surrealism hints at Elie Saab; a zoot suit and big shoulders at Jean Paul Gaultier; and shoulder detail and hats at Ronald van der Kemp all hint of the 40.

Meanwhile, the post-war social regression and nuclear fears trigger another decade revisit. The wide sweeping skirts at Chanel, long A-lines at Dior and expansively wide ballgowns at Viktor & Rolf all hark of the 50s when the equality embrace of pants-wearing Rosie the riveter took a back seat to June Cleaver domesticity. The recent insult that the White House inadvertently delivered in its dress code edict seemed almost foreshadowed by the forces shaping the gowns coming out of Paris as we face the pendulum of social development swing towards the conservative. Fear does that.

But fashion no longer suffers the constraints of singular influences. Ours is an age of information (or , more recently, misinformation) and the cumulative forces shaping our societies are finding expression in multiple trend threads weaving a complex tapestry that tells the ongoing story of the development of man/womankind's prominent cultures. And no longer are the messages coming for any one place. Now, collections from the world over are being paid attention to as we grow in appreciation of efforts from our fellow human beings in far reaches of the globe. And with each one, we will look to see what they have to tell us; we never know who will have the most interesting thing to say.

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Sunday, January 29th 2017

11:13 PM

Too Haute To Handle

I  t seems trite to talk about the importance of material things when the world is in great stress over huge changes that fail to reveal certainties of our future.

The efforts of those who are creators within the field of design that this blog covers that fight for the preservation of fundamental rights for our fellow human beings is testament of priorities. But to give up the other facets of existence would signal that hopelessness wins. Our continuation of our spirit to live cannot end. Rather, it must go on to signal that we are not defeated by the events of the world. It also means we can multitask; we can both continue to live to the fullest and uphold what is right at every turn and this is what we do.

The scheduled time to protest and make a stand is balanced by continuation in the human race, and sometimes these overlap. The designer that creates gets the chance to use their hard-earned media time to make profound statements in the name of democracy, equality, human rights, the environment and/or whatever needs attention. Those who remember fashion in the late 80s will remember Katherine Hamnett being asked about her collection while she took the platform to talk about causes such as the environment or slave labour within and beyond the industry. Today, with events highly charged since the changing of the guard regrading the US presidency and the subsequent upheavals ranging from human rights and the environment to trade and political relationships, designers find themselves stuck between remaining neutral in the name of business preservation versus maximizing profile and reach to uphold political activism.

Some say that it is not what one says but what one does that speaks volumes. For this blog, it is not what a designer claims as influence as much as what is noticed within the collections that is of note. Designers can't list all the influences and some don't as it kills the mystique. But every piece of camouflage or deconstructed flounce is noticed as fragments within a complex vocabulary that becomes the dialogue designers have with the public about who and where we are. While the Fall Winter 2017/18 collections (which have featured men's looks within these collections) are just beginning to roll out, today we focus on the creme of fashion that is Spring Summer 2017 for Haute Couture.

These collections face even greater scrutiny than ever before on many levels. The passion of their relevance in the face of societal changes in dress run parallel with arguments of relevancy of royal families in the UK when looking at priorities and the economy. Haute couture seems the least practical and least relevant in the eye of the public. Nowadays, most evening wear can be found in pret-a-porter collections that are increasingly becoming see-now-buy-now options online and with the level of technology and attention to detail can offer much of what would have been unfathomable years ago (and more likely the domain of haute couture). The expense is another matter where economics and class division are increasingly broader public concerns, part of which precipitated the seismic political shifts that are fueling xenophobic sentiment. It's hard to get the public to rally around something so astronomically expensive, and when those who can afford them are finding less reason to wear these as the quality of pret-a-porter goes up and the overall tone of wearing fashion in public becomes less formal. 

​That's not to say that there aren't clients. The rise in economic division has created a class that finds their wealth increasing at a rate that hasn't been seen since the Edwardian times, and so there is a market ready to wear these items. There will always be gowns and glamour; every red carpet and formal ceremony will always find room for these, and when looking at the craftsmanship and materials many pieces elevate to a form of art worthy of collecting. But something else is shifting in this realm of fashion.

The proliferation of societal chaos as represented by  deconstruction is firm as a mainstay design aspect in many collections such as Alexandre Vauthier, Jean Paul Gaultier, Ulyana Sergeenko and Viktor & Rolf with Maison Margiela being the master with a collection that gets to the girders of the structure while highlighting social media augmentation; all pretty modern directions redefining what couture means today. Meanwhile, Alexandre Vauthier acknowledged the relevance issue by mixing high fashion with lowbrow items like denim shorts while Armani Prive, Chanel, Jean Paul Gaultier, Ronald van der Kemp and Schiaparelli had more what the public would call "wearable" items in their collections that could allow the couture client to pass through the streets unscathed. These changes are haute couture's way of reclaiming its relevance in the way fashion is part of the world today while maintaining its DNA in the form of material choice and, of course, the tradition that qualifies it to carry its designation. 

And relevance is the key. As more pret-a-porter collections overtake the segment of formality and refinement while offering wearability, haute couture creeps closer towards extinction. Its artistic merit (and collectability translating into investment potential as a result) coupled with our appreciation for hand crafted work in the age of machines has helped keep it alive. Meanwhile, technical advancement that has delivered new versions of what couture can be such as from Iris van Herpen open the door to haute couture's potential direction and place.

Haute couture had other things to say regarding what it noticed in our world. Given that these collections serve the upper echelons of society, the message within its language serves to underscore the importance of what it observes. If those closer to the seat of power can relate to the messages from these collections, then it speaks volumes about where we are. Next week we will cover some of those observations that may or may not surprise you.

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Saturday, January 21st 2017

8:27 PM

The Newest Chaos

T  o say that fashion is busy these days is an understatement. Not only is this a reference to the showing of Pre-Fall 2017 season that is still happening while the Fall Winter 2017 collections for men (which have shown some womens' looks within these collections) plus the start to the womens' Fall Winter 2017/18 collections (which have featured men's looks within these collections) competes for attention with the Spring Summer 2017 haute couture collections that are now underway, but the reference also applies to the proliferation of prints and textures heaped upon each other in many of the said presentations as well (and even this article's start is busy). The overwhelming changes that we are facing on so many fronts has us in a state of overload.

Political and technological changes compete with generational and cultural changes. So much is happening at once and we have devices to fully inform and critique every aspect of its unwinding, leaving us even more informed than any generation previously.

Much of the clawback for comfort is, of course, the retro story that fashion will not let go because we cannot either. Just as the post 9/11 years rattled us into a holding pattern of the familiar until we could get a grip on what living in the 21st century was going to mean, the changes now have pushed us into oscillation between sentiment and advancement. And as we go through it, the chaos is becoming second nature.

Some collections in the various season categories are reflecting this. Within Prefall 2017's recent outlay, you have Sacai and Stella Jean, while Fall Winter 2017/18's early entrants of Casely-Hayford and Katie Eary take this blended and layered concept into the next season. Meanwhile, gender play in model choice  for Prefall 2017 from Acne Studios and MSGM underscore the confusion as fluidity of our current gender landscape where all are for all and nothing can be categorized and contained. Even the carefully assembled restraint of haute couture shows a little letting loose as the falling away and off-filtered asymmetry creeped into Alberta Ferretti Limited Edition.

We are all feeling the destabilization, unsure of what's next. The industry faces great change as the conventions of the 20th century make way for technology's hold on us in the 21st century. The see-now-buy-now model and the emergence of digital-only retail in the hands of several generations making sense of their place in the new century and millennium that is only beginning to define itself in the face of transformative technologic shaped by the power of AI and big data. All this is reflective of similar forces in various aspects of society thrusting us forward in combat with those resistant to change that aim to push us back.

History has shown that the pendulum swings back and forth as we eventually go forward. The technical genie is out of the bottle but it has yet to conquer the most primal of human behaviour: fight or flight. This powerful force within is all too familiar in fashion as it has long been manipulated to feed its growth. Now we find this to be the force that shapes its creativity, and the battle within finds expression in what's being created today. It will be interesting to see what else will come in the following weeks as the various season collections unveil the latest of observant minds transforming material into functional yet intimate identifiers of our state of mind.  

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Saturday, January 14th 2017

4:45 PM

Sizing Up Our State

N  ow that the holidays are past and a new year is upon us, the Pre-Fall 2017 season collections come back to emphasize current retro-obsessed themes while others give in to experimentation of elements in the unsurpressable urge to grow forward. 

Scale and proportion are one of the aspects of the fundamentals of art. The manipulation of this quality is an intimate communication between the artist and the viewer. Here, the artist can convey a sense of grandiosity or humility, or the point of view of the gods or the child merely​ by playing with the proportion in relation to surrounding elements. In fashion the effect becomes more personal as the viewer doesn't just look at the items but wears them, bringing these emotions into ones personal sphere. The success of this execution relies on tapping into matching sentiments. In the 20s the enormity of the world and its progress saw the wearer swaddled in comfort with coats to protect the wearer while helping to identify with the emotional modesty one inevitably faced in such a quickly evolving cultural climate. The 50s saw this repeated under similar circumstances where technological advancements and global political awareness almost overwhelmed the public. The scale of clothes almost responded as a way of offering retreat, again tapping into proportion in a deeply psychological manner where one forgets the comfort one feels when, as a child, one is huddling in a parent's protective sweater or coat. Similar sentiments fed the 80s while a rejection of the physical design aesthetic as a generational declarative shift found another expression in a more voyeuristic fashion in the 90s when large-scale detail took hold past the mid-decade. In that aspect, a more detached approach found us almost thinking in an existential way to cope versus delving too deep into our personal feelings as we had done before. The clinical, intellectual way of examining our relation to ourselves was held in check under retro foundations to connect us with the antidote of feeling too much; while the obvious retro sources helped remind us of better times to fall on, the details let us safely look at what w knew as looming large.

Now, as we find our intellects tightened with years of access to technology, we are no longer locked in a simplistic model where fashion can sum it up with a few choice influences, although our fears certainly do show its power in trying. The play of scale continues as a sizeable (ha!) component of our personal translation of the times, and it incorporates both intimate and observed components as we are both more aware and self-aware. Be it in proportion or in detail, collections from Christopher Kane, Delpozo, MM6 Maison Margiela, Monse, MSGM, Norma Kamali, Ports 1961, Public School, Stella McCartney and Tome all contain these expressions within to connect to the wearer at large (ha again!).

Soon the Fall Winter 2017 collections will come...as will the haute couture collections...as we enter the next leg of the fashion calendar season and it will be interesting to see how designers take these sentiments forward. Then we can see how much designers feel these influences connect beyond what we have seen so far. Given the scale of world events to come soon and our willingness to express ourselves, we'll see whether confession or emotional antidote wins out, and for who if we are inclined to look beyond the names to who they speak to.       

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Saturday, January 7th 2017

3:51 PM

Where It Stops Nobody Knows

T  he Pre-Fall 2017 season collections seem to be winding down, although it could just be that the holidays took wind out of momentums' sails. Volume and freeform styling were one of the predominant takeaways that mingled with the femininity abounding, bringing to mind a devil-may-care romantic inspiration to the wearer.

In stressful times the artistic direction aims for control but inevitably becomes one of release as control is relinquished, greatly emphasized in periods where creativity is given greater allowance around times of profound change from more liberal environs to more demure conservative tones as inevitable economic restraint is called forward. The hyper-geometric order of the Deco period saw later Erte fluidity and freeform organic design before purses tightened and silhouettes drew in while wardrobes became more conventional by the following decade. The bound and padded formal intricacy of a Dior 50s give way to sculptural modernity and asymmetry that found favour in silhouette exploration on to later simplify towards the 60s as the economic postwar boom ran out of steam. The clean-cut uniform preppy early 80s gathered momentum in a progressive execution of avant grade embrace until we reached the kind of creative innovation we find repeating today only to be met with a rather tempered streetwise normalcy in athleisure, grunge and pragmatic normcore.

In all these eras, expression grew like wild plants until the good times "petered out" and we regressed to a new norm which eventually set the tone for the next wave of creativity to exit from. At this time we have added pressure of our search for the voice of a new century and millennium, not just a new generation. Our self-awareness, coupled with decades of marketing training of the public, has commodified our creative process; trends aren't made out of sheer desire for change, but are now part of a calculated brand strategy to remain competitive in an increasingly strained market that has seen a growing erosion of an economic class normally relied upon to keep our system flowing (i.e. the middle class).

This new dimension of motivation has, in some ways, tempered the creative process by forcing it to fall within marketable lines despite seeing the current creative play with volume and freeform architecture. And yet the tenuousness of the market might be the new factor necessary to allow creativity to burst forth. Technological advancements now further integrated into daily living is feeding innovation under completely new parameters that fashion has never had to work with before. Taken as a tool to aide in competitiveness, this added element may be the new X factor to shake fashion into bold new directions that our existing system alone is unable to fully do at this time (something this blog has written about in detail previously). It's not the materials and techniques alone that will bring this new voice forward, but the desired effect behind technology's incorporation into fashion that will inadvertently get new directions underway.

There is a lot of talk about technology for 2017 and fashion is bound to have some continued thoughts on what it means in relation to itself and the wearer as technology changes its very landscape. Perhaps the progressive embrace of tradition executed in technical ways made more harmonious with our modern sensibilities while blended with textile innovation as seen at Issey Miyake might be a hint when the creative wave crashes as an alternate to satisfying desire for the familiar while embracing our techno future. 

Already, Fall Winter 2017 will be soon here and we know the future cannot be stopped. Has retro fatigue set in? Will fashion go for the technical jugular in response? How long can it sustain unique expression boundary-testing? And is the public truly ready or are world events going to force our hand to pull back? And to where? Only the future knows...and it's here.

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Sunday, January 1st 2017

12:21 PM

Future Form And Function

H  appy New Year, dear readers. There is so much to look forward to for 2017: VR, AR, AI, the technical explosion in textiles as smart tech moves forward....solar textiles coupled with improvements in battery storage length meet designer challenges to take the tech and find its place in aesthetics and practicality. Texture and tactility come to the fore, for real and in illusion via sophisticated weaves and print techniques. We are settled in all we see, now we want to touch.We now ask what it does with expectation as we cut out the labels and focus on the intelligence behind the design. The V & A will support this through inspiration via Balenciaga archival presentation (Balenciaga even influencing Dior while centering on perfection of cut and exploration of modern form, something we are finding now). Colour will be vivid and rich, energetic and bold: La la Land rich. Clean and clear colours, even earth tones with a freshness to match our optimism as emotional survival instinct (or denial).

So ponder what will come and enjoy the start of your year. It will be something to behold.

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Saturday, December 24th 2016

6:11 PM

All We Want For Christmas Is The Genuine Article

N  ormally this blog goes “offline” for the holidays, so we hope you enjoy this special treat as a token of genuine appreciation for your loyalty and readership. In an age where the image rules social media, it seems almost defiant and anarchistic to do an imageless blog about fashion and yet here it is, satisfying what those in the know do in their spare time: read. And that is the gift just for you today.

This year finds a huge shift in behaviour. Trending companies noticed that the public was more interested in the narrative several years back, and “storytelling” as it was branded became a cornerstone in advertising. from this, an understanding of emotional connection came about and what truly mattered was sincerity. Here, the buzzword that starts our year as “authenticity”, partly spurred by the quest for meaning that fashion found through bespoke design efforts.

As we drifted through the year, politics rose to the forefront and we found the internet betraying us through using our very creative efforts against ourselves. Also, coming to light was revelations of disingenuous actions, some of which the fashion industry did not handle so well. Diversity was made into a marketing buzzword while witnessing the opposite, with articles showing efforts seemed more token than actual transformations while "plus size" being a dirty word in fashion. The debacle of designers abandoning Leslie Jones’ request for being dressed for an awards ceremony seemed to be the most glaring example. How can we espouse social advancements when the very industry that could benefit form diversity and has had a long history of inclusion could be so hypocritical? And yet the truth came out that we had much work to do.

We found the industry dabbling with ecological solutions while largely ignoring the work that needs to be done. And should we talk about child labour or slave wages? But that would be unpleasant, and good manners dictates that discomfort should not be fuelled.

But fashion is not alone in this. Our technological platform of democratic communication allowed media channels to be inundated with false news. We became the victims of our own eagerness and hyper-dilligence by allowing fact-checking to go by the wayside in lieu of being first to deliver a scoop, and it served to spread ignorance instead of knowledge. If people had little faith in once-trusted information channels they have ever right to have less now and we are all complicit in its existence when we should demand that actions match our expectations. we gave it a charming label ("post-truth”) but all it did was underscore how even the revelation of this is meaningless. To lie seems to be acceptable. Is it really?

So, in a world where people are separated according to labels, to classes, to affiliations and associations, it seems fitting that fashion expresses the exception that underscores the humanity we are more willing to give thought towards during this time of the year. Fashion’s access hinges on our vanity and the power of public acceptance on many levels from conformity to attraction. It’s hard to win and some who can’t afford or don’t have the appearance/height/weight/physique simply don’t bother. But this trend…the ugly Christmas sweater…is a weird dream antidote befitting of the most aspiring of sentiments. How ironic that something that would have once been the subject of ridicule has become a multi-million dollar business where even fashion itself is getting in on. Celebrities, major merchandizers...even Lord & Taylor has developed a line with Whoopi Goldberg devoted to this holiday object of ridicule. And yet the success is completely understandable.

It is the most inclusive item that requires the least effort and the most gratification despite its being most unflattering. It finds acceptance and, in itself, is the most honest garment. It makes no promises and knows it does nothing for you yet allows the person to fit in anywhere. What a gift that symbolizes the true holiday spirit with a sense of humour. It allows all to succeed by appealing to the lowest bar of taste and does so openly. Given the amount of duplicity and deception in our communication and actions in the public eye these days, the ugly Christmas sweater is fashion’s gift that we have bestowed on ourselves as if to remedy it all. It is the world speaking without saying a word in the most polite and inclusive way that all people matter and are welcome. and by being “as advertised” it truly succeeds.

I hope you feel included and welcome, with good humour and cheer beyond this time, and that you can find it within yourself to do the same for those who come and go in your daily experience. With that, Fashion Observed sincerely wishes you the Merriest of Christmases (and for those who celebrate something else…or nothing at all…a truly Happy Holiday) where the good we know that’s within you finds a match wherever you are to make the holidays bright.

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Sunday, December 18th 2016

8:11 PM

Splicing Modern Incarnations

C  hristmas is a mere week away and the Pre-Fall 2017 season collections continue to arrive at a steady clip, reinforcing ongoing retro themes that this blog has covered...and elaborated on...previously. The dominant creative implementation of retro influences satisfies the public's desire for familiar components as a way to counter current realities that underscore growing global insecurity. That is, by having things that connect with happier times at our fingertips, we continue to have what makes us feel good within the most intimate sight: our mirrors and our social circles.

But we are not so completely riveted in fear that we fail to involve ourselves with anything of our modern world. The textiles and finishings embrace a level of excellence that only technology can provide, and even though the bulk of elements are still largely from the past, there are attempts to grow forward.

Many collections aim for at least come connection with modernity by reconfiguring existing details to integrate these within overall familiar looks. Our current climate, more than ever, supports such experimentation in light of decades of precedent making inroads while broadening our palette.

Simple design innovations from decades past (such as minimalist asymmetry in the 80s) were considered too bold whereas now ideas once the domain of the avant garde have been repeatedly executed in even the most common of markets. With the creative playing field becoming more permissive, we have the ability to test out new configurations, cuts and silhouettes that will help set the stage for the next design configurations that can lead us towards successful fashion evolution.

Some collections are more interested in challenging the safety of familiarity. Easier access to international markets translates to better chances of having access to a like-minded customer base which provides for security to take necessary risks to better attempt at design innovation. 

It's not easy. Do recall this blog has cited the challenge of striking new ground when one has a foundation rooted in a prior time period. Pre-Deco modern design attempts to instigate the 20th century aesthetic we now have got some aspects right (streamlined simplicity verse highly embellished; focus on pragmatic ease of movement instead of constricted fit; sportswear-inspired casualness) and but it took those with no prior connections to the past to truly go forward (e.g. Gibson Girl versus the flapper). But collections such as these are crucial stripping stones that offer the kind of innovative choices that can result in foundations for new directions. 

​The architectural approaches of fashion of the 80s and 90s were powerful influences for modern design concepts that are still with us today, some being evolutions of initial innovations for the 20s and 50s when fashion was influenced by sophisticated abstractions of high art where architecture reigned. As then, modern environments and innovations on a large scale signal cultural shifts as these tend to represent the cumulation of technical prowess made incarnate into commonly shared spaces. These tend to greatly influence modern design on more intimate levels as we seek harmony with our environments.

While all labels deserve accolades for their hard work in a highly competitive field (it is extremely hard work indeed), collections this season from Creatures of the Wind, Monse, Public School and Rosetta Getty delve into existing design exploration techniques such as deconstruction, asymmetrical naturalism and cross-period element blending to facilitate new creative results that seek to take us into new territory beyond our comfort zones without being too "foreign" to alienate current markets. 

Keep in mind that experiments such as these will inch us forward to a level that will serve as a new platform for upcoming generations of the 21st century to run with as they find their voice to give our next era ours. We'll let that sink in as you get ready for the holidays while we wait for more collections to come forward to see what other designers decide to do.

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