26 November 2009
Made To Be Worn
When I first saw this Alexander McQueen oversized knit cardigan in stock at oki-ni I believe that the photograph made me laugh harder than I had in quite in while. In fact if my memory serves me correctly, tears may have actually cascaded uncontrollably down my happily creased face. It worked beautifully on the runway, and yet placed so ungraciously upon the model it...well the photograph speaks for itself. I was somewhat confused as to why somebody would be willing to pay £1,599 (around $2,600 for those of you across the pond) for the pleasure of such a piece.
I suppose that the dangers of theatrics and the balancing of costume and dress upon the runway is something that all designers have to deal with. A designer wants to tell a story during their collection display, and yet at the same time they need these pieces to work once removed from the context of the runway. After all the majority of designers show primarily as a form of advertising, and the economics of fashion are never too far from their minds. A piece ultimately needs to be able to integrate into some form of a closet, even if it be a closet where the wearer may have a particularly avant-garde or specialized taste.
I personally loved how the piece was styled on the runway, and yet the stocked image just did not translate the nature and beauty of the garment for me. It is perhaps one of the better examples of why fashion can never truly be understood when considered in isolation. Context is important to all design, and nowhere is this more important than with fashion. Garments need to convey the designer's meaning, however at the same time they need to be able to be part of a greater meaning - that of the person who wears it.
In isolation the garment looks invariably ridiculous, however sumptuous the fabric and patterning may be. As such I was rather excited to see the piece in action in an editorial for the December issue of Velvet. Given a context the garment made sense, and not only did it make sense, it looked beautiful. Regardless of how wearable the piece may be for everyday, it worked in the shoot because it was given a meaning, both by being worn, but also by being seen in movement. It is always hard to understand that which is meant to flow across and move in intimate unison with the human form, when inspected on the hanger, laid flat, or indeed with such a voluminous piece as this, simply swamping a model. The action and movement made the piece, if I may use such a cliche, come to life.
It is also rather interesting to note that the context created for the piece in this editorial lies in such contrast to the McQueen runway show. I have always felt that the wearer gives a garment its full meaning, and that this meaning is fluid and constantly evolving. One can take the original source of inspiration and create from it, building out to almost anywhere the imagination of the wearer could wish to take it. Indeed I was pleased to see the styling of the shoot, where the McQueen piece was placed alongside earthy leathers, denims, flannels and wools. It created a wonderfully classic and romantic scenario, and yet although it was the ostensible dichotomy of the McQueen collection (with its sharp tailoring and smart finish), the piece worked seamlessly. I suppose this editorial goes to show that it really is a matter of wearing a piece the way you want to create your own meaning.
Currently playing: Ballade No. 1 - Chopin