9 September 2010

Wrapped Up

Autumn crosses down from the horizon of Summer's dusk, bringing with it that alluring promise of one last celebration before the clean icy grip of Winter.  The days slowly darken, the clouds return from their migration swelling with each nearing step, and you feel the welcome return of the wind as it kisses your cheeks, then picks up speed, swirling and fluttering around you.  The trees that seem to have stood green for so long slowly begin to change colour, their edges burning brightly in deep reds, honeyed ambers and delightful golds.  The smell of roasted chestnuts and caramel peanuts from some roadside vendor evoke those childhood memories of cosy nights at home, curled up watching Jonathan Creek after a hot bath.

One day, as you rise from your bed, sleepy-eyed and woolly-headed, you look out the window and decide that today is the day to finally pull on those chunky knits and wrap yourself up in an indulgently soft and cosy outfit.  Sometimes you just want to sink into something warm and comfortable to protect you from those autumnal chills, and after months of wearing as little as possible, the notion of layering and draping is a wonderfully welcoming thought.  You focus on the tactility of your garments, of how the fabrics will feel against your skin - the slightly rough and ticklish sensation of wool, the warm and cushioning feel of cashmere, the smooth and velvety feel of wool flannel.  It is about dressing not simply to look a certain way, but to quite literally feel a certain way.

It is about wearing something cosy and warm in protection against the elements.  In that way dressing for Autumn, as with any other season, is for me to dress directly in relation to your body and thus about your physical experience.  Yet just as you dress to the practicalities of your body, 'one does not act upon the body as if it were an inert object but as the envelope of the self' (J. Entwistle, The Fashioned Body).  Regardless of the fact that we often dress out of a functional need, the act of dressing is still implicitly a result of the consideration and expression of self.  Indeed Kant believed that the aesthetic importance we place in clothing is due to its direct relation in how we view clothing as signs of our rationality.  Whether it be by wearing something to express a specific emotion, or simply the fact that we make a conscious decision in what we choose to wear and what we choose not to wear, the process of dressing is intimately unique to us.

Fall 2010
Fall 2010

Wrap: to arrange or fold something about as a covering or for protection

Dressing is not only a physical process, but also a psychological exercise.  I dress according to my mood, my tastes that day, for the memories and emotions that specific pieces evoke, for the signs and meanings that I wish to convey to others, all the while taking into account the practical requirements of the day ahead.  However wearing chunky knit pieces and cosy clothing is for me not only a practical consideration, or solely about the physical sensations of warmth and protection, but also, perhaps more importantly, about the personal psychological aspects it engages within me.

As the evocation of emotional memory (considered in terms of applied Stanislavski) I think cosy autumnal clothing brings back the happiness and anticipation of select personal childhood experiences.  In a way it is about contentment - of that moment sat on the carpet, rosy-cheeked after a day outside, having been wrapped up warm but with the cold prickling across my face, and finally having come inside as it turned dark to have a hot relaxing bath.  In that way I suppose I share similarities with everyone else, for cosy knitwear no doubt evokes similar content childhood memories and emotions for other.  It is perhaps also hardwired into our biological make-up, for warmth and cosiness is about security, about preserving life, and it is the most primal and powerful of instincts to want to survive.

Whilst the emotional experiences of childhood are perhaps part of the foundation, along with the psychological implications of the physical sensation of being protected and warm, it is also the history of the entirety of my past and present self which influences the way I consider autumnal dressing.  In a way I suppose it is about uniting those experiences and memories, of my past and present, into some coherent form that I wish to convey.  I think that idea is interesting to consider alongside a rather enlightening conclusion from Elizabeth Wilson, who wrote that 'from within a psychoanalytic perspective...we may view the fashionable dress of the western world as one means whereby an always fragmentary self if glued together into the semblance of a unified identity' (E. Wilson, Adorned in Dreams).  In terms of fashion, dress is used to pull together a collection of ideas and images into a coherent identity.  Identity is central to the concept of dressing, for in order for dressing to truly be a process of self-expression, a knowledge and idea of our own personal identity is paramount.

Francesco Cominelli
Photograph by Tommy Ton

Yet to talk of dressing in psychological terms alone sidesteps the importance of the visual element of dressing, that of the aesthetics of fashion.  I dress not only to express, but to be seen to express.  In this respect the idea of wrapping up for Autumn is particularly important.  It is the actual act of wrapping, of folding or arranging something around me, whether it be a chunky scarf, knitted cardigan or coat, that is for me integral to Autumnal dressing.  Wrapping and draping produces a very specific aesthetic, and indeed the wrapping of chunky scarves is an art form all in itself, and it is this aesthetic I think that I associate heavily with Autumn and Winter.  An outfit which has been in any way wrapped and bound is for me related to Autumn, whether it be a scarf, a dressing gown, or even a kimono.

It is curious to me that through the visuality of the dressing act of wrapping alone that I am reminded of all those emotions and feelings that are evoked in the process of partaking in that act myself.  I suppose that is perhaps not as odd as it sounds, for just looking at a cosy image can make us feel cosy - it is the power of the mind acting on the body through experienced and imagined association (I can see an image of a cat rolling in a basket of cashmere yarn, and feel cosy despite not physically knowing how that experience feels).  I assume that many may not actually read the entirety of this post, hence all of the related imagery from Fall 2010 collections.    

Above are the more traditional ideals of fashionable wrapping up, with a focus particularly on volume.  Indeed I was tempted to share images from the Dolce and Gabbana show with the beautiful knitted bodysuits and leggings, however for me volume is an important part of the psychological and emotional journey.  The Dolce and Gabbana looks did not have the layering or voluminous silhouette that I tend to think of.  Whereas the volume was indeed there in the D&G collection, it was a far too literal translation of skiwear, which is somewhat too function-specific for this process.

With the Michael Kors collection I was taken by the lengthy knitted fingerless gloves and the delightfully chunky socks.  There was something about the idea of consciously adding visual weight to the extremities, where most trends will actually tend to taper, that I found intriguing.  It is not only a practical consideration, but also an aesthetic choice, providing a nice hefty volume to the silhouette.  I also rather liked the styling of the trousers tucked into the socks, and sleeves tucked into the gloves, there really was nowhere for a draft to sneak in from.  The Lanvin collection provided a more elegant and stylized take on wrapping up.  I loved the juxtaposition of the heavy upper half with the slender lower half, especially the nonchalantly worn coat with those beautiful trousers in the second look.      

Fall 2010

Julius
Fall 2010
Fall 2010

These looks can perhaps be described as far more conceptual and artistic, however the same fundamentals apply.  Whilst draping is an entirely distinct art, in this case it is draping as a result of the process of wrapping.  Draping is for me far more romantic a visual than your standard wrapped knitted piece, because the slouch and folds of the cloth add an element of softness entirely separate from the tactility of knitwear.  Yet the two are similar in the emotional memories they evoke for me, and also in terms of aesthetics, for I feel that the gentle draping of these looks and the soft volume of the silhouettes previous are related.  In both there is a  certain sensuality that is important to understanding their allure.  Indeed for me autumnal dressing is about sensuality, for it is dressing in certain clothing for the physical aspects as well as the indulgence of those psychological aspects discussed.  The act of dressing thus becomes an exploration of self and a personal journey into my memories and emotions. 


xxxx

13 comments:

  1. "Dressing is not only a physical process, but also a psychological exercise. I dress according to my mood, my tastes that day, for the memories and emotions that specific pieces evoke, for the signs and meanings that I wish to convey to others, all the while taking into account the practical requirements of the day ahead." You sum it up perfectly.

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  2. Interesting about the scarf collar. Hmmm..yes, its the mood that overshadows the fashion, a lot. I think. But fall soon turns to winter and you really do have the elements to worry about.

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  3. Oh to be a man with suitcases full of money in London! I'd buy all these coats - they look so fab! I especially love that grey Lanvin coat though. That really is something!

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  4. soooo excited for cold weather now

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  5. omg i'm alway jealous of the menwear! my favorite michael kor scarf are soo awesomeand ann demeulemeester like th ecoat wrap and the boots woowweeserer!i want winter to come like right now!

    have a great day

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  6. These looks look so dramatic, I love them. Plus, Rick Owens can do no wrong!

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  7. Thanks :P
    really nice looks ! Have a great weekend !

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  8. I adore fall and winter dressing, the layering and the cozy is all too perfect... love these looks!

    -Marta

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  9. Love the menswear, not often that I Get excited about menswear. Rick Owens is amazing

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  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  11. I suck coz I only appear to be able to think of one joke and one joke alone...

    Why did the plane crash into the house????



    COZ THE LANDING LIGHT WAS ON!!

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