17 May 2010

"Any Colour But Black Is The New Black"

The boy shuffled his Rick Owens clad feet nervously as he pulled a cigarette out from the breast pocket of his Julius leather jacket. He twirled it expertly between his fingers and looked up into the dark sky. The wind raced swiftly down the alleyway barging into every nook, with the rain trailing on her heels. He cursed under his breath as he shivered, lifting the cigarette awkwardly to his lips.

The sheer Damir Doma vest that he wore bared his chest to the worst of the elements, so he zipped up his jacket all the way. In that moment he wished he had gotten the money to buy that Robert Geller liquid black knit. It would have been so warm. With his free hand he fumbled around the pockets of his Gareth Pugh trousers seeking out a lighter. He managed to get a grip on the lighter and drew it out, swiftly pulling his thumb over the wheel. It wheezed apologetically and only a few lame sparks darted out into the darkness.

As he stood there cold and damp, he remembered that he did not actually smoke and that he rather enjoyed bright colours and crazy patterns. He thought of how a few Hedi-era Dior Homme garments had led him so far down this dark path. His wardrobe was full of clothing that although fashionable and cheerful for others, were not quite beautiful on him - they were far too sad. Things had gotten out of hand far quicker than he had imagined possible. So, as he threw down the cigarette, he decided in that moment to leave the sheer jerseys, washed leathers and swathes of black.

Maybe this had simply been his goth phase. His mother had warned him about that, although he was sure she had mentioned safety pins, make up and something about a lady called Siouxsie who hung out with banshees. That mother of his, she really was odd sometimes.

Asher Levine
Fall 2010

New gothic romanticism, dark futurism, wisps of black over black - however you choose to describe that certain ubiquitous style, its gaining mainstream strength does raise a wealth of interesting questions. From the draped fabrics and raw hems of Rick Owens and Damir Doma, to that iconic Julius zipped leather jacket, to the black t-shirts of Bassike, to the draped jerseys of All Saints, to the raw hems of Topman, one can trace the inevitable dissemination of a trend aesthetic from catwalk to high street. What seems new and exciting in the mainstream mass produced designs of Topman, seem a few steps behind to the fans of All Saints, who themselves seem a cheap knock off to the dedicated Rick Owens fan boys. Yet a thread runs throughout them all and from that springs a diverse array of styles and fashions.

Fashion is not necessarily a top-down or bottom-up process, but rather different spheres constantly interacting and evolving organically. The ability to find a cheap raw hem jersey t-shirt in Topman, or the ability to find something visually similar but priced at ten times the price at Bassike, or the ability to find something again visually similar priced twice that version at Rick Owens is perhaps worthy of discussion and analysis itself, but one is tempted to brush it aside for now with that broad excuse of it being fashion - the difference between the catwalk and the high street.

The issue of reproduction has always been a concern at the centre of artistic production. Does the reproduction of a Monet onto a fridge magnet somehow devalue or desublimate the original artwork? Of course fashion is perhaps not the perfect subject for such an analogy as clothing is always intended to be marketed and purchased and is usually produced in multiple, whereas a Monet will be a singular painting owned by a gallery or private collector. The painting is made either to commission, or as is more often the case today, for public exhibition rather than private consumption.

One could argue that by virtue of buying clothes in order to wear them that clothing also serves the function of public exhibition, however that is not as dominant a function as it is for art. Art also tends to be a singular entity, unlike fashion which is usually a wide production. The very fact that a number of garments will be made by a singular fashion house, no matter how exclusive, is of importance however, for to then have a number of popular manufacturers creating cheaper versions possibly raises the same questions. Does it in some way devalue the artistic expression of the designer? Or, does it in fact add another dialogue to the conversation?

Fashion by its very nature is seen more than it is actually experienced. Images of fashion are infinitely more accessible than the pieces depicted therein. I may only try on one or two pieces from the latest Ann Demeulemeester collection, however I have already seen the catwalk images in their entirety and consumed images of pieces in a number of editorials long before I step into the store. Magazine editorials and the theatrics of the catwalk create a fictive landscape for the clothing - a fantasy that is constructed in your mind before you even see and touch a garment in real life.

Compare that to the accessibility and mass production of the high street, where an aesthetic is readily available, however arguably within a far more confined fictive construct. Boom, random sentence to thank you for reading this far, I would give you cupcake, but the logistics would be rather tricky. One does not see the garments in a variety of themed editorials, but usually on a single mannequin if lucky. However the very accessibility of that garment means that one is likely to see a number of incarnations and combinations of it upon random people on the street.

In both instances the overriding initial aesthetic may be similar, however by virtue of the number of people who wear the clothing, and more importantly how they choose to wear it, there is perhaps a multitude of competing and diverse aesthetics. That would perhaps suggest that the fact that people wear those garments at all would in a way change the aesthetic. Repeated wear in different combinations again creates a number of styles even with regards to the single wearer. A painting is unable to undergo such a transformation, aside from placing it in a number of different settings, lest one attack the canvas with a brush.

A designer can create a specific aesthetic, however that is merely an imaginative fiction for the consumer, more a starting point than a worn inevitability. As such the way in which an aesthetic can become a broad trend ranging from catwalk to high street perhaps allows for far greater diversity and expression than the die hard fans of certain designers would otherwise have. Fashion is far from democratic, but an aesthetic can be more so, for one need only dress in the vein of a trend to play upon it. I may not actually buy those Asher Levine shoes or that cutaway jacket, but I may just think about it the next time I pull on a draped black jersey top.

Currently playing: Who Knows ft. Mike Posner - Big Sean



  1. love it. courtauld fountain times soon please? lots of love xxxxxx

  2. Hello. I hope this finds you doing well. I've been on a blogging hiatus since the beginning of the year, so it's been quite some time since I've been around to visit some blogs. I'm back from my break now. I wanted to make sure to visit your blog. I enjoyed checking out the latest posts on your blog. Great job. I'm back blogging now myself. I hope you'll take a look at what I'm doing. Thanks. Take care. Have a great week.

  3. Excellent excellent post.

    -ps. cupcake lol!

  4. I am a big fan of this aesthetic myself... Wish I had the funds and the mien to carry it off..

  5. I am not completely convinced by this collection because this seems a little redundant. However, those shoes are amazing.


  6. That is new though..all that draping..huh?

  7. These are so great and powerful!

    i LOVE your blog!

  8. All the designs were quite interesting!

  9. I love this sort of style. I'm just not sure how I would be able to pull it off. I don't think I would be able to, although I do try.

    I really love your description of it all. You're an amazing writer.

  10. I am really drawn to this kind of style but, here in hawaii I think i would die wearing it. Love rick owens work but, it all seems a little redundant. Wheres my cupcake?!?

  11. I really loved your opening paragraph to this.

  12. even with that romantic flavor..something still a bit industrial about this.

  13. LOVE this collection! The shoes are mighty kick-ass.
    Fab post! :)

  14. Hey there. Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I really appreciate it. I'm very excited to be back blogging. It's also great to be able to check out blogs like yours that I like a lot. Take care. I hope the rest of your week is wonderful.

  15. well put honey, i like the cuts of the jackets above.

  16. love the jackets and those boots are cute too! xx

  17. you really do have a way with words!

  18. Such cool outfits...love those shoes!!!

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