24 May 2011

Slipping By

Fall/Winter 2009

In seeking to develop and understand my own tastes and style I find myself by nature looking to the past.  There is for me a sense of comfort in the past, and it provides a wealth of inspiration, especially through the romanticized view of nostalgia.  Old collections are by definition no longer in fashion, and I tend to find that which is no longer in fashion a far more reliable indicator of personal taste.  The cultural fuzz surrounding the current and the new can often obscure the perception of it, hence the behaviour of looking back at outfits people wore a decade ago (or indeed simply a few years ago) and wondering what they were thinking.  That is until pieces are picked up and reworked into the contemporary scene.  For me, looking back to old fashion is not simply a matter of being able to view it with hindsight, but rather being able to view past fashion in a more personal and un-mediated manner.   

The industry surrounding fashion churns out the new at what can often be a bewildering speed, however for me it is the notion of trends that disorientate most.  Fashion is often espoused as being an expression of individuality, however the system of fashion, in particular the insistence of the gatekeepers (that is to say the mediators between what is shown on the catwalk and the general public) on trends is in practice about social conformity rather than individuality.  There are those in fashion, and those outside of fashion.  Holding the approval of being in fashion is accompanied with the anxiety of being then at risk of slipping at any moment outside of fashion.  Personally I would rather have nothing to do with that.  Trends are taken from the shows, yet are far removed from the actuality of the designs viewed - they are categorized and labelled by those viewing and assessing what is shown.  In the case of fast fashion, it is the system around which its entire industry is built - pre-packaged, instantly disposable, affordable looks that play upon the anxiety of the consumer.

I like the idea of looking at past collections because I can choose to ignore what the current trends are and simply just look at the clothing.  Of course one could argue that this provides an incomplete image.  Take for example Slimane's work at Dior - without understanding the cultural influence and the zeitgeist of menswear at the time, it is somewhat difficult to really comprehend the impact his collections had on fashion.  However from a purely aesthetic viewpoint, and using the visual imagery in the development and understanding of one's own tastes, that wider understanding is arguably not relevant.  As such one can look at the clothing in a more un-mediated sense.  Whilst the subsequent development of fashion will no doubt influence how one then looks towards past collections, it allows a more personal connection to the clothing displayed.

Sometimes I wish people would actually stop and look, and then make up their own minds as to what they like and what they do not like.  Far too many people seem to be pushed into wearing things they do not actually like all that much, or are uncomfortable in, simply for fear of being out of fashion.  Personally, I don't care if how I dress is not on-trend.  Indeed to quote a wise man, "I'd rather dress plain and have interesting thoughts, than be a walking mannequin". 



  1. I really wish, however ridiculous this sounds, that children would be educated in school about fashion. It has the potential of being an integral and universal outlet for self expression, I would even argue that it would be of higher value than the anxiety inducing lessons on strangers and paedophiles.

  2. I think this is what differentiates stylish people from those who are merely fashionable. When you lack the sense of actually dressing to suit your personal taste or use it as a way to portray who you are, but choose to dress for others - you just end up being something of a puppet. I do get why teenagers do it (they don't really know who they are yet and need a sense of 'belonging'), but too many adults let the media and high street dictate their looks. I love that the Japanese (Yohji, Rei & Co.) never saw fashion in terms of seasons, but sought to create timeless pieces in each collection that transcended seasons.

  3. Its a matter of you want to be and who you are..some days..you are just somewhere inbetween. Very dark design..like the future will be sad.

  4. As long as you stay inspired..that's what counts.