7 June 2011

Plokhov before Plokhov

Spring/Summer 2006

"Sorry, Alexandre who?".  Fashion seems to have a rather selective memory, forgetting much, but immortalizing (or rather rewriting) specific nostalgic moments past.  Nostalgia is important here, because what is remembered is often mythologised to an extent far beyond its actuality, so what you are left with is an idea of a memory rather than a memory in and of itself.  And yet as odd as this process sounds in isolation, it is a method of thinking that can be applied across human culture, let alone individual thought.  I find myself revisiting fashion's past, filtering through so very much in order to find what it is that interests me, what it is that makes me stop and think.  Coming back to something, or indeed finding something you did not encounter in its original passing, allows one to read and apply a meaning that can often be at odds with that which was originally present.  Take for example the '80s revival and how it was reinterpreted and rewritten, most often by those who were not old enough to really remember, or live, it.

When seeking out inspiration we often find ourselves flipping through image after image at an often alarming rate, just to find something that interests us.  It is easier than ever these days, with technology allowing us access to unlimited information in ever increasingly unlikely situations - you could quite happily sit in some inhospitable corner of the world and access the latest fashions on your phone.  Fashion imagery in our everyday lives is everywhere, but woe betide it be on the threshold of the outdated.  But then, allow significant time to pass, and what you have is not outdated, but quaint and inspirational.  A dress from two seasons ago is old, but a dress from two decades ago is 'vintage' (I do rather dislike the way that term is often used).  It sometimes seems as if there is so much going on that you need time to go back and revisit things, just to give them your full attention.   

Inspiration can often be a mere snippet of a whole, so that what we find, whilst being identifiably part of a certain era or style, is still only a snippet - therefore available to reinterpretation and change.  It is an unconscious act for us all - our brains are designed to take in information and dismiss it almost immediately, focusing only on that which is most pertinent.  Memory therefore tends to work in an odd way.  I remember a certain hand or a certain colour.  It is those ostensibly inconsequential details that stand out.  And yet for all their seemingly unimportance, the memories we cherish most are made up of those little details.  I feel it is the same for inspiration, for it is those select bits and pieces that make up what we are intrigued by.  I see the snippet of a past collection, or some garment I like, and that compels me to try to find out more.

When it comes to my own relationship with fashion, I think it is that idea which is most important.  It is the small details that seem to ingrain themselves to the mind.  I suppose that makes sense - all you need is the seed of an idea and it flourishes to create something infinitely consequential (I am reminded of the Dhammapada, which opens with a verse on the importance of thought).  A collection starts with a thought, an idea, and it grows from that.  It twists and turns, as the designer tries to find the ways of expressing that thought, and at the end what is produced is hopefully a result of some part (or indeed ideally the totality) of that thought.  That being said, whether the thought that started a collection on its journey is something I identify with on a personal level or not, or whether the end expression is something I would personally wear, it does not really matter, because sometimes you can simply admire the style of delivery.

Although any form of design is subjective, for a quantifiable measure of beauty could never be achieved, I often feel that a good collection lies in the clarity of expression - when the designer essentially speaks through their clothing.  I try on a piece and I know all I need to know about that designer.  Of course it never does stop there, because that feeling, of knowing the designer through their clothing, makes me want to know more - the idea behind the clothing that I identify with so personally, the ideas that motivate the designer who can create something I find so special.  It is the start of a journey, to understand and to appreciate.

For a long time much of Plokhov's work at Cloak did not really click with me.  There were pieces I loved, but a lot of it I did not understand.  There was something lost in translation so to speak.  However as these things seem to go, once you begin to delve under the surface of that which you do not understand, you gain an appreciation.  Nowadays I hold Cloak in incredibly high esteem - understandably too late in reality, however I do keep an eye out for select second hand pieces.  In fashion the focus is always on the newest thing, and so, in a way I am glad we can look back and admire that which has already passed.  As much as fashion progresses, it will always been rooted to its relationship with the past, because it is only though understanding what went before that you can truly sustain something new.  Whether that be old craft skills applied to new techniques, or old shapes reworked into a new look.



  1. your writing style trounces mine i must say. give this lad a job i say!

  2. Really enjoyed this. I think people could take a lot from your point about the ironic distinction made between two seasons ago and two decades ago. I don't mind the word vintage at all, when it is used to describe clothes that come from anywhere between 1920 and 1990, but I do find it strange that we're so quick to dismiss after a year the clothes we'll later cherish as trophy vintage pieces in our wardrobes as if it really means anything. The sense of disregard and disrespect I feel for a lot of things in fashion is saddening. And so is the caprice.

    I've found myself thinking a lot lately about the way attitudes in fashion do the medium no favours and keep it from being truly respected as an art form in its own right.

  3. I just love reading your writing.

  4. Amazing outfits, very fashionable! I really love reading your posts.

  5. I do hate how we just throw things away after a few seasons and don't give it any thought. I love all these looks; I wish they would have stuck around!