Monday, 26 September 2011
How does a fashion label go from this:
(the first Gucci store in Florence, set up by Guccio Gucci in 1920s), to this?:
(infamous 1990s ad campaign by Tom Ford)
The history of Gucci, which celebrates its 90th birthday this year, is a fascinating tale of the cultivation of status symbol. Imogen Fox has done a lovely little video here on the guardian website. The intensity of the Tom Ford years in comparison to the more consistent, measured rise of the brand in the years preceding, is especially notable. Did he burn it out?
Thursday, 22 September 2011
Today, the global economy is on the brink of collapse and world leaders are desperately seeking 'dramatic assurances' from the Eurozone. Can I suggest that someone shows them this picture of D&G's spring/summer 2012 collection? As it quite clearly shows, we will all be literally sweating gold and breathing money by then. Phew!
Wednesday, 21 September 2011
Fashion's ability to anticipate how the future will look is surely one of the things that makes it most magical. That 'feeling' you get, (and I cant be any more specific than that), when you see an outfit that is just fresh, new, exciting and 'on the pulse', is amazing. For example, I have recently been thinking a lot about green and silver combinations, so was thrilled to see the appearance of this dress by Christopher Kane for S/S 12. It was also eerily similar to some fabric I picked up at a market in Kyoto during the summer.
How do we explain these coincidences or rationalise this 'feeling' we get when designers seem to correctly anticipate a mood two seasons ahead. As cultural historian Eric Hobsbawm said,
'Why brilliant fashion designers, a notoriously non-analytic breed, sometimes succeed in anticipating the shape of things to come better than professional predictors, remains one of the most obscure questions in history and, for the historian of culture, one of the most central'. I was always quite pleased to read this acknowledgement from Hobsbawm of the significance of fashion theory as a method of reading culture, except that I found comment 'a notoriously non-analytic breed' rather derogatory. Then I watched this clip on the guardian website of Christopher Kane explaining his collection to Simon Chilvers:
Ok, so maybe the man was tired, and some of what he said was really interesting (I loved his comments about a look based on 'the girl you hated at school', which has been a disturbingly common trend for S/S12), but he made much of his references and inspiration for the collection appear to be totally random and coincidental. Is it all down to a short attention span and a low boredom threshold, as he would suggest? Whatever the reason, this collection was one of the most interesting and inspiring I have seen for a long time. He might not know how he does it, but Christopher Kane is a genius and yes, he can predict the future.
Tuesday, 20 September 2011
So this year's London Fashion Week has taken an interesting twist at the hands of Christopher Bailey, which wouldn't be the first time.Last season, Bailey used his fashion house Burberry to subvert the concept of exclusivity and the catwalk show by projecting the A/W show on a huge screen at the tourist-trap centre of London's Piccadilly. This time, he appeared to push the boundaries even further by live-tweeting each look from S/S 2012 before (gasp!) his privileged audience got to see them on the catwalk.
All of this would provide good reason to think of Bailey as a man single-handedly re-inventing the entire concept of the fashion show, as many have done. The first couture shows in London by Lady Duff Gordon in Hanover Square in the early 19th century set the tone for the catwalk show as utterly exclusive and elitist. In the hundred years since then, they have changed very little. (See Tom Ford's bizarre ban on photography at his hyper-exclusive showing this season). These live-tweets, in stark contrast, suggest that high-fashion is not something for just the few to enjoy. How then does this new seemingly accessible presentation change our relationship with fashion as consumers? How has it altered the distance, which has always been such a crucial element of our desire for fashion, between creator and buyer?
Bailey has said himself that he is keen to push Burberry into the heart of the digital media revolution, and so far, he seems to be on a solo-mission in that direction. This does produce some very interesting dichotomies which i think he is really brave to explore: the contrast between textile craft techniques at the heart of the Burberry aesthetic contrasted with the modern, digitalised method of presentation. However, part of me also wonders if it might be rather naive to view this 'live-tweeting' as an entirely democratising, 'fashion-is-for-all' movement. Rather conversely, could it be that by shifting Burberry onto a digital platform like twitter, a place of alternative reality, he is creating fashion imagery in a place non of us can really get to. Fleeting, momentary and utterly intangible; is there anything less distant than the world of Twitter? If we think of it that way, its a medium perfectly suited to fashion. Perhaps Tom Ford should re-consider his strategy.