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Bowties? - Page 2

post #16 of 26
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I am becoming increasingly curious about your identity.
I am an international man of mystery.
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My original critique of the bespoke craze relied not so much on the fact that bespoke clothing is generally inaccessible for economical reasons, but rather on the fact that those who marketed the bespoke trend have elevated class distinctions by plucking the suit from its democratic roots and planting it in a mythical, unassailable past before the traditions of the ancient and noble order and had been usurped.
An excellent point. Of course, marketing in general relies on such distortions. Usually, they're of the baser kind: i.e., buying Brand X will get you laid. (New campaign: Coke drinkers get more sex than Pepsi drinkers.) In the case of the suits, the marketers are simply playing to the pretensions of the people who can afford to buy them. One would think such people would recognize quality and the value thereof without the need for a bogus pedigree, but I doubt the marketers would keep employing the same schtick if it weren't working.
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In contrast, many modern designers are inherently populist, either taking inspiration from inexpensive streetwear and symbols of youthful rebellion or consciously looking towards the future. The designs of Raf Simons, though not particularly subtle, are a good example of the former, those of Hedi Slimane, the latter.
Well, again, this sort of "populism" is, in its own way, as suspect as the "traditionalism" of the suit. Certainly the aesthetic begins with populist influences. However, I don't see how couture can ever be truly populist. These designers are "elevating" today's streetclothes in much the way Paone, et al., "elevate" the streetclothes of a previous generation...in concept, in class consciousness, and in price. The modernists, or post-modernists, or post-post-modernists, may be doing it with a greater sense of irony"”although I wouldn't guarantee it for all of them"”but they're still usurping the common and reinventing (or simply redeploying) it as rareified. Even "hip" diffusion lines are marketed on the premise that you're buying into the class of the marque at the entry level. Once you see past the hype, I don't think it makes much difference, socially or politically, whether you wear an Attolini bespoke suit or inside-out Evisu jeans with "eat the rich" scrawled on them in crayon. It just comes down to what resonates with you on a purely personal level. As I'm a man of moods"”as well as mystery "”my closet is stocked with items from all points on the spectrum, to mix and match as the day demands. Re: Slimane specifically, I'm still not sold on him as "looking towards the future," any more than most of his contemporaries. That he's going to be around for the long haul, and that his influence will be felt in other menswear lines, I have little doubt. (One may even hope that Karl Lagerfeld will be inspired to launch a full men's line at Chanel.) However, it's not difficult to find historical influences for Slimane's designs, such as Bowie's "Thin White Duke" and Joe Strummer in the heyday of the Clash, as well as the lean minimalism of 1940s menswear and the "streamline modern" movement. Let's not forget the nod to Helmut Lang in his severity of line and palette, either. What Slimane isn't doing is walking the streets looking for ideas he can nick from schoolchildren. (Nor, thank god, crossing Native American ceremonial dress with Roerich's Ballets Russes costumes for "Le Sacre du Printemps," like stable-mate Galliano.)
post #17 of 26
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.) In the case of the suits, the marketers are simply playing to the pretensions of the people who can afford to buy them. One would think such people would recognize quality and the value thereof without the need for a bogus pedigree, but I doubt the marketers would keep employing the same schtick if it weren't working.
Well, I read somewhere that many wealthy Americans were buying various and sundry titles from well-pedigreed but otherwise broke (former) members of European aristocracy. This strikes me as a particularly American style of a pretension, though not a particularly European form of venality.
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The modernists, or post-modernists, or post-post-modernists, may be doing it with a greater sense of irony"”although I wouldn't guarantee it for all of them
No, certainly not.  I don't know any famous fashion designers personally, but from first-hand accounts as well as from trade magazines, I gather that most fashion designers cannot be counted among the brightest or most profound members of humanity.
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Once you see past the hype
My fear is that many people do not.
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Nor, thank god, crossing Native American ceremonial dress with Roerich's Ballets Russes costumes for "Le Scare du Printemps," like stable-mate Galliano.
I imagine that you are refering to the Christian Dior F/W 2002/2003 collection.  Galliano is a strange bird, but his outrageous runway collections sell loads of "J'Adore Dior" t-shirts, so maybe he is little more canny than we'd like to give him credit for.
post #18 of 26
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I read somewhere that many wealthy Americans were buying various and sundry titles from well-pedigreed but otherwise broke (former) members of European aristocracy. This strikes me as a particularly American style of a pretension, though not a particularly European form of venality.
True, I am speaking from an American perspective here. I don't know how, for example, Italians feel about their native bespoke tailors and the garments they make.
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I don't know any famous fashion designers personally, but from first-hand accounts as well as from trade magazines, I gather that most fashion designers cannot be counted among the brightest or most profound members of humanity.
Certainly not. However, from the wit and conceptual sophistication in some designers' lines, I would guess that there's something going on in there beyond what's revealed in interviews. I can't tell from Slimane's line if he's very bright or simply a fashion savant. Margiela, on the other hand, seems unlikely to be a dim bulb.
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Nor, thank god, crossing Native American ceremonial dress with Roerich's Ballets Russes costumes for "Le Sacre du Printemps," like stable-mate Galliano.
I imagine that you are refering to the Christian Dior F/W 2002/2003 collection. Galliano is a strange bird, but his outrageous runway collections sell loads of "J'Adore Dior" t-shirts, so maybe he is little more canny than we'd like to give him credit for.
Yes, I do mean the current Dior collection. I would never deny that Galliano is prodigiously talented"”he has made some fabulous garments both for Dior and his own label"”but he all too frequently indulges his natural tendency towards excess unhindered by the fetters of taste. If his interviews are any indication, I would definitely classify him with the idiots savants. Of course, I'm still curious to see what he comes up with for his Lenny Kravitz-inspired men's line. I'm guessing it will make Cavalli look restrained, but there ought to be at least one cool leather jacket in the collection. I think the t-shirt sells because it's one of the few Dior items that most women can actually see themselves wearing...well, except perhaps for the shoes (which truly are spectacular), and the shirt is both less expensive and more glaringly obvious as a Dior item. Plus, I'm fairly certain that Sarah Jessica Parker wore one on "Sex in the City." As a rare "populist" item from a decidedly non-populist designer, the "J'Adore..." shirt is an odd status symbol. It's sort of the "Hooters" t-shirt of Rodeo Drive.
post #19 of 26
Thread Starter 
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This second trend is, IMO, a welcome one, and hopefully long-lived, not only because it's sensible, but because it helps to keep the art form that is fine tailoring alive. When the demand for bespoke suits tapers off, so will the tailoring apprenticeships. I don't see how that could be a good thing. Fortunately, the "new bespoke" is being embraced by such contemporary, street-savvy designers as Paul Smith and Alexander McQueen.
Fine tailoring is not static; it's generally pretty conservative and tends to stick with what works but it's not immune to technological advances. Machines as well as cuts, materials (natural and man-made) and the way they transform the craft. What signifies tailoring is the care and skill that goes into the manufacturing IMO. (Besides the obvious fact that it's made for your body.) I don't think the art of tailoring is disappearing. It's just heavily marginalised by mass production. It has been for many decades and is still alive. Paul Smith has offered tailoring for years, "new bespoke" is nothing new here unless I'm mistaken.
post #20 of 26
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I don't think the art of tailoring is disappearing. It's just heavily marginalised by mass production. It has been for many decades and is still alive.
It's still alive, yes, and fortunately it's currently even in vogue, which may attract more people to the profession. The question is, for how long? A friend of mine, who is herself a brilliantly talented designer of both hand-crafted wearable art and a unique 3D digital textile modeling program, has been sounding the alarm about the marginalization of crafts education. Amongst many other examples, she cited to me a type of handcrafted pottery now being taught by a single professor. Budgetary constraints have led to threats to discontinue the class. When that happens, there will be no place left to learn the craft. Although the professor may continue giving private instruction for a time, and some graduates of the class may take on apprentices or teach private courses, there's ample reason to believe that further marginalization will ultimately lead to the demise of the art form. This example is not unique, but representative of a growing trend. In her own field, she has seen an increasing number of students using computers to design for materials with which they have virtually no actual experience. Mind you, this is at the university level. Without a crafts prerequisite, such students will soon become the norm (if they aren't already). Although tailoring has, for the moment, broader commercial applications than the endangered pottery, the fact remains that people are not drawn to the profession as they once were, nor held to it as they once were, and society as a whole is not as dependent on it as it once was. It will likely take a conscious decision"”by practitioners and consumers"”that the art has a value beyond that assigned to it in the marketplace in order to preserve it.
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Paul Smith has offered tailoring for years, "new bespoke" is nothing new here unless I'm mistaken.
Well, "new" is relative. By Saville Row standards, Smith is new to bespoke, both in terms of chronology and aesthetics. He's an old hand compared to McQueen, however.
post #21 of 26
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Well, again, this sort of "populism" is, in its own way, as suspect as the "traditionalism" of the suit. Certainly the aesthetic begins with populist influences. However, I don't see how couture can ever be truly populist. These designers are "elevating" today's streetclothes in much the way Paone, et al., "elevate" the streetclothes of a previous generation...in concept, in class consciousness, and in price.
Not to wear out this particular drum, but I think that an important distinction needs to be made between, say, Raf Simons, who is vocally populist, and for example, Ralph Lauren and his Savile Row cronies, who reference elitist images - country manors, heritage jewelry, etc... That the imagery is historically false, that the suit was in fact, not emblematic of the moneyed classes, and was actually a step away from class distinctions based on clothing is irrelevant in this case, except to further the irony.
post #22 of 26
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I think that an important distinction needs to be made between, say, Raf Simons, who is vocally populist, and for example, Ralph Lauren and his Savile Row cronies, who reference elitist images - country manors, heritage jewelry, etc. That the imagery is historically false, that the suit was in fact, not emblematic of the moneyed classes, and was actually a step away from class distinctions based on clothing is irrelevant in this case, except to further the irony.
I suppose the question I should ask here is, why is it important? Obviously, there's a distinction between Simons' aesthetic and that of Savile Row, but what makes it critical? My point about the lack of real populism in couture still stands: the street culture that Simons celebrates and emulates is made up of people who, for the most part, can't afford to buy his clothes (unless they're doing it with their parents' money), and the people who can afford them wouldn't want to be associated with the street kids directly"”only with their purported hipness. Is that really less ironic than referencing the humble business suit as an emblem of romantic bygone aristocracy? Ralph Lauren is a special case, because his references run the gamut. His Purple Label pretensions are nearly pure Savile Row, but he simultaneously romanticizes the mythic American West and the New England preppy set, as well. As Lauren is one of the few designers who has earned respect both as a high-end designer and a purveyor of truly accessible (and ubiquitous) streetwear, he may be the truest populist of the bunch. Nobody will ever accuse Lauren of being cutting edge, but he's nailed mainstream casual chic across class barriers.
post #23 of 26
To get this topic back on track I liked the comment made by the corrupt, bowtie-wearing doctor in David Mamet's movie State and Main. "A tie is supposed to point down, to emphasize the genitals, why would you trust somebody whose tie points outward, to emphasize the ears?"
post #24 of 26
To disagree with that horrid movie quote and a fomer employer, I will prounly say that I am a fan and daily wearer. Actually I have been ever since i was a young lad and would never consider wearing neckties not even once. For me it's is the practicality and the way i look in them and of course my father used to wear them and well that was the only option for me growing up and I guess I just sort of grew into them, as my sons are doing now.
post #25 of 26
I wear them about 2 or 3 times per week. People have come to expect me to wear them, esp. to Bar Association events. We had a meeting last night and several other men, all regular tie wearers, decided to sport bowties.

Tonight I have a dinner to attend in honor of a federal judge and I suspect there will plenty of us wearing our bowties.
post #26 of 26
That was a nice volley gentlemen. I happen to side with pstoller on the issue.

Re: bowties, I am shocked that so many on this site, of all places, hold them in such low regard.
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