Discussion in 'Streetwear and Denim' started by KingJulien, Mar 21, 2012.
Ok, just ramblings here but... I think there's an asymmetry between womenswear and menswear that can makes parallels difficult to draw. It remains a luxury brand first, I see the "functionality" of Céline as something more contextual than anything, I mean that it appears novel when compared to the rest of the rtw offerings full of dresses and whatnot (vs. Céline all trousers) etc moreso than in comparison to menswear which by its nature has always been more serious, no-frills and professional. The actual Raf/Jil stuff, Marni, Balenciaga, CK all somewhat fit that description.
Actually, both Raf and Philo are/were intially designing clothes for themselves (Raf:"I just wanted to bring out some kind of language which was meant for me and my environment who didn't feel comfortable with the kind of look that we got presented." // “Initially, what Céline was selling was ‘Phoebe herself and her perfect wardrobe.”)
Totally agreed. I've been thinking about this a bit lately- I really like Celine and Marni for women, but the male equivalents don't do it for me. I think it loses some of its punch because, as you've said, it's more in line with what we expect from menswear.
Like Mona Lisa, Ever So Veiled
By CATHY HORYN
Published: May 30, 2012
TO appreciate the designs of Rei Kawakubo, the woman behind the label Comme des Garçons, it helps to be a specialist in fashion, or something of a kook.
Let’s consider her latest collection, shown in March in Paris. Not only were the brightly colored felt garments of a fun-house scale, but they were also completely flat. A dress had a front and a back, and the two pieces were joined at the sides. The simplicity was such that a clever child, using a cookie cutter, tracing paper and the photocopying services of Kinko’s, could produce the basic pattern. The wool felt was a good technical choice for the floating two-dimensional shapes, but the design, more than being merely simple, seemed to disclaim design.
Reaction during the show was immediate.
Editors smiled and nudged one another as the silly tents came down the bare plywood runway. Gradually, though, their gooey looks of delight turned to serious interest and finally to pleasure, the deep pleasure of seeing something rare and fully resolved and resistant to syllogisms.
Was Ms. Kawakubo commenting on the flattening of the world by the Internet? Was the lady, by fabricating such harmonious volumes without padding or other means, calling out lazy and weak-minded designers who tout couture techniques and don’t create anything new? Even the industry’s craze for bold color combinations and archival prints seemed to land in her cross hairs, and, not surprisingly, her choices were marked by intensity.
If Karl Lagerfeld is the leading talk artist of fashion, Ms. Kawakubo is the Mona Lisa. She makes no effort to reveal her meanings, though at times she explains her methods. That day in Paris, standing backstage, she greeted each guest with a brisk ceremonial nod. Small, nearly 70, she wore a black cotton jacket buttoned to the neck, black dhoti shorts and sunglasses that seemed a mischievous touch of celebrity — and that she has. No living designer with the exception of Azzedine Alaïa is held in higher esteem by her peers, and none has enriched our spirit in so many original and confounding ways.
“Kawakubo has done everything,” Jun Takahashi, the respected creator of Undercover, has said.
Indeed. On Monday, the Council of Fashion Designers of America will honor her with a lifetime achievement award.
Ms. Kawakubo, who lives in Tokyo, does not plan to attend the festivities, said her husband, Adrian Joffe. As much as it would thrill to see her on the Lincoln Center stage, it’s hard to imagine her actually being there. She stopped appearing on her own runway long ago, though she is easily accessible backstage and in her showroom.
In addition to managing Comme des Garçons Parfums and many day-to-day matters, Mr. Joffe serves as his wife’s interpreter (he is fluent in several languages). It is Mr. Joffe who provides journalists with a brief, prepared explanation after every show. In March it was: “the future in two dimensions.”
And, of course, the statement, while not pure nonsense, turned out to be pure quicksand, sucking people in.
The truth is that Ms. Kawakubo is not interested in seeking answers, at least not to the conventional type of questions asked above. She is not an artist, and she doesn’t consider herself to be one, per se, though her work over the last 30 years, since she assaulted people’s consciousness with a collection called Destroy, has impelled serious consideration far beyond fashion. (Ms. Kawakubo, who is the sole owner of Comme des Garçons, a small, $200 million conglomerate with a number of brands, including Junya Watanabe, once said that if she is anything, it’s a businesswoman, and then added, “Well, I’m an artist-businesswoman.”)
In 1996, Ms. Kawakubo presented a collection called Dress Meets Body Meets Dress, which featured disfiguring lumps of cotton wadding covered with cheerful gingham. She was criticized for being “antiwoman,” yet a closer look at her silhouette revealed that she was probably neutral on the subject of gender, and instead had done something of more profound meaning: she had recreated a reality of the late 20th century — that of the individual seemingly joined to her burdens, like a backpack.
Since then, Ms. Kawakubo’s work has grown in clarity and wisdom. Last October, a collection titled White Drama referred to ceremonial occasions, like a wedding, and was assumed by many to relate to her widely admired Broken Bride show, in 2005. For fall 2012, she followed with her two-dimension collection.
Ms. Kawakubo, however, insists that she is not a feminist, and that her work has nothing to do with being a woman. “I was never interested in any movement as such,” she said a few years back. Her position is at best ambiguous; early in her career she embraced such ideas. It may also be true that as her work has matured, she has reached wholly different conclusions about what nourishes the creative process.
No one has ever sufficiently explained how she has been able to retain the spirit of the 1970s and early ’80s, particularly its sense of experimentation, without getting mired in it. In all the years I’ve known Ms. Kawakubo, which is close to 15, I’ve never heard her talk about the past, nor have I thought to ask her. With many designers of her generation, the past is like a giant wading pool on a hot day.
“She’s not greedy,” the art director Ronnie Newhouse said, suggesting that the way Ms. Kawakubo chooses to live relates directly to her design process. Journalists often find it hard to take her at her word: that she lives a relatively normal life, in Tokyo. “Can’t rational people create mad work?” she once asked a writer.
A few years ago, while reporting an article about her, I asked Mr. Joffe if photos could be taken of her work space. He said it wouldn’t serve any purpose. He was right. The Comme des Garçons headquarters, which occupy several floors of a banal office building, look like design studios everywhere, and may even be drabber.
In the end, Ms. Kawakubo’s example may prove that the last thing you need to be in the creative fields is a specialist. In fact, it may be a hindrance, blinding you to new feelings. I recently asked Ms. Kawakubo one or two specifics about her design methods, mainly to be clear about what I already knew. Did she use a so-called “mood board,” for instance?
Here is her reply, by e-mail. I reprint it in total. It says everything, and it could not be said better.
“My design process never starts or finishes. I am always hoping to find something through the mere act of living my daily life. I do not work from a desk, and do not have an exact starting point for any collection. There is never a mood board, I do not go through fabric swatches, I do not sketch, there is no eureka moment, there is no end to the search for something new. As I live my normal life, I hope to find something that click starts a thought, and then something totally unrelated would arise, and then maybe a third unconnected element would come from nowhere. Often in each collection, there are three or so seeds of things that come together accidentally to form what appears to everyone else as a final product, but for me it is never ending. There is never a moment when I think, ‘this is working, this is clear.’ If for one second I think something is finished, the next thing would be impossible to do.
“Often the elements are completely disassociated in time and dimension. One might be an emotion, the next thing a pattern image, the third thing an object or a picture I have seen somewhere. I can never remember when and from where the elements come together in my head. I trust synergy and change. For fall 2012, I was thinking about no design being design, about very ordinary fabric (wool felt) being strong. Somehow, the two-dimension level of thinking became apparent.
“I do not feel happy when a collection is understood too well. For me, White Drama was too easily understood, the concept too clear. I feel better about fall 2012, because it wasn’t too clear, and some people assumed things it had nothing to do with, like the Internet age.
“The struggle to find something new gets more and more difficult with time and experience, so this time, for fall 2012, my feeling was to try to make a collection by doing very little.”
Title:The Mysterious Paul Harnden
Source:WWD. 200.121 (Dec. 10, 2010): p14.
Byline: Samantha Conti
Moving to SF next weekend and have finals this week, so things have been busy. Not much time for fashunz discussion Ivwri. Been up for ~35 hours now so if this is incoherent I apologise.
Philo’s SS10 debut at Celiné was a marked departure from what she had been doing at Chloé. She left working on frou-frou dresses during the height of the economy to designing for a depressed global slump. The Great Recession has also been called “The Women’s Recession” and Philo’s new aesthetic spoke to that, not unintentionally. As sipang said, the new Celine is about “functional and utilitarian clothes for the working woman” - the muted palettes and clean lines are coupled with very high-quality fabrics, and the items I’ve handled can only be described as “luxuriously utilitarian”. The sportswear influences, at least for me, call to mind tennis whites and the country club more than something urban. The target Celine customer, at least in my mind, is the successful executive, the gallery owner, the department store buyer; upper middle class and beyond, and certainly middle-aged. It’s not that “urban clothing” (though I think you may have meant urbane?) looks more mature on women – it’s that Celiné is more mature. The cuts are more severe than Raf, the ethos more strongly defined, more austere than sci-fi inspired. All those make it seem more sophisticated, at least IMO.
Raf’s references are much more overt, intentional, even. I feel like with Philo’s work if you see them it’s a nice bonus, some small bit of insight into the designer’s vision, whereas with Raf they’re almost inseparable from the clothes. If you don’t get it they seem flat and lifeless, and of late I think Raf has run out of references to make. He’s like the director who was met with success via gimmick (c.a Michael Bay x Explosions) and then kept doing that until suddenly the audience no longer rewarded him.
For men’s equivalents to Philo, I would think Dries or Stephan Schneider are certainly in the same arena, as far as aesthetic/utilitarianism.
Is throup the veilance guy?
As far as the menswear/womenswear divide, what I want to see is convergence from the other direction. For the past ~80 years we’ve seen womenswear take back and recontextualize countless pieces of menswear – becoming more restrained, practical, in the process. If we’re going to see something that is not military/outdoor/workwear we’re going to need to see menswear that isn’t functional, that draws from the impracticality, the delicateness of womenswear, or something Jetson-esque like Rad Hourani.
Rosenrot posted this over in reddit's FFA - thought it might be interesting for us to talk about how male fashion is changing of late, especially in light of my above post and some of sipang's comments.
I think her post assumes that most men are into fashion now, which isn't true at all. I don't have a single male friend interested in clothes, while most if not all of my female friends are. Fashion is limited (whether you like it or not, unless you really don't give a fuck) by whether Joe Smith on the street thinks you look like a nutjob, and until the majority of men have more of an understanding of clothing than Dockers and a polo, that won't change. IMO, of course.
I have a very strict mental classification system between clothing, fashion, and style. To me, an interest in Fashion entails having an interest in the history, the provenance of trends, performing, in a way, a close reading of collections, trying to understand the influences that have lead to its creation and the message, if any, the designer is trying to send. It's an academic interest divorced from consumerism. An interest in style is cultivating a wardrobe that in some sense is reflective of you and your personality, but you don't give a damn for ~*~*~brand synergy~*~*~ insofar as how it furthers your own goals. Clothing is clothes. The dockers and polos and jeans/tee consumers of the world. IMO, you can define most people's interests along those three axis.
That said the proportion of men and women interested in Fashion is probably fairly equal, and we've a societal pressure that forces men away from following that interest.
Armadillo Jacket toiles
A LARGE sheepskin is going inside the hood
Roasty and toasty
Outer to be made from leather.
i like the prototype
This is all great stuff
Some selected bits from the Ann piece above
Peter Lindbergh stuff from the 80s-90s (Comme and others) is just perfect
Le Touquet, 1987
This is 20 years old and still awesome
It's weird, based on all those old photos you and shah posted and others I have seen online, one could be forgiven for thinking that the Comme aesthetic was very different from what is portrayed as the average person wearing Comme pieces in street style shots and features like the "Comme as you are" one that caused some discussion in RFT. Where does this disparity come from? Or do people just focus on the more colourful and "crazy" stuff when taking pictures of people in CdG?
Separate names with a comma.