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Monday, November 23rd 2015

7:21 PM

Sensei Says Relax

Now fashion drift towards pre-fall. This is the collection that, as spoken about in previous blog articles here at Fashion Observed, provides the bridge between what was released in the Spring Summer collections that showed staying power and the hints of what is to come as designers test the retail waters. 

The early entrants in the race have some divergent directions that cover many existing themse relevant to the public. The military thread detailed in the recent article tilted "The Neverending War Story" (Nov 8, 2015) is sure to remain; recent events covered in last week's article just further cement this affinity we have with the way we process this aspect of our world. Burberry and Belstaff both incorporated this theme into aspects of their collections, and it's likely this them will remain. It fits well with the recent foray by many designers into Havana, a country that reminds of Cold War elements shadowing its glamorous past; it was also covered in prior articles. 

The issues of economy and oil hold us to the 70s and Burberry retains the cuts in many of their offerings. But the decade that has more pull currently is one that covers the domain of oversize, drawn out proportions and creative boldness. It is a decade finding fascination in pop culture on the heavily stylized and attitude-rich television program Scream Queens and in the anime absurdist animation show called Moonbeam City, the latter a show rich in illustrations that leap right out of the catalogues of 80s iconic artist Patrick Nagel. Experiment and insanity reflecting the edge we allow as we watch the seriousness of the world close in just as much now as it did in that decade. And with the upcoming Olympics (also mentioned in last week's article) the further emphasis is not just 80s, but the heart of everything avant garde that has set the tone for fashion today: the Japanese. Public School's recent pre-fall collection in Dubai almost seems like a transportation to the era where Comme des Garcon, Issey Miyake, and Yohji Yamamoto dominated in the area of form, assembly and textile experimentation as the world embraced everything Japanese. The kimono sleeves, layering, volume and textile play are here and now and yet, for those who lived and breathed it before, recognize much of it as if it were yesterday. 

That is the charm of fashion: it gets to replay for a new audience who can embrace the revisited components and make it their own. The source provides bridges to shared experiences and perspectives. What is hoped is that the same spirit of risk and experimentation (and not just the previous results) that the 80s drove forth will find its way to propell fashion forward. Bits of the creative architectural approach to play are found in all collections, be it in quirky staggered assembly at one killer dress at Burberry, seam and hardware placement at Belstaff or in the texture and layering at Public School and that willingness to explore is most honorable.

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Sunday, November 15th 2015

12:52 PM

En Garde

It is an unfortunate reality that world events become intertwined with the economic landscape we inhabit, defining as much about who we are as what we are capable of.

There will be some who will look to capitalize on the backs of tragedy to elevate their desire for fame and profit, while others will show their humanity via their positions. The fashion world, for all the negativity it absorbs and the faults it still navigates, contains within it many incredible citizens who know their humanity and project this sentiment as much as other emotions and interpretations in the platforms they have earned.

The 9/11 attacks came in the midst of New York Fashion Week, disrupting this world as any other. The impact was not merely economic but spiritual. Out of sensitivity collections worldwide were purged of distressed elements, recognizing the inappropriateness of this trend in the face of what was seen live on international airwaves. Some designers, such as Tom Ford, immediately rejigged their runways from an above level runway to a ground level presentation as he felt fashion should not be elevated over the people (good on him) Donatella Versace was more vocal, flashing a message to the audience before her runway presentation that defiantly announced how our creativity would not be held hostage (good on her). Fashion felt the need to go on, to show that we do not brake for evil intent and while admitting fashion is not above human life that life is meant to be lived in the face of those looking to rob it from us (good on you).

This event brought a new world that stole our innocence and yet we adapted. Years later we demonstrated pride in how we moved forward and thrived despite; terrorism would not win and any Spring Summer 2016 presentations at ground zero were testament to this.

It is truly unfortunate that today we must witness another vicious attempt to disrupt peace through senseless violence on the innocent in the city of lights, the beautiful fashion capital of Paris. It is also another unfortunate reality that what has taken place will likely shape something as innocuous as what we wear, for fashion will absorb the emotions and sentiments surrounding this and find a place in its interpretation if not because of it then in spite of it.

Already the ongoing events resulting from war and displacement has retriggered emotions similar to those in Europe before World War Two. Growing economic unease and destabilization were coupled with increased xenophobia as the public felt resentment over increased immigrants' presence and perceived negative impact on stressed economies. Sadly, we are seeing history repeat with the influx of Syrian refugees  and tensions over immigrants' presence. 

This sentiment is not restricted to Europe. Similar discussions are finding its way globally, including the more public displays vocalized by candidates in the upcoming American elections where immigration has risen to the foreground.

All of this triggers nationalistic sentiments now as it did then, some of which were expressed in more jovial ways in Spring Summer 2016 collections knowing there will be more positive nationalist expressions when the 31st Olympiad will be underway. The patriotic red, white and blue was prominent at Marc Jacobs and Ralph Lauren but the same combination that France shares with its overseas comrade was also seen at Chanel, Kenzo and Lacoste.

This pride defines in the midst of collective inclusion. How we choose to express this growing sentiment will determine whether we become withdrawn and compartmentalized or whether we choose, as we did before, to defy the objectives of those who think violence deserves prominence in our world and rise above it. But we need to remember this is experience that is life is not only about us but as much if not more about each other, and even something as seemingly frivolous as fashion should uphold that. Upcoming collections will let us know, and hopefully will not disappoint.

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Sunday, November 8th 2015

6:01 PM

The Neverending War Story

Fashion holds within it many reflections of what influences our culture. As fashion is much about the visuals as it is about what is tactile, is it no surprise that some of these influences are literal, such as flora or architecture. In some instances we have cultural influences such as literature or music to redirect attention while at other times it is connections to history. Much is what we see as that is the core of what fashion addresses, especially in an age where collections are being increasingly strategized to work with our social media. naturally, what we see should also be the foundation of what influences its image and form.

Some aspects like elements reflecting a current pop culture phase are fleeting (jazzercise in the 80s) while others endure (shoulder pads and oversize in the 80s). Some are recurring (minimalism) while others are perpetual. The latter can tell us a lot about a society's larger station in its evolutionary path. It can denote class distinctions, sexual mores, gender roles and cultural priorities.

The same influence can have different meanings and attachments in various periods yet its presence lets us know of an underlying theme that an issue or aspect of concern is recurring. One influence in particular, mentioned a few times already in this blog, if the embrace of all that is military. 

We have seen this infiltrate fashion for much of the 20th century, especially from around the Second World War onwards. Sometimes it is the clean orderly crispness that a uniform upholds that is embraced while at other times it is the ragged charge into battle expressed in fatigues. if military was revered for its command of respect and order in the 40s and 50s, it was reviled in the 60s and 70s as it was worn with irony as youth rejected its  presence. The militant undertones was embraced in the edgier anarchistic subcultures in the 80s 

In the years where our technology took off and the world became more available to see, the military had found a new audience marveling at its technical might. Even the camouflage had changed, becoming pixilated and in various hues reflecting different international campaigns. The support of military was found via common enemies for all to fight against: the war on terror and its impact on once-treasured freedoms. Governments looking for a new way to galvanize the public while building greater societal control capitalized on the notion of military might as the ultimate solution. 

Governments have found ways to manipulate this fear all the way back to cold war levels. Various alerts and drills keep the public on its toes, on edge for whatever threat may come while dissent is looked with suspicion as unpatriotic. An almost nationalistic undertone is being cultivated in the more mundane aspects of entertainment while military is now a mainstay in video games. And what of fashion?

The chaos of the world is combated with orderly military touches and shades of olive. Casual wear features relaxed fatigue taking inspiration form the 70s but without the political irony. We are at war, ready to defend, and the Sp[ring Summer 2016 collections still have traces of militarisms in most collections globally...too many to list.

Mankind has had a long brutal history of fighting. Perhaps the 21st century will be when we turn the tides and we can put to rest all that reminds us of war. When that happens, fashion will be the first to let us know that war is out of style.

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Sunday, November 1st 2015

6:44 PM

Fork In the Fashion Road

The examination process of the Spring Summer 2016 collections from the more major locations are telling a tale of two mindsets. One which has been examined in great length at Fashion Observed is our continued involvement with everything that was. The attachment to the familiar is a great source of comfort as we seek to define what is before us with what surrounded us before. That is, it give us assurance of how to cope when we can refer to what we know. That is the problem with the future when we deal with so much that is not positive affirmative: its unknown quality can leave a "glass half full" mentality lingering and colouring our expectations of the future on a bad day. On a good day, however, the future holds promise. We know we cannot escape what is to come and when we have positive indicators we can charge ahead with the future and embrace newness. Jarring events can push us back, albeit temporarily. Not too long ago the post 9/11 years saw us regress into retro territory as the future we hoped for after conquering Y2K saw us  enter a world of terror, suspicion and innocence robbed juts as fashion was taking off into future-forward embrace.

A factor that can and is splitting us is largely economic. Collections that lean towards the past look to satisfy those who fear change and feed the need for stability when uncertainty looms large. When economics gripped the 30s, fashion took a leaning towards more classic shapes following the familiarity of the body. The wartime mid-century had rationing force creativity into the backburner in favor of simplicity. Economic issues also drove us towards classic territories in the 70s, early 80s and early 90s. 

Collections that are more fashion-forward have a fearless "nothing to lose" factor; better to go with both guns blazing than to live one's final moments cowering and wondering "what if?". These also come at the edge of prosperity exhausting, such as in the late 20s, late 50s, late 60s and early 70s, late 80s and mid to late 90s. in these periods, we pushed the envelope creatively and saw some great fashion ideas explode forth.

Thus we find ourselves of two camps in fashion as we move further into our new millennium, caught in the cusp of fear and faith. We drag our feet to move forward, yet know we will go forward if not by our doing then by newer generations that take the torch as they make claim on today as their time.

There are many designers that utilize new textiles and techniques in construction (some which follow the Fashion Observed Twitter feed), and some have a few elements of experimentation. this season had a lot to look through as most designers blended convention with exploration as they tested the waters while balancing pragmatic economic aspects (remember, fashion is above all a business). There are always some labels leading the way in the realm of form and direction. At this point stronger exploration is being found in collections by Acne Studios, Anrealage, Anya Hindmarch, Aquilano Rimondi, Area, Berhard-Willhelm, Damir Doma, David Koma, D Squared, Emilio Pucci, Faustine Steinmetz, Fausto Puglisi, Iris van Herpen. Kolor, KTZ, Louis Vuitton, Marni, Moschino, Phillipp Plein, Phoebe English, Ports 1961 and Threeasfour. These give rise to what is coming by what they are contributing. these feed the imagination for successive generations that will take fashion forward much the way avant garde designers in the 80s did before that have found their influence revisited heavily these days.

From here we will see what sticks and what falls to the wayside not so much due to popularity but to whether the public is ready to embrace innovation. We will do so...if we can afford it. 


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Sunday, October 25th 2015

1:10 PM

Isn't It Romantic?

People dress for many reasons and, regardless of why, it is a reflection of their mindsets. However, more than some are "crazy" about fashion which is why it exists in the manner we see it today. If anything, the focus of fashion is more pronounced because we have put more attention on it before in more areas than would have been in previous decades (sports and politics are perfect examples). It can be seen as a product of progress when we can devote energy to more superfluous aspects of life...or a sign of stress pushing us to divert our gaze on what is around us.

Some fashion that we have seen coming out of the Spring Summer pret-a-porter collections took a more cerebral and aggressively architectural approach while others leaned towards the familiar via retro inspiration. The bulk of the components of the latter work in tandem with the overall slouch factor that many collections demonstrated recently to announce a returning theme that seeks an antidote to the harshness of our complex reality.

We lean to this trend from time to time when the gravity of our world becomes too intense. From the order of minimalism, symmetry and structure we give way to the natural ease of drape as textiles cascade on our bodies as if to signal that we are in "time out" mode. We are off the clock, taking a breather as we immerse in the comfort of our selves. 

The devil-may-care of asymmetric slouch speaks of moments where time is no longer a precious commodity, but an allowance to reflect the mood one feels when lost in ourselves. This plus the connection to emotion that retro flourishes and bedroom source accents (satins, laces and 90s lingerie looks) are reflective of the powerful sentiment that romance brings. 

Even the more modern collections are compiled with aspects allowing for disheveled order, layered with naturalistic abandon rather than rigid symmetry. We give allowance to lay back, all too aware of what is around and knowing full well the future is en route anyway. And is there no better segue than to serve our heart?

For now, fashion allows us to explore what is personal and what connects to us intimately, and it seems that, for many designers, we find that occasional lapse from structure alluring. 

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Sunday, October 18th 2015

5:19 PM

Hard Line Emphasis

Fashion seems, to many, a superficial industry with understandably heavy emphasis on surface visuals. There is no denying that this aspect is the domain of fashion; after all, the purpose of the product focuses on how we look. But fashion exists beyond the utilitarian, with its soul is in the hands of creatives who balance their artistic roots with entrepreneurship to carve a livelihood from their talents. Those who are successful can find public affinity with their output; their testament to relevance is found on the backs of the public as much as the continued survival of their label.

The expressions that deliver on connectivity is what this blog speaks of. Fashion would not exist if it did not act as a mirror of social relevance, for it is worn as much as an extension of one's character as for practical reasons, and , like fashion, we evolve. Our connection to the world is translated in cuts, colours and textures that we can, at a glance, recognize as hallmarks of our times. 

One of the reflections found in the recent collections is our quest for definition...expressed almost literally. As a habit we tend to look to quantify our surroundings to better understand them. We categorize and define. We label. Since the explosion of dependence of the internet, we claim there are no trends and yet each season we find new ways to categorize what we see. Trends will never die because we rely on them as part of our condition to connect. 

We look to define more than what we wear. We search for nomenclature for every aspect of our world, be it new hybrids of cultural expressions such as music or cuisine, evolutions of art and architecture, or even human behaviour.  In uncertain times we need this more to satisfy insecurities, and in a world filled with choice and variety this need becomes more acute.

The 20s and 60s were ages of personal social progress hinging on the unfamiliar. In those periods we found more graphics to respond to the boldness of our forging into new personal territories. As we broke boundaries we wore more defined ones. These days are no different; assertions of dialogue on broad aspects of diversity are taking the corporate and conventional worlds to task as we challenge our ideals to look for why they aren't reflected in all aspects of our reality. We are more willing to discuss the double-edge sword of behaviours in our laws and customs. We are willing to examine where our boundaries lie. And as we look at those boundaries figuratively, fashion shows us taking on definition more literally.

The simplest and easiest billboard of personal expression that hinges on individuality and conformity is found in what we put on it. For those paying attention, tattoos have been a fair barometer in what we are willing to embrace when given their permanence. In the last couple of years, simple script and, more prominently, outlines of images has been gaining popularity.

Its frugality adds to its popularity; it's costly to fill in those lines. Such thrifty expression reminds of DIY domestic decoration seen predominantly in areas where socialism unfortunately meant limited access to materials to beautify ones surroundings, especially in Eastern Europe during the 60s to the 80s. This resulted in what has been recently coined as "rebar art". The defining lines brought the essential of what was appreciated to the fore, harmonizing with social desires for definition that the changes within environment and period produced.

The recent collections found some designers indulging in the expression of desire for definition, such as in collections from  Alberta Ferretti, Emilio Pucci, Iris van Herpen, Jaquemus, Julien MacDonald and Osklen. This was also found in some of the patterns utilized by Emanuel Ungaro, J. W. Anderson, J. Mendel, Marcelo Burlon County of Milan, Novis, Sacai, Sportmax, Stella McCartney, Valentino and Zuhair Murad; and in the trim usage found at Bottega Veneta, Giambatista Valli, Lutz Huelle, Martin Grant, Rosetta Getty and Victoria, Victoria Beckham.

We want to be clear, to know where the lines are to colour within...or to break from as we grow. We need to know who and where we are to know where to venture off to as we evolve. As we continue that self-examination and apply it to our world, we will figure out where we next need to be, with fashion letting us know along the way.

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Sunday, October 11th 2015

7:20 PM

The Incoming Cold War Front

Now the Spring Summer 2016 collections have drawn to a close, and they leave us with much to digest and interpret. These presentations are not just about what we wear, but about how those who design navigate the mercenary components of the business to express what they see as how we feel in the continued quest for maintaining relevance. With the overload of information at the disposal of anyone with an internet connection, the elements are no longer as compartmentalized. They blend the information to present the combinations that mean the most to us.

Much of that information is in the familiar, placating our desire for security. The abundance of retro references is testament of our fear that the future, a huge unknown, is too much to fully digest. We are taking it in, but begrudgingly so. And yet the collections are increasingly venturing into the newer territories explored in the more recent decades where our technology has allowed creativity to transcend confines that held us back before.

Despite this internal struggle, some influences are perpetual. War has been on our minds for a while. The post 9/11 years have been one where society has been on a constant state of alert, as if we are being conditioned towards incorporating war as another facet of daily life. The routine that would have been considered absurd in previous generations is now our truth: being searched before travelling; scanning for weapons in public spaces; seeing various alerts as part of our news; war as part of budgetary consideration in politics branded as integral to personal safety; security measures in our communications equipment. Each addition ramps up the state of personal alarm that robs us of the simplicity of living as it justifies the effort of maintaining organized violence as a cultural component.

Fashion obliges. The presence of military aspects in fashion is almost as much of a mainstay as florals in spring collections. We appreciate the order it emphasizes in colours and cuts. They reflect the militant aspects our societies embody in our institutions. But now we have a unique scenario where retro aspects find a place in this trend aspect.

The long-simmering tensions of the Middle East and in particular Syria and Iran have brought about conflict between two superpowers with huge military might: The US and Russia. The potential for conflict is frightening now just as it was in the very decades expressed in collections. One, the 80s, has been felt in Europe for a while and as such influences from that decade have been more prominent in that part of the fashion world. The other points more to the originating tension: the 50s.

The Cold War was also a time of measured fear, where the threat of total nuclear annihilation and alert was the underlying post-war vibe forgotten about amidst the romanticizing of the 50s. The reality of this crescendoed in the early 60s with the Cuban Missile Crisis where tensions reached a near-catastrophic peak. But the stage we are at isn't as intense albeit just as disconcerting. One collection alluded to that decade when others went elsewhere. Over at Maison Martin Margiela, John Galliano incorporated some vintage 50s coat styles into the collection, a nod to a more elegant yet troubled era, much as ours is now.

The dichotomy of manufactured innocence, consumerism and public decorum facing emotionally removed idealistic destruction is a classic our society has found itself reliving. Our technology becomes the demon as much as our salvation from our basic desires of fight or flight, and fashion yet again holds up the mirror for those who are willing to look can see. Between this and the further romanticizing of Cuba's height, only time will let us know just how much of that decade we incorporate as our message to ourselves.


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Sunday, October 4th 2015

1:54 PM

Risky Business

T he Italian Spring Summer 2016 collections have come and gone and will be mentioned in the near future, for they too have shown the emerging security of exploration as we edge further into our new century. Now, the focus is on Paris, known traditionally as the platform of creativity.

As our technology breaks down the walls of compartmentalization, we find that other designers in various places are not letting location stop them from vying for our attention. Some are playing with a change of locale to gain footholds and exposure in different markets (such as what KTZ did in a previous season or what Givenchy or The Row did this one), while others are testing other locations to take advantage of less competition to access better attention in our global net world (such as by Damir Doma in Milan).

We are testing our limits, exploring new areas, new methods, new materials and new techniques. We do so as we have little to lose, seeing the possibilities and the tenuousness of these simultaneously as we brave efforts. We feel the hope and the fear and do it anyway. It is the intimacy of personal chance that we are taking in the quest for authenticity.

Just as in the late 80s, we let loose on creativity as we took chances to break new ground. We knew the economy couldn't survive the credit bubble it was built on. But to inspire those to participate in the continued creative explosion fueled new ideas. Although the issue is not in similar foundations, the unease is back again rooted in familiar fears, so we can hold onto fear or we can push ahead; fashion has decided, like us, on the latter.The freedom of "going for broke" is how Alexander Wang expressed it as he made his last collection for Balenciaga. It was noted by Vogue Runway as the best he put out if only because he felt he had nothing to lose. And so, just as in the 80s when we unleashed ourselves we find again breaking new ground because...well...what do we have to lose? Such was a similar sentiment with Hussein Chalayan as he gave commentary on his Cuba-themed collection and the collaboration with his show's sponsor, Swarovski with plain paper dresses melting into glamour mid-show as they met a rush of water from shower heads above (along with his self-admitted amusement of the occasional model slipping on the water or the lost heel of those fabulous cylindrical-heeled shoes).

And so, in the Paris collections...and, really, of the globe's more progressive collections this season so far...the ease of slouch and drape is met with the freedom to create in the mix of deconstruction and architecture, upholding and upending structure. The play of assembly, layering and form is the personal risk, the go-for-broke approach, the fearless ascent we take because the future waits for no one and to be part of history requires to participate in its incarnation, even if it means some retreading as part of the process.



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Saturday, September 26th 2015

9:47 PM

Outsiders As The Insiders

T he Spring Summer 2016 collections have left London and are brushing through Milan towards the home stretch that is Paris. The dialogue is now, besides the examination of trending details is the comparisons of what is coming out of each major fashion center.

Common within each city is the continued homage to the 70s and 90s, which is where the 70s first returned. And while the experimental spirit of the 80s is said to have never left fashion since that decade, the current modern incarnations are more of a 2.0 version of this. If New York's take on modernism was more architectural, London's contains the artist, released from the confines of the mind in the quest for the new.

Sometimes this requires breaking away for convention to achieve new inspiration that takes the designer out of the comfort zone of all that is familiar to move fashion forward. While New York holds the position of leading the way for commercial appeal, London has had the reputation of catering to breaking with convention when it comes to its more expressive class of talent, competing with the ultimate stronghold of fashion that is Paris. And as the economics pull many towards what is safe, others see the dangers of that strategy that brought down many houses in the 90s. Unlike the early 90s, we are in a different position as we are now heading into a new century and millennium and are aware of this unspoken expectation to go beyond what has been worn for too long: the 20th century costume. This different circumstance competes with the desire to remain static, challenging us to evolve lest we remain stuck in the past.

To balance this, the forms conform to convention in the ultimate silhouettes for the most part. But even then some of the more progressive labels are looking to push meeting those  expectations by toeing the line towards the edge of what was accepted that is on the edge of the norm. Our past avant garde has provided the platform for us to play without straying too far from the familiar, even if what was familiar before was originally pushing the limits.

The evolution comes in the manner in which designers play with shapes and forms that contributes to the assembly, allowing for exploration where no precedents have been established nor has there been any accompanying instruction or structure to guide the creative process where new territory is concerned. The outsider approach, if you will, working towards evolution has begun. 

Collections such as those by Alexander Lewis, Christopher Kane, Fashion East's Caitlin Price & Richard Malone, J.W. Anderson, Jean-Pierre Braganza, MM6 Maison Martin Margiela, Phoebe English, Roksanda and Toga took the artistic route of unbridled combinations with portions and pieces. Some played with shapes exploring literal concept execution while most incorporated component layering to create new expressions of form. The overall effect sets the stage for departure from convention while retaining enough of the familiar. The latter honors economics as fashion is a business but the former cannot be ignored as we head further into our new century and millennium. we're too far into the century to keep holding onto the past. We have to grow and sometimes this means taking the path less traveled to get there. This innate drive couples well with our acceptance that we are no longer in our last century, even if we are from it and still enjoy cultural ties to it.

Milan, of course will be about impeccable construction, craftsmanship and materials that bow to tradition (barring a few exceptions...but that's another article). This will always have a lace in our world. But as we now look towards the future, the next platform supporting this evolution this season is bound to be seen in Paris as well, and it will be interesting to take their pulse on looking forward versus holding onto the past as we look for what creative clues will show how they embrace what is to come. 

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Saturday, September 19th 2015

5:25 PM

Recombinant Deconstruction Is It's Name-o

N ow, as you read this, the Spring Summer 2016 collections are continuing in London, while discussions about the impact of the collections shown in New York are underway ...well...everywhere that fashion matters. There is much dialogue about the energy of the collections as, amidst the retro continuance, there was also some experimentation from some designers. These braver souls want us to move forward and have the customer base that can share similar sentiments while sustaining their existence. While the safer routes such as the dominance of 90s and it's primary retro influence, the 70s, have come into play, another aspect of the late 80s/early 90s has returned again to foster this noted creative effort: deconstruction.

Not that it ever really left. Its formal introduction in the 80s is only partially correct. The 70s punk movement was the precursor for the cut-and-paste approach while the combination of artistic recombinant chaos noticed in art via groundbreaking movements such as Dadaism and the exploration of deconstruction as philosophy by 60s Jaques Derrida (two period sources that had impact the 80s) provided inspiration for the next logical step.

Next step? Well, fashion was getting more creative and changing more frequently. It was becoming a game amongst the fashion conscious to speculate what was next. Clothes were increasingly heavily structured with a focus of cuts and detail of execution. After years of carefully measured and structured garments, one could not shake that the source had remained static in the face of changing times. Look at men's wear; in two hundred years the basic components had barely progressed; you still had a jacket, vest, shirt and pants, no matter how you dressed it up with flourishes such as a new collar or hem length. Women's wear fell along classics from the decades that preceded it and we were hungry for more. 

With technology on the rise came new textiles with qualities that gave room for new possibilities. The full globalization our technology was beginning to offer combined with the encouragement of consumption the times supported to pull us out of the frugalness of the decade before. All this was a great recipe to open our minds to what was new. The future...the 21st century...was coming fast and many of us would live to be there.  

The Japanese, in particular Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcon, Yohji Yamamoto and textile genius Issey Miyake, were flush with cash and eager to make their mark. They brought new visions and ideas sorely needed in fashion to a generation hungry for change. Their groundbreaking designs challenged convention in a quest for a new form, a new silhouette, a new voice to take us into the future instead of being stuck in the 20th century. And in that play, they further inspired designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier to push forwards with new combinations of elements much like we are doing now. His protege, Martin Margiela, took this a step further, following the deconstructive philosophy of destruction in order to create. Out of the shreds and loose threads came new shapes and new ways of being. If fashion was about structure and order, deconstruction was to turn it on its head to uncover what was never even before conceived in the quest for something truly new. this meant eschewing convention in construction techniques, mixing up the order, leaving hems undone to celebrate the nature of the textile, pulling together new assembly to find new forms and throwing together any addition or absence of the process in the name of innovation. The period had provided the mindset to invite and appreciate it. The conditions were perfect. But the flaws came just as the economy tanked. The appreciation of decay was an ill fit, for it reminded of those less fortunate who were increasingly present casualties of a new economic condition, and the times just weren't mature enough for creativity on this level to be accepted in the mainstream. So it took a rest in favor of what we have relabeled (or marketed) as normcore, of grunge, of sportswear of what was widely palatable.

We know the rest. We lived the path to where we are now. We lived through deconstruction's reappearance that came, again, ill-timed when the event of 9/11 made shredded clothes an exercise of insensitivity and bad taste. But the draw of its concept as a vehicle for finding new forms and new silhouettes did not leave us, and so it continues to be part of our vocabulary of who we define ourselves. We see the world through a highly charged cacophony of information in real time at our fingertips, a mixture of everything the world offers as we become truly global. And we have drilled in the message of uniqueness as having value despite our penchant to conform. The DIY movement, 3D printing, increased customization offered online...all of it now before us...support our desire for what is new. Even the retro looks contain the details that our 21st century cannot avoid, be it in the tech intrerwoven or the innovation that comes with new concepts in textile science. Despite whatever may touch our fears, it is perhaps our desensitization of the facts we have grown accustomed to as we push forward. The future will not stop coming and ultimately we will not stop evolving.

And so, with each season closer to the 2020 mark, we find every component that takes us step by step to our impending 21st centrury identity. So we see deconstruction. It is this time polished and clean, exact in the execution as we find a way to preserve our class distinction while providing the service of throwing new ideas to see what connects and carries forward. 

The issue now is not merely where we are taking this, but how. These elements all still hinge on everything that is 20th century. The collars that become cap sleeves or upended bodices may explore new forms, but the components are still assembled from the minds and parts of the 20th century. what is missing is what is 21st century: our technology. We have innovations in seamless construction and 3D printing now explored in garment construction. The new level of deconstruction will be recombinant deconstruction, made of entirely new forms not seen before, morphed as a new generation of parts created and linked to bring never-before-seen shapes and details.

So watch closely at not only what is being deconstructed now but what is sticking. These experiments and embraced changes in our personal architecture will be the foundation for what the next generation will make just as the Gibson girl hinted at what the flapper was to be a century before. We knew in the very early years of the 20th century that the hallmark was simple and about ease, but it was only as it arrived that we saw the shapeless short sporty flash of the 20s was connected to a change in the mindset of the times in a way we could not anticipate. Then again, we have technology now...exponentially growing... and it has us trained to think and see differently.


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