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Monday, May 30th 2016

8:26 AM

Precision Decision

More of the 2017 Resort collections are coming through, offering windows into the range of choices we have come to expect in fashion collections. Within these, individual creative efforts also begin to convey the shared vocabulary that defines this season.

To be sure, there is variety regarding the choice of simplicity versus complexity. Many collections so far lean towards the print embrace that disrupted the cleaner controlled executions of past seasons, owing in part to the well-timed retro revisit by Gucci that found a new audience fascinated by the kind of taste-challenging print overload the 70s jumped on before, albeit not as aggressive, such as what was seen by Etro, Fendi or Louis Vuitton. On the other hand most collections also contained a balance of solids and clean pieces, and some collections were, on the whole, very clean and minimal, such as those by Escada, Jenni Kanye and Jil Sander. What they all shared was the unmistakeable hallmark of our current century: the intricate execution of precision.

As more and more collections are revealed, the exactitude of the cut demonstrates more than our appreciation of technical prowess. It reveals our new minimal expectation that can only come from the standards we consider the new norm. Technology is becoming more integrated into all aspects of our lives to the extent that there are few things that are not touched by our technical hand. If it not in the tools and we use in our daily lives to work and play, it is in the foundations that shape the things that are not already wired and connected. And as we tap into the exponential power these technically enhanced tools provide, we become accustomed to new levels of perfection. Details that would have been the domain of exclusivity are now democratically accessible. And so, the sophistication is amped up.

If there is simplicity, it is deceptively so; the technical aspect may seem absent but it finds its way in the perfection of a print or evolution of a classic textile woven with intricate nuance of technical sophistication a technician would be able to detail with glee.

This is our world now. An expert eye can decode what we now expect as the standard. This precision is as focused as the formats that support our media. In this precision we find the clarity of vision...the specificity of expression...that is our new standard. Spoiled for choice and fortunate in what is democratically accessible, our computer-assisted lives are finding us becoming accustomed to a new norm. And in a world where chaos and uncertainty are weekly news feed fodder, this certainty expressed in the material becomes a desired antidote of balance, our comfort…our destination resort.

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Sunday, May 22nd 2016

7:50 PM

Safety First

As the 2017 Resort collections slowly start to show, the initial observations are solidifying, and the title of this week's blog sums things up clearly.

Three collections have come forth: Bottega Veneta, Oscar de la Renta and Sonia by Sonia Rykiel. These are established houses with an understanding of the bottom line and on the power of classic dressing regarding relevance and longevity. The deceptive simplicity and straightforwardness of the collections reflect the underlying mindsets that we carry.

One of the primary hallmarks of the 90s was the utilitarian aspect that saw houses survive the crash that set the decade up for years of austerity and a reigning in of explosive creativity from the decade before it. For all the excitement in breaking away to explore new forms and techniques, the 80s forced too many to keep up with a pace of change that could not be sustained by its growing audience. Leaning on more innocent and joyful times (joyful at least from the vintage entertainment that the 90s generation and its designers grew up on) coupled with the absence of vintage styles that could compete with the marketplace allowed the resurgence of the 70s' no-nonsense geometric cuts and embrace of the classics in odd colours and prints to proliferate. These mixed with the embrace of sportswear as daywear that the youth carried forth thanks to hip-hop cultures' rise. All of this plus the safety of the first incarnation of what we now call normcore set the stage for the foundation of the 90s and its differentiation from the prior decade...and the start of the retro fashion overload we now see as mainstream.

The bottom liner of these design directions linked the wearer to feelings of familiarity, comfort and safety, mirrored in the early 2000s after the horrors of 9/11. Now, we face similar fears of terrorism, tech bubbles, real estate woes and ugly politics with global environmental concerns as the norm. Not everything is doom and gloom...although the upcoming Olympics with the venue issues and the recent Russian doping scandal, this may not be the gleeful summer we hoped for. But it is an energetic one; through all collections we have the hard, clean cuts and structure in textiles to protect us, the familiarity of vintage cuts form times we now have romanced thanks to our distance form them, and the colours are off and bright. The unusual nature of the colours show us willing to go off the beaten path and the brightness shows energy. Sonia by Soni Rykiel holds to the athleisure ease while Oscar de la Renta maintains the ladylike poise via 40s and 50s cuts thrown in the 90s mix, giving clean sophistication and calm association. The defined contrast trim at Bottega Veneta underscores our boundaries. All houses keep it clean, restraining our form while allowing our "colour".

In reflection, all lines for this season so far show a fun mood while keeping things sensible. The use of cliched retro forms to convey expectations falls within our desire to be safe as we continue on. The technical aspects that we cannot escape, our 21st century innovations, is subtle in the textile and construction. These are kept under radar but not absent. Time will let us know what else will come out to shape the 2017 Resort picture, and for now we know it won't be anything too reckless. At least, that is the picture so far.

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Sunday, May 15th 2016

2:01 PM

Relevant Precision

The 2017 Resort collections are at a trickle, but that will change soon as more designers release their collections. For now, we work with the second to come out at this time, from Diesel Black Gold. The contrast, to say the least, demonstrates the range of points of view that fashion puts forth...much the same way we do.

The focus reflects on the economic realities of collections coming out into the marketplace. While the season is labelled to reflect a lifestyle, the timing of its appearance in the retail market is such that its composition matters, especially where utilitarian relevance counts. The embrace of black reflects the publics' desire for change that remains strong through the past seasons. The defensiveness continues with structured materials. In this case, the masculine leather embraces hardware and workwear accents such as grommeted straps to support the garments. It's tough as we want to be to face the world we need to navigate.

But notice that these are layers on top of contrast, like a tough facade masking something more delicate and pure. The pale blues and whites are protected underneath, not hidden completely, revealing our masks with integrity while acknowledging this is not who we are underneath.

The deconstruction that reflects the future-forward embrace of the 90s (80s if you count Jean-Paul Gaultier's foundation of creation) continues as we play with new forms and combinations to find inspiration for future directions that will become our 21st century aesthetic. Here, it is clean, orderly and precise. It reflects the professionalism our technology provides that is now the new norm. And the lack of period-specific references outside of the 90s also shows the release of the retro-choked past that other collections still refer to in connecting with the audience. This collection seems to move us forward with more recent familiarity in its quest to be future-minded.

This, in contrast to what Chanel revealed last week, opens the door to hints of what the spectrum of fashion will be. It also leaves much room for what fills in between such different collections that speak with the common language of technical mastery over materials and automated precision in assembly. It is as if the future of fashion has become something bigger than us; a megadata-driven calculation produced by supertools with sophistication , meeting our desires for real-time appeal. Fashion just got more interesting, and the coming weeks will have more to think about.

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Saturday, May 7th 2016

3:50 PM

All Casually At Once

The 2017 Resort collections are now upon us. In the coming weeks, designers will showcase collections that give hints of the Spring Summer season while testing the waters to see which styles resonate with the public, much in the way that Pre-fall does for Fall Winter season.

For now, it is Chanel that leads the charge this week, being the only major label to release a collection so far. Here, they have become fashion's emissary to Cuba, a place cut off form the USA for over forty years. Their arrival was well-timed with the first cruise ship to arrive, both on the same day. The wave of modern capitalism presses forth with jubilant spirit onto a new frontier, and the collection matches this joyous freedom with careful measure.

As collections aim to appeal to broader markets and tastes, variety in elements and silhouettes have become more the norm, reflecting our integrated and connected world. The idea of trends still exists, but it has grown more sophisticated as we do thanks to the awareness now afforded more democratically by the technology we have at our disposal. A label such as Chanel is a good example in this case as it produces large scale collections covering its global reach and, in turn, offers this variety that reflects the diversity that must work with the congruence of relevance that fashion requires.

The fashion world is always excited when a fresh influence comes about, as embracing this satisfies the fickleness of its audience that looks for value in consistency balanced by satiating attention spans. The official change in political stance regarding Cuba/USA relations is significant and couples well with ongoing Latin focus that will grow as we approach the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro (among a few other relevant aspects to be discussed in a future article). Fashion cannot ignore an event that will be on the minds of the general public and so it becomes more prominent as an influence...a fact not lost on Chanel.

This collection illustrates many aspects well-designed for the market. Regarding the practical aspects, we find ease and casualness that our current mindset is embracing that is even more prominently desired when selecting vacation clothing. Note the inclusion of the humble T-shirt, the most democratic symbol of class inclusiveness as well as the embrace of the Panama hot feeding further youthful affinity for vintage millinery. The classic aspects that swing between 70s, 80s and 90s also feed our basic expectations of what we would embrace as current investment-wear, while our association with more formality and romance in evening dress merges apt period references of the 30s and 50s with modern nods such as deconstructivisms such as loose threads to tie in with broader trends that have stayed with us as we shift toward a developing early 21st century aesthetic that teeters between apocalyptic pessimism and future-forward manufacturing technique. The variety of prints in geometric arrangement support movement and energy while further acknowledging history connected to influence. Colours are vibrant and energetically natural. We look forward to the future without formality but not releasing the embrace of inherent blends of gender appropriation as the new norm.

It remains to be seen how much of this vocabulary will be similar to other collections. Some perspectives will be more zone-specific, while others may introduce other points of view to further uncover where we are looking and thinking. Those will come soon and this blog will be here for you to read and talk about it.

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Sunday, May 1st 2016

2:26 PM

Innovation WISPers Us Forward

Before becoming inundated with the deluge of imagery and creativity that the 2017 Resort collections bring in the coming days, we have a wee bit of time to examine some of the wonders within our world and how they can translate into future inspirations that we all might wear.

It's human nature to think forward as much as we do the past. In fact, this oscillation between both mindsets was observed as an issue bringing us stress and spurred a mindfulness movement not too long ago. but no matter how present we may aim to be, the future is on our minds. It's present in how we shape our policies and our politics, from immigration to environmentalism and beyond. And through all of this, our technology, which is amazing us as never before (or, rather, ever before), coupled with our cosmetic attention on time and the importance we place on nomenclature, has spurred us to think of what may be. The Manus vs. Machina exhibit that will be opening this week at New York's Metropolitan Museum shows how important our tech has come into our culture via our most intimate of cultural attachments: our clothing and how integral this technical revolution has become in our lives. but it is not just what we are producing, but the innovations that keep coming that show how delicate our predictions can be.

For the longest time we have anticipated the blend of technical with our clothing. While Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen were early entries in exploring involving tech in their designs, other designers such as Diane von Furstenberg, Opening Ceremony, Tory Burch and Ralph Lauren jumped on the wearables bandwagon to push it closer to mainstream. Meanwhile, others such as Hedokko, Cute Circuit and Sensoree continue to explore various limits of tech in fashion. Each adds to the stepping stone to what fashion could be as it merges with tech in the march towards the larger concept known as the Internet of Things (IoT). Here, our world will be connected in ways we are just beginning to see.

For fashion, part of the problem is the all-important deal breaker: the utilitarian aspect. All these technical ideas hinge on connectivity to power to run them, and for loftier design aspects such as morphing, shape shifting and lighting all hinge on connecting to power sources. Anyone can tell you that batteries are not exactly fashion-friendly; the heaviness and bulkiness has hindered further incorporation as some of the more complex functions that are imagined rely on power sources still too cumbersome for making them consumer-friendly. But that may no longer be a problem in the near future.

The reason for such optimism hinges on innovations in power and energy; in this case it is on new tech-workarounds to circumvent conventional means. For a while there has been experimental approaches with ambient battery-free sensors. These draw power from whatever is near that can offer it, such as television waves and cell towers. But they react slowly and can't be remotely controlled. However, a recent innovation from research at the University of Washington's Sensor Lab has created the Wireless Identification and Sensing Platform (aka WISP) and this is big. It can be remotely activated. That is, you can use an app to control it. And it doesn't need batteries, just waves from an RFID reader (that's the tech used in retail to catch shoplifters); these waves get turned into power so no batteries needed here. They also are stronger that the ambient types currently being worked on.

The problem right now? They are too weak to do anything big like power your tablet or phone. But what it can do now is something fashion can jump on: it can power little things, and in fashion that is very big. Fashion is rife with details, and tech's manipulation of these knows no limits. Imagine colour-changing paillettes or fibres, or tweed that changes texture, like mini waves of wheat in the wind. Our tech has long been getting smaller and thinner, and there are already ways to imbed this into fibres so the workings are unnoticeable. With WISP, these features can exist without compromising weight of the garment, thus making these still wearable.

Will fashion embrace this? In time, yes, that is inevitable. But for right now that is hard to say. Fashion borders between the experimental and the cautious, as seen by the entry into 3D printing...although Iris Van Herpen has shown fashion what is possible and has fuelled the imaginations of others to look at this tech differently. Perhaps the Met exhibit will awaken the senses of designers as we head closer to the evolution of 21st century design and, coupled with innovation in tech, will usher the active and exciting possibilities that our imaginations seek...if economics doesn't prove an even bigger hurdle.

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Sunday, April 24th 2016

7:18 PM

Nothing Compares 2 Him

This blog draws connections between the world at large and the fashion industry. In particular, it often speaks of the way the components of the industry observe and are influenced by events and icons spanning the past, present and future and translating them into expressions represented by materials and composition into garments that seem innocuous when landing in the retail chain. Some are connected to the harder aspects such as politics and economics. Others deal with the arts as one creative expression fuels inspiration for others.

The symbiotic connection between music and fashion was touched upon multiple times here as well, most recently during the industry's reaction to the passing of David Bowie not too long ago. Some creatives strike a chord with designers much the way they stir the hearts of the greater public, especially when they reciprocate in kind in connecting with the very industry it inspires. These two industries go hand-in-hand; fashion looks to musics in contributing a soundtrack to accompany the mood it explores as it creates and subsequently communicates its vision to the public. Music relies on fashion to breathe visual life in communicating its personality as it projects its voice or message; fashion adds the seasoning to building the connection or adding power to delivering its message. So, when a music icon passes, fashion reflects its power not only within its own industry but what that icon has on the public and its culture as well.

It's no joy to bring up the passing of yet another great entertainer, in this case the amazing talent known as Prince, when speaking of the connections between fashion and the world. Yet Prince represents an important fashion connection that emerged during a time when fashion welcomed breaking boundaries, and he represented the creative expression at its fullest quite well. His brand of style was exploratory and, at times just as Bowie had, was sexually powerful in testing limits. His energy was electric and his love of theatrics inspired the fashion industry, albeit more recently as we find ourselves revisiting the flamboyance and creative expressions that the avant garde designs of the 80s continue to make their return.

Prince has long made contributions, some we didn't realize were from his hand as revelations of his collaborations and songwriting stream forth. And, as the news sinks in, the public will respond in kind, reflecting on his music and his style. Fashion will thus have another component to add to its repertoire of influences as collections come out (his practical ownership of the colour purple being one) to honor another member of the fashion family that has left our world into the beyond.

But will these passings be as powerful when the collections honoring them come to market? Once upon a time when influences were not as numerous and the market wasn't as far reaching, we could say so. That these creatives so far this year that have passed (and have been written about in past articles here) line up with current fashion inspirations is coincidental (80s and architecture, if you're wondering), and the love of them and their work are no less meaningful...nor are they trivial. And yet, as our attention spans and overload of stimuli compete with those sentiments as we race forth taking on more and more each day, the power of those that matter may no longer hold as much sway.

Ours is now a world that does not react the way it once did. The New York Times not too long ago anticipated the power of the recent Star Wars film as a fashion influence post-release but we now see that as fleeting and the time during its anticipation was more influenced than whatever came after it ran through the theatres of the world. Save for personally jarring events such as 9/11, the anticipation, the hype of an event, is what we have trained ourselves to connect to. The passing of icons that hold intimate emotional connections that we can take with us, such as music from our favourite musicians or actors from films we can cuddle up to, runs contrary to that. That is to say, if the person is far-reaching i.e. connecting to multiple generations, then they will have more of a collective effect but with so much happening to digest, their passing will, whether we like to admit it or not, get lost amidst the ongoing events of the world that we pour over. And so, fashion may have aspects thrown in, to be sure, but in the greater scope of the world there is too much going on to not notice. Designers will, without words, acknowledge that as they blend homage with other components that reflect just how overwhelming our world has become. It is the price of being connected. It is, regretfully, the sign of the times.

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Sunday, April 17th 2016

2:46 PM

Depth Of Communication

We look to fashion to serve multiple purposes. The obvious is to cover ourselves. It offers protection from the elements and comfort in our daily lives. It serves our morals, upholding modesty or framing our hedonistic desires. It serves to advertise to others our desire to blend in or stand out. It signals to others our affiliations and broadcasts our tastes. Sometimes it broadcasts our beliefs, our politics and our values. Other times it carries our dreams and desires. It allows us to be our fantasy, to role play, and to add to our projections. Fashion does a lot for us while navigating the fickleness of relevance.

Most of the collections for Fall Winter 2016/17 presented their language "as is". The various elements to be dissected helped to tell the tale of where we are and want to be. Some are proud in their sophistication of message, bringing intricacy of craft and complexity to the design process. These clothes make us think and stir reflection. Others are more straight forward, be it in utilitarian obviousness or in common trend vocabulary that allows us to connect more easily.

Occasionally we find the desire to be more direct. If we are communicating ourselves, why not do it through language? Literal messages were commonplace in the 70s during the t-shirt craze as we wore our hearts not on our sleeves, but blazoned across our chests for all to read. Messages were cheeky or provocative, but utilization of language cut to the chase and made our thoughts direct. This carried off and on in subsequent decades as we oscillated between the satisfaction of our creative process versus the desire to let our clothes tell it like it is.

At times, this wording can be cheeky, reflecting our appreciation in silliness or the absurd. Other times times, it can be moralistic or provocative, such as the awareness-inducing messages that were hallmarks of the astute eco-warrior Katherine Hamnett. (who is a proven role model that sustainability and ethics are easy to achieve in fashion).

For the most recent collections, some designers gave us range. Just as current trends display the hybridization of influences and references showing a wider range, so are the selections of word utilization. Be it poetic or declarative, a few design houses such as Chalayan, Red Valentino and Vetements utilized wordplay to communicate their sentiments. Meanwhile, Chalayan also played with graphics simultaneously and Anrealage with concept in pattern to convey deeper meaning to the fashion audience.

Designers work to relate to the audience but also take time to reach out and communicate, to engage. The relationship they form with us is not to talk at us but to intermingle with us. They listen to what we feel and relay this to further connect. That is all we ask in return: to communicate so that we can connect. And subsequent fashion collections will let us know who is listening and speaking our language, as it always does.

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Saturday, April 9th 2016

8:13 PM

Personal Clutter On Order

When looking at fashion and the recent seasons, there are certain patterns that become apparent. Some are more fleeting and are merely a fad while others last longer and can become even a characteristic that defines a decade. Shoulder pads were a hallmark of the 40s, the 50s and the 80s, and tend to reflect the defensiveness and call to overt displays of strength, manifest in behaviours relative to the events of the times. Short skirts, such as in the 20s, 60s, 70s and 80s, go hand-in-hand with overt displays of sexual empowerment. look deeply enough, and fashion will let you know what we are thinking and doing.

The Fall Winter 2016/17 collections reflected a longer lasting theme: excess. It takes form of the overabundance of patterns and layers. Details are piled on and crammed together. Even cleaner minimalist items are styled to bring more to the seasonal story.

One would think it reflects our abundance, but a better indication is how it reflects the growing accumulation that sometimes manifests itself unhealthily in our society. Reality television capitalized on the phenomenon of clutter and hoarding, combining our fascination with public behaviour while educating us on what qualifies it as a problem and, more importantly, how to tackle the material byproduct. But as for the root cause, the messages of our society today hold the key.

We have created a culture that depends on consumption for survival. our typical activities on even our cultural celebrations seem to rely on mandatory levels of consumption to qualify as successful social participation. Visual entertainment such as film and television often features endless wardrobes that set up viewers as to what would be the norm for personal acquisition. The constant bombardment of messages push qualifiers of self-esteem, centering on having the newest of new as the solution. And even though there is a slowly growing voice for less consumption, it's more often than not falling on deaf ears by our choice.

The connection of happiness and social acceptance is deeply tied to this elevated level of material acquisition; too many industries have carefully crafted their messages and marketing strategies to ensure this through manipulation of emotions, more recently via strategic approaches such as storytelling, emotional connectivity and authenticity. And when we create powerful connection between people and things, it becomes harder to separate them. Since the late 50s, we have created an whole new industry devoted to self-storage that is growing tremendously, despite the trend of personal downsizing.

When looking at hoarding, we find the emotional connection between people and their things is powerful. The disposal of things is rendered difficult due to the magnified connection between things and their history. We fail to throw out things due to sentiment  or "just in case". Either way, the emotional self has overtaken common sense, fuel by our consumption culture. We find comfort on over-accumulation. It is soothing to surround ourselves with overabundance, and so the Fall Winter 2016/17 collections reflect where we are; we carry as much as we can to the point of overflow.

Those who have long read the blog can see the cumulative them that fashion is conveying. We are stressed and exploring ways to cope, and we literally wear our hearts on our sleeves...and lapels...and waistbands...and inseams...and pockets...and in layers...in vain. But take heart: fashion, like everything else, is like the waves on the high seas with peaks and valleys. For every action and reaction, we oscillate and switch as we grow forward. We just have a lot going on right now, both in our wardrobes and in our lives.

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Monday, April 4th 2016

7:08 PM

Starchitect In the Heavens

Normally, this blog covers the roots of current fashion, leading you to understand the design process as something more than superficial pairings of colour, texture and form. Designers, especially the influential ones, possess the powers of acute observation and connectivity, leading the consumer to new discoveries that honor relevance while providing fresh inspiration with new ideas. It's a very delicate balancing act, and although the volume of designers seems huge, it is a small number when looking at a percentage of the global population. 

These brilliant, hard-working minds are open to influence to keep the creative process...and their businesses that allow continuity of participation...alive. This blog hopes to open your eyes to see how the process of translating inspiration into garment creation works. 

As said many times here at Fashion Observed, the current technological landscape has provided an overload of information, with collections reflecting this via myriad inspirations now mashed together as we evolve our collections and aim to dress our future. The more fashion-forward designs are not afraid of breaking new ground to get us more thoroughly to the 21st century; after all, our clothes are still largely 20th century in design. To get us there, designers embrace the highest of modern influences.

Our technology of course is central to this. Wearable technology is becoming more expected as as we move forward. advances in textiles and creation techniques abound. 3D printing, in conjunction with more sophisticated software innovations in particular, has opened the door to complex and intricate design approaches that we could not have dreamed of a decade earlier. Fashion has evolved as have we.

Fashion reflects the world at large as much as takes inspiration from it. Not only is our technology incorporated, but our surroundings do, too, and these have also felt technology's influence. The limits of shape and form have transformed before us, becoming more sculptural and innovative. lucky are those to have such structures within their reach. The world has many modern wonders that, in turn influence fashion. We see it in collections that take on sweeping shapes and cuts in honor of the very architectural wonders that fuel the imaginations of designers everywhere.

Last week, we lost a brilliant mind and an influential inspiration. She was a vanguard championing equality in a field where women are rarely part of, producing architectural masterpieces that were awe-inspiring. They reflected the height of technology to take our imaginations beyond the conventional. Each creation pushed the envelope further, exposing those who took in her work to believe in the power of the future. We speak of Dame Zaha Hadid as fondly as we did in June 8, 2014 ("Curve Appeal") for her influence was powerful as it was hugely relevant.

She inspired fashion greatly, something that was acknowledged by W magazine & WWD in a touching  and fitting tribute. She was as big a fan of fashion as fashion was a fan of her. She worked with Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel, Donna Karen, Louis Vuitton, and Pharrell Williams for Adidas. She collaborated with United Nude's Rem D. Koolhaus to bring her architectural sensibilities to create sculpture that was footwear and partnered with Georg Jensen. She was a fan of Issey Miyake, Commes des Garcons and Miuccia Prada, a friend with Stella McCartney and a huge supporter of high design. Chanel, in turn, held their Resort 2016 show in Hadid's DDP Building in Seoul. The love was mutual as it was sincere, and the inspiration flowed as magic.

The loss is palpable. however, the vast inspiration of what remains, what was left for us to remember, will carry on and will influence collections to come. For as mentioned before in past articles, the passing of fashion's favorites finds their way into design; it is how the industry honors what moves it.

Dame Zaha Hadid created poetry from stone and steel to reflect who we are and to lead us forth. As fellow creatives take time to reflect on the legacy she has left the world to enjoy, we hope her power to stand tall will inspire more women to take equal footing in the formation of our future as we embrace not only the forms that will inspire our world towards environmental innovation, but also to the spirit that forges greatness equally amongst all. 

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Sunday, March 27th 2016

2:05 PM

What To Wear In Case Of Time Travel

Out of the Fall Winter 2016/17 collections, the most obvious pattern is that we are taking from the past to create our future. That is, the currently produced collections are an amalgamation of various periods brought together to convey how we feel (or how they believe we will feel) as the clothes hit the retail floors.

A part of this has to do with making emotional connections. This is much easier when referencing something that is already familiar with the public, such as cliche elements from various periods. We equate energy with the flapper look of the 20s or the micro-minis of the 60s, elegance and sophistication from the sculptural volumes of the late 50s, strength with 40s suiting and brash power with an 80s shoulder pad. A designer will take inspiration from the world around and translate the overall vibe into a collection of elements to create. 

This brings up the larger reason we see the past referenced. The larger reason is that our creative talent draws form what is familiar in their lives, and as this blog has repeated before, our current wave of talent is of the 20th century, and so a designer born of that period cannot escape the source in one's creative foundation. It is what they know.

There is no denying that creating anything for the future is a daunting task. Our historic review of futuristic fashion and predictions of fashions to come brings great amusement, revealing more about the existing period than anything else. A quick online search confirms this. Some aspects can be prescient, but only as one lives through the future predicted do we see how much they missed the mark versus what they got right.

Our fashion always tries to aim forward. Sometimes, in the interests of profit it sticks closer to the present. At other times the more adventurous creativity aims forward. The avant garde, in particular, seeks to break new ground and can be more instrumental in leading us forward. The avant garde of the 20s would be decades ahead of the pop art print expressions of the 60s and 70s or the free form architectural cuts of the 80s. the masculine embrace of the 30s and 40s would later be the gateway to androgynous dressing we now take for granted while the experiments with texture and dimensional detail would be at home in our 3D print landscape. We owe our current draping and asymmetry to the experimentation of the 80s. Dig deeper and you will find prior time periods forging deep paths.

But just as our fashion has power to push forward, we also tend to reach back to, as said earlier, connect at an emotional level. And while the last few years have seen more variety in the combination of past references, the more recent collections are not afraid to go past our last century either.

Designers are a curious lot. This is not to mean that they cause wonder (they do) but that they, like artists, hunger for inspiration and reach out to fill that need. They read, they explore, they open their eyes wide to draw in knowledge to broaden their information stores of inspiration. They bring knowledge of the past forward, knowing that we are cyclical in nature, and incorporate that into their collection's story, drawing elements that relate to our "now".

Creatives that know their history would get how our exploring boundaries and debate on open marriages as solutions to divorce rates parallels the demure acceptance of open marriages as an antidote to impersonal and sometimes resented arranged unions during medieval times. They would also know how contributions within family units for survival meant gender equality was far less an issue for the same period. no surprise to see such elements in collections from Fendi, Mother of Pearl, Nicopanda and Threeasfour.

The rise of creative expression in the arts, the growth of sciences and increase in our hunger for exploration is very much now...and was also a Renaissance and Elizabethan hallmark. Gucci cited the Renaissance as an inspiration source while Luisa Beccaria had some Renaissance elements. Giambattista Valli had hints of Elizabethan inspiration in some of its collars.

The economic instability of the Jacobean period that followed the Elizabethan era also dealt with disease; if they had the bubonic plague, we have Ebola and the Zika virus. But all was not bad back then: while beliefs ranged from religious to the supernatural and satire rose in entertainment, science experienced some great advancements, much like today. And the romantic dramatic fashion of that era found its way to Aganovich's collection as well.

As we have more technology at our fingertips, we gain a greater capacity to learn more about ourselves and our past and how much it relates to ourselves today. And perhaps the greatest surprise of our future will be how much we, with our knowledge of our past, may find continued integration a 21st century aspect in our design. Until we have a time machine, we will have to make do with something more holistic: being patient. 

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