To blog or not to blog? That is the modern Shakespeare’s dilemma. Fashion blogging is a pretty oversaturated market these days. Many people who follow fashion are aware of that, however the ‘style with substance’ concept is about more than images and more to do with collusion of the aesthetic with the soulful. I remember reading up on Garance Doré’s street-style capturing origins, one of the most highly-respected and brilliant street photographers out there, along with her long-standing creative partner The Satorialist’s Scott Schuman. She spoke of how she was capturing various stylish people outside fashion week shows, from what I remember there was one particular girl in Russia who she wanted to capture and therefore asked her what was in her beautiful Céline bag: “Oh, nothing” she replied. The cavernous expanse of well-crafted leather was useless and merely a prop. This anecdote resonated with me and clearly Garance also as she shared in an interview on how she needs to feel a human connection with her subject in order to capture them in all their authentic glory. This is what is behind ‘style with substance’, it’s about the people who wear their bags to death and are not worn by that peacock-feather creation which is wonderful if it empowers you but not if it has power over you. I love people’s stories, and it can be that the objects we carry and love and live in and within are visual, textural and visceral signs of those moments. Purchasing a stunning Céline bag just for show at the shows is to be honest, rather sad and a comment on so many things. High fashion, fashion as art is not about the image, but rather the layers of motivation and inspiration behind the image. It is the same as any other artistic form. If it is diluted and corrupted and soulless it is so obvious. Fashion is political. It has the ability to be divisive, subversive and intrusive. Many will remember that fabulously acted scene by Meryl Streep when she pulls up Anne Hathaway’s character on her deriding of fashion as irrelevant. Lo and behold! Fashion is a huge global economic force whether we like it or not. It also holds psychological, social and political weight. It is important to be aware of it rather than ignoring the powerful undercurrent which it possesses.
It is almost too easy to side-line the industry as superficial and without real value. However there is danger in dismissing it too quickly as frivolous, meaningless and vacuous. It is certainly the most commodified art form in terms of its commercial appeal to various markets which belies its surface perception. The industry’s image needs to be re-examined. Within the tiny collection of islands that make up the UK the fashion industry is the second biggest employer. Touching upon huge issues and topics such as ‘fast-fashion’, the cult of the disposable that neoliberalism can encourage and the result of this too often being sweatshops shall be covered in later posts. All that’s opaque is that the impact, reach and influence of fashion extends far beyond just an image. Heidegger, the philosopher, spoke on how science and technology are not intrinsically bad but that it is the intent behind a machine that warrants it to be destructive or creative. When something becomes mechanic it is easy to contaminate the original purpose. Similarly the intent behind a piece of haute couture, the pure elixir from which the entire industry extends is expressed as art and becomes less pure the further away from the source it runs. Design is so much more than a product or an object but about disciplined technicality, generational craftsmanship, quality and inspiration. Designing is the root of the industry and the axis on which it all spins. Image is not the pursuit but the aftershock.
Let’s go back to the beginning, the Genesis if you will. For me, wandering through an art supplies shop with every shade of oil, acrylic and brushes in all widths and hair types evokes the same rush as when I chill in a fabric store (easy high), the feel of a gauze, tulle or silk and the potential in the many hues of oil paint are so exciting to me in their raw potential. Pre-fall, Resort and Cruise collections on top of Autumn/Winter, S/S are the prerogative of the fashion greats with established investors and something to say. The fashion calendar blurs at light speed. Yet to be honest it’s all about that braided tweed cuff fabricated in the middle of the French countryside by Madame Pouzieux, a woman who was the only living person to know the design and loom-work technique that her and Gabrielle (being Gabrielle ‘Coco’ Chanel) worked on to trim the iconic suit jacket. Some may fall for the gloss, the glamour and everything associated with it, but really the reason it is iconic is because of the craftsmanship behind it, the graft and the intricacy. Haute couture is ethanol. Magazines, blogging and editorial are at best champagne and come after; high-street edits and high-end ready-to-wear all come after.
Just a thought for the day…
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