Thursday, 13 March 2014

fashion: H&M knock-offs

It was about time to do some spring shopping. Though I guess that a black cardigan and a pair of black jeans aren't very springy. Never mind. 

Wandering about the Cityplaza in Taikoo proved to be an "interesting experience". First of all, there happened to be some fire alarm - I say some because I had no idea what was going on (my Cantonese is limited to "m goi") but I know that I was suddenly shut in the mall. At least I managed to run away via MTR (subway). 

Anyway, in the meantime I went to H&M. It's a kind of a shop that was my major shopping destination throughout my teenage years and, unfortunately, I'm still forced to return there. Not exactly forced, but there are not many other options of clothes with prices suitable for a student budget.

Oh, I should get to the point. Ok, now. Is it just me or they really released items "inspired" by Mary Katrantzou? I mean, the fashion show in London was only about 3 weeks ago?! Fast fashion at it's best.

Well, everyone knows the H&M and such heavily derive from designer collections. Nothing new. However, what "worries" me is the fact that... what happened to fashion seasons? Mary's collection is supposed to be Autumn/Winter 2014-15 while high-street shops are already selling its knock-offs? Will the collection remain relevant after all? Or, paradoxically, will it become outdated once it hits the stores? Since it features quite a distinct imagery it's highly possible. Sadly.

(I wanted to take pictures of the items I'm talking about - but there was the fire alarm.)

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

fashion: do women want stupid magazines, or not

Why are men’s magazines so better than women’s?

Recently, I had a lazy afternoon and stopped by magazines at the supermarket. Since I’m in Hong Kong and have absolutely no knowledge of Chinese (ok, I can say thank you) I overlooked HK versions of Elle and others, and my eyes fell onto all the Vogues, Bazaars and Elles from Britain, US and other countries. I skimmed through them and didn’t like them. However, that’s not the sole reason that made me write a post on it. I'm aware of the fact that these magazines have become foldable billboards. Even though, I must admit on occasions it makes me sad. However, the reason is that I also skimmed through men’s style/fashion magazines (GQ, Monocle, Esquire etc.). And, o-m-g, I stood there for more than twenty minutes, reading and reading and just enjoying sharp and witty articles - for men. 

I knew that it wasn't me, because even though I'm not a girly girl I'm not manly. At least I believe so. 

The difference is that men’s magazines, those basically dealing with the same stuff - style, were written in anticipation of much more clever audience - men. Just look at the amount of text and even on the size of it! Articles are long, interesting, not much dealing with sex and the font size is often considerably smaller = even more text. 

Come on, is sex the only thing women want to read about? It's getting boring, no? All the time all the same. Not even creative in any sense. Or, diets? Eat less and exercise more. That's it. There's no other secret in it. I want to learn something new from each article, not to read a 'poetic' form of publicity. I want to learn something about the women who rule the world! Haha, ok now I'm exaggerating but it's only because I went to a bookshop today and there was NO biography of a single woman. Only men. (and, beware, I don't consider myself a feminist, it's just that I'm noticing stuff and they make me sad/mad)

Are really women that stupid? I don't think so (hopefully). Or do they see fashion magazines as a refuge which enables them to switch to the mode of no thinking and just "enjoying" advertisements? Perhaps (sadly). But then I don't understand paying for it (Google = free?).

Hmm?

(By the way, has anyone read the Porter? Any opinions?)


Monday, 10 March 2014

fashion: regular outfits

Do you think about what you wear? 

I know that fashion bloggers who take photos of their outfits basically on a daily basis definitely do. I know that picking an outfit is never a totally unconscious process. So I should perhaps rephrase my question. To what extent do you think about what you wear? Too much? Too little?

Recently, I’ve been thinking a bit about why I wear what I wear. For outfits I consider deliberately picked enables and I’ve realized that in most cases I dress on impulse with not much thinking but lots of laziness involved. This is probably because of my very limited range of choices and no budget for shopping sprees. 

But still it made me think... is it wrong? or right? In a way, I feel under pressure. I know that no one really cares and it's probably only my very inner pressure, but because I absolutely love fashion I feel obliged to create some amazing outfits which would have the power to catch attention of street photographer at all times. (Un)fortunately, I'm not that type of person but it makes me feel as if I was fake. Am I faking my love for fashion? Do I need to prove the world my interest through bold fashion statements? Or is it possible to love fashion but assume a role of a quite observer? 

Saturday, 8 March 2014

fashion: power




From time to time life reminds me of what I truly love about fashion, of its true sense. I realize how empowering fashion is. It’s the reason why I consider fashion so important in our lives and why I believe that everyone who dismisses fashion as stupid and shallow has just missed the point. 

Fashion has the power to give us voice in situations we cannot speak or are prohibited to speak. It's the easiest way to express disagreement. After all, fashion has often acted as a very first step of revolutions of any sorts. And coming from an ex-communist country, I can assure you that during those dark days fashion mattered more than you'd think since the government regarded it as a threat. It was a threat because communism didn't want people to think - independently. It didn't want people to express their opinions. And so, one of the ways to suppress any kind of individualism was to control fashion. After all, everything was controlled. Because even though we often aren't aware of that, fashion completely transforms one's personality. It changes the body language, ways of thinking and behaving, and even the way of speaking. But more importantly fashion has the wonderful ability to give us more confidence.  And on top of that, not only that it changes the personality of the wearer, but it also changes the attitude of people towards him/her. The way one expresses oneself determines what other people think about him/her and it has often a lasting impact which is hard to change. Fashion matters.

Fashion can be much more than you think. It's neither shopping nor selfies in the mirror. It's who we are.

(P.S. I'm trying to figure out how to transfer sketches and drawings into digital images so my first efforts are and will be rather ridiculous, sorry, although I don't aspire to make them 'beautiful' either way)

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Chanel: the biggest disappointment, ever



The setting might have been innovative and overall turning the show into a spectacular performance. However, something has gone terribly wrong if it's the setting what takes the spotlight from the real stars of the show - the clothes. (watch the show - I like the music though)



It feels like Karl's gone mad. I mean, where's that Chanel everyone knows and loves? We can accept  and eventually even love his quirks, but now it's just too much. Is he trying to reposition the brand and appeal to younger customers? Maybe Cara bewitched him so much that he lost his mind. Because it seems as if the collection was designed for Cara and her friends. But, in general, young buyers don't have the purchase power, Karl. Not yet. And when they’ll get to that stage, they’ll already be grown up and desiring the classy Chanel, not some tacky pieces which could easily compete with Moschino. And Moschino has been ‘specializing’ in imitating Chanel so wouldn’t it be ironic to follow Moschino?



I can barely see anything I like. And I'm not the type of person who's looking for conventional beauty. If it wasn't Karl Lagerfeld but some other designer, I'm sure that he'd be ripped apart. Even when I try to imagine the clothes without the setting or as individual pieces they just don't make the cut. Did he use the supermarket background to distract people from the actual collection? If so, lucky him, not many other designer could afford such an expensive stage set.



I'm not sure if it's not even too much to please fashion victims. On the other hand, some who would wear anything hideous enough to attract street style photographers. But it's not them who generate profits, right. 



So where is the Chanel silhouette? It's there, in bits and pieces, looking like a cheese after a mice feast. Other outfits looked like working overalls (nothing against working overalls but it was too literal) and others like unfortunate efforts to revive 80s. The outfits  above? Toxic birthday cakes. And what happened to the wonderful trainers from the couture show? They were turned into boots. Not wonderful anymore.



But what I resent the most are these leggings/overalls (up). Look at the crotch. I mean, it's always been a nightmare to get trousers with a baggy crotch, and I don't think that Chanel will ever change it.

I know that from my comments you can assume that I hate Chanel. Not really. I only hate this collection. It was probably the biggest disappointment of this season, and just from browsing fashion forums I see that it's not just me. Hope that Karl learns his lesson. He should accept the fact that he's still a human being, not a god.


Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Comme des Garçons: monsters of art

The latest Comme des Garçons collection hardly falls into the category of fashion. Obviously, none of the outfits would be either flattering or merely functional. Unless your desired look is a "monster" - the very name Rei Kawakubo called her collection of bizarre creatures. But what monsters did she mean? The monsters of the real world, of fashion industry, or of our own mind?




The collection is incredible. It’s a transformation of fashion to art.

Therefore, it is impossible, perhaps even inappropriate, to view the collection from the same perspective from which one views Lanvin or Dior shows. Why not? Even though, they all “did the same thing” (the setting was a catwalk at PFW and the performance consisted of walking), they all oscillated on completely different levels. By that I don’t meant that one is better than another. It’s just that Lanvin or Dior is still operating within the realm of fashion and luxury, a category to which they have been faithful ever since. Whereas Comme des Garçons has confidently moved from fashion to the realms of art. Performance art? Not really, Conceptual art? Perhaps. 

But if I dare to call the collection a conceptual art what is the concept? Let have the creator speak:
"The theme of the collection this time is MONSTER. It's not about the typical Monster you find in sci-fi and video games. The expression of the Monsters I have made has a much deeper meaning. The craziness of humanity, the fear we all have, the feeling of going beyond common sense, the absence of ordinariness, expressed by something extremely big, by something that could be ugly or beautiful. In other words, I wanted to question the established standards of beauty."


I believe that later in shops you'll find very different clothes - wearable pieces for which this collection is only a point of reference. Not only that it's a quite common practice, to adjust clothes for retail, but it's also the fact that these pieces are impossible to be worn. It’s hard to think about anyone strong enough to wear such ensembles. They are destined to remain behind a vitrine in a museum. Even though it was only an ordinary catwalk that was turned into a stage, such performance was to be seen only once. If repeated, its power and meaning would be lost. To retail them and actually wear them would mean to strip them off their aura. Yet, it wasn't truly a performance art although I describe it in terms of one. The models who would be normally assumed to have the role of performers became only a mere bases whose function was only to let the clothes speak for themselves. In a way, it's nothing new, models have been called "coat hangers" for a reason. But here their role was exploited to the fullest and they were stripped off any other possible function beyond walking. 



Recently, more and more people have started to call fashion art. Often it’s only because they've mistaken the appreciation of fashion for appreciation of art. However, a mere feeling of “liking” is not enough to justify the equation of fashion = art. The reason for that is simple. The great art goes deep beyond the surface, while in the case of fashion it is the surface what matters the most. I'm aware that some people would object to such a claim. I know that many believe that being a fashion designer is actually being an artist. In some cases, it's possible that an artistic genius decides to devote his/her life to fashion. But to be honest, it'd be usually for economical reasons. Everyone needs money and art rarely pays the bills. Unless you're Damien Hirst, of course. In other cases, designers are skillful artisans with a certain degree of creativity who might have some artistic impulses but their works are mostly driven by the market. They create what they believe will sell. And this belief is not based on mere intuition but on a vast market research, trend forecasting and figures from last seasons. 

Nevertheless, a closer look reveals that both art and fashion go in parallel with the way they reflect their subjects and tackle certain issues. I'm sure everyone has noticed that in art a sense of ugliness has been preferred over beauty (e.g. Tracey Emin's infamous My Bed) lately. The same goes for fashion. Often, you see creations which might be praised by the fashion folks but misunderstood by the rest of the public. The clothes are often unflattering and ugly, but in contrast to Monsters they are still functional. Their surface appearance also gives the wearer a hope of being something more and a belief of understanding fashion more than others. Because after all he/she is going against conventions and that must be for a reason. There might be one, but such cases are rare. Often, the hopes and beliefs are only fake aspirations.



In his latest collection, Alber Elbaz tried to take fashion to extremes but he took it to extremes which were still within the boundaries of fashion. Or rather within his own boundaries. Whereas, here, Rei took fashion out of its boundaries, confidently exploring what the world outside had on offer. As I said before, I believe that the clothes are destined for a museum, not for a real world. In real life, clothes should be a "base" that enables one to showcase his/her very own personality.  However, these pieces would be rather suffocating than empowering. They would say nothing about one's personality because Rei's message is too strong and there's no room for its further development



It takes time. I wasn’t prepared to see this kind of collection even though Kawakubo is certainly not famous for being conventional. One needs to swap fashion lenses for the art ones. Then, everything starts to make sense. 

Sorry. I got carried off. But is there anything better than fashion/art that makes you think?

Apparently I miss my regular dose of essays.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Lanvin: elegance and backpacks




Nostalgic of the old days, Alber Elbaz said  he wanted to bring extravagance back to fashion. It was about time. I've started to miss those theatrical fashion shows of the late 90s.

Being a fond lover of hats, I was intrigued. A variety of simple headgears complemented with an abundance of fringes had an ability to empower the women even more strongly than the clothes. Their looks became enigmatic and bewitching. A dream? 



Even though one can't really talk about fur in terms of seasons and trends, I need to say that it seems that fur is becoming bigger once again (ethical issues aside). It wasn't only at Lanvin's show but at many others. Be it fake or real, fur from luxury brands is simply expensive. It seems that the fashion industry has become tired of the democratization of fashion and desires to become once again a realm of mystery and dreams. Highly priced, hardly affordable. More exclusive.



And don't forget to notice the backpacks (yes, the model on the left is wearing a fur backpack)! Who would expect them at Lanvin's show? Well, not me. It's actually interesting that Alber picked this type of backpacks than any other to show off the experimental nature of his collection. Especially because this type (sorry I don't know whether there's any proper name for it) is really huge in Asia, or at least in Hong Kong. I barely saw them in Europe, but here everyone has one. Probably they're really practical, though I haven't fallen for them yet. Anyway, I don't know what Lanvin's sales are in Asia, but it might help increase them a tiny bit. On the other hand, it might be understandable that Alber decided to work with these backpacks. They're simple and one can easily play with them around and eventually even turn them into pieces of luxury. 



As Alber Elbaz said he wanted to go to extremes. That was a risky decision but it paid off big. Overall, the collection felt to me as a play on the pristine elegance of the old days and on the changing women's needs of nowadays. Women aren't caught in golden cages anymore. Women live to the fullest and they're more strong and powerful than ever before. The looks were glamorous yet rough, gloomy yet playful. But definitely they were empowering.