Friday, 10 September 2010

Friend Friday: Fashion Week

Friend Friday is a weekly survey for fashion bloggers run by ModlyChic.  This week is about Fashion Week.  In my case London Fashion Week is my local!  To participate email
1. Do you pay attention to the shows during fashion week? Which designers collections are you looking forward to seeing?

Yes.  For London Fashion Week there is now a website which live streams all the shows and I will be checking back daily for the shows I am interested in.  But I generally follow all the various fashion weeks, New York, Paris, Milan and check out a lot of designers.

The main show I will be looking forward to is Alexander McQueen to see how the work of the late designer is interpreted by his successor Sarah Burton.  Also looking forward to Christopher Kane to see how he follows up his amazing winter lace and leather collection, and Erdem for his amazing prints.  I loved Alexander Wang's last show which deconstructed investment bankers suiting so looking forward to what he does this season.  Other favourites are Dolce and Gabbana, John Galliano, Lanvin, Balmain, Isabel Marant and Givenchy.

2. Where are you getting your Fashion Week news from?
It is hard to escape fashion news during fashion week here as most newspapers will feature something about it.  But I mostly get my news on the Internet.  I'll be checking the LFW website, Vogue, and Elle.

3. Over the years the runway has become more than just models displaying the creations of a designer. They are now spectacles. Do you think that adds or detracts from the fashion?

For some people fashion is more than just the clothes we choose to wear.  It's part of a larger creative vision (pompous as that may sound to some people).  Creative people are rarely just creative in one area, they draw on inspiration for their art from everything around them and are often talented in more than one artistic endeavour.  It makes complete sense to me that someone who wants to express themselves through designing clothes will have the urge to express themselves through other creative means too.

That a fashion designer would choose to share a larger part of that creative vision with an audience rather than just showcase the final product of their artistic journey is quite a generous act.  These types of shows cost a designer time and money they would otherwise not have to spend.

Instead of just showing you the clothes you are allowed into the designer's head, into their world and invited to share in the things that inspired their collection.  They effectively bring their mood board into three dimensional technicolour reality to the catwalk.  If done well a show can provide the context from which a collection was born and add to your understanding of the clothes.  It becomes an emotional, interactive experience that can engage your own imagination and inspire you to think differently about what design is capable of expressing.

In terms of the fashion spectacle Alexander McQueen was obviously the master at this.  McQueen's breathtaking collections and shows were obviously inspired not only by the natural world, literature, music, history and even environmental pollution, but also by the advance of technology itself in making available the special effects to realise his ideas and providing new channels of communication such as the Internet to enable him to reach a wider audience.  If you have never seen a McQueen show they are available on the line's website in the Runway Archive and they are worth watching.  All of them!

As a preview here is a snippet of the end of the Autumn/Winter 2006 "The Widows of Culloden" collection, which drew on the designer's Scottish heritage.  Here Kate Moss appeared in the form of a hologram, a lost and tortured banshee amidst the cloud of swirling silk chiffon frills of a McQueen dress, floating and twisting above the audience to the haunting strains of Schlinder's List.  Best watched in the context of the rest of the show on his site where the video quality is better but unfortunately I found the sound (an essential accompaniment) was not working for that particular show.  Even if you weren't physically there just watching the video gives you goosebumps.

And if you really are too strapped for time to plough through his runway archive the other standout show which was sadly the last he was involved in producing is embedded below.  The Spring/Summer 2010 "Plato Atlantis" collection was inspired by evolution in both the natural and manmade world and by McQueen's own love of scuba diving.

Models appeared on the catwalk accompanied by the sounds of breathing underwater through scuba equipment.  They walked beneath the sinister spectres of twin towering robotic arms with mounted cameras sliding past menacingly as if they had a life of their own.  A sharp contrast in imagery of the progress of man versus the progress of nature.

Many of the fabrics, embellishment and digital prints of the dresses were inspired by the patterns and textures of skins, hides and bodies of reptiles, fish and other aquatic life forms.  The construction of the dresses and even the hair of the models was sculpted to resemble gills, fins and protuberances.  And who can forgot the amazing shoes that looked like animals themselves with the models legs appearing to morph into a separate species from the ankle down.

4. Twice a year, as models begin to strut the catwalk we see articles about model size and body image. Do you think the super thin models are offering an unattainable goal to the public or are we immune to their looks?

Many years ago I attended a couple of fashion shows during London Fashion Week and I was shocked at how emaciated models were in real life.  I have always been a slim petite person myself and I felt large next to these girls.  I felt real concern for the health of a couple who were so skeletal it looked as if with every step they took down the catwalk their ankles were ready to snap.

Unfortunately we are not immune to their looks.  Eating orders aside how many normal women with normal body types are happy with their body shape?  I cannot believe given the amount of imagery of thin women (mostly airbrushed and photoshopped) we are constantly fed by the media has no effect on our self perception and body confidence.

I once read in a fashion magazine discussing this very issue that the more we are exposed to images of a certain type the more we become "immune" to them in the sense that we start to register these images as being normal.  You can see this in other aspects of regular exposure to things that once horrified us and now we take for granted as representing normality - graphic violence on the news, over-sexualised imagery in advertising.  Well the same goes for super skinny girls.  This was not considered normal in previous eras.  What elevated it to become the celebrated aesthetic today?

There have been recent murmurs in the press here of curvy being "in" after the Mad Men inspired shows of late.  Call me a cynic but I find this almost laughable in itself - that suddenly curves are a "trend" like fringes or black lipstick or capes.  Curvy is the new thin.  Uh huh.  There are many women who had curves all along.  Now they have been deemed "fashionable" by the trendsetters.  All well and good but what happens when they decide it is not "in" anymore?

Although it is tempting to applaud the shift towards curvier models it has hardly been a seismic one and I remain deeply suspicious of how many more seasons will continue in the same vein.  To take a quote from Dangerous Liaisons - one does not applaud the tenor for clearing his throat. 

I sincerely hope this is not a passing whim of the fashion industry like all other trends and will grow to establish a more permanent mindset that is supportive of showcasing normal body types in promoting fashion.  While they are at it how about some older women too?  And not just the token supermodels who still look half their age.

5. If you could sit front row at any show what would you want to see? And which celebrity would you want to be sitting next to? 

It would have to be Alexander McQueen.  Although collections from Spring/Summer 2011 are now being designed by the new director of the label previews of her work emerging in the next cruise collection suggest it is true to McQueen's spirit and I would love to see how the line is developing under her.  See Boheme Noir for a great preview post.

As for celebrities I would have a hard time choosing between Anna de la Russo, Carine Roitfeld and Lady Gaga.  All for their passion for fashion and fearless take on wearing clothes.


  1. McQueen will be one to watch...and Roitfeld...she's be a great one to watch with!

    ♥ V

  2. aww, chica. McQueen was PURE artiste! i couldn't find when his show in Milan would be. i'll have to keep an eye out for it. you're description of his shows is superb. they were not just shows, but an experience. it was so much more than the a painter is more than just the paint and canvas. there's a story. there's a meaning. creative genius that man was.

  3. great interview! i love this time of year because its always so busy and its nice to see new designers emerging

    ...look closer

  4. I agree that curvy is not a trend just like being thin is not a trend.

  5. As always an immaculately written and imformative post. Oh, this incessant bleating on about body shapes and how Size 14 is the new size 0. To us skinnies it's as unattainable as the skeletal shape is to the bigger-boned.
    McQueen really was the king of the catwalk. xxx

  6. hi i have just discovered your blog, love it :)


  7. @grit and glamour @daisybabe Good to have some fellow McQueen fans! Will be interesting to see if they continue the McQueen tradition of dramatic shows under Sarah Burton

    @TJWisdom @Vintage Vixen - I'll be watching that space carefully to see if the tune changes! I just wish they'd push a new all inclusive message that all body shapes can work fashion not just the shape de jour!

    @Bobby @Lori - thank you for visiting and for your comments! Glad you stopped by and hope you visit again soon!

  8. I almost cried watching the hologram footage again. So stunning. Imagine a life without this kind of spectacle...

    Very well-written and inspiring post, as ever. I've got to up my game for next week! ;)


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