Friday, 9 September 2011

Oasis Star Print Maxi Dress

Spot the Difference.  Image Source: Oasis and Oasis Fashion Journal

One of the slightly annoying things about fashion is the difference between the raw creative vision that is sent down the catwalk and the manufactured version of that vision which ends up on the shop floor.  Sometimes the difference means a designer's original flight of fancy is made more wearable for the average human being and therefore more commercially viable for the design house.

Super sheer confections will have a lining added; peek a boo lace dresses will come with a nude slip; a couple of inches will be added to scandalously high hems which were only ever intended for shock value on the catwalk; sleeves appear where there were once spaghetti straps; spikes and studs might be toned down or lessened in number; all tricks of the trade to convince the fashionistas of the more faint of heart to open their purses and buy into a dream - albeit a more wearable one.  It is common practice but sometimes the end result falls short of what we were geared up to expect in the press.

The same goes with the great British High Street.  I can recount several times I've seen press pictures of a product being touted as the next big thing and the resulting product is a damp squib in comparison.  I can recall a white broderie anglais jacket and daisy print tea dress from an early Kate Moss for Topshop High Summer collection in which the garments photographed on Kate were quite different in design to the ones that were eventually sold in Topshop.  Then there was the disappointment that was Louise Goldin for Topshop's studded shoes and their rubbish final version of a studded trapper hat, both of which looked misleadingly amazing in publicity campaigns.

This time the high street store Oasis is under the spotlight for this practice.  The image above right is the dress which has appeared in press photos being hailed by the likes of Grazia as the must have maxi dress of the season for its nod to the Dolce and Gabbana star print collection.  It looked like it would be the High Street's wallet friendly answer to channel that billowing star print maxi without having to remortgage your home.

The image above left however is what you will actually get if you buy this dress, which is what I discovered when it arrived in the post.  I couldn't put my finger on what was bothering me about the dress at first but then a less than favourable review on Oasis' website led me to dig around on the internet and back through the magazines where I'd first seen it.

That Dolce and Gabbana dress - Source

With the Oasis versions the design is the same in both cases and the shop version comes with a handy underslip.  Rather cleverly, the press sample was photographed without the slip to emphasise the transparency of the fabric and the starry print, making comparisons with the Dolce and Gabbana dress inevitable.  However, the both the print and fabric of the two dresses is quite different.

The final product is still a nice dress, it's just not as nice as the other one and that is putting me off keeping it.  I liked the simplicity of the stars on the press version whereas the final print, executed on fabric which is not quite so sheer, is a bit more cartoonish, and as a result looks, well, cheaper.  Or if you like, it's an even paler imitation of a pale imitation of a runway dress that was bound to launch a million High Street copies!

There are many reasons that garments may morph between the design sample stage to production.  In this case the original fabric may have become unavailable due to unforeseen supply issues but I often wonder with High Street fashion chains if it is just a cynical cost cutting exercise in the mad dash for profits by replacing good raw materials with inferior cheaper ones.  At any rate, even if the sample that went to press was the intended final product, it smacks of false advertising when something else altogether goes on sale.

I kind of get it when high end designers do this because its adjusting high end fashion to become relevant and wearable.  But it seems to bug me more when the High Street does this because I feel like I am being advertised something that aspires to be high end fashion at temptingly low high street prices, and then I get annoyed when I get what I pay for - i.e. high street cost cutting and high street quality.  However the bottom line at both price points is, understandably, profits, so there is no rational reason for one seeming more underhand than the other.  Am I just being an irrational consumer?

What do you think?  Does a press to product mismatch leave a bad impression on you of a brand?  Do you think High Street brands should be allowed to market in this way?


  1. I see the differences, and I needed your narrative to help me understand them : > I still like the dress on the left very much, but I do appreciate your disappointment. I am concerned about the cheapening of clothing at the "big stores". I buy some vintage dresses and their quality amazes me!

  2. What a timely post! This was a practice I was totally unaware of and even before I read the text of your post, and followed how it had worked on you, I could spot the qualitative difference between the left and right dresses at the front. You're right that in the right version the print IS cartoonish. Send it back.

  3. I don't get why they didn't just stick with the original dress and add a slip?!! The actual dress is still pretty but after seeing thr original it is difficult to love it as much. Love the whole white maxi thing though.

  4. It happens all the time, and it is why I don't even bother looking at lookbooks or campaigns from high street stores. It is so often just a plain old lie. See if you like it better with a nude slip underneath, but if not send it back x

  5. I'm just having trouble getting my head round the fact that the star print is back in fashion again so soon. The charity shops are still full of the last incarnation of it, was it two years ago?
    To be honest I was in Oasis last week and was shocked at how shoddy and poorly made their clothes were. It used to be a quality high street shop, now it seems to be little different from it's rivals with just a higher price tag.x

  6. OMG I want the Oasis dress on the right!

    Have a nice weekend, Jen

  7. The dress is rather a disappointment compared to the original or even the copy of the original.


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