Monday, 11 June 2012

Dreaming of Karl!

My cherished sleep last night, was interrupted by a dream, a very unusual occurrence for me, and one of giant significance because Karl Lagerfeld visited my slumber! I was moving into an apartment in Paris when a bunch of past students walked down the hall of the apartment block to welcome me to Paris. In view of them all, my neighbours door opened and it was Karl (Circa 1990's). He wafts into my new digs, picks up my stuff and sprouts forth with flattery about my exquisite taste, and how it's been so long since he's seen me, and the time is right for me to be in Paris now because the Ecole De La Chambre Syndicale De la Couture is in shambles and needs a visionaries touch...(not suggesting I'm up to that job by any means, readers...but that is the Fashion school in Paris run by the organization which determines your "Couture-ability" and abilty to be involved in the French fashion weeks etc.) Of course, the sense of pride and the thrill of the excitement at being Karl's neighbour, woke me up, and the story ends there! Or does it?

You see, I've always thought my couture guardian was Yves St Laurent, and when he passed, it became Jean Paul Gaultier (I adore the l'enfant terrible image!) But now I wonder, could it have been Karl all along, and I've ignored him? Interesting also to consider that the role of couture has been a little low on my list lately, busy with "do good" projects and ignoring that giant machine which fuels the mainstream of the fashion industry. Sustainability and couture have seemed to be on collision course for sometime, but perhaps there is a strong link? Perhaps the handmade, slow style of couture making is really the solution to a sustained and respectful role for fashion in the twenty first century. Perhaps it places the woman who wears the clothes back in central focus?

I ask these questions as I read more about the fractured sense of self that contemporary women feel is portrayed in media and entertainment, this very notion of post modern pastiche where our clothes come from here and there, a different look each day- therefore could we be a different person each time we change clothes? Couture gives such a clear message doesn't it? You wear your designer with pride, you hang your hat on the Champes-Elysees and all can see where your loyalties lie, what you represent, not a mish mash of disposable fast fashion trends bought for under $50 and destined for land fills around the world by next year. Now I'm not suggesting that we can all afford couture, but I think some of it's its principles should be re-introduced to contemporary culture?  What do you think?

"The best thing you can do is dive in with your imagination, you can never drown yourself" Karl Lagerfeld
See Karl speak here!

Also included a link to the LA Times article about Karls cat, who has a maid and iPad...,0,4159766.story


Sunday, 3 June 2012

Visual Language Theory in Fashion Illustration

Deep in thought today about how clothes speak a language and how the artists who have illustrated them throughout history have found the "key" visual cues to capture the zeitgeist of that era.To generalize the idea Roland Barthes puts forward on clothing as a mode of communication, we could say that clothes give signals and let us know things about each other through various forms of communication.

I refer to this image by Barbier, wonderfully titled Grandmother & Little girl as a representation of fashions changing appearance at the turn of the twentieth century. From the obvious skirt length to the uncovered neck and arms, Barbier has shifted the scene into the early twentieth century and heralds the emergence of the Flapper girl.

92What do you think this is saying? Also from Barbier, who was known as one of the "Knights of the Bracelet"?

In 1971 Italian Vogue, Antonio shows African American women, elegantly portrayed but with little sense of celebration. In fact, after Antonio's bold use of ethnicity in his model choice, society saw a reflection of themselves, in real time, but was this spread published in Italy intended as a statement on United States racial tensions.
Italian Vogue 1971. Pentel, 18 x 24"

Marie Clare, France, 1983.  Pencil / watercolor, 13 x 17"In this next image, Antonio Lopez links the image of a Josephine Baker poster (in which she has been removed) drawing attention to the lack of coloured models in the fashion publishing world  in a spread for Marie Claire in 1983. 

Fashion Illustration has spoken clearly to the emerging and relevant topics and perhaps, as artists, are often leading societal change and only depicting what they themselves are living...

Critical Desires: Race and Sexuality in the Work of Antonio
Amelia Malagamba-Ansótegui and Ramón Rivera-Servera, from The University of Texas at Austin

All hail the frock rockin' design duo as Victor and Rolf celebrate 25 years Haute Couture.

Over my 15 years lecturing in fashion design, I have so often sent budding young designers off to study the supercharged technical velo...