WHAT IS THE SUBCULTURE OF LUXURY?

In the last couple of blog posts I have been blabbering about Hedi Slimane and Saint Laurent, about Alessandro Michele and Gucci, about luxury, without really explaining what I had in mind when I introduced the notion of “subculture” within the realm of luxury. Is it a little bit confusing? Let’s clear things out, then.

As history has shown us, subcultures appear when a current culture becomes, for a group of people, dogmatic, too traditional, and out of touch with current events. The cultural group that develops within a larger culture causes a rupture, a shift within the culture, because its beliefs and interests are oftentimes at variance with those of the larger group. In the case of luxury culture, we have the traditional luxury houses, such as YSL and Gucci which have managed to build a solid and recognizable brand culture. Due to the massification of luxury, such brand cultures were no longer perceived as generators of desire. By using established notions of luxury, such brands were no longer appealing to the group of people seeking exclusiveness. Their old clients were looking for items that reminded them of the “old masters”, while their new clients weren’t able to identify themselves with what the brand was offering them. So they had to rethink their strategy.

And this is where Slimane and Michele enter the conversation, and through different means, they manage to introduce a new kind of luxury. What they did is they played with the concept of exclusiveness by connecting it with the concept of the outsider where the outsider is the group of alternative/indie kids (Saint Laurent), and the group of nostalgic geeks (Gucci).  But these kids brought with them a shift within the culture of luxury. While the Saint Laurent gang hangs out in music studios, in bars, clubs, concert halls, skate parks and deserted beaches, listening to music, and drawing occult signs on their impeccably made leather jackets, the Gucci gang hangs out in secluded mansions, or abandoned underground stations, deciphering Deleuze, discussing the influence of surrealism in cinema, and dancing to the noise made by their numerous embellishments, each one bearing an interesting story. What both groups have in common is their sexual ambiguity, their constant ennui, and their need for escapism. There is also a certain hedonism which defines both groups. Clothes are for them pieces of memory: “the dress I wore to the prom”, “the shoes in which I walked her home”, and this attachment to clothes gives them timelessness, thus revealing to those that wear them the importance of valuing quality, not quantity.

This new type of luxury, which I referred to as the subculture of luxury is composed of a group of people who differentiates itself from the old culture of luxury by accepting change. This subculture of luxury finds inspiration in the world outside luxury. Its members seek luxury for its ability to function as a form of escapism, as well as a platform for experimentation, and expression of authenticity.  The subculture of luxury is capable of resuscitating the world of luxury by introducing a new type of client who has the financial capital, as well as the aesthetic know-how able to re-imagine luxury.

THE SUBCULTURE OF LUXURY: MICHELE’S GUCCI

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At Gucci, things were a little different. After Frida Giannini left the brand in 2015 due to several years of mixed reviews, decrease in sales, and conflicting relations between her, her husband who also resigned from the position of CEO at Gucci and the Kering Company, a total makeover was needed. The new appointed creative director was a relatively unknown figure in the fashion industry by the name of Alessandro Michele. Despite his presumed anonymity, Michele had been working at Gucci since 2002. While Slimane’s approach on rebranding Saint Laurent resembled that of an architect, strategically restoring the brand, Michele’s approach resembles that of a cartographer. As Tim Blanks described him in an article, he is “a cartographer, mapping emotion”, his collections – “a moving topography of desire”.

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Michele works in Rome, at the Gucci’s headquarters in the Palazzo Alberini in a room “layered with a patchwork of antique Persian and Oushak rugs”, as it is described in an interview for Vogue. His work environment is his retreat from the everyday reality. In today’s world we sometimes seek to escape the insecurities, the pollution, the noise, the political and economic worries, and what we escape into is often sometimes that we connect with luxury.

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What he did first was to reflect on the idea of femininity and beauty in today’s world. If Tom Ford’s success at Gucci in the 90’s was due to his understanding of women’s desire to be empowered by the freedom to reveal their sexuality, Michele’s success has to do with the creation of a new Gucci woman. Light make-up, uncombed hair, wearing clothes that seem to have been taken out of her grandparent’s closet, and embellished with brooches and patches, and scarves found in the local flee market, the new Gucci woman has a Lolita mixed with Simone de Beauvoir attitude. Her sexuality is subversive, wrapped up in a romantic veil. She is an underground bourgeois, trying to find connections between semiotic theories and snapchat. What Michele succeeded in such a short time is to infuse coolness and desirability into a brand whose identity is so widely forged that it’s only remaining power was to mimic the illusion of luxury. Michele’s “remapping” also regarded the brand’s logo, its accessory line, the menswear universe, and also the stores display. After only a few seasons since Alessandro Michele has been appointed creative director at Gucci, the brand’s sales started to improve consistently, proving that his eclectic and gender bending aesthetic resonates with today’s luxury consumers.

GUCCI_MICHELE TO BE CONTINUED

THE SUBCULTURE OF LUXURY-HEDI’S SAINT LAURENT

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During his tenure as creative director of Saint Laurent, Hedi managed to raise a series of questions inside the fashion industry; he started controversies with his collections among critics and clients alike, as well as with his whole approach on rebranding the YSL universe. Despite the lack of appraisals from fashion journalists, Hedi’s collections were instant favorites of the public, and of the members of the Slimane “cult”. Since 2012, Saint Laurent, the rebranded ready to wear line, has doubled its sale revenues, becoming one of the most profitable brand of the Kering Luxury Group. But how did he do it? What were the ingredients of Slimane’s success at Saint Laurent? First of all I think it was Hedi Slimane’s name; but in the words of Shakespeare’s Juliet – “what’s in a name”? Well, in Hedi’s case, his name is linked to the success he had at Dior Homme (his first Reform project) with his adoption of a skinny silhouette that ended up changing the landscape of menswear, his connections with the art world and with the intricate and exclusive world of celebrities, and his intimate and visually delicate portraits from his photographic era.

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But why the need to change the name of the brand? At the beginning, some people felt that dropping “Yves” from the label was a sign of disrespect. But in fact this was merely going back to the original branding that Yves had used when he first introduced ready-to-wear. The return to the original name was also a part of Hedi’s strategy which included the transition from a loud branding strategy focusing on logo to a more quite one focusing on subtle tailoring details, and the launch of a permanent collection composed of signature pieces that are available season after season. He managed to reintroduce timeless products in an era governed by seasonal “IT” items. And isn’t this what luxury is supposed to be about? Hedi’s intention was to protect the name of Yves Saint Laurent which will be used for the Haute Couture line Hedi envisioned, which should have been launched this year, but with Slimane departure from the brand a few months ago, the future of this project is currently uncertain.

Valery Kaufman_Fall Winter Campaign 2014_photo Hedi Slimane

Another interesting thing Hedi did, which yet again resembles Yves understanding of modernity, was to find inspiration for his collections on the streets, thus questioning the exclusivity of luxury. He also launched a series of projects which aimed at reigniting the brand’s relationship with rock stars, and the music scene (the collaboration with Daft Punk, the Saint Laurent campaign in which music stars such as Kim Gordon, Courtney Love, Marilyn Manson, and Ariel Pink were shot by Hedi himself).

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As a matter of fact, all of the visual campaigns for the Saint Laurent collections were shot by Slimane in his recognizable black and white style. Such collaborations have been at the core of the house since its earliest days, when Yves Saint Laurent was dressing the likes of Marianne Faithfull, David Bowie, and Mick Jagger.  Saint Laurent at the Palladium was the creative director’s last show, and what a show it was. Held at the Palladium concert hall on Sunset Boulevard, the 2016 Fall/Winter collection was a parade of sleek and polished rock and roll ensembles, with a touch of youthful ennui wrapped up in vintage nostalgia. For the designer, L.A. is a perfect observatory of popular culture and of inspiring sub-cultures which have influenced every one of his collections for Saint Laurent.

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Slimane designed for Saint Laurent a universe for the type of customer who desires perfectly executed, impeccably made and literally ready to wear clothes which offer a glimpse into another kind of luxury.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

 

THE SUBCULTURE OF LUXURY

In order to define and understand luxury, one must experience it. For an outsider, luxury has more to do with a state of mind, an intangible lifestyle constantly generating desire. While in the past, luxury was easy to identify and to define, due to a clear division between social classes: if you were poor, you couldn’t afford it, if you were rich, you could, first with the creation of the middle class, and then with the ongoing democratization of luxury, its exclusiveness was deteriorated. It became accessible; a masstige luxury is the contemporary equivalent of luxury. If we think about it, a middle class family (from an economically developed country) nowadays has access to such a range of high end goods that it could easily stir up the envy of a nobleman from the 19th century. We have restaurants where we can be served all kinds of special dishes, we can afford to drink refined wines, we can buy designer items, and travel the world. But by being able to access luxury, which becomes a part of our everyday life, we contribute to the disintegration of its aura of mystique. Luxury stops generating desire, or a sense of belonging to a certain elite group, it is simply taken for granted. This is one of the reasons why the importance and relevance of luxury has been questioned in the last few years. The same dilemma lingers in the realm of high end fashion, where all of the big fashion houses were built on the exclusiveness of luxury. How did they approach the challenge of rethinking luxury in order for it to still be relevant today?

The concept of luxury can be hard to explain because it has such a wide variety of implications in our society, and our consciousness. So in order to analyze it I invite you to bear with me while I investigate the reinvention of luxury as seen in the cases of two international luxury brands: Gucci and Saint Laurent.

 

TO BE CONTINUED

Let’s Talk About … Fashion Week

Hello, it’s been a while since my last article. I am not really sure why this keeps on happening, so I am going to blame it on autumn, on the weather, on the stars, and I am going to tell you all about how I used this time to reflect upon what really grinds my gears about fashion lately. The Fashion Week season has just ended, and while I tried to keep up with the shows, the articles and the discussions generated by these events, I found myself overwhelmed by a feeling of “whatever”. I blamed it on autumn, on the weather, on the stars, and even on my seasonal ennui, but still there seemed to be something missing. I am not trying to be an arrogant prick who does nothing else but complain, just for the sake of it. Because there were shows that I really liked, trends that resonated with my personal taste, changes in the industry that seem exciting, but somehow, there was something unsettling. And it didn’t necessarily have to do with the collections, but with the whole idea of the fashion week. Do we still really need them?

Fashion weeks, like all other inventions of capitalism, function as a generator of profit. They generate profit for different kinds of businesses (hotels, restaurants, clubs, event venues, rentals,…) which are happy to answer the demands of all types of customers (from celebrities, to fashion insiders, to simple onlookers who happen to visit a city) during fashion week. They generate profit for the main partners of the event, for all the brands and financers involved in all the events taking place during fashion week. They promote celebrities who reinforce their social status and their fame by participating at different shows, parties and after parties, launches, and. lunches. They generate content and revenue for bloggers, street style photographers, fashion magazines, gossip columns, Instagram accounts and tweeter feeds. Even the fashion designers, brands or houses which display their collections during fashion week invest in these events so they can promote their talent, their business in order to gain future profit, or to maintain their importance and relevance in the international fashion system.

According to the all-wise and ever-growing Wikipedia, the first fashion week was held in New York “with one main purpose: to distract attention from French fashion during World War II, when workers in the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris. This was an opportune moment, as “before World War II, American designers were thought to be reliant on French couture for inspiration.”” After more than 70 years, what is fashion week still trying to distract us from? Maybe it’s from the fact that the amount of talent proportional to the growth of the fashion industry is the same as 20, 50, or 70 years ago, so maybe New York Fashion Week should stop accepting to include in their schedule all those who afford to pay. Maybe it’s from the fact that fashion weeks should be about fashion, not about first – row gossips, parties, cocktails, or debates on whether Kanye West is or isn’t a fashion designer. Maybe it’s from the fact that fashion is ugly on the inside because underneath the taffetas, the embroideries, the pleats, and ruffles, it is still exploiting people, animals and the environment. Or maybe it’s trying to distract us from the lack of innovation, inspiration, and excitement of fashion as industry. I am not denying the talent, wit, and determination of the designers who still manage to use fashion as language, as medium, as philosophy, as protest, I am just trying to figure out if fashion weeks are the proper venue for them, and if not then what is?

Fashion is dead, long live fashion

 

1aThe more I think about today’s fashion, the more I realize it’s defined by a kind of fear of empty spaces, or horror vacui in fancier terms. From the number of shows/year, the number of pieces in a runway collection, the number of people attending the shows, or lurking outside the shows, the infinite number of tweets, retweets, to the absurd number of clothing items displayed in stores, the fashion industry is desperately trying to feed us content, to fill every inch of our news feed with its creations. Not a single pixel left unused. It almost seems as if it is trying to keep us distracted from what is actually happening…the end of fashion as we know it.

Li Edelkoort, one of the most prominent trend forecaster published recently an Anti_Fashion manifesto in which she argues why she believes the fashion industry “is going to implode”. Throughout the ten chapters that constitute the manifesto, she tackles different issues of the fashion industry, like the educational system, manufacturing, designers, consumers, marketing, and others.  Unfortunately I didn’t have the chance to read the manifesto in its original form, but in the article published on dezeen.com, there was a phrase that caught my attention: “Clothes will become the answer to our industries’ prayers”, due to the marketing’s demand for sellable products, not innovation, or experimentation in the field of fashion design. Slaves to financial institutions, hostage of shareholder interest, designers are recycling trends from the past, fearful of not disappointing the brand owners, and being replaced.

This perspective sheds light on the curious case of Hedi Slimane and his current success in rebranding the YSL brand. In a recent article published on Business of Fashion we are informed about the commercial success of his Saint Laurent experiment. According to recent analysis on sales at different major department stores and multi-brand boutiques, the brand has more than doubled its sales revenue in the three years since he took the creative reins. Despite the negative feedback of fashion critics, Hedi Slimane’s collections proved he has the ability to create clothes that sell. The secret behind this success? “It’s luxury but super basic items such as tailored jackets, bikers, bombers, denims”. Slimane seems to have been a designer ahead of his times, realizing what his consumers want: digestible fashion, perfectly executed, impeccably made ordinary clothes.2aBut where does this change in fashion leave designers that are still trying to innovate, not generate products? Li Edelkoort predicts that couture will make a comeback. “After all it is in the atelier of couture that we will find the laboratory of this labor of love. Suddenly the profession of couturier will become coveted and the exclusive way of crafting couture will be inspiring all others.” It’s almost like an overweight fashion system is slowly realizing that fast fashion is not the answer to its problems, and it’s willing to try a detox program. I really hope it succeeds, and I really hope Li Edelkoort’s predictions will come true: “This is the end of fashion as we know it. Fashion with a big F is no longer there. And maybe it’s not a problem; maybe it’s actually a good moment to rethink. Actually the comeback of couture, which I’m predicting, could bring us a host of new ideas of how to handle the idea of clothes. And maybe from these ashes another system will be born.”FotoFlexer_Photo

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A Reflection on Raf

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When Matthew McConaughey’s character in Interstellar enters an extra-dimension where time appears as a spatial dimension showing glimpses of his daughter’s childhood bedroom at various times, he manages to find a solution to save mankind. Raf Simons, for his haute couture show at Dior reconstructs that surreal scene by placing mirror fragments at different angles so that the white scaffolds could reflect in those mirrors creating the impression of an infinite space where ideas interconnect. Will he find the solution to save mankind? Probably not, because that’s not his job. His job is to find, each season, the best solution to keep fashion alive. And that’s not an easy job, and he knows it. All eyes are on him, and he is feeling the pressure of each and every one of his fans, critiques, customers, buyers.

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He chose as a reference for this show the iconic pop star David Bowie, and beyond the visual references, I feel that the connection is much deeper. Ziggy Stardust, probably Bowie’s most well-known persona is the personification of an alien who is trying to communicate with mankind through his music, being destroyed in the end by his own inner demons and by the fans that worshiped him. Raf is seen by some as an alien in the haute couture world, a world constricted by rules and standards. And although he proved himself worthy of this world, the fear of him being devoured by it still lingers. Will he manage to deliver his message of creative freedom in the future? Or will he be devoured by his fans, by the Dior heritage, and by his independent nature?

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A Cloakroom of One’s Own

Olivier Saillard, one of the most renowned fashion historians and curators, together with the talented Tilda Swinton have orchestrated a new fashion performance. It premiered a few months ago in Paris during the Festival d’Automne à Paris, and was staged for the second time in Florence, during the Pitti Immagine Uomo event. Entitled “Cloakroom – Vestiaire Obligatoire”, the performance represents a visual reflection on the importance of personal interaction between clothes and their wearers.  In order to do that, Saillard separated the clothes from their owners, and used as symbolic space the cloakroom. The cloakrooms from theaters, restaurants, and clubs are temporary spaces, ephemeral places where clothes are kept while their owners are away. They are, in a way, heterotopic spaces, where clothes can gain new meanings. Alienated from their wearer, and from any status or affiliation with a specific brand, clothes become anonymous canvases waiting for someone to give them meaning. Cloakroom_3

Cloakroom_33Tilde Swinton and Olivier Saillard are the cloakroom keepers. But they do not only watch over the clothes while their owners are gone, they interact with them at a very emotional level. Tilda whispers secret words into the pockets of a coat; she gently caresses a scarf, and tries to resuscitate the meaning out of a blue blazer. Olivier sits quite in the background and subtly intervenes in the performance when he is needed. He is sometimes guiding her, other times helping her, and most of the time just watching. His presence is more subtle than Tilda’s, while her improvisation is almost hypnotizing. The artistic dynamic between the two of them is impeccable, and their performance is not at all pretentious. As Tilda said in an interview, “it is something quite ephemeral, you can’t quite describe it, you can’t write about it, although it’s nice for people to try and write about it, it’s an hour spent in a space…playing”. As I am writing this article, and listening to Tilda’s words, I’m realizing that she is actually right. Sometimes words are just not enough, they just disturb a more meaningful silence. Cloakroom_12

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Cloakroom_31Through his performances, Saillard has always tried to tackle different aspects of fashion. Whether it’s “The Impossible Wardrobe”, or “Eternity Dress”, his focus seems to be on the importance of clothes perceived as bearers of history, identity, and personal stories. With “Cloakroom – Vestiaire Obligatoire” he wanted to remind us the importance of humanity in fashion in a time when we are witnessing the objectification of objects through commerce. The fast paced life of a contemporary garment does not allow it to acquire identity, to form a relationship with its wearer, because there is always a new and more interesting garment waiting to be bought and consumed. Olivier Saillard and Tilda Swinton are trying to offer the clothes a space where they can rest, where they can be pampered and talked to, where they can be more than simple commodities.

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Dear readers, I would like to take a few minutes of your time to talk about myself…

This is a sentence that pretty much sums up the discourse of many personal fashion blogs. All those women and men who are willing to offer you exclusive access into their glamorous lives. And you, the reader, the spectator, are happy to take part, on an almost daily basis, in the prefabricated realities of the “ordinary” people like you. Marc – Alain Descamps, a French philosopher and psychologist, resumes the psychological implications of fashion by stating that it is “An overdetermined phenomenon which expresses at the same time the individual, the society, the unconscious and one’s own personal evolution”. But in this process of personal evolution, how does the individual who freely accepts to expose his/her life to the public feel?

I have been scrolling down pages of personal style blogs for more than 4 years now. I’ve been browsing them for different reasons: some of them for styling inspiration, some of them for research, some of them for the love of procrastination, and some of them for the same reason I enjoy reading celebrity magazines: for gossip. Sometimes I envied their lifestyle and their fame, other times I admired their professionalism and their determination to succeed in a world where they are still viewed as mere intruders. But no matter what my feelings towards them were, I have always felt a subtle sense of anguish taking over their personal blogs. What are the psychological implications of a stylized personal experience?

Could the pursuit of a distinct personal experience of fashion, and a distinct style of living cause dissociation in the personality of the blogger?

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Could the constant reinvention of the self-image lead to depression?

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Or in some cases even depersonalization?

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Can the stress of everyday updating, social networking, endorsing brands, and meeting new people lead to anxiety?

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Can a fast-paced lifestyle induce an exaggerated enthusiasm for every little aspect of their everyday lives?

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Or can it just turn them into apathic individuals?

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Once you’re at the top, the fear of losing your social status, your followers, your connections, your friends, can put pressure on your mental and physical health.

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But I guess there will always be some hope left for those that try to see things out of the proverbial box. Otherwise all mental institutions would be full of rich, famous and stylish bloggers.

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gifs taken from rubyetc tumblr

“That gum you like is going to come back in style”

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This week was definitely a good week for nostalgics. With the announcement of a new Twin Peaks season after 25 years since the show ended (Laura, I knew you will keep your promise), and the unexpected return of John Galliano in fashion as Creative Director at Maison Martin Margiela, I started thinking about the relevance of such revivals. Is it just a simple gesture of appreciation from the creative industries for “die hard” fans like me, or is it just a commercial tool used to trick us into consuming more?

Let’s take for example the case of John Galliano’s appointment as Creative Director at MMM. We have Galliano, one of my favorite fashion designers, whose shows for Dior were one of the reasons I fell in love with fashion, a creative madman with the ability to entwine visual narratives with impeccable craftsmanship, a designer capable of creating wearable dreams, forced to live a nightmare because of the infamous episode with which we are all too familiar. His rehabilitation was as talked about as his professional demise.

And then we have Maison Martin Margiela, another important landmark of 20th century fashion and of my personal fashion journey, a brand whose identity is built on anonymity. The creative mastermind behind its designs proved to the world (before Banksy) that in a society obsessed with the cult of personality, a faceless individuality can function as a statement, as well as a successful business. But after Margiela’s departure from his brand, things started to change. The collaboration with H&M in 2012, and a series of more conventional shows led some critics to say that the house lost some of its creative spark.

Whit these aspects in mind, the decision of naming Galliano the new creative “face” of MMM, inevitably raises some questions. Is Renzo Rosso, the president of the Maison Martin Margiela house owner, OTB using the controversial persona of the designer to stir things up for the MMM customer and the fashion crowd? Are we witnessing the surrender of anonymity to the cult of personality? Will the flamboyant Galliano be able to embrace the concealed MMM universe? We cannot know for sure, so we’ll leave it for the future to decide. But no matter what the consequences of such revivals are, I am more than thrilled with such announcements, and even if the gum won’t have the same taste as it used to have, I am damn happy it came back in style.

Christian-Dior-Haute-Couture-by-Galliano-FW-97John Galliano for Dior Haute Couture F/W 2007

Bloggers Talk Talk Talk

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Directorul muzeului Palais Galliera din Paris, Olivier Saillard a prezentat in cadrul Saptamanii Modei din New York un nou fashion performance intitulat “Models Never Talk”. A invitat fotomodele apartinand trecutului recent al modei, muze si preferate ale unor designer precum Yves Saint Laurent, Jean Paul Gaultier, Azzedine Alaia si Claude Montana sa recreeze prin miscare, mima si testimonial pe post de fundal sonor, piese vestimentare pe care le-au purtat in trecut pe podium. Dincolo de oportunitatea pe care Olivier Saillard le-a oferit-o fotomodelelor de a se exprima creativ, acesta s-a folosit de performance-ul orchestrat pentru a ridica intrebari in legatura cu starea actuala a modei. Intr-un articol publicat in New York Times el declara: “We are in a moment that’s very bizarre in fashion. There are too many clothes.” Conform calculelor sale, anual in cadrul saptamanilor modei sunt prezentate in jur de 18.000 de piese vestimentare.

Citind acest articol am inceput sa ma gandesc (din nou) la problema excesului in domeniul in care si eu activez: blogging-ul. Mi se pare ca aceeasi problema sesizata de Olivier Saillard in domeniul modei exista si in zona blogurilor. There are too many blogs. Si acest lucru nu duce decat la sustinerea falsei idei de individualitate si creativitate care pare sa defineasca lumea contemporana. Intr-un prezent in care oricine poate sa isi faca vocea auzita de multime se creaza falsa iluzie ca acea voce chiar conteaza. Doar ca mie mi se pare ca acea voce nu conteaza “in the big picture” ci doar pentru a umple buzunarele unor firme si institutii pentru care singurul lucru care conteaza cu adevarat este profitul. Noi de fapt avem de-a face cu “the small picture”, acea imagine la care avem acces, imaginea instagramata, share-uita, cu un mesaj retwitt-uit care nu aduce nimic nou in imaginatie, ci doar in buzunare.

Nu vreau sa pretind ca as fi mai speciala decat restul bloggerilor care spera ca prin intermediul jurnalelor virtuale sa ajunga sa isi profeseze pasiunea pentru ca realizez ca si ei sunt prinsi intr-un cerc vicios in care sunt nevoiti sa posteze “continut original” zilnic pentru a-si pastra un trafic considerabil pe blog, pentru a-si putea primi in continuare banii atat de necesari in supravietuirea lor in domeniu. Vreau doar sa impartasesc cu voi, cititorii mei, dilema in care ma aflu. Cum poti sa iti faci vocea auzita, fara a-ti compromite  integritatea intr-un mediu creativ in care cifrele conteaza?

Blogul meu nu a fost niciodata o sursa de venit pentru mine. Poate din cauza ca nu m-am implicat cat ar fi trebuit, poate pentru ca modul meu de abordare a fost unul gresit, poate pentru ca scopul pentru care inca ma stradui sa intretin aceasta platform a fost un scop prea visator si naiv ca sa functioneze in sistemul modei. Ce a reusit insa blogul sa faca de-a lungul acestor ani a fost sa imi alimenteze pasiunea pentru domeniul modei. Ce a reusit acest blog sa imi ofere a fost intalnirea cu o mana de oameni creativi, intalniri care s-au transformat in prietenii care sper sa dureze mai mult decat acest blog.

Nu vorbesc des pe blog pentru ca nu vorbesc des nici in realitate. Vorbesc doar atunci cand consider ca am ceva de spus. Am facut compromisuri de-a lungul drumului, asa cum s-a intamplat si in viata de zi cu zi, dar acele compromisuri nu mi-au adus nici un beneficiu in cele din urma. Sper ca nu voi mai fi nevoita sa le fac. Prin intermediul acestui articol inaugurez o noua etapa in traiectoria zipcodefashion.

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Daca cititi acest articol puteti observa ca am inceput prin a-mi schimba interfata blogului. Noua interfata pastreaza simplitatea pe care am incercat sa o abordez si in trecut la care am adaugat mici artificii vizuale (ex: imaginea din header se va schimba in permanenta si va reprezenta un colaj al imaginilor din cel mai recent articol publicat pe blog). Pe langa partea vizuala vor fi schimbari si la nivelul continutului. Incepand cu urmatorul articol voi incerca sa scriu in limba engleza pentru ca si subiectele articolelor vor fi mai focusate pe mediul creativ international. Voi introduce rubrici noi si voi avea cativa colaboratori imaginari care sper sa va delecteze cu povestile lor. Fac aceste schimbari deoarece consider ca abordarea mea interdisciplinara ar functiona mai bine intr-un mediu international.

Sper ca cei care mi-ati fost alaturi pana in prezent sa imi urmariti in continuare experimentele si sper ca Olivier Saillard sa prezinte intr-un viitor improbabil un performace intitulat “Bloggers Talk Talk Talk”.

 

Let’s talk about fashion

Moda este necruțătoare. Daca nu stii cum sa tii pasul cu ea, vei fi lasat deoparte, vei fi pedepsit sa traiesti in zona din afara modei (out of fashion, the zone where fashionable things don’t happen very often).

let's talk about fashion

Moda iartă, dar si uită.

let's talk about fashion

Moda consuma.

let's talk about fashion

Moda nu are prieteni, are doar followeri.

let's talk about fashion

Creeaza dispute…

let's talk about fashion

…si  victime colaterale

let's talk about fashion

Magia modei ascunde, de cele mai multe ori, o realitate mai putin fermecatoare

let's talk about fashion

Moda paraseste intotdeauna scena inaintea ultimelor aplauze

let's talk about fashion

sursa poze: tumblr

 

 

 

Despre moda numai de bine

Pe langa tendintele sezoniere care de multe ori genereaza schimbari aproape insesizabile in mentalitatea consumatorului, in moda ca si in alte domenii, e nevoie periodic de o interogare consistenta a relevantei pe care o au diferitele schimbari din respectivul domeniu. De cele mai multe ori adevarul, ca si o pereche de pantofi cu un numar mai mic, deranjeaza. Si cand acesta incomodeaza nu doar purtatorul pantofului ci intregul sistem care se invarte in jurul pantofului, e nevoie de o schimbare.

Justin Bartels impression_2

Cathy Horyn care de 16 ani semneaza articole pentru New York Times a publicat saptamana trecuta un material (cel mai probabil sa fie chiar ultimul articol scris pentru aceasta publicatie, avand in vedere anuntul sau de retragere) intitulat “Sign of the Times. Slave No More”. Cathy Horyn pledeaza pentru utilitate in moda considerand ideea de comfort ca fiind una extrem de moderna si dezirabila pentru femeile contemporane. Ea ridica un semn de intrebare cu privire la relevanta propunerilor de pe podiumurile saptamanilor modei argumentandu-si punctul de vedere facand referire la garderoba majoritatii femeilor si la preferintele acestora vestimentare: “Lately I’ve noticed many more women, all of them in the zone of careers and complicated family routines, all of them with an eye for fashion, gravitating toward an almost boyish uniform of slim-cut trousers, pullovers and flat shoes.” Chiar daca mirajul generat de prezentarile fastuoase si promovat de revistele de moda va constitui mereu un fetish pentru consumatorii de moda, discrepanta dintre podium si realitatea consumatorilor e asa de mare incat cei din urma incep sa isi piarda treptat interesul fata de propunerile sezoniere. Proverbialul pantof despre care va vorbeam mai inainte trebuie sa fie conform spuselor jurnalistei, pe masura purtatorului si trebuie sa ii confere acestuia siguranta ca va supravietui intr-un prezent solicitant.

Justin Bartels impression_4

Ca raspuns la articolul lui Cathy Horyn, Eugene Rabkin, fondator al platformei online  Stylezeitgeist, publica “What is Fashion For?”. “Fashion is about aesthetics, theatre and meaning, not merely comfort”. El separa hainele (clothing) – partea practica a modei, de design vestimentar ( fashion) – partea creativa a modei si stabileste un set de valori la care ne putem raporta atunci cand dorim sa validam valoarea creativa a unei piese vestimentare. Aceste valori ar fi,dupa parerea lui Rabkin: valoarea estetica a pieselor vestimentare, teatralitatea si semnificatia acestora. In timp ce Horyn incearca sa demistifice: “By now, I suspect, most people know that the purpose of runway shows is entertainment, and to create a feeling of desire. They understand that the main interest of high-fashion companies is economic rather than aesthetic. It’s to sell products and capture new markets, much as Coca-Cola and Apple do”, Eugene Rabkin incearca sa perpetueze imaginea de fauritori de sens si frumusete a designerilor: “When I interviewed Ann Demeulemeester for the first time, I asked her about some of the intangible elements in her work. She took a jacket off her back, spread it out on the table and proceeded to explain how this seam and this angle of the cut reflected the fragility and imperfection of man that she wanted to manifest. She literally cut meaning into her clothes.”

Justin Bartels impression_3

Ca in orice situatie conflictuala, adevarul este undeva la mijloc. Argumentele fiecaruia au sens din perspectiva aleasa pentru a discuta problema sensului modei. Din punctul meu de vedere, si asa cum ati putut observa de-a lungul timpului pe zipcodefashion, partea creativa a modei este indispensabila si ocupa deasemenea un rol important in modul meu de a percepe acest domeniu, valorile pe care Rabkin le mentioneaza in articolul sau fiind de multe ori cele prin intermediul carora selectez designerii si colectiile pe care vi le prezint. Dar nu consider ca jurnalista Cathy Horyn pledeaza impotriva creativitatii. Viziunea sa pragmatica se datoreaza in primul rand background-ului sau profesional, iar argumentele pe care isi construieste articolul au ca scop propunerea unei noi abordari a modernitatii in moda. Ea descifreaza “semnalmentele” timpurilor in care traim si gaseste sensul modei in real. Ea mentioneaza declaratia facuta de Miuccia dupa prezentarea colectiei pentru linia masculina Prada in care designerul declara “I wanted to make it real. And I like that now.” Aceasta nevoie de real transpusa in piese vestimentare comfortabile nu implica o  lipsa a creativitatii, sau a sensului, este mai mult o razvratire impotriva unor modele de gandire invechite, o eliberare de cenzura impusa de un sistem al modei pervertit.

sursa imagini:

 

Naratiuni vestimentare

Am citit recent un material publicat pe platforma online SHOWstudio, semnat de jurnalistul britanic Alex Fury. Intitulat “Fantasy”, eseul vorbeste despre componenta narativa a designului vestimentar britanic si despre predilectia, aproape patologica a designerilor britanici,  spre fantezie.  “What the British fashion industry has always been obsessed with is fantasy, a fantasy best served through narrative.” Alex Fury mentioneaza numele celor trei mari naratori vestimentari britanici ai sfarsitului de secol (Westwood, McQueen si Galliano) a caror lumi imaginare transpuse impecabil in creatii vestimentare au avut norocul de a-si gasi un povestitor pe masura in persoana excentricei Isabella Blow. Acesta eseu, conceput impecabil de Alex Fury, m-a facut sa ma gandesc la modul in care narativitatea este prezenta in colectiile unor designeri britanici care apartin unei perioade posterioare celei mentionate de jurnalist. Cum arata spatiul imaginar al designerilor britanici contemporani?

Unul dintre designerii care a reusit sa reinventeze moda britanica este Christopher Kane. De cateva sezoane numele acestuia se afla pe buzele specialistilor din domeniu.  Prezentarile  sale se numara printre cele mai asteptate evenimente din cadrul Saptamanii Modei din Londra. Drept dovada, Grupul Kering ce detine in portofoliu branduri precum Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, si Alexander McQueen, a cumparat recent o parte din afacerea administrata de acesta.

In recenzia facuta celei mai recente colectii a designerului, Tim Blanks declara: “He stands alone”. Ce il diferentiaza pe Christopher Kane de restul designerilor britanici, si nu numai?

0Christopher Kane primavara-vara 2012

Daca ar fi un scriitor, stilul narativ folosit de acesta ar fi fluxul constiintei. Modul in care isi foloseste sursele de inspiratie pentru a crea firul narativ al unei colectii se aseamana unei curgeri a propriilor ganduri, amintiri si referinte culturale. Spre exemplu, daca am incerca sa extragem elementele cheie ale inspiratiei pentru colectia primavara/vara 2014, am avea: plante – flori – fotosinteza – oxigen – viata – fertilitate – reproducere – biologie – educatie sexuala – Georgia O’Keeffe  – feminitate – perversitate subversiva – disectie – frumusete sterilizata. Kane transforma aceasta insiruire, poate lipsita de sens la prima vedere, in combinatii vestimentare coerente. “Flowers are done to death, so I never want them to look like anyone else’s” declara designerul, si intr-adevar el reuseste sa foloseasca drept sursa de inspiratie florile,fara sa cada in banal, sau in estetici invechite. Asta pentru ca florile nu sunt folosite strict ca ornament. Atat in cazurile in care ele sunt folosite explicit in imprimeuri, cat si in cazurile in care aluzia este subtila si se regaseste in detaliile pieselor vestimentare, florile lui Kane nu doar fac referinta la feminitatea, ci o diseca si o pune sub lupa. Asa cum florile imprimate pe unele din piesele colectiei sunt disecate, insotite de explicatii ca in manualele de biologie, asa si feminitatea este disecata si analizata. “It was all about dissecting and revealing” mentioneaza Kane. Si nu numai in colectia aceasta am avut de-a face cu aceasta predilectie a sa pentru disecare si resuscitare a unor modele ale frumusetii. In colectia pentru toamna-iarna 2013, imagini ale creierului obtinute prin RMN sunt imprimate pe suprafata materialelor generand impulsuri creative ce croiesc intreaga colectie. Fantezia la Kane este cerebrala si incearca sa inteleaga natura umana prin prisma componentelor anatomice care stau la baza existentei umane.

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Christopher Kane primavara-vara 2014

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Christopher Kane toamna-iarna 2013/2014

Daca natura era pentru McQueen spatiul care ii alimenta fantezia, pentru Kane spatiul urban cu subculturile aferente acestuia e cel care ii ofera designerului sursele de inspiratie necesare pentru conceperea colectiilor. Personajele sale sunt de cele mai multe ori niste nostalgici excentrici cu o afinitate pentru natura sinistra a lucrurilor. Kane le radiografiaza identitatile si le resusciteaza amintirile. In toate colectiile sale se resimte o distantare fata de subiectele pe care le trateaza. Spre deosebire de Galliano care se scufunda in spatiile exotice si in personajele flamboiante care ajung sa il obsedeze, Kane studiaza si analizeaza detasat. El pare sa abordeze moda dintr-o perspectiva stiintifica. Intr-un interviu acordat revistei Dazed and Confused, Kane ne dezvaluie pasiunea sa pentru stiinta si legatura existenta, din punctul sau de vedere, intre aceasta si moda: “I love science. I respect the processes involved and it’s so insightful. Even designing a collection is a bit like a science – there’s so much trial and error and problem-solving.” Si ca orice om de stiinta, Kane doreste sa testeze limitele domeniului sau si reuseste asta explorand zone interzise. Experimentele neconventionale creeaza uneori monstri, ca in cazul doctorului Frankenstein, dar Kane isi asuma excentricitatea creatiei sale si prin asta ajunge sa se diferentieze de restul creatorilor de nou.

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Christopher Kane primavara-vara 2013

Stiintific, anatomic, urban, biologic, subversiv, universul creativ al designerului Christopher Kane adauga inca un capitol in romanul creatiei vestimentare britanice. La fel ca si designerii anteriori lui, el creeaza mai mult decat niste simple haine. El creeaza spatii imaginare in care fantezia si inovatia croiesc naratiuni nemuritoare.

sursa imagini: … 

Improbabila efemeritate a vesmintelor

Fashion may be ephemeral but it’s the dress, not the client, that survives. (Olivier Saillard)

Caracterul iluzoriu al modei constituie unul dintre aspectele ce ne alimenteaza constant fascinatia fata de aceasta. Prezentul exploreaza trecutul pentru a genera viitorul. Aceasta cautare si reciclare a modei in care vesmintele ocupa un loc central, confera acestora un caracter aparte. Dar care este speranta lor de viata intr-un sistem precum cel al modei, in care viteza ametitoare a schimbarii nu tine cont de povestea din spatele acestora, ci doar de sumele de bani pe care le produc? Care este viata de dupa succes a pieselor care supravietuiesc trecerii timpului?

Spatiul muzeal poate conferi un nou inceput unor astfel de piese. Ridicandu-le la rang de obiecte intangibile, martori ai unui trecut glorios, al caror sens in prezent este unul pur contemplativ, vesmintele ajunse in spatiul muzeal isi pierd treptat „vocea”. Povestile lor stau incremenite in spatele cutiilor de sticla care le tin captive. Cum pot fi reinviate astfel de piese?

Olivier Saillard, curatorul Muzeului Galliera din Paris sfideaza conventiile spatiului muzeal si pe cele din lumea modei. El intelege necesitatea resuscitarii trecutului, dar nu prin simpla expunere a sa privitorilor, ci printr-un dialog poetic, energic, intre vesminte si improbabilii ei purtatori. Astfel, Olivier Saillard nu pune la cale niste simple expozitii, el experimenteaza la nivel curatorial, punand la cale adevarate performance-uri artistice.

OLIVIER_SAILLARDStudiaza arheologia in Besançon si arta contemporana in Montpellier. Devine curator al Muzeului Modei din Marseille, iar dupa cinci ani renunta pentru a merge la Paris, locul in care s-a indragostit prima data de lumea modei, pentru a ocupa postul de curator al Muzeului de Arte Decorative, orchestrand expozitii care au omagiat vizunea unor maestri precum Yohji Yamamoto, Christian Lacroix, Jean Paul Gaultier. In prezent este, asa cum am mentionat mai sus, curator al Muzeului Galliera, in cadrul caruia a realizat o serie de expozitii neconventionale prin care a incercat in mod constant sa creeze un dialog valid intre prezent si trecut. Saillard resusciteaza astfel o serie de piese vestimentare, si designeri  fara de care evolutia modei ar fi fost imposibila.

Prima expozitie realizata din pozitia de curator al muzeului Galliera a prezentat publicului doritor creatiile unui designer despre care putini stiu, dar din care – multi se inspira: Madame Gres.  „Her work is very classic and elegant, but it’s also a precursor. She is a bit minimal, before fashion used the word—a bit Belgian, a bit Japanese”, declara Saillard despre Gres intr-un interviu acordat platformei style.com . Urmeaza expozitia “Cristóbal Balenciaga, Collector of Fashion” in cadrul caruia ne prezinta sursa de inspiratie care a stat in spatele creatiilor de geniu ale unuia dintre cei mai mari designer ai secolului 20. Colectia de costume de epoca ale lui Balenciaga (cea mai veche piesa datand din anul 1730) au fost prezentate alaturi de creatii haute-couture ale acestuia dintre anii 1937-1968. “It is sort of a miscellaneous jigsaw on which he built his modernity.” (Olivier Saillard). Expozita “Comme des Garcons White Drama” este la fel de atipica precum celelalte expozitii realizate de Saillard, in sensul in care – spre deosebire de majoritatea expozitiilor din cadrul muzeelor de profil care prezinta publicului in retrospectiva munca unui designer sau a unui grup de designeri, aceasta este compusa din piese apartinand in intregime colectiei Comme des Garcons pentru sezonul primavara-vara 2012. Olivier Saillard imagineaza un spatiu care sa completeze armonios colectia prezentata cu putin timp inainte de vernisajul expozitiei pe podiumul saptamanii modei pariziene. Expozitia pe care o pregateste in prezent va constitui o retrospectiva a creatiilor atipicului si vizionarului designer Azzedine Alaia si va insuma peste 100 de piese selectate din arhiva sa personala. Expozitia va avea vernisajul in data de 28 septembrie si va constitui prima expozitie gazduita de nou-renovatul Muzeu Galliera.

madame gresbalenciaga_collector of fashioncomme des garcons_white drama

Pe langa expozitiile din cadrul Muzeului Galliera, fashion performance-urile sale sunt rezervate unui public restrans si abordeaza intr-o maniera cateodata jucausa cateodata contemplativa, istoria modei si istoria costumului. De la performance-ul intitulat „MORCEAUX CHOISIS” prin intermediul caruia, ajutat de studentii sai de la Haute École d’Art et Design din Geneva, a incercat sa descopere originile unora dintre  piesele vestimentare create de designerii contemporani, si pana la performance-ul orchestrat impreuna cu actrita Tilda Swinton, „THE IMPOSSIBLE WARDROBE” in cadrul caruia a prezentat publicului piese din arhiva muzeului Galliera, apartinand unor personaje istorice, Olivier Saillard ne prezinta mereu noi modalitati de abordare a modei. Performance-urile puse la cale de acesta sunt mai mult decat niste simple indexari ale trecutului, ele sunt niste instalatii artistice, prezentari de moda in care piesele vestimentare nu propun tendinte, ci isi dezvaluie adevarata identitate, dincolo de mecanismele mercantile.

tilda swinton_te impossible wardrobe_1tilda swinton_2Prin intermediul exercițiilor sale curatoriale, Olivier Saillard transformă spațiul muzeal dintr-un monument funerar al modei într-un spațiu animat, capabil să genereze o interactiune constanta intre obiect si privitor. Caracterul iluzoriu al modei nu are aici de-a face cu scurgerea inevitabila a timpului, ci cu potentialul elementelor ce constituie universul modei de a genera in permanenta noi sensuri prin interactiunea cu prezentul. Ele vor continua astfel sa supravietuiasca pentru a crea noi povesti.

***Acest articol face parte din seria de articole publicate in cadrul revistei online Art Act Magazine. In fiecare luni va voi prezenta fragmente din aceasta serie de articole pe care le-am scris cu mare placere, articole prin intermediul carora am avut ocazia sa aprofundez zona de interferenta dintre moda si arta.

Louis Vuitton: Accesorii pentru calatorii imaginare

Intr-un secol al vitezei sunt necesare noi modalitati de „a calatori”. Fie ca ne referim la o deplasare de scurta durata, fie la una ce implica parcurgerea unor distante considerabile, modul de a calatori, mai mult decat calatoria in sine, s-a schimbat considerabil. Mijloacele de transport sunt mai diversificate si mai rapide, granitele statelor sunt mai permisive, posibilitatea de a vizita spatii indepartate cu mult mai tangibila. Echipamentul de calatorie este supus, inevitabil, unei transformari. La fel cum in urma cu mai bine de 150 de ani, Louis Vuitton, fondatorul brand-ului cu acelasi nume, a simtit necesara propunerea unei noi modalitati de concepere a accesoriilor de calatorie, Marc Jacobs, designer-ul curent al brand-ului, ne propune mereu noi modalitati (mai mult sau mai putin simbolice) de a calatori in timp si in spatiu.

1Unul dintre cele mai cunoscute logo-uri din lume, unul dintre cele mai falsificate brand-uri, Louis Vuitton reprezinta, in primul rand, un anumit stil de viata. Scopul principal al fondatorului sau era de a introduce elemente practice intr-un univers al luxului atat de putin interesat de acest aspect al obiectelor. Astfel ca, in anul 1854, la Paris este inaugurata prima reprezentanta Louis Vuitton, iar prima schimbare majora pe care o face acesta gentilor de voiaj este sa le schimbe forma si materialele din care erau confectionate. Pielea naturala este inlocuita cu un material impermeabil, iar forma boltita este transformata intr-o suprafata plata, dreptunghiulara, ce permitea o compartimentare mai eficienta. In anul 1888, introduce culorile iconice ale inconfundabilelor produse, iar in 1896, George Vuitton, fiul fondatorului, creeaza nemuritorul logo al brand-ului. Pe langa geamantane, atelierele Vuitton realizeaza o gama variata de accesorii menite sa faciliteze transportul diferitelor elemente indispensabile clientilor sai precum echipamente sportive, animale de companie, realizand chiar si o valiza capabila sa se transforme intr-un pat. In anul 1987, statutul sau de brand de lux este pecetluit odata cu alaturarea sa la grupul Moet Hennessy. Dar fuziunea sa cu prezentul a avut loc de abia in anul 1998, cand intregul bagaj istoric ii este inmanat tanarului designer american Marc Jacobs. Acesta introduce, pentru prima data in istoria casei, o linie vestimentara ce viza atat un public feminin, cat si unul masculin, o linie de bijuterii si ceasuri de lux. Pornind de la bogata istorie a casei Vuitton, Marc Jacobs nu numai ca reuseste sa alature liniei de accesorii o linie vestimentara ce completeaza universul creativ al casei, ci reuseste sa regandeasca utilitatea si infatisarea traditionalelor genti Louis Vuitton. Testand limitele impuse de un lux conservator, Jacobs stabileste colaborari cu artisti contemporani carora le cere sa isi puna propria amprenta asupra creatiilor casei. Rezultatul acestor colaborari, dintre care le amintim pe cele cu Stephen Sprouse, Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami sau, recent, cu Yayoi Kusama, a introdus o noua dimensiune produselor brand-ului, transformandu-le in obiecte de colectie, aflate undeva la granita dintre arta si produs. Nebunia generata in randul fanilor si consumatorilor Vuitton a sporit considerabil notorietatea brand-ului, transformandu-i produsele in unele dintre cele mai ravnite obiecte ale inceputului de secol 21.

Stephen_Sprouse_Louis_Vuitton Richard_ Prince_Louis_VuittonTakashi_Murakami_Louis_VuittonYayoi_Kusama_Louis-Vuitton

Miza lui Marc Jacobs nu este, insa, una in exclusivitate comerciala. Jocul sau estetic  transcende utilitatea materiala. Scopul sau final este de a spune o poveste. O poveste nu intotdeauna usor de deslusit, dar mereu fascinanta. Sondarea  trecutului casei Vuitton este realizata de catre Jacobs cu pasiunea unui explorator ce porneste intr-o calatorie imaginara. Hartile sale sunt trasate urmand coordonate culturale precise si tocmai din aceasta cauza, el nu se rataceste niciodata in explicatii inutile, in hoinareli fara scop, in fabulatii ridicole.

***Acest articol face parte din seria de articole publicate in cadrul revistei online Art Act Magazine. In fiecare luni va voi prezenta fragmente din aceasta serie de articole pe care le-am scris cu mare placere, articole prin intermediul carora am avut ocazia sa aprofundez zona de interferenta dintre moda si arta.

O introducere in stilul personal al fotografiei de street style

Democratizarea treptata a modei a atins apogeul in era digitala. Internetul, pe langa capacitatea sa de furnizor aproape nelimitat de informatie, s-a dovedit a fi un generator de noi forme de exprimare, de noi modalitati de interactiune dintre moda si cei pasionati de acest domeniu. Elementele componente ale unui sistem, pana nu demult structurat cu acuratete, s-au adaptat cerintelor noului mileniu. Grupurile privilegiate de receptori ai modei s-au dezintegrat treptat, fuzionand cu masele de pasionati sinceri, cetateni cu drepturi egale ai comunitatii internationale online. Stilul lor vestimentar, inspirat din propunerile marilor case de moda, inspirat din filmele pe care le vizioneaza, de muzica pe care o asculta, de prietenii care ii inconjoara, de un bagaj cultural acumulat, a ajuns sa genereze un nou curent in moda, cel al stilului personal. Inainte ca acest curent sa fie sustinut de mediul online prin intermediul blogurilor, al retelelor de socializare si al site-urilor de profil, stiluri personale, anonime, bantuiau strazile oraselor de pretutindeni. Fara a cauta recunoastere sau a vana atentie, cei al caror stil se evidentia din multime ajungeau sa fie imortalizati pe lentila aparatelor de fotografiat. Cine erau cei din spatele aparatului? Martori activi ai fenomenului modei dezvaluit privirii in cea mai delicioasa forma a sa. Acesti martori surprindeau moda asa cum este perceputa de cei care interactioneaza cu ea la un nivel intim si personal. Acesti martori sunt nimeni altii decat fotografii (ne referim aici strict la fotografii de strada preocupati de surprinderea fenomenului modei). Inainte ca acestia sa dobandeasca titulatura moderna de fotograf de street style, inainte ca acestia sa fie rasplatiti financiar pentru pasiunea lor, inainte ca ei sa vaneze tinute spectaculoase ale divelor in devenire, fotografii de strada incercau sa surprinda esenta indivizilor, incadrata intr-un spatiu fizic care ii reprezenta si le dadea sens.

1Unul dintre primii care au reusit sa faca acest lucru este fotograful Bill Cunningham. Considerat primul fotograf de street style, Bill Cunningham abordeaza fenomenul street-style-ului dintr-o perspectiva antropologica, in sensul in care el incearca sa surprinda evolutia modei prin intermediul celor care o poarta si o reinterpreteaza prin propriul stil vestimentar. El consemneaza interferenta dintre moda, societatea si cultura din New York de mai bine de 50 de ani. Prima „victima” surprinsa intr-una din plimbarile sale a fost nimeni alta decat Greta Garbo. Fotografia este publicata in  New York Times, fiind prima fotografie a unei celebritati care apare in paginile publicatiei fara acordul acesteia. Din acel moment si pana in prezent, Bill Cunningham semneaza in  New York Times rubrica intitulata „On the Streets”, o rubrica special creata pentru pasiunea acestuia de a surprinde stilul inconfundabil al locuitorilor metropolei americane. Desi este invitat de onoare la aproape toate show-urile din cadrul saptamanilor modei, Bill Cunningham prefera sa cutreiere strazile New York-ului pe deja faimoasa bicicleta, imbracat in deja faimoasa jacheta albastra, imortalizand viata de dincolo de lumina reflectoarelor, de vitrinele prea scumpe, de podiumurile prea luminoase, de party-urile prea glamorous. Sinceritatea si umorul lentilei sale dau viata unei lumi aflate intr-o continua miscare, o viata care nu traieste dupa reguli, ci se inspira din ele, o viata cateodata in culori, cateodata in alb – negru.

2 3 4 5Ceea ce a reusit Bill Cunningham sa creeze a fost inceputul unui fenomen care, odata cu evolutia tehnologica, a parasit paginile ziarelor si al revistelor si a gasit in mediul virtual spatiul ideal pentru a exploata potentialul unei modalitati de exprimare vizuala. Aparitia blogurilor de personal style si, odata cu ele, aparitia blogger-ului care isi transforma stilul personal intr-un brand, a generat o noua modalitate de abordare a fotografiei de street style.

***Acest articol face parte din seria de articole publicate in cadrul revistei online Art Act Magazine. In fiecare luni va voi prezenta fragmente din aceasta serie de articole pe care le-am scris cu mare placere, articole prin intermediul carora am avut ocazia sa aprofundez zona de interferenta dintre moda si arta.

Noi corporalitati in moda

Moda a contribuit considerabil la emanciparea femeii in secolul 20, dar in acelaşi timp a participat la perpetuarea unei viziuni idealizate a frumusetii feminine. Noile canoane ale frumusetii impuse de marile case de moda si de nou aparutele reviste de specialitate nu se indepartau foarte mult de la modalitatile clasice de a portretiza corpul feminin, folosite in pictura sau sculptura. Idealul frumusetii impus de moda nu celebra naturalul ci testa capacitatea femeii de a-l sfida.  Chiar daca acestea au dobandit accesul la educatie, politica si la un loc de munca, au fost nevoite sa invete cum sa lupte impotriva propriului lor corp natural. Silueta materna, unduitoare si voluptoasa care invita la placeri intime a trebuit remodelata pentru a se putea integra intr-un spatiu in care egalitatea intre sexe presupunea inventarea unor noi stereotipuri. Taietura “bias cut” a anilor `20 care a pus in evidenta formele corpului, promovarea unei  frumuseti adolescentine in anii `60, fantezia creata de fotografia de moda manipulata prin procedee tehnologice, a alimentat obsesia pentru marimi care au foarte putin de a face cu marimile naturale ale unei femei. Corpul postmodern a ajuns astfel o pastişe, un colaj de imagini promovate de cultura populara ce il indeparteaza din ce in ce mai mult de corpul natural care este respins datorita banalitatii sale.

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Suprematia acestor imagini distorsionate ce populeaza imaginarul feminitatii secolului 20 a dat nastere unei distantari a femeii de propriul ei corp. In acest decor, creatiile lui Alexander McQueen acorda fiecarei femei posibilitatea de a reactiona estetic la transformarile la care ii este expus corpul. Victima si adversar, corpul invesmantat este prezentat ca un artefact recuperat de la degradare si opresiune, devenit mai puternic si pregatit astfel sa lupte impotriva elementelor ce l-au subjugat. Alexander McQueen foloseste moda ca discurs in procesul de recuperare a corpului natural folosind instrumentele care au contribuit la distorsionarea lui. Recuperarea nu este a unui corp natural arhaic ci a unui corp constient de modificările la care a fost expus de-a lungul timpului, un corp capabil de a percepe noi forme de eliberare. Creatiile lui Alexander McQueen vorbesc in nenumarate feluri despre o transformare, incorporand forme animaliere in constructia creatiilor sale, asa cum a facut in colectia intitulata Horn of Plenty (2009), sau in colectia Atlantis (2010), sau creand corsete bizare precum “Spine” (piesa creata in colaborare cu artistul Shaun Leane, imitand structura osoasa a unei coloane vertebrale umane avand in prelungire o coada animaliera). Hainele devin astfel un element important in metamorfoza prin care purtatoarea lor trebuie sa treaca pentru a evolua.

3Pentru Alexander McQueen, natura ( in totalitatea sa, cuprinzand atat regnul animal cat si cel vegetal) are potentialul de a recupera corpul natural al individului Florile reprezinta un alt element recurent in colectiile sale. Ele constituie o metafora pentru efemeritatea frumusetii si a corpului uman. Impodobindu-i creatiile, florile vorbesc intr-o alta maniera despre o transformare, o descatusare a frumusetii interioare, o intalnire dintre corporalitate si natura, intalnire mediata de vesmant. In anul 1997, Alexander McQueen colaboreaza cu fotograful britanic Nick Knight pentru un pictorial ce abordeaza relatia dintre corpul natural si cel artificial (manipulat tehnologic), relatia dintre suprafata exterioara a corpului – pielea si frumuseţea interioara, subjugata de suprematia exteriorului. Fruntea modelului din imaginea de mai jos pare a fi sectionata lasand sa se intrevada printre marginile taieturii petale de flori roz. Agresiunea vizuala cauzata de prezenta acului de siguranta, taietura adâncă ce sectioneaza brutal fruntea neteda, se afla in contrast cu puritatea organica a florilor si cu feminitatea fragila a modelului. Lupta dintre corpul natural si cel modificat pentru a imita o perfectiune impusa este portretizata poetic in aceasta imagine.

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Dupa 15 ani de la acest experiment, Sarah Burton, noul designer al casei McQueen, sondeaza arhivele McQueen cu respect si admiratie si  propune in colectia pentru sezonul toamna-iarna 2012/2013 o viziune a feminitatii nascuta dintr-o frumusete organica si eliberatoare. Florile incatusate de invelisul restrictiv al pielii, reusesc sa evadeze.  O explozie de organza, suprapusa cu maiestrie in straturi, extinde limitele impuse de o constructie vestimentara traditionala acoperind trupul manechinelor intr-o aura de culoare si texturi. Excrescentele vizibile pe unele dintre piese, broderiile subtile, transparentele si exagerarea unor elemente ale vestimentatiei fac parte din discursul despre frumusetea corpului aflat in armonie cu natura pe care Sarah Burton ni-l prezinta intr-o maniera impecabila. Natura continua sa constituie un element important din universul casei McQueen, chiar si dupa plecarea neasteptata a acestuia si ne propune in continuare noi modalitati de explorare a corporalitatii. Femeia McQueen, indiferent daca traieste in imaginatia tulburatoare a lui Lee sau in respectul transformat in disciplina al  designerului Sarah Burton, este eliberata de frica pe care o avea fata de propriul ei corp.

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***Acest articol face parte din seria de articole publicate in cadrul revistei online Art Act Magazine. In fiecare luni va voi prezenta fragmente din aceasta serie de articole pe care le-am scris cu mare placere, articole prin intermediul carora am avut ocazia sa aprofundez zona de interferenta dintre moda si arta.