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

gucci

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”.

gucci-pre-fall-2016-0

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.

Gucci

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

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

5 Reasons Why I Love the New Gucci Collection

1. Because it creates mood

2. Because it portraits a type of sexuality which I find relevant nowadays

3. Because it’s personal

4. Because it has personality

5. Because I finally want to get to know the Gucci girl

Gucci Fall Winter 2014/2015

Gucci Fall Winter 2014/2015

Gucci Fall Winter 2014/2015

Images: ,

Răzătoarea super Răzătoarea *

Echipa Vogue Italia impreuna cu fotograful Steven Meisel ne prezinta in numarul din ianuarie al revistei un pictorial care la prima vedere – te lasa confuz dar asociat unui context – se transforma intr-o satira ce se rasfrange asupra perceptiei actuale a fenomenului modei. Pictorialul pune problema unei demistificari agresive si iremediabile a creatiilor vestimentare. Piese din colectiile Chanel, Balenciaga, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Gucci pot fi achizitionate la super oferte, intre anumite intervale orare…si poate ca “daca esti printe primii care comanda PRODUSUL, vei primi la ACELASI PRET si un accesoriu unicat”.

Jocul vizual conceput de Meisel nu se rezuma doar la produs ci si la consumatorul sau. Avizi dupa imagini fara fond, indivizii stau neclintiti in fata ecranului si devoreaza fara discernamant cele mai bune oferte pentru o viata pe care nici macar nu sunt siguri daca o vreau sau nu. Cultura din ce in ce mai raspandita a teleshoppingului, a cumparaturilor online remodeleaza chipul cioplit al Produsului, usurandu-ne accesul la acesta.

Mesajul “Must have bag Monday” se deruleaza repetitiv in partea de jos a uneia dintre poze, “4 way payment available” ne anunta o alta rubrica in timp ce pe un podium improvizat, supermodele de renume international, prezinta prin miscari exagerate  cele mai extravagante tinute. In acelasi platou, bijuterii opulente si pantofi statement ne sunt etalate pentru a fi cumparate cat mai repede: “120.330 already sold”.

Este aceasta satirizare o forma de protest? Este abordarea mai putin elitista a creatiilor marilor case de moda un lucru asa de negativ? Pictorialul fotografiat de Steven Meisel nu isi propune sa raspunda intrebarilor, nu ascunde nici o tenta moralizatoare, este doar expresia artistica a unei stari de fapt.

sursa poze:

explicatie titlu:

Remedii vizuale de ignorare a caniculei

“Termometrul spune la umbră 33 de grade Celsius… Sub arşiţa soarelui”…fiintele care ii supravietuiesc se dizolva in spatele aburilor emanati de peretii constructiilor urbane care par a consuma si ultimele resurse de umbra.

Incepi sa iti pierzi speranta unei  salvari. Cauti remedii conventionale,  sau auzite din povesti, de a scapa de arsita. Dai vina pe incalzirea globala si iti pornesti, pe ascuns , aerul conditionat. Hainele devin o povara, debarasate de orice conventie estetica, sociala si personala. Te gandesti la combinatii salvatoare ale trend-urilor propuse pentru acest sezon…nici una castigatoare. Ai nevoie de racoare, o racoare ce apartine altui anotimp. Incepi sa te gandesti la serile de toamna, cu miros de frunze, la ploile marunte, la vantul ce anunta albul lunilor de iarna…

Cat de nefolositor ar fi un pictorial ce anunta tipologiile femeilor de toamna-iarna cand acesta pare a fi singura sansa de evadare dintr-o caldura prea mare, prea mare mon cher?

Elle UK – August 2011

Fotograf –  Matthias Vriens-McGrath

Model – Coco Rocha

Stilist –  Anne-Marie Curtis

sursa poze:

Fur and Feathers…a strange wilderness

Siu ca poate parea prea tarziu sa incep sa vorbesc despre tendintele toamna-iarna 2010, avand in vedere ca deja saptamanile modei au anunţat tendintele primaverii, dar eu numai acum am realizat ca a venit iarna. Brusc si deodata. Poate nu chiar de neasteptat, avand in vedere ca in fiecare an ne viziteaza cam tot in aceeasi perioada, dar puterea negarii pare a fi mai puternica uneori decat realitatea. Ca sa nu par cu totul plictisitoare, m-am gandit sa va prezint tendintele atasate unei atmosfere, unui setting. Imaginile dincolo de haine, asa cum le vad eu.

O sa incep cu ceva care pentru mine nu a fost niciodata o necesitate si nici o dorinta. Nu sunt fanatic PETA, nici macar vegetariana, nici nu vreau sa par ipocrita, asa ca o voi numi o alegere personala: nu imi plac blanurile. Dar sunt constienta ca prezenta lor in colectiile sezonului rece este nelipsita. Sezonul acesta, designerii au dat o sansa si inaripatelor sa isi etaleze penajul pe podium, intr-o combinatie inedita de pene si blanuri. Veste, sacouri, genţi, fuste mini, pantaloni, gulere, mix-ul de pene si blana s-a regasit aproape in fiecare piesa vestimentara. Cea mai ostentativa si ingenioasa abordare ii apartine insa lui Karl Lagerfeld care, pentru Chanel, a inventat o intreaga tinuta perfecta pentru povestea sa glaciara.

Oricat de geroasa si nemiloasa va fi iarna aceasta, designerii ne-au oferit nenumarate opţiuni pentru a ne tine de cald si a arata impecabil indiferent de cat de jos va scadea temperatura in termometru.

 

Fendi

Chanel

Zac Posen

Michael Kors

Gucci

Valentino

Balenciaga

Matthew Williamson

Lanvin

Vera Wang

Ann Demeulemeester

Rick Owens

Povestea de iarnă ascunsă printre blănuri şi pene, şoptită în spatele uşilor îngheţate:

Poze: style.com, colaj: Another Man-Body Language pictorial Nick Knight pt. revista AnOther, Abbey Lee Kershaw fotografiata de   Daniel Jackson, Richard Avedon pentru Calendar Pirelli 1995, Romain Brau pentru Dazed Digital, Steven Meisel pentru Vogue Italia, Daniel Jackson pentru Vogue China, Matthew Barney, google images.