It’s really difficult to get fashion on film right – because it means so much to the people who love it, and is worthless to those who loathe it. Nothing will change those points of view – not extolling the hours of work poured into intricate clothes, not bandying about awe-inspiring figures about fashion house turnovers, not filming seamstresses weeping with emotion as their work is showcased, or possibly ripped to pieces. I personally fall into the former camp, so no matter how much you question the worth versus the cost or roll your eyes with puritan disgust at the vanity of it all, I won’t be swayed.
In Paris, food for thought at Miu Miu, Alexander McQueen and – maybe – Saint Laurent by Hedi Slimane
Prada’s Miu Miu label have commissioned an ongoing series of film shorts, titled “Women’s Tales”, by leading female filmmakers. The latest is by Alice Rohrwacher. It’s number 9. The intention, Miu Miu say, in the lavish literature that’s issued out with each, is to answer a few timeless questions. “How do women appear to themselves? How do they appear to each other? Isn’t appearance also a political and intellectual issue? How should a woman be today?”
I thought of “The Dress” when I was watching Comme Des Garçons. Please don’t kill me, especially for the sort of viral, meme-y, pop culture moment reference I myself detest. But the social media furore over The Dress was around the viewer’s perception of the garment, and that’s always the case with Rei Kawakubo’s clothes. Her garments are often like Rorschach’s blots, both in their ambiguous, amorphous physicality, and in the fact they rely on the viewer to decipher their meaning.
Cross-dressing and climate change, Game of Thrones and seventeenth-century underwear – an audience (sort of) with Dame Vivienne Westwood
At 73, Dame Vivienne Westwood is one of the most important fashion designers in the world. Born in Tintwistle and moving to London as a teenager, her work in the seventies with Malcolm McLaren influenced both the punk and New Romantic movements, shifting fashion and popular culture. Her designs under her own label, from 1984 onwards, proved equally influential across the sphere of fashion. Since the late 1980s, she has designed collections in partnership with Andreas Kronthaler, 48, who is creative director of the four labels currently produced by the Westwood company. Westwood and Kronthaler married in 1993. Her most recent work reflects her passion for ecological issues, fusing them with historical references.
Context does a lot for fashion. I’m not just talking about the world outside the tent, or salon, or wherever designers have positioned their gilt chairs for this season, but about what other designers are showing in their salon/garage/specially-erected plexiglass cube (depends on budget). Of course, part of the dance of fashion is solipsism. Or maybe megalomania. It’s rare you see designers at each others’ shows: Tim Blanks and the team of style.com were trying to interview Joseph Altuzarra, attending the Balenciaga show designed by his friend Alexander Wang, but were constantly interrupted by well-wishers. Most said something along the lines of “I didn’t expect to see you here!”
So Zac Posen – largely known as purveyor of expansive, expensive ballgowns – is reputed to be helming Harvey Weinstein’s revival of the Charles James label – largely known for its expansive, expensive ball gowns. The perfect fit, right? Well, certainly a close fit. There’s a synchronicity between Posen’s output and that of James that has frequently been highlighted. He was the obvious choice to discuss the designer around the Metropolitan Museum show “Beyond Fashion.” He did so at the Met itself, with exhibition co-curator Jan Glier Reeder, as well as in an avalanche of articles (including one for me). He’s also the obvious choice to revive the label. Doesn’t mean he’s the best choice, though.
It isn’t Mothering Sunday until May in Italy – at least, not officially. But Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana care naught for that kind of stuff. The Sunday of every Milanese womenswear week is traditionally Dolce day, but this time they made it mother’s day, too. “Viva La Mamma” they called their show – in English, it translates oddly to “Hurray for Mum” – less Italian romance, more the post-war jolly hockey sticks Enid Blyton school of British children’s literature.
Peter Dundas ended his tenure at the house of Emilio Pucci pretty much exactly how he started it. We were in the Palazzo Serbelloni, the gilded Milanese mansion-house we biannually cram into, cheek to jowl, to watch Dundas’s prints, and furs, and beaded dresses. He even had a few of the models from back in 2009, Lily Donaldson, Iris Strubegger, some others. The clothes weren’t tremendously different either. Dundas established his signature at Pucci early on, and ran with it.
How do you define the here-and-now? Well, it’s tricky. In fact, as the Milanese collections unfold, it’s increasingly proving impossible. The contemporary is the untimely, said Roland Barthes – the fact he said it on a Gucci press release was quite something. What Barthes means is that the present is impossible to pin down – as soon as you say it, it’s passed.
If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, philosophers frequently question if it makes a sound. I pose you this: if we watch a fashion show, but it’s in the dark, did we really see it at all? Would be nice if such a question remained philosophical – but Thomas Tait decided to materialise it as an illogical staging concept for his autumn/winter 2015 show on Monday afternoon.
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