Monday, 18 November 2013

Fashion & Psychoanalysis

Another difficult subject tackled in this weeks lecture was psychoanalysis in relation to visual culture. A therapy invented by Sigmund Freud, who believed that people could be cured of their anxiety and depression by revealing their unconscious thoughts, which are suppressed within our dreams and fantasies, and blocked by a natural defence mechanism of the brain.
An even more complicated sub category of this theory is the Oedipus Complex, a highly controversial theory which analyses the sexual desire that a boy might have for his mother read here for a better explanation than I can give!
It also suggests that although men are attracted to women, they also feel threatened by women. This is why the portrayal of women in the media tends to lean towards the idea of women as objects of desire for the male gaze.
Fashion advertisements often use the female form in a submissive way, the woman is attractive, but not threatening as discussed in this article featuring D&G's controversial 2007 ad-campaign.

Hello my name is Paul Smith

This weekend I visited the newly opened Paul Smith exhibition at the Design Museum, London, and I loved it!

Paul is an avid collector, like myself, and his inspiration for his collections come from the objects around him, and the photographs he takes along the way.

I feel so inspired, everything he says in the exhibition just makes so much sense to me, listening to his monologue:

"Don't spend too much time looking at what other people do...try to be your own person"

"Unfortunately a lot of people look but they don't see - so that means absorb when you look at things, it could be graffiti on a wall, it could be an interesting pocket of a postman's trouser, it could be the shadows on a wall, it could be anything"

"I take my camera everywhere, its like a diary - visual diary"

"I travel a lot, and I always observe the way local people dress"

"I love to go out to Portabello road or because I've travelled quite a lot I go to antique markets around the world, and there you can find lots of inspiration"

"Printing the unexpected onto a fabric always is my handwriting. A flower on a fabric on a fabric a photograph that I have taken printed onto a fabric, shadows, I've always loved shadows…venetian blinds with shadows from them, shadows of trees, shadows of people, the shadow of a bicycle"

"Shape and simplicity, proportion are all ingredients that are essential for design today"

"You can look at a beach hut, see the three colours and that can turn into a piece of knitwear"

Sources & further reading:

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Craft in Fashion

“Craft has never been more important than now, as an antidote to mass production and as a practice in which the very time it takes to produce an object becomes part of its value in a world that often moves too fast.”
Caroline Roux, Acting editor, Crafts magazine

When I visited the Valentino exhibition last year my favourite part of the exhibition was downstairs, where you could look in detail at samples of the different construction techniques used to create certain elements of Valentino's dresses. The workers in the atelier sew everything by hand, spending hundreds of hours on a single piece. So many hours, so many women and they never use a sewing machine, they hand sew everything. Apparently the women were bought  a sewing machine once and it sat in a corner, unused!

Fashion is often seen as frivolous, and with the fast and cheap fashion that is on offer to consumers today, it is easy to forget the huge amount of work that often goes into the couture collections  that march down the runways at the fashion weeks.

The article 'Craft Works' in Vogue, Oct '13, highlights the astonishing amount of work that goes in to producing individual detailing on the garments designed by the likes of Vuitton, Bottega Veneta and Erdem.

Vuitton F/W '13-'14- feathers trimmed with 
scissors and hand-sewn onto tulle 
image via

Botegga Veneta F/W '13-'14 - Silk and wool 
bonded onto day dress to create watercolour-like patterns
image via

Erdem F/W '13-'14 - Window pane tweed woven with neon PVC 
and ostrich feathers attached to thread narrow enough to go
 through a loom.
image via

I am 'guilty' myself of buying cheap fashion, and I believe there is a place for it, as I think that fashion should be accessible for all walks, not just the elite. However, I do place great importance on craft in fashion - luxurious fabrics and beautiful artisanal details elevate a garment into the realms of a piece of art, not just to treasure but to showcase on oneself.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Sustainability in Fashion

I few years ago I read and article about the ethical fashion designer Orsola de Castro. I can't remember where it was, but I do remember how interesting and inspiring it was.

A few years back speedo designed a super-duper, hi-tech, professional swim suit, but it wasn't long before athletes where banned from wearing it in competitions, as it was deemed to give the wearer an unfair advantage. So Speedo had a massive problem, what where they to do with all these swimsuits they had manufactured, but had become unsaleable? Landfill?

This is where Orsola de Castro stepped in. Castro started her London based fashion label, From Somewhere, in 1997. Initially she breathed new life into second-hand clothes that would have been destined for landfill. For example, creating something beautiful and unique from a moth-eaten cashmere cardi, by hand crocheting around the holes. But in 2001, on a visit to a knitwear factory in Italy (that manufactures for designers such as Yves St Laurent and Karl Lagerfeld) she realised that with the huge amount off offcuts on the floor, she could make a whole collection from scratch, not just the one-offs she had been making previously.

Speedo gave 5,000 of these obsolete swimsuits to Castro and she set about creating them into a 10-peice collection of cocktail dresses. The collection was launched at london fashion week and Selfridges, promptly placed an order for S/S '11.

I think it is a very slow process, but I do do believe that the fashion industry is becoming more conscious of sustainability and ethical manufacturing, with big companies such as H&M, M&S and Tesco working towards improving ethics. Personally, I do shop at Primark on occasion, but I also believe very strongly that it is important for us to try and change the way the industry thinks. It's not about all designers recycling and upcycling, but it is their duty to find a use for their waste textiles, or to give it to someone who will find a use for it, it shouldn't just go up in smoke.

Sources & further reading: