Despite being told that ‘barriers have been broken down’ and SHIT! ‘plus size models’ are allowed to be seen outside of maternity catalogues, does anybody else feel that fashion is still just, well, skinny little white girls wandering around looking pissed off, shrugging around their lithe little skeletal frames some item of couture you’re certain you’ve already seen in various forms on and off the catwalk for the past 50 years?? After scanning many MANY fashion blogs and websites in search of something interesting to post, this is the conclusion I have come to:
I feel like I have already seen all these designs, photo shoots and by far the most dreadful – the artistic abomination that is the fashion illustration, so many times that they all blur together across the sallow skin and heroin bruises of the models they centre on.
One designer who I still have faith in creatively (other than Tavi Gevinson and the repetitive but always perceptive and quality-conscious Sartorialist) is Vivienne Westwood, partly because she throws her own image all over her stuff despite being neither young, thin or beautiful. She is however, inspiring – and more, continues to inspire.
Unlike the self proclaimed 'anti-model' Tony Ward (his understanding of ‘anti’ translating to ‘tattoos,’ ‘beard’ and ‘erection’), Westwood’s anti-fashion has always had wide cultural appeal and relevance. In the Early Seventies she virtually invented the rebellious aesthetic of punk, hanging onto Sex Pistols’ manager Malcom McClaren’s arm while selling her outrageous clothes inspired by bikers and prostitutes in his King’s Road boutique, Let it Rock. In the Eighties she again went anti-fashion with her Mini-Crini range, which basically did everything Eighties women’s fashion didn’t – being feminine and with a historical influence, as apposed to ripping off Maggie Thatcher or any Yuppie banker with a filofax and adding a couple of extra inches to the already bulging shoulder padding.
A few months ago she was on the Jonathan Ross Show saying one of the best statements I have heard from the mouth of a designer in recent years:
"Take something ugly and wear it until it is beautiful."
INCREDIBLE! Her do-it-yourself attitude is so refreshing in such an elite, throwaway industry as fashion. She also pleaded with consumers to stop buying what the high street tells them is fashionable and to concentrate on thinking and playing with their own individual style. These should be the standard ideas of any great designer, I hear you cry, but they’re not. I was so happy, gleeful almost, to hear that when they brought out the appalling Sex and the City movie (I’m not even going to mention the sequel), that she stormed out of the London premiere after ten minutes, publicly denouncing the fashion as being frumpy and boring. Possibly because the designers were only in it for the money at this stage…?
Has culture become so diverse in the past hundred years that we have done everything that can be done, created everything that can be created, rebelled against everything and so have no other conclusion than to wander into Topman and out again in a checked shirt and black skinny jeans? I don’t think so – I think people are JUST NOT TRYING HARD ENOUGH. Now, I know this sounds like a complete rant, and, yes, it is not just Westwood who prevents me from freaking out about a globalised culture brimming with every influence on the planet yet is ironically bleached out to one, monochromatic aesthetic. I also love the work of Hussein Chayalan, who, a couple of years back had a great retrospective of work at the Design Museum. And Alexander McQueen, who I really think was a genius, reworking even such overused themes as Imperial Baroque so that it became original and interesting, appearing new because behind it is a brilliant aesthetic and culturally-engaged mind.
There is the question of art for art’s sake, but perhaps there should also be the question of anti-art for anti-art’s sake? Without a devil’s advocate we would never have had movements like Modernism (or subsequently Postmodernism), which means we would have no Virginia Woolf, no James Joyce, no Hemmingway, no Orwell, no Dior, no punk (an consequently rocker, emo, scene – whatever), no Gaga, no Janelle Monae, no Westwood and no McQueen. Which means this blog would be completely redundant and our world would be totally dull.
So here’s my suggestion; if you think of doing something, anything at all – just do the exact opposite. You might get something better.