Sunday, 8 March 2015

Who Run The World: International Women's Day

Hello there, happy International Women's Day! A day to celebrate everything that is the woman; whether she's an Astrophysicist, artist, or stay-at-home mother, women are pretty badass. Talking of badass women, here are some of my favourites...

Image: http://www.rantlifestyle.com/2014/05/28/top-20-maya-angelou-quotes/
Image: Pinterest
Image: Pinterest
Image: http://virginiawoolfblog.com/page/7/
Image: http://www.quotehd.com/quotes/mary-wollstonecraft-equality-quotes-virtue-can-only-flourish-among
Image: http://hellogiggles.com/feminist-quotes-year

I could go on and on about feminism and feminist writers/artists/movement activists/designers etc., (my #womancrusheverydays!) but I've just got back from London. We went to see Antigone (very appropriate for today) at the Barbican which was amazing so expect a post on that soon!




Thursday, 5 March 2015

Eye-candy: fancy feet

From fur pom poms, to heels dripping in gems, runways this season have been awash with beautiful, unique and sometimes-crazy shoes.

Dolce and Gabbana adorned their shoes with everything from rose appliques and sticks of lipstick (transfixed in perspex heels!), to cameo-style-faces and bejeweled flowers. They even sent a pair of crystal encrusted perspex heels worthy of Cinderella!

Dolce and Gabbana A/W 15
Emilio Pucci however clad model's legs in seventies style thigh-high boots. Bold, geometric and sequined, or covered in astrological signs, they just ooze sex appeal and coolness.

Emilio Pucci A/W 15
Versace also included thigh-high boots. A shocking shade of red-lipstick-red, and resting on gold filigree block heels, these are in no way subtle: they are quintessential Versace.

Versace A/W 15
Karl Lagerfeld for Fendi produced sturdy block heels that curved back on themselves and created interesting shapes. Many of these were subdued in colour, covered in fur, and feature warped perspex heels - making me think of high fashion's answer to the snow boot.

Fendi A/W 15
Completely different was Fausto Puglisi. His models strode down the catwalk in punk-esque studded biker boots: the perfect addition to his asymmetrical mini dresses, leopard print and tartan kilts, and embellished leather jackets.

Fausto Puglisi A/W 15
Burberry's ode to the Summer of Love gave us both fringe adorned suede booties, and thigh-high patchwork boots in beautiful shades of teal, olive green, maroon and magenta. The entire collection was an fun and light play with texture, movement and colour, as are the boots.


Burberry A/W 15

Images: http://www.popsugar.com/fashion/Best-Runway-Shoes-Fashion-Week-Fall-2015-36958964?ref=37000585 and Vogue.co.uk







Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder: Diversity in Fashion

Flick through any magazine, or flip through any reel of TV adverts, and chances are the same kind of female face will smile vapidly back at you. She’s typically blonde, but not always; pale, slim, long-legged, her face perfectly symmetrical: eyes large, nose small, cheekbones high and lips bee-stung. This is the face of Westernised ‘beauty’. The product of empire and globalisation, she is a commodity. Throughout society – in myth, art, literature and the media – this image of femininity has been preserved as the ‘ideal’. We live in a world where the rhetoric of Westernised beauty is cultural currency: today Victoria’s Secret Angels are literally worshipped as semi-divine beings and women objectified to the point of being either ‘hot’ or not.


This sort of ideology is extremely damaging. “We're losing bodies as fast as we're losing languages,” says psychotherapist Susie Orbach in the upcoming documentary The Illusionists on the Westernisation of beauty (released later this year). “Just as English has become the lingua franca of the world,” she says, “so the white, blondified, small-nosed, pert-breasted, long-legged body is coming to stand in for the great variety of human bodies that there are.” This is only too clear in the fashion industry. The Fashion Spot recently reported that white models got almost five times more covers than black models, and that many other major publications failed to picture coloured cover models in 2014. Shockingly, Jourdan Dunn who, gracing the cover of Vogue’s UK February 2015 issue, was the first black cover model to pose solo on Vogue UK in 12 years since Naomi Campbell in 2002.



Western ideals of beauty not only alienate women of colour, but also disabled and transgender women. Fashion is not an inclusive industry, and, in regards to diversity, it is not representative of society. This is just the tip of the iceberg however, and its effects are devastating, spawning a rise in eating disorders and plastic surgery procedures across the world. Sex sells they say but, in reality, its insecurity. Its common knowledge that happy people buy less; therefore, by repeatedly employing the image of idealised Western beauty, businesses can capitalise on the insecurities it generates.
Following Rick Owen’s Spring/Summer 2014 show (which was modelled by an American step team), the successes of Vinnie Harlow (a model who suffers from Vitiligo) and Andreja Pejić (a transgender model), and Carrie Hammer casting of disabled models (which are industry firsts!), it’s easy to say that fashion is making a radical change. Whilst these are all amazing choices, they are sparse compared to the sea of white, able-bodied and slim models in the media; in fact, it seems that, for the fashion industry, diversity is more like a trend that it can play with for a season or two before moving on to the next. This is not ok. Fashion is rooted in innovation and originality; it is fed by change, and it feeds larger social changes. It is also one of our most powerful tools to promote and critique, and the industry needs to step up and do just that; not half-heartedly for a season or so, or as a sensation, but as the new and improved norm.



In February of last year Lupita Nyong’o delivered a speech about beauty and diversity at the 7th annual Black Women in Hollywood Luncheon. Beautiful and heart-breaking in its entirety, one line stood out for me in particular: “beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume; it was something that I just had to be.” It is this message that fashion needs to promote: that diversity itself is beautiful.



Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Fashion as Art vs. Fashion as Industry: Is Fashion Above Society and Its Values?

One thing that fascinates me about fashion is how blurred the boundaries are between artistic creation and social commentary. It is a global industry, rooted in capitalism and reliant upon the consumer, generating billions of pounds the world-over. Boiled down to its bare bones however, fashion is simply art.

This relationship in fashion - between art and business; creativity and commodity - is a intriguing question. It is also a prevalent one; it is the question Karl Lagerfeld seemed to pose to the fashion community in March of last year with Chanel’s Autumn/Winter 2014 show. A grand satirical set piece, the Grand Palais was transformed into a supermarket, complete with isles of shelving stacked with hundreds of wittingly named  products such as ‘Coco Pops’ and ‘Eau de Chanel’ mineral water. Between these, models, wearing various mixes of 80s urban sportswear and Chanel tweed, strutted; some carrying the classic quilted bags, vacuumed packed like meat, and some shopping baskets made of Chanel chains. Whether a comment on the consumerism of the fashion industry and the rise of fast fashion, the underlying message appears clear: according to Karl, fashion is in fact both an art form and a business.
As a result of this dual personality, the fashion industry is inherently built upon a conflict of ideals; while it attempts to transgress the norm to create the new and shocking, its fluid nature results in a medium that so clearly reflects the values of the wider society. Essentially, it is both struggling to break free of the culture that it caters and creates for. This throws up questions of how we should treat fashion, and whether, as an industry, it should be regulated? Or whether, as an art form, this regulation constitutes censorship?

This tension, between creativity and commercialism has appeared all the more an important aspect of the industry recently with stories of tax evasion a regular on ‘fashion news’ pages: such as the prosecutions of Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana of D&G, and Miuccia Prada, the owner and designer of Prada. Similarly, these tensions have been underlined by reactions to John Galliano recent comeback as Creative Director for Maison Margiela and his Spring/Summer 2015 Couture show. After Galliano’s ugly self-destruction 3 years ago, when the designer was prosecuted for making racist and anti-Semitic remarks in a Parisian bar, this was bound to make waves in the fashion community.
Upon the initial announcement of his return last year (of which the official press release dismissed the designer’s past as merely “non-conformist”), and almost without exception, the fashion press responded with the view that the most controversial aspect of the news would be the contrast of styles. Absurdly, the majority nonchalantly debated over the choice to marry Galliano’s elaborate style with Margiela’s minimalistic ethos, with little thought to the question of ethics raised by the union. As so perfectly summed up by the Guardian’s Jess Cartner-Morley, “Fashion cannot lay claim to a platform of cultural significance […] and then retreat into an ivory tower”.



As an art form driven by aesthetic value this question of style is an important one. But also as an industry - an industry that both feeds and is fed by the wider society - this sort of shallow view is unacceptable. In times like this, when fashion's other face - the corporate face of a industry influencing the world and how we think - is revealed, the fashion world needs to step up and evaluate itself. It needs to stop sugar coating the ugly or the taboo. Like Lagerfeld, it needs to use its creativity to put these issues under the microscope, and to start these difficult debates. Art is powerful tool: it can challenge norms and initiate change. Fashion, as with all aspects of art, has long been associated with major times of change, transgression and rebellion. So, instead of worrying how “theatrical flair” will conform to deconstructed simplicity, fashion needs start questioning if it’s in the right or wrong.

This is difficult of course. As an art form this kind of scrutiny raises concerns of censorship, whilst also threatening to stifle the very thing fashion relies upon: progress and growth. It's clear then that this is an important discussion difficult to answer simply. I hope I've raised some interesting thoughts about fashion and where it fits into society. 

Images: http://www.bellasalamode.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/0-chanel-rtw-fw2014-runway-80_085117793320.jpg and http://cdni.condenast.co.uk/426x639/Shows/SS2015/Paris/Couture/Maison_Martin_Margiela/00110h_426x639.jpg

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Well hello there

Blogging: it really does seem like everyone is at it. Our world is so connected - by conversations spanning continents and discussions bridging language barriers - and I think that's beautiful. One of my favourite things in the world is listening to, or reading about, someone who loves something; to someone who's obsessed. I love the way their eyes light up and their words jumble together in mad-excitement. I love how people, separated by oceans, can share their passion for something. It's my obsessions that this blog is really about (trust me I have a lot!): fashion and the ethics of the industry, art, literature, history, culture, society and how we think, what fashion tells us about ourselves, feminism, cat vines, anything glittery, chandeliers... I could go on and on!

This blog is also a way to practice my writing. I've always been fascinated by words and what they can do - how words can, simultaneously, define a singular moment so perfectly and transcend eras and generations. Fashion is like that. By looking at what we wore and what we wrote thousands of years ago we can tell so much about ourselves then and now. Journalism is so important for that; documenting, promoting, critiquing, and discussing society and what we do. My drawer under my bed is brimming with magazines - often love-worn and curling at the edges where I've dropped them in the bath (oops!) - and I've always thought about fashion and culture journalism as a dream career. Hopefully this blog will help me towards that dream!

So, welcome to this strange amalgamation of my musings and thoughts. I apologise in advance for my tendency to ramble (as evidenced above) - brownie points for you if you don't get bored and annoyed with me. I hope you enjoy my pretentious rants about things.

With love,

Esther.