Thursday, February 25, 2010

Margiela & the Antwerp 6

Margiela, S 2009

Often associated with one another, Martin Margiela and the designers known as the Antwerp Six graduated from the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts at the same time. Margiela first worked for Gaultier and began to build his company based on a low profile brand presence and innovative designs. In 2002 he sold his company to Deisel and has played a decreasing role in the design. It is now called “Maison Martin Margiela.

Margiela 1991 & 1998

Maison Margiela S 2008

Margiela jacket made form a Swiss Army bag, 2006

Margiela negated the fashion industry. Using a cerebral, almost scientific method for his label, he has had employees dress in lab coats. He also does not advertise and the stores are very discreet.

The Antwerp Six refers to an important group of deconstructionist fashion designers graduating from Antwerp's Royal Academy of Fine Arts between 1980-1981. They shared a radical vision that established Antwerp as a notable location for fashion design. The breakthrough occurred in 1988 as the group rented a truck and set out for London fashion week with respective collections.

The Antwerp 6 in 1988

Together they showed deconstruction as a making and unmaking of forms and codes including exposing the backstage and form of presenting. Below clockwise from top left Ann Demeulemeester,
Marina Yee, WalterVanBeirendonck,
Dries van Noten,
Dirk Van Saene, Dirk Bikkembergs.

Walter Van Beirendonck

Dirk Bikkembergs

above 1991 and below 2009

Ann Demeulemeester

1989 and below F 2009
F 2009

Dries van Noten

F 2009

Dirk Van Saene

Marina Yee

Together these designers successfully bring the power of the fashion system into question on all levels from design to consumer good. Their influence is not in the commercial sector like power designers but rather in the creative realm where they have empowered many young designers.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Deconstruction Fashion

by Alex Hess

European designers Bless, deconstruct sunglasses

Alison Gill: Deconstruction Fashion, 1998
Gill defines deconstruction in terms of fashion as garments that are unfinished, coming apart, recycled, transparent and grunge. She says it is the literal dismantling of clothes in order to destroy fashion. To better understand the philosophy behind the statement, she looks at other forms of French deconstruction through philosophy and other aesthetic constructions.

Comme de Garcons, 2006, the design combines two opposing aesthetics giving both a presence but denying either totality. Both garments are deconstructed from their original forms and are in play with one another.

The term deconstruction has been used to describe the rebellion against traditional forms in art. Amy Spindler announced the trend as a rebellion against fashion's heritage. Elements of deconstruction include vintage linings sewn on the outside of clothes, exposed zippers and seams. Basically, the garments call attention to the mechanics of production, they strip away the aesthetic illusion associated with clothes to reveal the forms of construction that lay beneath. However, the major problem with this theory is that in deconstructing fashion, you are creating a new fashion- a paradox that Martin and Koda illuminated in saying “Deconstruction becomes a process of analytical creation”

She explores fashion’s relationship with philosophy through the lens of deconstruction philosophy and deconstruction fashion. She also illuminates the complexities of associating the word deconstruction with fashion

The transparency of forms in Comme des Garcons and Maison Martin Margiela, 2009

Fashion vs Art
Fashion is difficult to associate with philosophy because of fashion’s tendency towards triviality, aesthetic play, commoditized and robbed of significance. This goes against Philosophy’s staunch reverence of seriousness and authentic thought. She illuminated the question of whether or not authentic innovation can exist in fashion. She argues that fashion trends come from disseminated popular forms from history. She says that the hierarchy of fashion seems to erode because of mass production and media, but then negates this statement by saying the hierarchy of fashion lies in a theoretical realm: the idea of a “new look” creates the fashion elite.

The paradox in taking apart clothing in order to establish anarchy lies in the conscious creation of the deconstruction. The trace of construction echoes past forms thus illuminating the history of fashion and fashion’s inability to create anything new. Interestingly, this also deconstructs the hierarchy between haute couture and ready to wear.

Karl Lagerfeld, Dries Van Noten, and Hussein Chalayan, F 2009

Le Destroy: Gill states that “deconstruction fashion” is an attempt to associate fashion with deconstruction in four different interpretations of “le destroy”: Anti fashion, recession, zeitgeist, eco-fashion and theoretical dress. Gill looks at these different ideas through the designs of Margiela.
Anti Fashion: Influences taken from the “street” by designers like Westwood, Gaultier, Versace, Galliano and Hamnet. Inspired by counter culture’s ability to uncover taboo sexual and political ideas, fudge gender roles and explicit nudity. Anti fashion goes against the basic purpose of clothing: functionality. It renders clothes unusable, distasteful and aged. However, it might not be “deconstructive” because of it’s direct, playful dialogue with fashion, it refuses a negative critique.
Zeitgeist: (spirit of the times). This interpretation associates decaying clothing as a response to the decaying economic, political, aesthetic and environmental crises as a mirror image of the social stress and degradation around us. Patching is said to allude to the ensuing disaster where all resources will be depleted. Could be seen as an aesthetic crisis in response to formalism. However, this interpretation seems to depend too much on history without including other influences. It images an undisputed bond between cause and effect.
Eco-Fashion: Presents the image of recyclability- literally making recycling fashionable. Could also represent the fallibility of mass/machine-produced clothing by leaving gaping holes and shreds. However, since the production of these items is not based in preservation or recycling, this argument holds little weight.
Theoretical Dress: stems from writings of Derrida who defined deconstructional analysis as “a literary backlash arguing that no work can have a fixed meaning, based on the complexity of language and usage. Liberating application of theory” Argues that by undoing the garment, it is liberated of functionality and thrown totally into the realm of aesthetics. However, this theory is debunked because clothes are not liberated from functionality because they still serve the purpose to hide nudity, also disregarded because it mixes a heavy philosophy with a light subject.
(un-)dressing deconstruction
Philosopher Jaques Derrida had troubles reconciling the word “deconstructionism” with a set definition. He said that the definition of anything claims a universal truth that cannot be validated. This questioned the formation of western society by claiming that reason is uncertain.
Tries to undefine deconstructionism saying that it is not a explainable thing, but rather an event that “goes on”

Margiela, Spring 2009

Gill concludes that deconstructed fashion is not physical representation of philosophy , but the dialogue between the two gives us a new way to interpret fashion. She argues that Margiela’s intent with his line is to return focus to the object. Margiela has created the idealized form of fashion by the production of a garment that illuminates the forms of construction

Read more on this article and deconstruction and fashion here.


by Elizabeth Barthelmes

Jacques Derrida 1930-2004

The concept of deconstruction, as a philosophy, emerged primarily with the publication of Jacques Derrida’s Of Grammatology in 1967. In this work he poses the question, “must not structure have a genesis, and must not the origin, the point of genesis, be already structured, in order to be the genesis of something?”. Thus, Derrida was active in “deconstructing” the world around him, through studying systems structures and finding their origins. Focusing upon language, the structure of philosophy, he believes that words and underlying connotations are constraining to describing things as they really are. These constraints are developed through historical developments of regions and cannot easily be disassociated with the things we wish to describe.

Derrida is often misunderstood for destroying meaning but deconstruction instead exposes the instability of meaning and the play of form which is why it was important for fashion and the visual arts. Therefore deconstruction does not leave you with nothing but rather you expose the basis of value and continue with the process.

A philosopher named Gadamer compared language to the game of tennis but in deconstruction meaning is released from structures and hegemonies. In this sense deconstruction seeks language to be more like playing with a beach ball, free without guidelines.

McQuillan explains, that “deconstruction, if it teaches anything, reminds us that we should not assume that the way we perceive the world is the same as the way the world actually is” (McQuillan, pg.11). Derrida considers the foundations of philosophy, mainly the works of Plato and Aristotle, to be “logocentric” where our thoughts are bound by the words that society choses to use. These words were then outlined to possess different weight within our minds, developing an inequality amongst words and thus within our comprehension of things.

Derrida believes a system of “binary opposites” arises from this, such as “rational and irrational”, and only through deconstruction can these opposites be realized and then exposed as their true nature. He emphasizes that different binary opposites arise in different regions of the world and thus they are not accurately describing things. The conflict to deconstruction is that by dissecting terms, other binary opposites are bound to arise.

HSBC 2009

There are some basic expressions which appear to be part of the human experience such as "yes" and "no" and "mother" and "father" which even un-literate infants communicate in all cultures. Language however becomes increasingly structured and layered and what we take for opposites are normally constructed such as the idea of "formal" versus "casual" clothing. But many of the conventions and rules of fashion are in the process of being transformed and driven by postmodern subjectivity.

Some examples of fashion & deconstruction can be seen here:

Alexander McQueen's Deconstruction of a suit by Yohji Yamamoto, shirt by Jean Paul Gaultier, and tie by Hugo Boss.

Boston College's "Project Greenway"

Martin Margiela Upcycling

Monday, February 22, 2010

Power Designers: John Galliano

by Jenny Seo

John Galliano
28 November 1960 - Present
“Yeah, that's what I'm working for. The couture house of the future.”

Galliano. Enough said. Any fashion aficionado or follower must or already knows of Galliano’s ingenious designs and influence in the fashion industry. Galliano was born in Gibraltar, but raised in London, and eventually moved to Paris to start his booming career. Coming from a modest family where his father worked as a plumber, Galliano came to be a surprise not only to himself but to the fashion industry. It wasn’t until the sixteen year-old Galliano went to East London College to study design, that he discovered the arts. From there, he went on to Central Saint Martins art school and a superstar was born. He was appointed as chief designer for Givenchy then moved onto bigger things, Christian Dior.

Galliano's first collection for Dior, 1996

Dior Couture, S 2010

In Cathy Horyn’s online article, “Galliano Plays His Hand Smartly” Horyn approaches Galliano in an esteemed commendable tone. From commenting his personal fashion outfits to his brilliant talent exhibited in his collections, Horyn bounces off each compliment off another waterfall of accolades. “He is one of the few designers working today who actually knows how to cut cloth (Horyn).” Horyn here puts Galliano on a pedestal as compared to the rest of the fashion world, personally giving him credit for his original techniques, which were blasted to an “industrial scale."

Galliano in the Dior showroom

The article highlights Galliano’s visit to New York to present Dior’s resort collection. While resort collections fall under par as compared to ready-to-wear collections and haute couture collections, Horyn highlights this aspect and how Galliano and ultimately Dior decided to make an event out of this atypical occasion. Horyn points out how while Galliano is the creative genius to the house of Dior, ultimately the fashion industry has become a business. With this, the businessmen voice their opinions to the creators. While Galliano is known for his outrageous and new designs, his designs are becoming for consumer-wearable as presented in his new resort collection. Horyn says Galliano has changed, but is it he who changed? Or being guided by the fashion industry?

Galliano Resort Colection 2009

The other persona of John Galliano is the designer who directs his own label. Galliano uses his own line for greater experimentation. The shows are typically over the top.

Galliano Vs. Galliano:

It has been said that Galliano treats the models of his own collection as his dolls. Above S 2009 and below S 2010.

Power Designers: Yves Saint Laurent

by Jenny Seo

Yves Saint Laurent
1 August 1936 – 1 June 2008
“Fashion fades, style is eternal,” YSL

YSL above by Warhol, 1974

Unmistakably known as the “King of Fashion,” Yes Saint Laurent stays true to his label and title. Yves Saint Laurent’s fashion career rocketed after winning the International Wool Secretariat contest and was immediately recruited to work for Christian Dior. After Dior passed away, Saint Laurent was appointed as head Haute Couture designer in 1958. Saint Laurent was twenty-one years old. However, after Saint Laurent came back from fulfilling his military obligations, he was replaced at the House of Dior, and he opened up his own couture house in 1962, which was financially backed by Pierre Berge.

In the online article entitled, “Yves Saint Laurent, French Fashion Designer, Dies,” by Sara Gay Forden, Forden imparts the news of the death of a fashion “prodigy,” Yves Saint Laurent. Forden highlights Yves Saint Laurent’s pinnacle moments of his designing career and his rise to fame and recognition, which eventually marked him into a renowned icon in the fashion world. Saint Laurent was deemed a “savior” because of his fashion success at the house of Dior. This is because the house of Dior was “responsible for almost 50 percent of French fashion exports at the time” which was crucial towards the French economy.

Yves Saint Laurent fist came into public attention when he took over the house of Dior at the death of its founder in 1957.

The photo above shows a YSL design for Dior, taken by Avedon

Yves Saint Laurent was not just an advocate for women, but a visionary and an achiever to say the least. “Saint Laurent ‘wanted a woman to reconcile the two fundamental requirements that always guided his personal life: freedom and elegance,' Bernard Arnault, chairman of Christian Dior SA, said today in a statement (Forden).“ Saint Laurent was probably best known for inventing the woman tuxedo, known as “Le Smoking,” which he first introduced in 1966.

Yves Saint Laurent was not only a powerful designer but also socially connected and well liked throughout his career.

The first store opened in 1966 and the original monogram logo has been maintained.

YSL's most known pieces were the Mondrian inspired dress, 1965 and the female tux which appeared throughout his career below in 2002

Yves Saint Laurent served as costume designer for Belle du Jour, 1967

Below YSL at home in 1974.

``His humility was the mark of his genius.'' While, Yves Saint Laurent created class pieces of clothing, he was not afraid to step out of the box. Forden pinpoints how every time Saint Laurent was impeded by a hindrance, he still bounced back and made a comeback in the fashion community. No designer, company, or critic hindered him from delivering his outlooks on fashion. Not only did Yves Saint Laurent create a new concept of fashion, but he expanded his business with perfume licenses, and even opening men’s wear. Yves Saint Laurent elevated haute couture and the fashion world to the next altitude.

The Opium perfume launch was considered one of the most successful perfume brandings ever, below 1976 the original advertisement, "for those devoted to YSL."

Today YSL is designed by Italian designer Stefano Pilati