THE UGLY TRUTH Fash­ion to­day is so bad, it’s good

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

Fash­ion is deep in the throes of a love af­fair with ugly. What started out as a risqué flir­ta­tion with the mun­dane (laun­dry­bag-in­spired sep­a­rates for Cé­line fall/win­ter 2013) and the strictly off-lim­its (Christo­pher Kane’s furry-trim/jew­e­len en­crusted Crocs) has blos­somed into a fully-fledged move­ment th that is rev­o­lu­tion­is­ing the very no­tion of lux­ury. Cue fall/win­ter 20 2018’s ul­ti­mate ac­ces­sory: A pros­thetic head à la Gucci; Vete­ments’ Litt Lit­tle Edie-goes-grunge mash-ups, and Jonathan An­der­son’s crafty dis­so­nance dis both at his epony­mous la­bel and Loewe.

“I som some­times think to my­self, ‘Are de­sign­ers tak­ing the piss?’” says Kath­leen B Buscema, Wom­enswear Buyer at Har­rolds, a lux­ury depart­ment store in Au Aus­tralia. “But it’s cool—fash­ion is just hav­ing a laugh.” How else would you ex­plain the in­dus­try’s on­go­ing ob­ses­sion with the dis­pos­able car­rier bag as a lux­ury ac­ces­sory (this sea­son it ap­peared in clear and baby blue plas­tic at Burberry); the fugly shoe (more abo about that in a bit) and the kind of out­fits that look as if they’ve been put to­gether t in a kilo sale? “The shift to the ab­surd or weird or ‘ugly’ is more re­lat­able to the mil­len­nial gen­er­a­tion’s idea of street cool,” Buscema con­tin­ues. “It’s con a zone they feel com­fort­able in. It’s their protest. It’s their an­arc an­ar­chy.”

In­deed, if you scratch the sur­face of the­ses art or rial shenani­gans, you’ll find a se­ri­ous com­men­tary on the dif­fi­cult ffi­cult ques­tions re­lat­ing to cur­rent protest move­ments, such as:What What does it mean to be sexy in the era of #MeToo?; what do we con­sider real beauty in a so­cial-me­di­as­cape sat­u­rated with re­touched and fil­tered im­agery?; and what can be trusted d in a post-truth world in which the bound­ary be­tween fact and fic­tion is blurred to bug­gery?

“Fash­ion’s cur­rent cel­e­bra­tion of the ‘ugly’ comes partly tly from our de­sire for authen­tic­ity—there’s noth­ing more real eal than ugly—and partly as a re­ac­tion ion against out­dated beauty stan­dards that have failed to o take di­ver­sity into con­sid­er­a­tion,” says Dar­ren Black, the Lon­don-based pho­tog­ra­pher whose In­sta­gram ac­count, count, @dar­ren_ black, has be­come a show­case for fash­ion’s most provoca­tive new faces.“It’s about the he free­dom to be ‘ugly’ and to be cel­e­brated for or it. ‘Ugly’ faces and ‘ugly’ bod­ies wear­ing ‘ugly’ ly’ clothes all put to­gether in this brico­lage style tyle that we have seen cham­pi­oned at Gucci cci and Burberry—when all these in­gre­di­ents edi­ents are mixed to­gether, they cre­ate a new way of be­ing and see­ing for a gen­er­a­tion ner­a­tion hell-bent on redefin­ing gen­der and beauty.”

Buscema agrees: “No rules means eans that it’s no longer a case of ‘this is for men’ and ‘that is for women.’ The ‘ugly’ gly’ trend is gen­der­less. And the fact that there here are no rules is ex­cit­ing—our clients ts get to have fun cre­at­ing their own ver­sion of them­selves any which h way they feel com­fort­able.”

For mil­len­ni­als ex­plor­ing fash­ion’s hion’s dress­ing-up box, this means a re­vival of cloth­ing oth­ing pre­vi­ously rel­e­gated to the naughty step: Chav­tas­tic Burberry base­ball eball caps, ’80s-style sports­wear, dad-fit jeans, bum­bags (am I the only one who can’t bring them­selves to call them “fanny ny packs” like they do in the U.S.?) and clod­hop­per shoes; all wrapped up with ad-hoc styling ref­er­ences to other er youthquake mo­ments such as punk and hip-hop. “The themes mes of youth and sub­cul­ture are a rich seam of in­spi­ra­tion for many de­sign­ers this sea­son,” says Natalie King­ham, Fash­ion ion and Buy­ing Di­rec­tor at Match­esFash­ “We saw Calvin vin Klein, Gucci and Marine Serre em­brace this trend with the he clash of cul­tures, tex­tures and colours. It’s all about con­fi­dently y mix­ing fab­rics and moods, and em­brac­ing colour and print with self-as­sur­ance. It should all be worn with con­vic­tion for a luxe take on rule-break­ing.” Of course, the eas­i­est way to brave any chal­leng­ing fash­ion trend (and ugly, by its very na­ture, will al­ways be chal­leng­ing) is to start with a shoe. “The so-called ‘ugly sneaker’ has al­ready in­flu­enced the chunkier, Buf­falo-style shoe that was a ma­jor trend on n the fall/win­ter 2018 run­ways,” King­ham as­sures us. “Some e of the best were at Junya Watan­abe and Vete­ments.” (Any ny doubters out there as to the vi­a­bil­ity of Demna Gvasalia’s ia’s lat­est of­fer­ing—Miche­lin Man sneak­ers on steroids—would ould do well to re­mem­ber that his US$1,100 triple-decker Crocs ocs for Ba­len­ci­aga sold out in New York be­fore they were even re­leased an and that Ba­len­ci­aga’s Triple S “dad train­ers” have quickly a as­sim­i­lated into main­stream footwear.)

But leave it to Christo­pher Kane to take things to the n next level.Team­ing up with orthopaedic footwear brand Z Z-Coil, Kane this sea­son took shoes known for their sprung he heels (which act as shock ab­sorbers) and gave them a dust­ing o of crys­tals.“I don’t fol­low trends—we cre­ate trends, and that’s p part of be­ing in the lux­ury mar­ket,” says Kane, who has al­ways cha chal­lenged the bound­ary be­tween good and bad taste.“I don’t want to be put­ting some­thing out there that’s ‘on-trend’...You want to pprodu pro­duce some­thing peo­ple don’t know they want... And put som some­thing me­thin out that’s like,‘What the f**k is that?’”

Whic W Which is what we all thought when we saw those shoes. T The sim­ple si truth is when­ever some­thing rad­i­cally dif­fer­ent comes along, , it re­quires re equires a pe­riod peri of ad­just­ment. “New­ness is of­ten very un­com­fort­able u un­com­fort­able,” says An­gela Rad­cliffe, the Auck­land-born model turned per­sonal stylist who, as one half of Rad­cliffe & Sci­amma, takes t fash­ion’s more ex­treme trends and makes them work for fo a dis­cern­ing lux­ury clien­tele.“Look at any rad­i­cal de­signer d who has changed the way we dress, from P Paul Poiret and Coco Chanel to Pierre Cardin and V Vivi­enne West­wood:They all faced crit­i­cism beca be­cause they were ahead of their time. Rei Kaw Kawakubo [of Comme des Garçons] and Mi­uc­cia Pra Prada have built their ca­reers on con­stantly cha chal­leng­ing the sta­tus quo and con­tinue to push us in into un­com­fort­able fash­ion ter­ri­tory.” In many ways, Prada is the mother of the new ugly, her sig­na­ture clash of 1950s bour­geoisie pris prissi­ness and hi-tech, man-made fab­rics pro­vid­ing a fr frame­work within which she con­ducts an on on­go­ing con­ver­sa­tion about fem­i­nism and fem fem­i­nin­ity. (Her first col­lec­tion, in 1988, was slamm slammed by crit­ics for be­ing ugly and drab.) “I have never, ever done some­thing I didn’t be­lieve inn in or to mak make peo­ple look silly. I am re­spect­ful to the cu­us­tomer cus­tomer and peo­ple,” Mrs Prada told me a few years back, muus­ing mus­ing on th the point at which ugly be­comes beau­ti­ful or beeau­ti­ful beau­ti­ful bec be­comes ugly.“In fact, I think that ev­ery­thing I doo do should be func­tional and make sense. I like my work wwhen when there is i a con­nec­tion to re­al­ity. Fash­ion should be wear wear­able—after all, it is fash­ion, not art.”

For fall/win­ter 2018, Mrs P. sent out graf­fiti-ef­fect coc cock­tail dresses and acid-flecked tweeds all worn with pro pro­tec­tive flu­o­res­cent draw­string gaiters at the shin and sho shown against a noc­tur­nal ci­tyscape back­drop with neon Pr Prada signs that were equal parts Las Ve­gas and The Fifth

El­e­ment. E As the last look trot­ted by—a shock­ing-pink sl sleeve­less padded anorak— I couldn’t help but think of D DianaVree­land, the one­time BAZAAR ed­itrix who was fo fond both of that par­tic­u­lar hue and that sil­hou­ette, which ha had echoes of Ba­len­ci­aga’s sack dresses.“A lit­tle bad taste is like li a nice splash of pa­prika.We all need a splash of bad taste taste—it’s hearty, it’s healthy, it’s phys­i­cal,” she fa­mously quipp quipped. “I think we could use more of it. No taste is what I’m against.” ag ■

Clock­wise from left: Prada fall/win­ter 2018. Gucci fall/ win­ter 2018. Comme des Garçons fall/win­ter 2018

From top: Marine Serre fall/win­ter 2018. Vete­ments fall/win­ter 2018. Calvin Klein 205W 205W39NYC fall/win­ter 2018. Comme des Garçons fall/win­ter 2018

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