Contemporaneous Extension


Slave for…

With Fashion Week coming to a close in New York, I’ve been thinking a bit about styling and the persistence of fashion as art. Only in the last six months have I started to become acquainted with the fashion scene and its many loopholes and perks. Fashion has always thrilled me considering how ga-ga I go over texture, but I think it’s interesting to think about the value of fashion as art in itself. I found Colin McDowell’s article on Phaidon entitled The Changing Culture of Couture to be particularly interesting. He provides a brief synopsis of the foundation of American couture, spanning from the 1950’s when wealthy housewives would meet with designers. These panels of approximately fifty women would decide the designer’s direction based on what they were interested in and what they chose to wear. McDowell makes the point that couture seemed much more functional in those days. He believes that the judging of a couture line is biased, even objectionable, because journalists and designers realize such a small percentage of people actually purchase them. He argues:

“Editors of newspapers always choose the most extravagant and unwearable garment to show as an example of couture because they know that high fashion is now no longer aimed at potential customers but at us all in order to attract our attention
so that we buy cheaper items (make-up, tights, hairspray) bearing the same designer’s name. Thus, we can all have our little corner of privilege, but the real deal in couture (the actual joy of wearing such perfectly beautiful clothes) must remain so expensive that it is unattainable by the majority or it loses its magic for everyone”

As an admirer of beautiful things, I don’t think McDowell could be any more incorrect. The flamboyant nature of couture is a crowd-pleaser and I’m sure there are a good deal of editors who look for the ‘HOLY SHIT WHO WOULD WEAR THAT _____ DRESS?!” I will agree with him on that. I also agree that couture can be thought of as a beginning of sorts, because a lot of designers who may have started doing couture are now involved in reproduction of janksy sunglasses or leggings to make more money. Couture appears costume-y because it often relays the more literal representation of the designer’s aesthetic inspiration. From geishas to space invaders, couture collections allow their designer to really go wild and think less about the consumer and more about the clothing. Selfish, yes. Ambitious, yes. Is couture the quintessence of art for art’s sake?

Although it ain’t no couture show, but the Alexander Wang Fall 2011 collection is gorgeous and deserving of a thorough dissection. Mouse-y chic, enjoy!

 

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Alexander Wang, Fall 2011

Photos courtesy of NYMag. For the entire show, check out Wang’s LiveStream.

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