Can voluptuous fashion stay relevant in an age of austerity? Can gorgeous decoration coexist with the need for something plain and simple? Ask Alber Elbaz, a man whose recipe for reductionism and all-out gorgeousness squared the circle with a unique flourish. “Whatever’s happening now,” he said, “it’s the end of fake. What’s not real will go. What we have to do now is make life easier for women.”
To him, that meant going back to the studio with scissors and fabric and working out, first, a supreme economy of cut and design. Airy shapes in poufy gazar, duchesse satin, georgette, and cloque were crafted from single shots of color in one-shouldered tops, balloon-sleeved blouses, and shifts in which the only feature is an internal drape that adds a miraculously chic fillip to the hip line. To begin with, this calm focus on the intrinsic value of structure was shown with nude shoes, so the eye had nothing to distract it from noticing, say, the way external darts ran up the hip and into the waist of a cool pair of black pants. It was intellectual and reserved, a quintessence of Lanvin that only Elbaz can achieve.
But suddenly, just before it all turned into a sober-sided treatise in form, the other side of Elbaz’s brain kicked in. A mad blue leopard-spot dress with insane crystal-studded sunglasses and the hottest beaded and bejeweled high-heeled sandals advanced along the runway, and an outbreak of crazy high spirits took over. Ending the show with a gorgeous lineup of dresses in purple and blue fringed Lurex, crystal and knit embroidery, and random sprinklings of paillette flowers, Elbaz closed the season on a celebratory high. A counterintuitive moment, maybe, but it reflected something this designer understands as well as he does the principles of rational dressing: Even when times are dark, there’s still room for clothes to make women keel over with desire.
The show of Skin and the selling of Fashion/clothes has always have had a tumultous though somewhat consistent relationship, I feel.
What started as a love-affair by most teenagers (I’m guilty myself, too) of flashing one’s navel, (hopefully) flat belly, and testing the limits of how far my jeans/pants can go without exposing my butt, has now evolved.
This season, Sheer, Sheer, Sheer seems to be one of the way to go. Not that I’m complaining; I love the peekabo, “tempt-and-tease-you-wench” effect that Sheer tops, sheer everything can bring. Sometimes, it’s not what you CAN see, but what lays mysteriously hidden, what your imagination is delectably tantalised by the too little (yet too much) glimpses of skin.
But, I digress.
I stumbled across this article on nudity and fashion.
We remember how apocalyptic it all seemed when American Apparel’s CEO, Dov Charney, came out with those racy ads: hide your children, it’s porn stars selling tube socks! Hate ’em or love ’em, it was exactly the sort of guerilla advertising that launched the company into notoriety (while their 20-dollar tees flew off the shelves). And while the L.A brand released their raciest ads just this month, another unlikely contender also chooses to bare it all: high street chain Urban Outfitters. The mass market retailer put out some killer collaborations (Lark & Wolff by Steven Alan, Rapscallian by Samantha Pleet) this past season, but never did we expect to see such T&A on display in the spring catalog (the kind that caused ad bans and protests for American Apparel). Sure, we get the whole underwear-as-outwear or no-bra trend, but are we really being sold a pair of lace thigh-highs in some photos…or just sex? Well, word on the street is that no clothing is the new clothing…
Aye, or Nay?
Is the nudity featured just too much skin? Art or Porn? Personally, I’m conflicted. I can’t say I dont get surprised by the sight of so much boobs in a fashion spread, but at the same time, the human body is a beautiful thing.
The female form, for one, is much of what Fashion revolves around, no? How clothing fits the female form, follows the curves and contours of, how it drapes even. Is it not fitting then that fashion spreads feature the nude female body extensively then?
Does nudity detract from the clothes, or only places more emphasis on them?