I spend an outrageous amount of time looking at fashion I can't afford. Designer clothing is not cheap. There's no way around that, unless you are a model or fraudster or something. I usually only purchase high end brands during end-of-season sales. Designer clothing is expensive for a few reasons.
Firstly, you are paying for a piece of well designed, quality, in-season clothing from a high-end brand.
Secondly, Designer brands have a standard of quality to live up to in the production of there ready-to-wear clothing. The quality of the materials used is very important. There are months devoted to sampling and testing different materials for a collection. Buying a large amount of fine materials is very expensive, which contributes to the retail price. Manufacturing is also a huge factor in the process. There are many, many costs in manufacturing that contribute to the retail price. Like most mass produced clothing, certain pieces will be manufactured by cheap, lower skill level factory workers. However most designer clothing is made by skilled workers who are well trained at their craft, and well paid for their work. For example, Louis Vuitton manufactures their ready-to-wear lines in France and Italy exclusively. Manufacturing in a developed country with skilled workers is very expensive for a brand.
Thirdly you are paying the mark-up price, as well as the substantial amount of tax added to the marked-up price. First the brand applies a mark-up to the wholesale price of a piece of clothing, then retailers apply a retail mark-up to the wholesale price. The retail mark-up for brand-name designer clothing is typically around 2.3x. This mark up insures that even if the piece of clothing were to sell at 50% off, the retailer would still turn a profit.
Personally, I can only justify buying a piece of clothing if I know it is well made. I'd rather have a few quality pieces than more, cheaper, poor quality pieces. However, there are more affordable options that I like. For example, some inexpensive brands I like are Topman, Uniqlo, and American Apparel. I do a lot of vintage shopping as well. It's cheap, fun, and sometimes you find some really nice clothing.
Stimulating music is a key ingredient in fashion presentations. Music and fashion go hand in hand. Whether it's designers being inspired by music, or musicians being inspired by fashion, they compliment each other. Designers put there ideas into physical form, and producers channel those ideas into musical form for a fashion show. The design process is very much influenced by music. Designers will often choose specific music to play in there studio while they work on a collection. There are also designers whose collections are heavily influenced by the fashions of musicians from the past or present. For example, Hedi Slimane's collections for Saint Laurent are influenced by the style of young glam rock musicians (such as 70's David Bowie). Music evokes a mood or feeling that adds to the narrative of a fashion collection, as well as creating a rhythm for models walk to.
The Wallpaper Magazine SoundCloud page has uploaded the soundtracks of some of my favourite fashion shows, from recent seasons.
Fashion designer Jil Sander has left her 45 year old brand for the the third. According to the company, Jil Sander has decided to leave for "personal reasons". Jil Sander is known for her minimalistic aesthetic. I think of her as one of the main originators of minimal fashion design. She has been described as the Queen of Less, Cashmere-Queen, Master of Minimalism, Cool Blonde, Gentle-Jil or Fashion Reductionist. Her pieces of clothing are known for being versatile and timeless. Like most of the designers I love, Jil Sander pays a great deal of attention to the fine details of her clothing. Her clothes are form fitting, and impeccably cut. She uses very high quality materials as well. Her brand has a very specific concept, and whether she is involved with the design process or not, the concept is still present in the brand. The first time she left was in 2000, and the second in 2005. After Jil Sander left in 2005, she was replaced by Belgian designer Raf Simons for an eight year period. Raf Simons work at Jil Sander received rave reviews. Many people much prefer his collections, to the 6 Jil Sander produced when she returned in February of 2012. I was first introduced to the brand while Raf Simons was designing. The niche of Jil Sander's aesthetic captured my attention, and I have been following the brand ever since.
The following are various campaigns and looks by Jil Sander herself.
It will be interesting to see who succeeds Jil Sander as creative director. Her leave marks the end of an era. She will be missed. -SFH
The following are my favourite and least favourite London Spring/Summer 2014 collection.
I have been really into Irish-born designer J.W. Anderson lately. J.W. Anderson's collection was beautifully minimal in colour. One thing I love about J.W. Anderson's collections are the colour schemes. They are rich and carefully chosen. His attention to detail is masterful. Another thing I love is that he uses repetition so cleverly. Each look is repeated 2-3 times in different colour ways, showing the versatility of his highly unique design approach. This season was heavily focused on material development. The collection featured a wide range of draped, twisted, gathered, sliced and embossed materials. Many of these materials appeared to be shaped by hand. All around an amazing collection by J.W. Anderson.
I don't know too much about English designer Giles Deacon, but when I stumbled upon this collection I had to include it in a post. The collection included a lot of religious-esque prints, lips, sneakers and bat inspired silk dresses. All of which went terribly wrong. To be blunt, the clothes look bad. I don't know what exactly the theme of this collection was, nor do I care enough to find out. There is nothing creative or culturally relevant about this collection.
On November 5th, 2012, French Fashion house Balenciaga announced designer Nicolas Ghesquiere would be leaving his position as creative director. Nicolas Ghesquiere is a French fashion designer who had worked as the creative director of Balenciaga since 1997. The house of Balenciaga was founded in 1914 by Cristobal Balenciaga. Cristobal was known as a perfectionist couturier and an innovator in design. He was even referred to as "the master of us all" by Christian Dior. Cristobal closed Balenciaga in 1968 and died in 1972. The house was inactive until 1986. From then untill Nicolas Ghesquiere was appointed creative director, the house struggled. When Nicolas Ghesquiere began at Balenciaga in 1997, he was only 26 years old. Nicholas Ghesquiere's work soon gained the industry's attention, and Balenciaga was purchased by holding company PPR (now Kering) in 2001. Over the next decade, Nicolas Ghesquiere turned Balenciaga in one of the most sought after french fashion houses at the forefront of the industry. In my opinion, he is one of the most influential designers of the the last decade. The following are campaigns of collections by Nicolas Ghesquiere from his time at Balenciaga.
After it was announced to the press that Nicolas Ghesquiere was leaving Balenciaga, the industry was shocked (as was I). Nicolas Ghesquiere is one of my favourite designers ever, and I really loved his work at Balenciaga. Between December 2012 and late March 2013, Nicolas Ghesquiere was interviewed by System magazine for their debut issue. The interview was the released in April of 2013, which was a big deal because it was his first interview post-Balenciaga. In the interview he discusses why he left Balenciaga and his current views of the industry. The following is a excerpt from the interview.
"It was really that lack of culture which bothered me in the end. The strongest pieces that we made for the catwalk got ignored by the business people. They forgot that in order to get to that easily sellable biker jacket, it had to go via a technically mastered piece that had been shown on the catwalk. I started to become unhappy when I realized that there was no esteem, interest, or recognition for the research that I'd done; they only cared about what the merchandisable result would look like." -Nicolas Ghesquiere
Nicolas Ghesquiere felt like the house of Balenciaga was becoming bureaucratic. The business side of the brand didn't agree with his creative vision. "I began to feel as though I was being sucked dry, like they wanted to steal my identity while trying to homogenize things. It just wasn’t fulfilling anymore." says Nicolas Ghesquiere. Although his departure was a surprise to many, Nicolas Ghesquiere he had been frustrated with the house for the last 2-3 years. He also revealed that other designers are in a similar situation; "What’s interesting is how my split from Balenciaga has encouraged people to get in touch with me, and they’ve said, ‘Me too, I’m in the same situation. I want to leave too.’ There are others, but my situation at Balenciaga was very particular."
When I read this interview I was enlightened. It gave me a glimpse of how the fashion industry really operates today. Basically, most large fashion brands are now subsidiaries or partial-subsidiaries of corporate holding groups such as Kering and LVMH. This means that the brands have the adequate funds, but the corporation has a say in just about everything they do. This corporate involvement can get in the way of a designers creative process, as it did for Nicolas Ghesquiere. Unfortunately months after the System interview was released, Balenciaga decided to sue Nicolas Ghesquiere for 9.2 million USD. Balenciaga claims he had violated a separation agreement, and the interview could hurt the brand's image. Although corporate involvement is very much necessary in todays fashion industry, it can else cause a lot of harm. It's a shame that this had to happen. Although it's upsetting things had to end with Balenciaga, I am excited to see what Nicolas Ghesquiere's next move is. There has been word in the industry of him replacing Marc Jacobs as creative director Louis Vuitton. Or perhaps he will start his own line. If there is any designer I would like to see do so, it would be him. -SFH
Like Paris, Milan and London, New York City has a semi-annual fashion week. In New York City, spring-summer womenswear shows are usually scheduled in the first week of September. New York fashion week is often criticized for being overly commercial and imitative of european fashion. This criticism dates back to the early 20th century, when French couturiers would license their designs to New York manufacturers and department stores to literally replicate and produce for an American market. New York Fashion week was created during Word War II (originally called "Press Week"), because American press were unable to travel to Paris fashion week and report on the new collections. So American designer began to show collections in New York City during what is now fashion week. Before 1943, all of America looked to Paris runways for inspirational styles. As American designers started to become more popular in the industry, New York fashion week gained international attention. Today, it is known as one of the four major fashion weeks.
Personally, I think that New York's fashion scene may have it's flaws but it's also progressive and distinct. The following are three of my favourite spring-summer 2014 womenswear collections from New York fashion week:
Every year in early October, the city of Toronto organizes a free, all night art event called Nuit Blanche in partnership with Scotia Bank. Nuit Blanche translates to "white night". The event aims to make contemporary art accessible to the masses, in one large festival. Nuit Blanche in Toronto was first introduced in 2006, and has since showcased 850 art projects from local, national and international artists. The event starts at 6 p.m. and runs till 6 a.m. It is all throughout the downtown core in Toronto, in public spaces and various buildings. Nuit Blanche originates Paris, France where the festival began in 2002. Today Nuit Blanche is based in over 25 cities internationally, but Toronto was the first city to replicate the event in North America.
Nuit Blanche 2013 took place on October 5th and 6th. Three of the major projects are as follows.
Chinese artist Ai Weiwei created an outdoor installation in Nathan-Philips Square called "Forever Bicycles". The installation was a massive sculpture consisting of 3,144 interlocking bicycles.
French artist Boris Achour created an installation in Nathan-Phillips Square called "the rose is without why". A short poem by German poet Angelus Silesuis was spelled out in neon light which spanned over 300 feet.
Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata created an installation called "Garden Tower in Toronto" in front of the Metropolitan United Church on Queen Street East. The tower consisted of various pieces of wooden furniture.
Toronto based [R]ed[U]x Lab created a light installation called "Ad Astra" at the Bata Shoe museum .
Toronto Based Nathan Whitford, John Farah, and Sarah Keenlyside and London, UK Based Konstantinos Mavromichalis created a light and sound installation called "lightbridge" at the Puente de Luz bridge. Watch a video of the installationhere.
These were just three of the installations I saw at Nuit Blanche. There were many other excellent installations that I couldn't find information and-or photos of on the internet. A list of most of the projects involved with Nuit Blanche 2013 can be found on their website.
I have been to 4 of the 7 Nuit Blanches in Toronto. I went with my parents for the first two, and with friend's for the last two. I definitely prefer to be with a group of people in my age group. Nuit Blanche attracts people of all ages and walks of life. But theres definitely a youthful presence at the festival. Some of the projects this year were really good, others were a bit disappointing. I'd like to see more installations in neighbourhoods like Queen Street West, Kensington Market, and Parkdale. I don't feel a creative vibe in the downtown core of Toronto as I do in those neighbourhoods. Also, it would be nice if the installations were a little more spread out.
I had a lot of fun this year with my friends. We saw excellent contemporary art from some of the greatest artists in the world. However this years Nuit Blanche definitely had it's downsides. There were definitely more people in the streets than I have ever experienced before, and it was extremely hard to move around without having to push through crowds of people. I also witnessed a lot of ignorant, intoxicated people. I understand that it is an all night event and people want to drink, but are you really enjoying the art if your inebriated and falling over? I definitely had some really annoying encounters over the course of the night. To add to that it began raining at about 2 a.m., which was unfortunate for me because I was about 5 kilometres from where I was staying at the time.
All together it was a good night. Hopefully next year will be just as good, if not better!