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Alexander McQueen F/W '07

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"He’s the most cinematic of designers, and with this collection, he offered up a vision that combined the broad-shouldered, immaculately-tailored elegance of haute Hollywood with a dystopian futurism that left his models looking like glassy-eyed replicants."

Tim Blanks

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I can't really get behind a line that is totally unwearable off the runway. I've got to say, and this may tick some people off, that I don't believe fashion is much of an art form. Flattering clothes are important, well constructed, inventive, etc., those are all wonderful characteristics, and something that every designer should concentrate on, but I have a hard time seeing fashion as anything other than functional.

Is there something I should read?

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hmmm... I believe any form of design requires both ends of the spectrum - the highly artistic/theoretical/experimental on one end, and the eminently practical on the other - in order to truly flourish, survive, evolve, and maintain its vitality.

You need the practitioners who constantly push the envelope and challenge convention - the ones that ask "what if", and "why not?"; the fruits of their work will be realized in a more "consumable" form by those who follow in their wake.

Fields that fail to nourish/support the more "experimental" forms of their craft tend to stagnate and and lose their viability.

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See, I don't know if that necessarily applies to fashion. And when I say fashion I mean what you yourself wear. There's always going to be a fashion arms race for different styles, etc. because clothes are the most noticeable representation of personality and interests. Experimentalism will come into clothing without Steve McQueen and his chewing-tobacco colored masks based on cultural and subcultural needs to adapt and redesign style to best fit the appropriate character.

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See, I don't know if that necessarily applies to fashion. And when I say fashion I mean what you yourself wear. There's always going to be a fashion arms race for different styles, etc. because clothes are the most noticeable representation of personality and interests. Experimentalism will come into clothing without Steve McQueen and his chewing-tobacco colored masks based on cultural and subcultural needs to adapt and redesign style to best fit the appropriate character.
I'm not sure I agree with you on that point. As much as we like to idealize this notion of our "individuality" and its relation to the way we dress, I don't think our personal choice of apparel/style really says a whole lot about ourselves as individuals, as much as it announces our affiliation to (or desire to be affiliated with) some group/caste/organization.

Also, I think the experimentalism your talking about ("adapt and redesign style to best fit...") is one that is still bound by functionality. The experimentation I'm talking about is concerned with existing - partially or wholly - outside of the normal/traditional constraints imposed upon its field.

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I don't think our personal choice of apparel/style really says a whole lot about ourselves as individuals, as much as it announces our affiliation to (or desire to be affiliated with) some group/caste/organization.

Agreed, that's partially what I was trying to get at. Once you've got your style down into a particular niche, say a punk or a hipster, etc. there are varying degrees of personalization within that style that drive a culture of one-up-manship that causes a natural evolution in style. Yes, this is all functional style, but that's where I see fashion truly lying, in functionality.

Of course it has to be understood that I separate fashion from the possibility of being an art form based on my view of clothing as being intrinsically nothing more than functional.

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I can't really get behind a line that is totally unwearable off the runway. I've got to say, and this may tick some people off, that I don't believe fashion is much of an art form. Flattering clothes are important, well constructed, inventive, etc., those are all wonderful characteristics, and something that every designer should concentrate on, but I have a hard time seeing fashion as anything other than functional.

Is there something I should read?

there are lots of things you should read, but mostly you should go look at the latest Dior couture, which should answer any questions about high fashion being a legitimate art form.

and, if that doesn't change your mind, you're hopeless buddy.

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there are lots of things you should read, but mostly you should go look at the latest Dior couture, which should answer any questions about high fashion being a legitimate art form.

and, if that doesn't change your mind, you're hopeless buddy.

As in John Galliano's Couture for Dior? I hardly think that's the best we can present as high fashion as an art form. Frankly, as "beautiful" as Galliano's couture was I personally found it both tame, and in doing so were nothing but "mildly attractive" $80,000 dresses. I don't know that Art is the right word for it, personally, but that's not a topic I'd like to get into.

Of course it has to be understood that I separate fashion from the possibility of being an art form based on my view of clothing as being intrinsically nothing more than functional.

In my opinion, that's like saying that all painting should be solely representational and realistic in nature, which one could certainly believe! However, I would say that you are consequently missing out on the greater portion of some of the finest art that humanity has ever created. I don't know that I would say the same for fashion, per say, but the point stands: any medium can be made into the finest art, and fashion really is nothing more than a medium, and in the right hands it can be more so.

The difficult in fashion is that it's so difficult to find good examples. Admittedly, fashion is rather lacking in them. It also depends on whether or not you can consider design to ever enter the realm of art, which in my opinion some of the avant garde houses like Bless or _Fabric Interseason do all of the time. If you can, then I highly suggest you seek out the recently released Bless: Celebrating 10 Years of Themelessness. I'll try and post my reading list as I get the books in the mail, or point out some I'm ging to purchase as soon as I can get to my bookmarks.

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Other than the masks, 6 and 7 (by the way, 3=6) look very wearable outside of the runway to me. While they are definitely not minimalistic, the pieces could work - especially the coats and trousers.

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fashion/art is so subjective...thats the beauty of it

everyone's differing opinions keeps things interesting, without such a variety it would be oh so mundane.

...i believe any form of creation can be considered artistic

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1 & 4 are fucking amazing

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a croc trench. I am dying of curiosity to know how much that thing will cost.

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fashion is a total valid form of art.

if someone puts their heart and soul into creating something,

especially something as beautiful and unique as alexander

mcqueen's, then it is ART.

but, the definition of art that is taught in school is that "art is

what you say it is". so whatever.

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well said artichoke.

all depends on how you interpret "fashion". As encompassing art/design/style, or as what is currently "in style" and only in regards to pret a porter and what is easily translated to wearability.

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i don't mean to ruffle any feathers, but to me this discussion is futile except that it is an exercise in expressing our differing definitions for fashion and art.

in which case, it would be nice to see some more posts on just personal definitions on the terms.

so i'll start, with simple almost bookish ones:

fashion - wearable trends, either temporally, geographically or (sub)culturally specific. to be distinguished from mere 'clothing'.

art - expression of human creativity and/or imagination, which reflects the artist's response/undertanding of his/her social milieu or the world. personally however, unless the piece provokes a profound emotion or thought, or appeals to my existing preferences in aesthetics, i wouldn't refer to it as art in casual parlance.

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I was actually talking about design - or the practice of design, and the environment(s) in which that practice can flourish. I think some of the the others are talking about fashion/art and their personal experience of it, in which case I can understand their stated search for relevance.

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We just picked up his McQ line for Fall '07. Sick as shit - very McQueen, but totally wearable. Wrote the men's last week, will see the women's in mid-Feb. I think superfuture will like...

"I can't have people walking down the street with a big McQ [logo] on them," he says. "It's vile, innit? I won't put my name over everything just to bring in millions of pounds. It would do more harm in the long run." Instead, it's a brand new label for both men and women that is bound for no less than cult status. "It's got all the McQueen elements, but it's also true to itself," the designer tells Claudia Croft of Style magazine. "There's a part of me that is very couture and a part of me that is very street. The main line is more conceptual, this is more cinematic. It's inspired by my favourite underground films. I love road movies, like Buffalo '66 and Paris, Texas, [and] London music, like goth and rockability – it's the roots of the culture I was brought up in." What it won't be is a reworked version of the main line. "We look through the archives but I won't reinterpret last season's collection," he says. "I pick pieces that I feel are relevant." And it won't be followed up by a McQ scent, either. "I don’t' think people who wear McQ wear perfume," he says. "They smell of the pub and a lot more." (June 12 2006, AM)

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interesting thread, if for nothing else, because Fuuma berated me on stylezeitgeist once for saying fashion = art:

Fashion is not art, it is design, which makes all the difference in the world. At it's best it is art with a purpose and at it's worst a way to make $$$ with no creative integrity whatsoever. I don't find design to be inherently inferior to artistic pursuit as the added two-way relationship between creator/maker and spectator/user adds the dimension of expectations to the typical subject/object relationship in artistic fields. Great designers understand the importance of expectations and play with them, giving you something that will satisfy your needs but that is totaly different from what you expected and initially wanted.
art - expression of human creativity and/or imagination, which reflects the artist's response/undertanding of his/her social milieu or the world. personally however, unless the piece provokes a profound emotion or thought, or appeals to my existing preferences in aesthetics, i wouldn't refer to it as art in casual parlance.

interesting definition, but perhaps too narrow? how effectively provoking profundity and appealing to preferences varies greatly from person to person, and surely art is greater than likes or dislikes.

also, FP > everyone else in the thread, haha.

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wow 3 is some real old school french dandy shit. i like it but he needs a cooler hat and more vibrant colors. also, a monocle.

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A few responses:

To Icarus I think, I doubt you fully comprehend your own claim that clothing is purely "functional" and therefore has no place for art/design whatever --- the fact that you are posting on this site belies the aesthetic expectation you have for clothing and fashion. If you accept that there is ANY aesthetic quality to appreciate in clothing then you must accept that there has to be a component of art and design in clothing. thus making it "fashion" rather than just "clothing."

To the assessment of Galliano's recent couture show as "tame" -- I have no disagreement or agreement with that word...I just think it's irrelevant. There should be no expectation of a haute couture show to be shocking and revolutionary, despite Galliano's excellent track record of doing such a feat. The collection may very well be "tame" compared to past seasons but it was beautiful. Those origami pieces were ingenious, elegant and just plain pretty.

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have you ever seen viva variety on oldschool comedy central (back when they had the penn and teller voice)? they had a game show on it called "galliano or klingon" or something like that. shit was tough to win.

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A few responses:

To Icarus I think, I doubt you fully comprehend your own claim that clothing is purely "functional" and therefore has no place for art/design whatever --- the fact that you are posting on this site belies the aesthetic expectation you have for clothing and fashion. If you accept that there is ANY aesthetic quality to appreciate in clothing then you must accept that there has to be a component of art and design in clothing. thus making it "fashion" rather than just "clothing."

I think design and aesthetic are not separate from functionality, in fact, they're incredibly important. "Fashion" and differences in style are meant to serve as a means by which to identify, separate, and judge, and thus to help create an superficial, outward identity. I'd argue that this is functionality, design and aesthetic being the tools used to to build a persona. I think design does have it's limits as to where it can be considered functional. I think the boundary is where something is considered unwearable, i.e. does not serve to compliment a character, but draws attention away from it, becomes a piece that exists of itself and not as a component of a greater whole (the wearer).

Looking again, I only dislike the masks and some of the coats, although some of the outfits seem totally disconnected from their wearer, which is probably the point of runway modelling. I guess I'd have to see this stuff being worn. But would I ever see it being worn?

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"I think design and aesthetic are not separate from functionality..."

Ok fine, in your original post it seemed like you were suggesting that clothes only served the purpose of providing function. If you DO accept that clothing has aesthetic value of any kind then i reiterate that you must accept the possibility of a full range of styling; be it tame or ridiculous. You may not LIKE the extreme forms but you're really not in a position to say that the extreme forms should or should not exist. That leads directly to your next point...

"...I think design does have it's limits as to where it can be considered functional. I think the boundary is where something is considered unwearable, i.e. does not serve to compliment a character, but draws attention away from it, becomes a piece that exists of itself and not as a component of a greater whole (the wearer)..."

Surely you recognize the completely arbitrary nature of this "boundary" you have made up. Where did you get these requirements from? a fashion guide book? a magazine? a favorite stylist? How is anyone to agree on your definition of what is unwearable or that clothing must "compliment a character"? And note I'm not just disagreeing with your particular limits and boundaries, I'm arguing that because of their arbitrary nature, it is silly to even have them. I can only think of one example where functionality truly overtakes artistic merit in a piece of clothing's right to exist -- if a designer were to design the imaginary suit for whatever artistic reason; then and only then is it truly "unwearable" because it does not exist.

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Shinobi, I must admit, this is my own spontaneous process of defining how I do and do not see fashion, nothing comes from a book, nothing comes from secondary sources (as is seen by my request for a few in the beginning of the thread), and it's all made up, as I see it in my head and in my own experiences (new age, dude).

Implicit in fashion, and the reason to use something superficial like clothing to establish identity or persona, is the presence and judgement of "others." Where the lines are drawn are not determined by the wearer, but by the observer. If the point of fashion (or the point as I see it) is to be an outward manifestation of character (and thus functional by doing so) then all parameters are set by the observer, the best you can do as the wearer is to try to place yourself in those parameters by means of aesthetic appeal and commonality. If I can't see past the piece I have no ability to characterize and the piece is no longer functional.

As to the extreme forms and their right to exist: I might've been a little rash on that one. I, myself, don't see any point in their existence, believing they are unnecessary in advancing and creating new ways to express indentity through fashion (see earlier posts). The cutting edge in art and music stimulates the base as well as the boundaries and without it that stimulation would be very, very slow. I don't think that holds for fashion.

I'm not trying to tell anyone what to think about high fashion (and if my tone suggested otherwise, I apologize), but that's how I see it. I could also go into the whole "monied, flamboyant" side of things, but that's something that consumes both the fashion world and the art world (and the art argument is an abyss). There are tons of holes to exploit in my rhetoric, please, tear them wide open, this is a great discussion.

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