How to Join
the Fashion Spot / Front Row / Fashion... In Depth
FAQ Calendar Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read Rules Links Mobile How to Join
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
18-08-2014
  1
Ère de ℳodernité
 
Thefrenchy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Paris.
Gender: homme
Posts: 11,329
Sign of the Times
By CATHY HORYN
AUGUST 18, 2014

Quote:
Straightforward, commercial clothes used to be the antithesis of high fashion. Now, they are the benchmark.

In the summer of 1965, after several lackluster seasons, Yves Saint Laurent took a major step forward. Not only did he introduce his famous Mondrian shift, he also showed baby-doll dresses with wide collars and sashes. With their patent-leather shoes and hair bows, the models looked like little girls, Gloria Emerson wrote in The Times.

Nonetheless, she called the collection “the brightest, freshest and best he has ever done.” The eagle-eyed Emerson also raved about the small jackets worn with studded belts: “Saint Laurent has probably never come face to face with a real Rocker, but his big belts seem reminiscent of the ones they wear.”

At 29, Saint Laurent had finally caught the winds of the ’60s. But the youthful mood didn’t last. Before long he was paying extravagant homage to gypsies and Russian peasants — not the freewheeling girls on the Left Bank. His clothes never again had the erotic sweetness of those lollipop dresses.

That is, until Hedi Slimane revived them at Saint Laurent. His are not so sweet, but that is not the point. Slimane located the moment when the brand was truly cool, the years between 1965 and 1968. His predecessors at Saint Laurent tended to look at the whole YSL career, going for the key moments. Slimane, though, has largely confined his view to a single window. Then, adding a dark gloss of California rocker angst, he has kept his message stunningly simple — to the point where his clothes, while clearly high in quality, have the attitude of a trendy street label. It’s as though he refuses to strive for the standard goals of a luxury designer — to make modern, conceptual or intellectually resonating clothes. Instead, he makes straightforward commercial fashion that a woman can instantly relate to.

I’m no fan of Slimane’s, but he’s clever. In two years as creative chief, he has barely broken a sweat as he fetches another pussy bow from the ’60s time capsule. Last year, Saint Laurent led Kering’s three biggest luxury brands in revenue growth with an 18 percent rise, beating Gucci and Bottega Veneta. He has also defeated his critics, who no doubt sensed the futility of continuing to point out that he doesn’t seem to be trying very hard to be inventive. (In my own case, he banned me from Saint Laurent’s runway shows when I was this newspaper’s critic.) As Tim Blanks wrote last season on Style.com, “There is no longer any shock of the whatever in what he is offering.”

So why write about Slimane now? Here’s why: If you accept that fashion reflects the times — and I do — then you have to concede that in this respect Slimane has been impressive, even prescient. His Saint Laurent collections perfectly capture the mood and values of the present. The need for simple messages. The triumph of branding. The shortening of horizons due to economic factors. The lack of prejudice toward old ideas, especially among young consumers. I would never expect any designer to own up to such pessimistic motives. But neither do I assume that Slimane, with his gift for marketing, hasn’t thought about them.

For the fall collections, it was intriguing to see how many designers fell in line with Slimane and offered straightforward clothes of their own. I’m thinking, for instance, of Céline’s ’40s-style coats, the tasteful sweater-and-skirt looks at Bottega Veneta and Altuzarra’s classic wrap coats. Being the genius that he is, Karl Lagerfeld at once mocked and praised commerce, presenting Chanel in a post-Warhol supermarket and sending out perky tracksuits, the ultimate fashion commodity. I imagine they’ll be a hit.

Even Nicolas Ghesquière, with his much-anticipated first collection for Louis Vuitton, showed wearable styles with polish: trim coats, ’60s-cut minis, modest accessories. And that’s not what people expect from Ghesquière, who for most of his 15 years at Balenciaga created a genuine stir. There, he developed cutting-edge materials and artful interpretations of archive looks. What struck me about the Vuitton show was Ghesquière’s comment that he listened to what women around him wanted to wear. Did he care before? Also, it’s clear that he was stripping Vuitton of the preferences of his predecessor, Marc Jacobs, notably irony and theatrics, at the same time that he was distancing himself from Balenciaga, now under Alexander Wang. So a neutral, normal statement makes sense. Only time will tell how committed Ghesquière is to it.

Anyway, I suspect that many women are thrilled to find clothes that promise more wear, given the money they’re spending. As much as young designers hate creeping commerce, no one has produced a style that matches in originality Rei Kawakubo’s black-clad armies of the ’80s or Prada’s ugly-chic rebuke to Milan glitz in the ’90s. Then, too, young consumers don’t seem to care whether their clothes are “original,” a hang-up of my generation. But there are other reasons for the rise of commercial fashion.

The easiest to see is branding. It’s so pervasive in our culture that it functions for some as a means to fulfillment. People definitely get enthralled with things — sports, TV shows, fashion — in a way that a fan in the ’60s or ’70s wouldn’t recognize. One assumes that has a lot to do with “the religion of branding,” as Michael Rock put it. Rock’s firm, 2 x 4, does branding and graphic design for companies and art institutions. Recently, we spoke about the creative constraints imposed on designers now that fashion is viewed globally, often on tiny screens. He used the word “guardrails” to emphasize the lack of freedom a designer has. On the other hand, he said, the designer who sticks to those limits will likely be successful.

Another factor is simplification. Here, a bit of background is necessary. The rise of haute couture in the early 20th century dovetailed with advances in communication and travel, and so, too, the public’s unusual interest in this rarefied world. There are well-known stories of Paris policemen and taxi drivers being able to recognize couture, like a cop in the ’30s who refused to arrest a feminist agitator on the grounds that she was dressed by Molyneux. By the ’60s, everyone knew about the latest fashion, if not from Mary Quant, then from the Beatles. But sometime in the late ’80s, fashion discovered semiotics. Clothes suddenly acquired meaning (think of the efforts to “decode” a Helmut Lang show or almost any by Martin Margiela). You truly needed to be an expert to appreciate why a jacket was worn inside out or why a dress that made you look like a bag lady was cool. Susan Sontag described a similar shift in the arts in the mid-60s, noting that “the most interesting and creative art of our time is not open to the generally educated; it demands special effort; it speaks a specialized language.” Today, as high fashion moves closer to mass media — with brand-hosted YouTube channels, films, huge spectacles — there is pressure to simplify. I also wonder whether the surge of new brands — their shows often crammed with weird and banal designs — hasn’t caused elite designers to rethink matters. Hence more straightforward clothes.

Finally, we may be running out of ideas. In a review last year of the Prada Foundation’s reconstruction of a 1969 show, “Live in Your Head: When Attitudes Become Form,” Holland Cotter, an art critic for The Times, wrote, “We’re in an age of remake culture, an epidemic of re-enactment fever.” Cotter, who actually praised the show, cited other examples of “old is new” thinking. That has never been a problem for the fashion industry, but it does make it easier for a luxury brand to justify its practices.

Each year, it seems, we live in a different world, and this takes an adjustment that no longer feels incremental but profound. First came Sept. 11. Then came the shock of the recession — well, the shock of realizing that the American dream may have come to an end. As Christopher Hitchens, quoting Saul Bellow, defined the dream, it was “that universal eligibility to be noble.” To make the record of your own life — come what may! — as Bellow’s Augie March does. But in the long decade since Hitchens aired that thought, we’ve seen horizons shorten. Income inequality is the primary cause; people simply can’t afford to risk new experiences. It’s also true that stuff we never had to think about before, like smartphones and new kinds of entertainment, has gained the upper hand, inspiring us in many ways but also narrowing our sights with all manner of guardrails, so what was once noble is now a universal fast-track to fabulousness.

Whether that is a good development or a bad one is not really the concern of fashion designers, though. Their job is simply to reflect their times in a conscious way. In 1965, the year of the baby dolls, the mood was encapsulated by the words on a popular T-shirt in Paris, also observed by Gloria Emerson. It said, in French, “I am free and I am alive.” Since then the quest to be modern — and that is really what we are talking about — has been complicated by a new set of considerations, none of them less valid than wit and imagination. So, while I may not care for Hedi Slimane’s Saint Laurent, it doesn’t matter. He has grasped modernity in its totality.
- NYTIMES.COM

__________________
> MY INSTAGRAM
  Reply With Quote
 
19-08-2014
  2
front row
 
Benn98's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Gender: homme
Posts: 462
Thanks Frenchy. Horyn is offering an insightful view. I'm on the fence re this debate. On the one hand this strive for modernity and accessibility pains me, because it just feels as if designers will eventually 'dumb' their creativity down for mass appeal. On the flip side I feel the need for designers to align themselves with the 'now', the socio-economic status of their audience, is just as crucial. A sort of balance needs to be achieved I guess, but I cannot imagine it will be easy.

  Reply With Quote
1 Week Ago
  3
windowshopping
 
fashion doctor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Montreal
Gender: femme
Posts: 19
I'm sorry if people have discussed this already and if they did, please just point me to the right thread, but is Horyn back at The NYT? For good? And if Horyn is back, does it mean anything that she chose to return with this sort of piece offering to Slimane?

  Reply With Quote
1 Week Ago
  4
V.I.P.
 
BetteT's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Los Angeles
Gender: femme
Posts: 20,416
Here's the thread where they are discussing her leaving in Jan. ... you should ask there and post a link to this article. http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f63...rs-246867.html

__________________
Bette
** It's All in the Details! **
http://www.musecube.com/BetteT/

Last edited by BetteT; 1 Week Ago at 01:48 PM.
  Reply With Quote
1 Week Ago
  5
windowshopping
 
fashion doctor's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Montreal
Gender: femme
Posts: 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by BetteT View Post
Here's the thread where they are discussing her leaving in Jan. ... you should ask there and post a link to this article. http://forums.thefashionspot.com/f63...rs-246867.html
Great. Thank you.

  Reply With Quote
1 Week Ago
  6
Power to the 99%
 
fashionista-ta's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: Hardly ever at Barney's
Gender: femme
Posts: 13,514
Quote:
Originally Posted by fashion doctor View Post
I'm sorry if people have discussed this already and if they did, please just point me to the right thread, but is Horyn back at The NYT? For good? And if Horyn is back, does it mean anything that she chose to return with this sort of piece offering to Slimane?
I would think she wrote this freelance?

It's an interesting argument she's making ... I suppose there's a divide, and a lot of us here apparently fall on the other side of it.

I don't know that I've ever tried to be original in what I wear--though I have a friend who uses that term to refer to my shoes I am more interested in personal style now than in fashion. I think personal taste should be what ties a wardrobe together and drives it, rather than trends.

Hedi Slimane doesn't speak to my taste, and that's fine. But I am offended when I see what appears to be laziness or lack of skill on the runway.

__________________
There's a need for more individuality today, and my job is to cater to women, not dictate to them.
--Alber Elbaz
  Reply With Quote
Reply
Previous Thread | Next Thread »

Tags
sign, times
Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

monitoring_string = "058526dd2635cb6818386bfd373b82a4"


 
All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:57 PM.
Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
TheFashionSpot.com is a property of TotallyHer Media, LLC, an Evolve Media LLC company. ©2014 All rights reserved.