Dropped shoulders / Cocoon shapes F/W 11.12
View Single Post
Join Date: Oct 2009
In passing I recently came across an article in the journal Fashion Theory about the 'fashion victim'. It is a terrible article. Characterising the fashion victim is very straightforward. It is someone who wears a garment, or designs one (or works with one creatively as editor, stylist or photographer) without knowing why.
Let's be clear though, fashion should never get too serious. Fashion has a function in engaging the id (the imaginary realm), in speaking to collective fantasy and therefore inspiring, motivating.
It may not 'matter' whether one is a fashion victim or not; but understanding may well form the contingent bridge between neurosis (an unhinged shopping addiction) and catharsis (the meaningful, knowing, construction and reconstruction of identity).
This 'gorilla' silhouette is attended by a fascinating weirdness. Before one wears it, or works with it, one might want to consider wtf it's about.
It's by now well rehearsed that it finds it's fashion history genesis in mid century Balenciaga couture shapes. But this isn't just some unreconstructed, retrograde call to return to some sort of 50's/60's costume and lifestyle.
The moniker 'gorilla' is apt. The foreshortened and puffed up tricep of the dolman sleeve/arm; the rounded muscular shoulders; the raised clavicle/traps. In that sense it ties in with the plentiful bestial references of what is a very animalistic season. Grrr.
Commonly, on the frontal plane, the shape is rendered with a 2D flatness. The close frontedness of minimalism but stretched into a cartoon-like fantasy where the image is the reality, the surface is all. A body without organs.
Some of the 'gorilla' pieces are also characterised by a humped back. The visual representation of the body this silhouette conveys is similar to the edtorial pose where the model pushes her chest back, arches her upper back and juts the shoulders and elbows forward. It's similar to the 'most-muscular' pose in bodybuilding. The opposite of thrusting the bust forward, it's a denial of the hour glass silhouette. In that sense it is connected to a certain androgyny although attended also by an animalistic fierceness.
But this is a different 2D flatness to the drop waisted flatness of the 20's flapper or the flat spacey tunic of the 60's mod (both of which designers are riffing on also in the particular fashion moment). Indeed, the 'gorilla' silhouette deconstructs both those forms. Via it's lateral muscularity. And ultimately there's an evocation of a comic book heroine, a female superhero.
Lena ^ is right, we can trace this back to AW10/11. What a muscular, meaning business, woman Raf Simons evoked for that season. Channeling Lara Croft was the call.
The 'challenge' Miucca wants to set women is one of heroic deeds. There is a new body consciousness waiting to break out. There's a call to the gym, to hard-bodied discipline, to sports and fitness, to becoming Amazonian superwoman. Heroic deeds of the body, heroic deeds in the economy.
AW11/12 is characterised then by 2D flatscreen surfaces - cartoon and film referencing aplenty. There's also, via the hybrid animal forms (and there are more of those than we might realise), an evocation of mythology. It isn't necessarily 'Greek' mythology but if we take it to be so there's a dialogue with the roots of Western civilisation. (Tying in with the post crash inteligensia dialogue about is the West history?). Lying behind all this is a notion of the fictional, filmic, quest. From Homer's Iliad to contemporary Hollywood blockbuster.
But you can see, lying not far behind the surface of the muscular 2D flatness of the gorilla silhouette, another form waiting to be birthed (again). The comic book heroine is Lara, Xena, Wonderwoman, Pammy in Baywatch, the JPG conical breasted Madonna of the Blonde Ambition tour etc, etc. It's a Muglerian superwoman fantasy. It's the Amazonian hourglass hardbody that kicks *** and wins the day.
This is why the most interesting shapes of the season for me (within this particular scene) are those where the gorilla silhouette is already morphing from 2D to 3D and an hourglass shape is already being written back in hybrid stylie. I see it in Junya Watanabe and in Giles. It's almost like the surface symbolic is interrupted by the 3D Real, the character emerging from the screen into a dimension of reality.
But can this world view emerge into reality at all. Is it what women want. Can women save the West. Frankly I don't know if women can be arsed. Whether they any more want to do the denial and discipline of working out or working a business superhero stylie.
The wastrel body associated with the tropes of romantic realism, whilst perhaps less 'healthy', certainly has the advantage of requiring less effort. It's the discipline of abstinence versus the discipline of consumption (of protein) and work. The dropped out, rock and roll aesthetic chimes better with the times in that it is characterised by an effortless ease. Not being seen to try too hard.
The setting oneself apart from the social as heroic, goddesslike, pumped-up, superhero individual has perhaps one hope within the contemporary scene - the will to celebrity. But whilst we have a generation of young women well 'bought in' to the fantasy of celebrity (is there truly any other fantasy), the problem is it's a fantasy of celebrity without effort - celebrity without effort, without talent, without meaning, without the need for any personal quest or development in it's attainment. And generally we seek not to delay gratification and pleasure via a phase of discipline and work leading to 'deserving' exhibitionist pleasure; we just go straight there. The myth of the quest has been debunked.
So I'm not sure if the pumped up, superhero fantasy has any enduring relevance. It speaks of trying too hard. There's also a question of quite who's fantasy it was anyway.
That so many runway brands should be quite so out of step with contemporary culture is quite dangerous for them. And whether or not the wearer of the pumped up, muscular, gorilla silhouette dons the garb authentically, knowingly, (sartorial art imitating life) they risk appearing as fashion victim. Because what lies behind the silhouette really doesn't chime with the times, doesn't speak to where we're at. Or does it?
Pump up the volume or turn on, tune in, drop out?
View this member's profile
Post a comment to this member's profile
Send a private message to Tentacl Ventricl
Find More Posts by Tentacl Ventricl