Archival Advantage

Discussion in 'Fashion... In Depth' started by Fulton St Critique, May 15, 2021.

  1. Fulton St Critique

    Fulton St Critique Active Member

    Apr 27, 2020
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    Hey people :smile:,

    I have done alot of thinking over the past few months on the topic of whether or not there exists an advantage for those creators who have access to a heritage house’s archival records when compared to their peers operating on an original, more fundamental level of creation. Of course it is obvious that having a starting point in anything in life makes carving and achieving a goal much easier. But I find it increasingly frustrating how much praise and celebration has accompanied designers in this day who continue to pull from and revive their houses archive!

    I think of designers today leading the current fashion landscape including people such as Hedi Slimane, Anthony Vaccarello, M.G.C., Raf Simons (womenswear), Virginie Viard, Karl Lagerfeld, John Galliano, Bruno Sialelli, Kris Van Assche, N.G (Balenciaga) who have truly beneifit from their predecesours work. Vaccarello, for instance is extremely talented, yet his work continuously looks and feels to YSL or HS for my taste. Where is the branching out, the carving of one’s own path?

    When compared to designers like Marc Jacobs, Miuccia Prada, Martin Margiela, Helmut etc. in my honest opinion they have a much more difficult time gaining and maintaining a line due their indepdent nature. I remember reading about how Martin Margiela and Jenny Meirens were happy just to breakeven each year while operating the MM label (hence the atelier having second hand furniture and the act of covering models faces because they couldn’t afford to hire them) and it seems slightly unrealistic and increasingly difficult for the modern day artisan to compete with those holding positions at Dior, for instance. M.G.C for example, continues to be adorded by the press and the houses accessories are literally everywhere. I just can’t imagine anyone believing her work to be at this high of a level. I enjoy her collections for their taste, femininity, and how pretty they are. But I would be hard pressed to believe that she is truly one of the fashion greats of this present day. It is just illogical given the results.

    For Kris Van Assche, his inability to sustain his eponymous label evidence’s how overrated he was. While at Dior Homme and more recently at Berluti he had a platform to build on that was pre-established and extremely deep and successful. Even Anthony Vaccarello’s label was quite boring when compared to his work at Saint Laurent at this given moment. Tomas Mair’s time at Bottega Veneta is further evidence of a designer who when given the proper resources can succeed and last. Mair’s label is no where to be found at this given moment, and truthfully I can see why. I believe he is a good designer I actually love how sporty and comfortable his clothing is! It is really fascinating to analyze designer’s who have unsubstantiated labels on there own, but happen to achieve great success upon their arrival at a legacy house.

    For individual designers of great talent- such as Tomas Tait- how could one even concieve operating in the European market without having LVMH or Kering funding? I know there are outliers such as Simone Rocha and Molly Goddard who have sustainied business operations while mainting indepdent. Dries Van Noten, up until recently, had been known for indepdence and thrived without the need for financial backing or any archive to influence his work. So from an operations perspective, it is quite realistic.

    I do believe many a designer in this day and age who lead the “luxury” fashion houses would not be as neary relevant or herolded as they are without the major influence of their founders and previous designers creations. Of course this is just my honest opinion, I don’t know if I am looking for accountability or if I am just sick of reading writers gush over these designers when in all reality, their ideas are hardly their own.
    lucy92 and Phuel like this.
  2. Phuel

    Phuel Well-Known Member

    Feb 18, 2010
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    I don’t believe so.

    Talent will always elevate and reform/revision/reinvent any house— while a lack of talent will always diminish and tarnish a long fabled house— unless of course, logos and monograms are successfully worked into the identity of the design, as Virgil has done for Vuitton menswear. His customers don’t cares how amateur, how he’s blatantly ripped off other designers— as long as the logos/monograms are in full-bling. Or look at how Kim Jones managed to ruin Fendi with just one showing (at least to individuals whom aren’t slavishly on the payroll of the corporation)— but be assured the logo/monograms will be in full effect to make bank. While Hedi single-handedly not only reinvented Dior Homme’s tarnished, over-licensed brand with his creative visionary rebranding, but forged an entirely fresh and new menswear aesthetic that still remains a relevant template nearly 20 years later. And not with a single logo/monogram in sight while he was at it.

    Hermes’ ultra-luxurious history didn’t work wonders for Nadege, while a talent like Phoebe’s— just like Hedi’s, not only elevated Celine to new dimensions of life from a middle-of-the-road brand for womenswear what Hedi did for menswear, but her aesthetic would launch the careers of countless lessers, shamelessly secondhand ripping off her brand of design wholesale for their own (…and people bought it LOL).

    But if we’re discussing solely on the mass consumers’ demand for a brand as a status symbol, then talent is absolutely irrelevant. Only logos/monograms will ever matter. (…just ask Miuccia and how low Prada now has to stoop with that insipid triangle everywhere on her designs— where once the brand was known for its so-discreet branding LOL). This is that era.
    RedSmokeRise and lucy92 like this.
  3. Fulton St Critique

    Fulton St Critique Active Member

    Apr 27, 2020
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    I agree with the your point on how talent will always prevail. Looking at Karl Lagerfelds career for example, I truthfully cannot find a single fault with his designs. Though, while working for Chanel I often question how it was his collections came to life each season. I am no Robin Ghivan, I could never diss the great Karl for his vision and how he successfully crafted an iconic brand image for a house that truthfully was on the verge of collapse until the arrived in the 1980s. However, could he have reached such a high acclaim without Chanel? I know he freelanced and was drumming up a reputation around Paris prior to his hiring, but without Coco’s pre-established modern and versatile aesthetic I just don’t see how he succeeds without her. Even comparing the success of his eponymous label to that of his work for Fendi or Chanel is like comparing apples and organges...

    I love the point you made on Hedi Slimane. Aside from being one of my favorite designers ever, he showed that it is possible to work for a heritage house and create something new and exciting. Of course his time at Dior Homme was incredible. Even his successful launch of menswear at Celine should be celebrated (yes, despite the weak sales I know I know). But how many designers can we name who have completed such similar accomplishments? I realize designers like Alber have done so in the past, but I just don’t see it happening anytime soon. Even Virgil’s work is tired. As is M.G.C, V.V., and Daniel Lee is beggining to show weakness and the cracks in his work are starting to be fully realized. This idea that anyone can transform a heritage house seems so likely given Williams hiring at Givenchy, it is quite scary when you realize just how easy it is to brand a product and get away with scamming the masses in this day and age.
    Phuel likes this.
  4. runner

    runner .

    Feb 26, 2004
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    I think anyone, invited or stealing in, should be using the archive, what has been done before us, history, tradition, cumulative experience, thought or time. it's very difficult to start again as if it were really human history day one. individual talent totally isolated is impossible. it's good if your era sees further than the past by standing on the shoulders of it, the giant. it's just and upright means of progress. but the tentacles are hard to escape. it can also be the obstacle of progress. mere worship with lost substantiality and credulous devotion mean the second death of that certain past. though after all it can be flourishing, dead or alive. especially when it comes to fashion.

    for designers who are not unauthorized, real advantage or pleasure might lie in the use of the atelier/factory line and the living technicians there you'd work with.

    here is something concrete. yohji did a pierre cardin collection for YY FW89. SS92 vionnet, SS97 chanel, dior, balenciaga, vionnet. in SS03 you can find some looks for YSL. SS05 gres. FW05 schiaparelli, balenciaga. and so on. of course when nobody was asking.
    "the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past" eliot
    doing collections like above might have worked as a shaker of identity or an escape from what defines YY and then an extension of the mind. (you can feel like escaping from it only when you have it)
    at the same time, he was telling us what his work, regarded as avant-garde, sometimes the most progressive, had been based on. you first have to acquire the ability to build it up before you really destroy it yourself. you must have it in yourself in order to rebel against it properly.
    idolizing legacy kills its potential power. it is kept alive less by being apotheosized, than by being laid bare, questioned, or transgressed.
    the structure can be an obstacle to freedom. the skill will transgress the bounds of the content. (although the skill, if it is immature, can spoil the content)
    yohji was a bit like gould who didn't believe in fidelity to the original score. you can see who he is playing, but "an original artist cannot copy. so he only has to copy in order to be original" cocteau.
    for them, what artists should undertake is not expressing beauty but expressing how beauty gets hurt unexpectedly.
    it's the precision of the latter that matters.
    Lola701 likes this.
  5. Lola701

    Lola701 Well-Known Member

    Oct 27, 2014
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    But it’s Karl’s work for Chloe who made him a household name. The success of Chloe at that time was comparable to YSL...

    I don’t know if the question is a matter of archives or of name. Designers are influenced by many things but sometimes a name is just a mean to an end.

    Hedi is an interesting example because he has used the great names of the Couture to establish something monumental and sometimes not related at all with them... You see the influence of music, APC, Helmut Lang or even Gaultier in his approach to fashion.
    His womenswear in general is much more representative of a period than of particular designer (YSL 1971 collection might have somehow defined something in fashion because it shocked the world of Couture but as a style, it was very much of it time).

    When you look at someone like Karl, the name Chanel gave him a huge acclaim only because he was an important designer himself...And probably because nobody expected at the time for someone like him to take over Chanel.
    But in terms of pure designs his school of aesthetic was totally different. I mean there were how many designers at Chanel before him, one of them was Balenciaga’s right hand (and partner).

    I think like @Phuel that talent will always be the answer.
    But I think that talents just need a platform to develop themselves and sometimes exploring archives can make them move out of their comfort zone.

    You use the example of Tomas Maier. He is talented but he is totally the type of designer who NEEDS the aura of a bigger name in order to shine. And when I say bugger name, it means the right name. He comes from Hermès. He did Bottega...It was sort of coherent. His profile is similar to a lot of designers in the industry from Eric Bergère to Alessandra Facchinetti or even to Frida Giannini.

    There are many talents. Some are gifted, some just work hard and some have both.
    The generation of designers like Miuccia or Margiela had time to develop their aesthetic. Sometimes we are too into that concept of young designers and so it’s easier to catapult them in a big house, give them a bit of shine and sell.
    Miuccia was in her late 30’s when she started Prada RTW. Margiela was in his 30’s when he went solo...
    Their approach to « archives » was different.

    Thomas Tait was a raw talent. But that young, do you really know yourself as a designer? We saw the 360 flip Jacquemus did when he matured.

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