Critiquing the collections – Is there a method to the madness?

Discussion in 'Fashion... In Depth' started by loladonna, Feb 28, 2010.

  1. loladonna

    loladonna New Member

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    I hope its okay to start a thread on fashion critique since I think it’s relative to the designers collections. Every time Fashion Week rolls around I find myself questioning the critieria people use to rate the collections since a lot of the critique seems so arbitrary. I realize that it is heavily subjective but the fact that a lot of the industry seems to fall in line as far as praising certain collections makes me think that there is some set criteria. For instance, why do all the professional critics rave over Lanvin, Prada and Marc Jacobs?

    As far as the TFS , I've noticed the critiques seem to fall into a few categories

    The experts-- A few posters who have a fashion education and maybe work in the industry so they seem to have a working knowledge of material, construction etc. I find these critiques most informative and even when I disagree I appreciate that there is some basis for their opinion.

    The realists— They may not have a fashion background and are likely to respond more positively to collections that appear to be most wearable.

    The artists—They like the more avant garde couture collections and tend to view the more wearable collections as boring regardless of craftsmanship.

    The groupies: They are fans of particular designer houses—usually the big name houses. They have usernames like Balenciaga4eva or something. They rave over that their favorite designer collections no matter what and tend to look at other collections only to note similarities to their favorite house. (Those sleeves are so Balmain! Or “He’s totally ripping off Versace!”).

    The nonconformists—They hate the big houses and favor smaller indie labels particularly the most avant garde because they don't conform to the mainstream tastes.

    Of course people may be mixtures of those critics.

    I guess I want to know what everyone looks for when they critique a collection.

    What factors tend to make you love a collection and what makes you hate it? Do you think you are biased in any way?

    For the expert posters do you have any advice on how to objectively rate collections such as what to look for in construction, proportions.etc?
     
    #1 loladonna, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by moderator gemi_12: Feb 28, 2010
  2. starblood

    starblood Member

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    I suppose most of the comments are based on the emotions and the first impression
    but oh well, fashion is art and art is subjective so I tend to avoid things like 'love it/hate it' (though it is hardly ever possible)

    the experts are the realists, m? if you want to be objective, the first thing to do, I suppose, is to look carefully through a collection plenty of times; to calm down and see a design as a some kind of creature, who has its own individuality, emotions and try to FEEL it.
    then you are able to talk about construction, proportions, styling etc.

    and I think it is some kind of a talent... to have a sense of what is good and what is not.

    you question is a rhetoric one. a discussion which never ends
     
  3. miwa

    miwa Active Member

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    I'm very subjective when I look at collections, I immediately think if I'd wear it. I don't really prefer any labels, I try to look at all collections with an open mind. Sometimes it takes days for me to digest a collection, it happens often with Prada.
     
  4. Spike413

    Spike413 barcode

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    I think the reason a lot of critics seem to respond similarly towards particular designers, besides advertising clout, is that critics have certain expectations of a label. Like with Lanvin you expect to see certain things, you expect a certain kind of look, you expect a certain level of craft. With Prada you expect experimentation and oddness. With Balenciaga you expect innovation, imagination and amazing technique. You can't judge each designer on the same merits because each of their labels stand for different things.

    That's pretty much how I try to look at collections as well. I've gotten to a point where how much I may like a label doesn't have a big influence on my opinion of each collection they show. I love Balenciaga as a house but I don't always love the collections Ghesquiere shows and if I don't like it I don't praise it.

    The things I look for no matter what designer I'm looking at are; whether or not the collection seems relevant to the label, whether or not I find it interesting and whether or not the results are appealing to me.
     
    #4 Spike413, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by moderator Ava Madison: Feb 28, 2010
  5. Salvatore

    Salvatore Wanderlust

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    I agree with what Spike said about knowing what to expect from the respective design houses . I am not going to expect a label like, let's say, Moschino Cheap & Chic to do something ground-breaking like I would at Balenciaga . You cannot expect a house to give something more than it can .

    When I look at a collection, everything is important - from the cuts of clothes to something like the lighting . It all let's me understand it better .

    And, again like Spike, I like what I like and don't like what I don't . It's known that I am anti-Frida at Gucci, but this season changed me because I felt that the collection was close to what I imagine Gucci should be like and it showed in everything .
     
  6. Crying Diamonds

    Crying Diamonds Geometric Discharge

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    I tend to be very selfish when I critique a collection - it's always whether my female alter-ego would wear what is being put out or not.
    I like designers thinking outside of the box, having their own opinion and not caving in and conforming when they realise one or two people don't like it. I also don't like it when designers realise they've designed something that sells and so just regurgitate that piece season after season in different colours. Several of my favourite designers have gotten into the habit of doing this.
    I suppose I'm always looking for the innovators; the experimentors with cut and shape; as if I'm on a constant look out for the next huge name.
    I'm critical about tired ideas and cheap-looking designs.
     
  7. clocked

    clocked Active Member

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    i look for wearable, interesting, unique (yeah, i want ALL OF THAT out of a collection)...on the other side of the coin i love avant-garde stuff as well, it's always good to see what an experimenter can do, but the more wearable, day-to-day clothing catches my eye more lately because i can't afford new clothes! sad but true :innocent:
     
  8. mikeijames

    mikeijames no tom ford, no thanks.

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    we also have to take into account those who speak from the retail/shopper perspective. it's not necessearily the same as the "wearable" argument because many of these brands -- from lanvin to proenza schouler to balmain to prada -- don't always fit that bill, but they all have found a way to sell it anyway. fashion, at the end of the day, remains a business.
     
    #8 mikeijames, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by moderator versaceschoolboi: Feb 28, 2010
  9. honeycombchild

    honeycombchild Well-Known Member

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    I think us males, for the most part, take wearability out of the equation when we critique womanswear. We don't have to imagine how we'd wear it, how we'd work it into your daily lives, so it doesn't always factor in too much. Unless perhaps they are a buyer or such. I can appreciate that something is highly wearable and commercial, but that's not say that's going to make me like a collection.

    There are certain designers that I'm just never going to feel for, in the same way there's designers and brands that I am more than likely always going to like the work of as our aesthetics match.

    I think often it can be a mistake to critique the manufacturing/technical details of a collection from the runway. Some designers, such as Christopher Kane for example can have really, really bad construction going on for their runway shows, but it can get cleaned up and perfected for the garments making it to stores.

    Mostly though I think a lot of people critique collections based solely on their gut, that's why we one word posts like "I hate" or "awful". I know when I like and appreciate something straight off, and know when something's just not grabbing me at all.
     
  10. Donatello89

    Donatello89 New Member

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    honeycomvchild u're so right for the view we have of women fashion. i also think men are more "reasonnable" when they judge a collection, especially heterosexual...i am hetero and, as a versace seller said, we tend to se fashion more as an utilitary thing, whereas gay are more attracted by the artistic part...at least that's what she noticed. of course it's just a tendance, and i feel interested also in the artistic aspect. but most of time, if think of how i will use a clothes (i mean really expensive clothes) before. this is a thing between realists and experts maybe :smile:. but everyone see fashion in his own way
     
  11. honeycombchild

    honeycombchild Well-Known Member

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    I remember a tutor at University saying to me that you could usually always tell the difference between a heterosexual eye and a homosexual eye. One looks at is as the woman they'd want to stand next to, have on his arm, and the other looks at is as who he'd like to put on a pedestal and worship.

    Obviously I'm not saying that's how it always works, and it could be a very small factor, but I think it can sometimes account for some male's opinions of certain collections.
     
  12. Creative

    Creative Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so at all, there must be a lot of homosexual people here and all of them have different tastes. That's like saying eating crum make breasts bigger.
     
  13. irulan

    irulan Plain Ol' Beautiful

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    My first thought always is "Will I want to wear that come Fall?" What am I tired of, what looks fresh, what looks wearable? I try not to be influenced by the setting or the cast or the lighting. That won't end up in stores. I even try to ignore the styling and look at the collection as single pieces. It annoys me when pants are missing (at Dolce & Gabbana) or when the styling is deliberately ugly (Marc tends to do this), but it the end, I'll buy a shirt or a skirt and wear it with a different shirt or skirt from a different designer.

    So, yes, I'm all about the much famed wearability. I liked Prada this season because I'm tired of miniskirts and studs, I saw myself in one of that ruffle dresses right away. Of course, wearability means something different to all of us - depending on how daring you are.

    Plus, I think it's hard to be objective with critique. We all have personal tastes that lead us to prefer some designers to others, based on their signatures and the look they like, the house they work for.
    This season I saw my first Jil Sander collection, because they streamed it life. I'm by no means a minimalist and the only thing I liked was the pink shoulder on the dress Joan Smalls wore (I think). Does that mean it was a bad collection? No. It means that I'm in no place to judge it.

    I wish that some other members would follow that policy as well. I'm always so enraged by the commenst one of my favourites, Marc Jacobs, gets every season, "His stuff is ugly, ladida." If you don't like his way of designing, why bother? I hate it when I read something like "This is so ugly, I don't get why people like this."

    Some are very narrow-minded within their critique.

    And I'm always curious how male members judge womenswear... It was interesting to read something about that here.
     
  14. BornToBe

    BornToBe New Member

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    wow what a nice thread! I've been thinking about this subject ever since I started looking at collections.
    As a woman I think i do tend to look at things from the "wearablility" angle, but I can still appreciate things that are artistic. I do think that there are too many people who expect every collection to be "ground breaking" or "foward thinking". I think folks have to realize that fashion is more than just art cause it has to sell on a large scale.
    If you paint a picture all you need is one person to love it and buy it, but with clothes you genrally need to capture the interst of thousands of people !
     
  15. honeycombchild

    honeycombchild Well-Known Member

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    It wasn't particuarly about tastes. You can still have very different tastes from one another, but what I actually said that it was perhaps a difference in the way people like women to be, like them to appear. There's still a massive space for taste within that.

    It's nothing like saying anything to do with breasts and crumbs.
     
  16. Creative

    Creative Well-Known Member

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    Yes, because it isn't real. You just have to have a look at the 'woman' of each designer (most of them homosexuals) and they're completely different, some take wearabilty into account, some don't. It has nothing to do with sexuality. Galliano's woman has nothing to do with Alber's one, and the same with the rest. That's a kind of 'legend'.
     
  17. Creative

    Creative Well-Known Member

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    And there are some men who don't like what Alexander did (and they were never going to wear it) and there are some women who love what he did, in the same way there are some women who don't like what Alber (very wearable) does and some men who adore what he's doing.
     
    #17 Creative, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by moderator : Feb 28, 2010
  18. honeycombchild

    honeycombchild Well-Known Member

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    That's still really not what I was saying, but never mind.
     
  19. rosalynn

    rosalynn New Member

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    I always feel a bit out of my depth commenting on collections, and bow to tFS members' superior knowledge. A lot of things affect my personal views on collections, and I couldn't even begin to pigeonhole myself into any category.

    I will start off by saying that I am relatively new to fashion. I am largely ignorant to the history of even the better-known fashion houses. I think this affects my criteria for what makes a good collection - while I'd rate a collection on its own merits, other members would (rightly) factor in many seasons' previous collections, and even designs under the namesake designer.

    I'm sure my knowledge will increase now that I'm into fashion. I'll learn more about it, will remember previous seasons which will set a benchmark for me to compare against. For the time being, I can only ever call what I see.

    Another thing I'd say is I will often be less critical of shows earlier in fashion weeks than those later. For example I quite liked Alexander Wang's collection when I first saw it in New York, by the end of NYFW I really wasn't keen at all because most of the collections I saw since were a lot better.

    I don't have any loyalty to any brand. If they do stuff I like (or can even appreciate from an artistic point of view) I'll give them credit.

    And finally, I'd also say to me a collection is less important to me than the pieces in the collection. A collection itself might be all over the place with little or no vision, but to me if it's wearable, I don't mind as much as I can imagine other members would.

    You can wake up now, I've finished!
     
    #19 rosalynn, Feb 28, 2010
    Last edited by moderator submit: Feb 28, 2010
  20. MulletProof

    MulletProof Well-Known Member

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    I think you might be right on that. I do think that the expectations of your average male poster here tend to differ almost dramatically from those of female posters, regardless of sexual orientation. There are certain designers that make this obvious, you go to a Versace collection for instance and the biggest, most abundant praise is coming from male fans, there are very few women posting in these threads actually. On the other hand, take any Marni thread (not the most recent one but those throughout tFS brief history) and women tend to favor their collections while men are often repulsed by the styling.
    Of course there are exceptions but anyway, that's what I've been noticing for years here, and I don't blame any party, I just think that the base of our expectations are very different sometimes, it can be what you want to project or what you want the opposite sex to look like, which is.. all rather complex for my 11 am here. :lol:

    Anyway, I do think the first post here makes a lot of sense, but of course not all fall in the same category and then there are plenty of members that are ALL the categories and can appreciate craftsmanship or avant-garde clothing just like simple, feel-good pieces, and then have an opinion from a buyer point of view.. softgrey, helena, zazie, adorefaith.. they're all like that, I'd hardly fit them in any category mentioned, you can't never really tell what they're going to love or detest and for what reason..
     

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