Which designers/collections should we say are ''avant garde''

Discussion in 'Designers and Collections' started by Tentacl Ventricl, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. Crying Diamonds

    Crying Diamonds Geometric Discharge

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    The idea of a new visionary being born, rising like a phoenix from the ashes of the recession, is an incredibly exciting statement.
    But with the fashion world being as it is, maybe due to finance or luck it's not possible for this visionary to grab our attention, or maybe there's already a designer out there who is the Balenciaga of the 21st century but we just can't see it?
     
  2. BerlinRocks

    BerlinRocks New Member

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    that is very romantic !
    pretty.

    not sure what i'll ask is very clear.
    but anyway.

    i have a question abt the legendary (?) avant-garde japanese gang.
    i see how rei k is avant-garde (she's very body-consciousness - means sthg ? - like almost posthuman sense). but i fail to see how avant-garde is yohji .... to me he is pretty traditional.


    and to be sincere, i fail, too, to see how GPugh is "avant-garde".
    I think his work is too much on the appearance. i'm not sure being avant-garde is a question of "style" (idk, scrly). He has done some interesting works (I could name "avant-garde" with no problem) but I feel he is more in the "image" than Rick Owens.


    i have a question too :
    would you define Coco Chanel avant-garde ?
    would you define Schiappareli (sp. ?) avant-garde ?
    who else in fashion history would you define an avant-garde ?

    oh and thom browne ?
     
    #22 BerlinRocks, Nov 8, 2009
    Last edited by moderator Socrates: Nov 8, 2009
  3. Scott

    Scott Stitch:the Hand

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    because when yohji came on the scene it was his silhouette that was so innovative.

    but you're right berlin....it was never about the style but what was behind the style...the idea...the technique.

    your question about mlle coco....i'm not sure. she was certainly innovative in the way she changed social codes for women,but i dunno,avant garde? vionnet to me was avant garde because of her incredible sense of architecture and cutting ...elsa schiaparelli no question....
     
  4. Crying Diamonds

    Crying Diamonds Geometric Discharge

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    Schiaparelli should definately be classed as avant-garde: the first to use current art in fashion, the first to use shoulder-pads, the first to use zips, the first to use synthetic fabrics... etc, she was first in the race.
    Balenciaga and Dior definately, if we're talking historical avant-garde.
     
  5. rlynne

    rlynne New Member

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    i guess maybe every designer has their "avant garde" moment..
     
  6. BerlinRocks

    BerlinRocks New Member

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    i really think Christian Dior was not avant-garde, at all !!!
    to me he is one of the most classical designer of this past century. in the same way poiret was classic and tradition.
    what was avant-garde to me for instance was the beginning of prêt-à-porter ... that's mostly social.

    YSL was ! definitely.
     
  7. wheneveriwakeup

    wheneveriwakeup a hymn to darkness

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    Great discussion going here guys!

    I think in order to be truly avant-garde one must challenge the concept of time. Avant garde represents a sense of timelessness... a design that will transcend the conditions of any decade all while still possessing a sense of relevancy and freshness. Avant Garde is a radical notion that is free of the restrictions typically associated with genre, aesthetic, and design. Designers like Yves Saint Laurent, Yohji Yamamoto, Martin Margiela, Rei Kawakubo, Jurgi Persoons, Cristobal Balenciaga and so many others are all distinctly different but the one idea that ties them all together is the timeless, simplistic elegance behind their work.
     
  8. Tentacl Ventricl

    Tentacl Ventricl New Member

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    I'm not sure. I think you'd have to explain it further. Which period? The whole of post-war design? Or SS10? Or the last decade?

    I probably didn't explain my original post too well, but what I'm personally most interested in is to develop an understanding of whom should be seen as avant garde now. I understand that to get to that we might need to place our analysis in a historical context. One can't grasp what might be seen as new, radical and influential without some reference to that which it departs from. It's a relative term.

    A word about elegance. With Susannah Frankel, I think the 00's were characterised by a return to a particular type of elegance. A couture influenced, embellished, classicism harking back to the 40's and 50's and beyond. In the aftermath of 911, a collective hankering for modes of dress evoking a time of greater certainty, solidity, safety. A time when the West (the Allied Forces at least) stood victorious and proud.

    Can a backward looking retroism be seen as avant garde? I'm not sure it can. For much of the 00's the fashion game was perhaps about recycling retro influence without producing 'costume'. Viewed from a perspective of distance much of this work might in fact be starting to look costumey. Not only lacking an avant garde sensibility but, as essentially costume, fashion without fashion? Love him as you may, one might cite Galliano as the high priest of this movement.

    I found McQueen's AW09/10 show interesting. With the funeral pyre/bonfire catwalk installation of props from his old shows heaped up and sprayed black and the recycling references, I felt it was a retrospective remembrance of the decade passing. 'Dior viewed through the prism of Marilyn Manson' (Blanks I think), it perhaps sought to sound the death knell of 'that' sort of retro elegance.

    And for sure, with all the edges shorn off, once the 40's thing is, again, recycled for this winter in it's commercial manifestation on the high street and on certain media personalities, and when we view what is being worn in real time now with an eye influenced by SS10, the retro classicism and any couturish embellishment, looks all too 'lady', costumey and seriously ageing.

    There have of course been times in post-war fashion history when 'elegance' has been pushed almost completely aside as a sartorial concern, when it's all been about youth, 'edge', sex, art, and/or 'street'.

    One might take a view that it's those phases which are the most avant garde, the phases when fashion is pushed 'forward', that somehow elegance is antithecal to the avant garde - it's opposite.

    I think that would be wrong though, an oversimplification. For SS10 I think we have a new elegance. It's an elegance of purity of line, form and palette. It's finding beauty in simplicity. It's a form of unfussy, uncluttered, unshowy elegance. (Unshowy in the sense of not gauchely forcing one's material riches in the face of others).

    We've mentioned the influence of Francisco Costa at Calvin Klein already but it's there also at, unsurprisingly perhaps, Jill Sander; in places at Givenchy, Bottega Veneta, Issey Miyake, Jonathon Saunders, Narciso Rodriguez and others. On the face of it one could include what Phoebe Philo has done at Celine as part of this turn toward a more minimalist elegance but I'm presently drawn to see that collection as in fact merely bland and mundane - which, it has to be said, is where minimalism can head off once it's (hopefully) attendant artistry is snapped off and disgarded in the process of a commercial dumbing down. There are also places in the much lauded, and, I feel, worth a revisit, SS10 collection of Stefano Pilati for YSL, where an interesting take on a minimal elegance shines through. As, unquestionably, it does in the hands of Bruno Pieters for SS10.

    I am working on a more detailed exposition of what I'm seeing here both for my written and visual work. An article in one form or another is likely to appear on my forthcoming blog. Much of my remaining work centres around the question is this minimalist turn just 90's retroism or can it in fact be seen as something new, avant garde perhaps. And, potentially, in answering that question to further understand what lies within and without the new elegance.

    There is also the question of the new minimalism's influence into spheres nominally outside of itself. To what extent is fashion as a whole taking a minimalist turn?

    Whilst of course you wouldn't call him a minimalist, I think it's possible to read Gareth Pugh's new vision for SS10 as so influenced in it's heightened simplicity of palette and line, that, relative to what went before, his work has eased into being softer and more understated. A new lightness. Relatively of course.

    A sea change at Gucci also. Whilst SS10 Gucci should perhaps be 'positioned' with the 'young and fun'/ 'clubby' collections (Balmain, D&G, Louis Vuitton, Giles, DSquared, Versace, Top Shop Unique, Proenza Schouler(?), Erin Wasson, Twenty&Twelve etc) it is undoubtedly the most minimalist influenced of these collections and, in some ways, perhaps, the freshest and most relevant for that.

    To dwell on the 'young and fun/clubby' sector a little further this is another growth impetus for SS10. Some of the brands mentioned above of course have an element of youth written into their dna but not all. Marc Jacobs decidely and unreservedly repositioned Louis Vuitton there for SS10. Further, many designers, some whose brand dna might not have been well able to take it, (ie Michael Kors) made largely failed attempts to 'young-down'. Of course young and fun is in many ways the opposite of a concern with the avant garde. Being avant garde probably connotes some measure of intellectual weight. But wait -

    There is nothing contradictory about intellectually saying, with the nihilists or post-modernists perhaps, that a concern with making some artistic or political statement is ultimately futile so let's just ****ing party (like it's 1999). Hedonism as statement of course sits particularly well with fashion. Carsten Holler, for instance, got there in the artworld with his slide installations but, as indeed Holler demonstrates, hedonism as message is perhaps best promoted in the form of an applied art. And, I'd say, within fashion in particular.

    Of course, intellectually opting for hedonism is far different from being imprisoned by it as the one unilinear reality of all existence. Arriving at hedonism from the intellect, one at least has a way out, the ability to opt for other realities. But, to pull back a second, the point is that it IS possible that pure hedonism can be an avant garde statement. It just depends on the context and how one arrives there. The influence of Decarnin is perhaps highly relevant here. Whether any designer or designers shift the scene funward from a position of intellect rather than from purely commercial concerns I'm not yet sure. I suppose the difficulty is that it isn't really that difficult to say '**** it let's party' and how many different ways can there be to say it.

    So, I believe SS10 has a double lightness. The pared down, easy breezy lightness and elegance of a natural, uncluttered minimalism. And a turn toward youth, fun, hedonism. In many ways of course the underpinnings of these sheddings of 'weight' are polar opposite. Minimalism at root being not only a rather, indeed deadly, serious message not only of the bad taste of conspicuous consumption, but of course about avoidance of ecological apocalypse.

    What the season is not about though, what looks decidely wrong, is anything that harks back to a pre 1990's, showy, glitzy, couturish, embellished, chintzy, conservative, retrobound, mother-of-the-bride type 'elegance'. For instance the way almost the whole of the underwear-as-outerwear trend was presented was off in that it was just too frou. Nina Ricci for instance looked like some awful nylon static accident waiting to happen. Perhaps then it was an ironic collection but I think not. Just off.

    Perhaps we might say that it's a time to face the music in two senses. To stop dissavowing the psychic castration of Western supremacy represented by the image of the collapse of the twin towers. And to now get beyond the delayed and therefore massive banking collapse recession that followed. Yes followed. To now stop seeking the comfort blankets of the mythical past sartorially, but to accept the new reality for what it is and get up and dance anyway. But also, to be aware, very aware, of the possible end game of over-consumption, of overheating not just an economy but a planet and to present ourselves accordingly in a wholly less bejewelled and bedazzling fashion.

    It's unquestionably a moment in history when Western Capitalism ceases to hold all the aces/answers, in which, without reforms and new outlooks, it risks some sort of fundamental demise. So a time in which we become just a little bit more receptive to new ideas and change and which, therefore, the edgier designers play a part in defining the new ways of being, of living and thus dressing and indentifying, uniting even. Perhaps.

    Of course though, as intimated in another post, the runways may well be the wrong place to look for the mode of dress of a new tribe. The winds of change start blowing elsewhere to be picked up upon by designers subsequently. The fashion industry being, after all, an industry. We can though, read the runways as a distillation of the mood of the times and understanding the direction of things can bring us to an insight of what might be coming next.
     
  9. Crimson C.C

    Crimson C.C New Member

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    I would definitely follow your blog.

    I am only quite new to fashion and i have some knowledge of history but not enough. I would say that the last 3 years has been "Reckless Elegance". But when i am on holidays im sure ill review that.
     
  10. Spike413

    Spike413 barcode

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    Good question. For me, personally, I don't really equate Owens with being avant garde. I suppose it's because for me, much of his clothing is fairly un-threatening. Sure, it's not for everyone, but that's all of fashion. He just happens to cater to those with taste that's slightly left of center. Maybe it's just that I've been seeing his work for so long that I've become immune to how unusual it is. Any strangeness that there might be in his aesthetic is sort of lost on me, probably because he has so firmly established his ideas as part of the fashion "norm". It's accepted at this point.

    On the other hand though, he's a trailblazer, and in it's own way his aesthetic has shaped the latter half of this last decade in fashion. He was undoubtably ahead of the pack, but it was so subtle that people have only recently begun to realize that the pack has been following his lead. If the definition of avant garde is simply to be so far ahead in your thinking, then yes I think Rick definitely deserves the title. But for me avant garde means more than just incredible foresight.

    As for Pugh, as outrageous as his work may have been or might still be, the fact is that he's not actually doing anything that hasn't been done before by people like Leigh Bowery, Thierry Mugler, Alexander McQueen, and even John Galliano, among others. The fact that it's easy to spot reference points in his work tells me that while there might be a huge amount of imagination there, there isn't anything radically new about it. I don't mean that as a put down, but I think he qualifies more as someone with extreme tastes rather than truly extreme ideas.
     
    #30 Spike413, Nov 11, 2009
    Last edited by moderator Ava Madison: Nov 11, 2009
  11. Tentacl Ventricl

    Tentacl Ventricl New Member

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    I agree Adrover and Cianciolo come from an avant garde stance, they position themselves as avant garde. As Four (now ThreeasFour too)

    Adrover with his deconstruction of found garments/objects, Cianciolo coming at garment creation from a conceptual fine art stance, they both attempt fashion as art. I think that that is an avant garde sensibility in the intention that their garments, like artpieces, carry some sort of message.

    However, I'm not sure how influential either of them have been? Further, I'm not sure that merely adopting an avant garde stance necessarily means a designer qualifies as actually being avant garde. It's how they are received rather than what their authorial intention was. I think it's for the fashion commentator, editor, stylist, photographer, curator, etc to determine that reception. And that, similarly, a designer who doesn't overtly position themselves as radical, or as 'doing art', might be seen to be avant garde by the secondary commentators. The radically important and influential message in the designers work might be 'found' by others. Or not.

    Thinking of all the Spanish sounding names made me think of Jose Miro. Showing at Madrid Fashion Week his influence may be a little peripheral - I've been impressed by a previous collection or two of his but, with any work outside the four main fashion capitals receiving much less coverage, I do forget to keep up with what he's producing. Subject to further research I might be ready to suggest his work might be received as avant garde.

    Another designer nominally outside of the loop would be Simone Legno at Toki Doki. Sharing with Cianciolo a desire to be seen as an artist perhaps first and foremost, one could make a case that his work (and success) has influenced what Marc Jacobs produced for Louis Vuitton for SS10.

    Any other suggestions for contemporary scene fashion forward, influential, ground breaking designers gratefully received...
     
    #31 Tentacl Ventricl, Nov 11, 2009
    Last edited by moderator : Nov 11, 2009
  12. Tentacl Ventricl

    Tentacl Ventricl New Member

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    I think I'd be willing to say that a designer who trailblazes a new aesthetic which is then followed by other designers is avant garde.

    It's interesting that we approach Rick's work from different perspectives - you being close to it, while I'm more distant currently. I only have a vague impression of Rick's work pre SS10 and so I must study his archive more closely.

    Based on my partial, somewhat fuzzy understanding, did he undergo something of a shift in SS10? Perhaps, as Scott has said, away from Demeulemeester etc. Maybe toward a more early 80's futurist inspired outlook.

    I think that is also behaviour characteristic of avant garde designers - ie just as others are starting to be influenced by them they shift away onto what's next. I think there's a case for saying that's what the Margiela and Chalayan of old did, perhaps Prada too.

    And being reflexive about this thread in light of thinking about Margiela and Chalayan. We know now of course that Margiela has departed the scene. And I'm really not sure what's going on with Chalayan since he sold up to Puma. It's like this double departure leaves a vacuum in the ranks of avant garde designers. It's sort of an emptiness that needs to be filled. Avant Garde designers required: apply within. I think it's detrimental to fashion if these two have effectively disappeared and are not in some sense to be replaced.

    It's interesting that the emerging consensus amongst those posting on this thread seems to be that Pugh is not someone we might grant that sort of status to. But who? It would be great if posters might persuasively suggest a designer who is/will/should emerge as a new Margiela/Chalayan figure.

    (I'm not btw suggesting Miro or Legno to have that sort of status. As I was saying, if they are in any way interesting or influential it's at a more minor, peripheral level)
     
    #32 Tentacl Ventricl, Nov 11, 2009
    Last edited by moderator : Nov 11, 2009
  13. Tentacl Ventricl

    Tentacl Ventricl New Member

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    Something which might or might not be of interest in the context of this romantic yearning for the coming of a new fashion messiah and the sense that there may be an absence of such a figure -

    Wednesday November 18th 9pm BBC4 'Where is Art now?' In the trailer there was mention that usually interesting art emerges out of a recession.
    Which is similar to what I was saying previously about recessions and fashion.
    In the emphasis on 'usually' it may be that the programme is going to move toward a conclusion that, for art, this recession is beginning to look like a bit of a disappointment creatively. Perhaps there's some underlying impotence shared across the art and fashion scenes and creativity in the West generally. A collective inability to produce or to find anything which is truly new or interesting. Maybe not.

    I'll report back should there be any generalities relevant to this thread and tips up for those who are interested and have access to the channel.
     
  14. Spike413

    Spike413 barcode

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    My only problem with that definition is that it's probably too broad. You could be describing a revolutionary, or you could be describing a trendsetter, and those are two very separate things. Someone like Tom Ford was also a trailblazer, not simply in terms of seasonal trends that other designers picked up on after he had finished with them, but in the way he captured what it was that people desired before they even realized it themselves. But I don't think anyone would call him avant garde, least of all Ford himself, because at the end of the day his ideas didn't buck convention.

    Also, Gianni Versace was a trailblazer and created an aesthetic unlike anything before that others soon followed. But I think his ideas and contributions were more groundbreaking and fresh than they were unconventional and strange.

    As for the next revolutionary/ies out there, I think trying to predict it is kind of futile in the end. I'm of the mind that when someone comes along with something truly new and unique to say, you can sense it the moment you see it. It's like an earthquake or something, sometimes you can feel it as it gets closer, but for the most part it's a sudden shock.
     
    #34 Spike413, Nov 11, 2009
    Last edited by moderator Ava Madison: Nov 11, 2009
  15. Tentacl Ventricl

    Tentacl Ventricl New Member

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    I think I'd probably agree with that Spike. Tom Ford and Versace we could say were influential whilst lacking that element of high minded artistry we might associate with an avant garde designer.

    I think the question who is influential, who is in the vanguard, is the most interesting question.

    And I'd accept that being avant garde is maybe more to do with a designer's positioning than their influence.

    But, for me, a designer who is avant garde and influential is the most exciting. Like ie Chalayan or Margiela. And I do hope they might be 'replaced' in the grand scheme of things in time.
     

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