Rie Hosokai: Fashion or Art

Here’s something new: creating wearable, fashionable pieces out of balloons. Japanese designer Rie Hosokai creates pieces by hand out of cheap, temporary, and fragile balloons for a product at going rate of $1,930 to $3,860. The real novelty of it? The dresses only lasts fully inflated for 24 hours. Apparently she’s sold 20 wedding dresses in 2 years; at the time limitation of 24 hours, the only events to wear these pieces are occasions like weddings and once-in-a-lifetime events. At that rate, these pieces certainly achieve the newness component of fashion but with the short life expectancy of the “clothing” it seems to cross into the experiential art realm. Regardless, the images of the pieces are stunning and the concept is extraordinary.

Rie Hosokai

Rie Hosokai

Rie Hosokai

Rie Hosokai

Rie Hosokai

Looking at Fashion Through Technology-colored Lenses

Designing fashion clothing using the concept of pixels and looking through a “computer” screen eye isn’t new but certainly is in fashion. We cannot escape technology in today’s world and so we bring it into every facet of our world. In Japan’s Fashion Week for Fall/Winter 2011-2012, the designer Kunihiko Morinaga featured  from the fashion company Anrealage with a collection on low resolution, a statement that looks at our wish for ever clearer images and forces us to take a step back through mosaic type blocks that form patterns like flowers when looking at his line from a greater distance. I especially love the way the designer chose to dress the models with low resolution glasses, a great way to reinforce the metaphor on the runway. And I can’t help but mention the fantastic shoes that went along with the line (the last picture). Genius!

Kunihiko Morinaga

Kunihiko Morinaga

Kunihiko Morinaga

India Fashion Week: Vogue India

Since I just can’t pick one to focus on, I must say that the Fall/Winter 2012 India Fashion week runway pieces are all incredible. The pieces are featured on Vogue India and are a bit overwhelming in number, but are worth a close look nonetheless. I’m floored by the texture, detail, beautiful use of color scheme, and fresh takes on traditional design. Below are a few of my favorites from the show:

India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012 – Manish Malhotra

India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012 – Jenjum Gadi

India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012 – Ritesh Kumar‏

India Fashion Week Autumn/Winter 2012 – Monapali

Hippie?: Indian traditional dress on a non-Indian

Here’s a barrier I have a hard time getting past when wearing some of my favorite clothing items: the “hippie” label. While I don’t overall object to the hippie culture and often love the clothing from self-proclaimed hippie stores, I like to stay unlabeled and wear a variety of pieces. The general problem of labeling clothing is that it usually has a more complex history and role than one person or culture can assume: no clothing, traditional to a culture or not is as simple as an assembled piece of fabric. Simplifying a look or clothing piece down to one label ignores a multitude of history, identity, and cultural context.

What do you call a person wearing traditional clothing from a certain culture, nation, ethnic group, or people? Probably nothing in general. There are innumerable accounts traditional costumes around the world and we couldn’t really pin them all down if we tried. Coming from the U.S., I often feel a void in the realm of traditional clothing, but there are valid arguments for different possible contenders for that such as Western/cowboy wear, Native American dress (a more limited population can actually call that their own), and modern creations that classify American dress like the t-shirt, baseball cap, or tennis shoes.

Now, for example, what do you call an Indian wearing traditional Indian dress? Probably just someone embracing their cultural and traditional dress. Today in India this is more often worn to special, formal occasions than on an everyday basis.

Shalwar Kameez

Fine. Then what do you call a non-Indian, usually white, person wearing traditional Indian dress? Society and the culture I come from and live in would say hippie. This drives me crazy. A friend brought me back a shalwar kameez suit from India. I have to say that I don’t always wear them as traditionally intended in suit form and instead mix and match the shalwar (pants) and kurta (shirt) with my own clothing pieces for variety. The problem with this is that I can never escape the labels. This comes from American ideas of the hippie movement most popularly in the American mind dating back to the 1960’s and 70’s where the political peace movement adopted many Indian ideas and ideals as well as dress and aesthetics.

Shalwar Kameez

The American mind now associates all traditional Indian dress not on an Indian as automatically hippie-gear. A bit limiting and restrictive, especially as fashion draws from different specific regional influences around the world – what will happen when people wear Chanel’s homage to India line? Will it be accepted as its own artistic genius separate from the hippie movement or continue to be dragged down by the weight of political history? I hope that this can move on and redefine the American ideas of aesthetic and art, creating a new context for traditional dress in fashion in the coming years.

Chanel – Paris-Bombay

Daphne Guinness: eccentric or artsy?

I must say I’m constantly stumbling upon things and people I never knew I never knew of or about. Daphne Guinness is one of those people, a world fashion icon, muse, and artist from the U.K. and Ireland. Upon reading an article outlining how to become a fashion eccentric on a budget (a satisfactory and zany article), I had to look into the iconic names the author mentioned. One of the people I looked into, Daphne Guinness, apparently objects to the label of “eccentric” (something she supposedly receives quite often) claiming it borders on the insane. She reportedly prefers “bohemian”. I might just say “artsy” and besides – what’s wrong with a little crazy? To quote the 2010 “Alice in Wonderland” film,  “You’re entirely bonkers. But I’ll tell you a secret. All the best people are.”

Daphne Guinness

There are things about the artsy (or eccentric) look that both limit and expand a person’s world. I find that wearing whatever I want whenever and wherever, while I might sometimes have qualms or nerves about the “loudness” of an outfit, allows me to build my own identity through individuality and create art on a day-to-day basis, a great creative outlet in a student’s chaotic life. However, artsy in the workplace doesn’t always win people over, customers or superiors, and not everyone finds artsy the most attractive look. It can deter attention from potential date-worthy acquaintances. But personality can also come out through clothes and regardless people who know you don’t (or shouldn’t) care and instead appreciate it as a talent of you.

Daphne Guinness’s Noritaka shoes – selling some of her signature wardrobe pieces to the public!

I don’t claim to know much (or anything) about Daphne Guinness and her personality, but I’m floored by her style and impressed by the daring nature of her outfits and wardrobes. Be different, be daring, be fashionable.

Daphne Guiness

Daphne Guinness

James Ferreira – Indian Designer

James Ferreira is another Indian designer who’s use of color, shape, fabric texture, draping, and simple beauty has caught my eye. Labeled as a master draper and cutter, Ferreira focuses on quality through natural fabrics, movement on the body, innovative silhouettes, femininity, simplicity, detailing and hand embroidering. That’s a lot to focus on, but his pieces for Fall/Winter 2012-2013 capture the eye with bright colors and bold patterns mixed in with the odd addition of the silky draped gown or two. Here’s a bio on Ferriera and a few images of his upcoming collection. The following pieces are my absolute favorite; I love the unusual mix of pieces to achieve a silhouette that’s surprising but stunning. These images are from another blog full of runway images from the Fall/Winter 2012-2013 Wills Lifestyle show in India.

James Ferreira Fall/Winter 2012-2013

James Ferreira Fall/Winter 2012-2013

Your Fashion Finds You – e.na boutique e atelier

When trying to find my route on the way to a museum last month, I decided to stop and ask for directions in Chiasso, Switzerland, a small and quirky border town to Italy. Seeing a clean, studio-boutique storefront, I popped in and found myself surrounded by unique, finely made, and fashionable clothing and an aura of youthful and vibrant creativity. The designer had an event later that day for her new collection and if I hadn’t already had plans I would have loved to stay (she was so friendly too and gave me great directions – in English!). The clothing had a streamlined look, wearable and fun for the everyday, unique and handmade for statement pieces with a story, up to date with the current fashion trends,  and an undeniable charm. Here’s the designer’s blog featuring some of her garments. Browse and enjoy their varied collections!

E.na boutique e atelier

E.na atelier e boutique

E.na atelier e boutique

E.na atelier e boutique

Color conquers shoes for Spring 2012

If you’re a color addict like I am, you’ll be happy to hear that the Financial Time’s http://www.howspenti.com foresees a whole realm of color and experimenting for this Spring and coming Summer season. In the article, Avril Groom discusses the difficulty many women face in deciding how to wear colorful shoes. Can they be worn with an everday wardrobe? I must say that I’m a culprit in walking out into the world every day with far too much color combination going on. But they give advice to have one color tone to tie the color combinations together. This great advice can inform the more conservative dresser in mastering the ways of wearing a loud shoe. Here’s their bird-themed arrangement of shoes this season by a range of designers including: Giuseppe Zanotti, Larin, Prada, Sergio Rossi, Gianvito Rossi, Rupert Sanderson, Upper Street, and Anselm Reyle for Christian Dior. My personal favorite in this array is the top right hand corner shoe by Sergio Rossi – simple but fun use of color with the matte finish of leather.

How to spend it - arrangement of eye-catching shoes that sing to you

How to spend it – arrangement of eye-catching shoes that sings to you

Traditional costume versus globalized fashion: Indian sari

While I’m no expert in the matter, I find the phenomenon of modesty in Indian dress to be an especially fascinating subject area. A good friend of mine, born and raised in India around New Delhi, has attempted to explain to me, a very Western American, the paradox of acceptability in dress in India for women. In traditional clothing, specifically saris, women often show more skin or expose themselves more in a culturally acceptable manner with little or no judgement from elders. However, if a woman, especially a young woman, wears Western clothing and does not cover up areas like the shoulders or down to the knees, others on the street or elders would most probably stare and reprimand.

What makes the difference in modesty gaps? Why can a woman show midriff (and quite a bit of it) in a sari but receive criticism for a tank top? As an American, I have no connection to traditional American costume, something I greatly regret, however, I can understand that this dress pattern relates more to some general anti-Western sentiments and anti-Western beauty ideals. With articles like this one http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-04-18/trends/31113113_1_sari-blouses-kajol where the article admits that over time the sari transforms due to the influence of fashion and outside influences.

Sexy sari?

Again, I do not claim to be an expert or someone who has experienced first-hand the sari or modesty phenomenon in India. But I find the idea of fashion and costume acting as a political statement or play intriguing.

Another somewhat unrelated question, what happens when outsiders try to make their own sari? Hermes launched the first Western fashion, luxury brand line of inherently Indian attire: the sari. I have heard that originally, traditional Indian designers reacted indignantly, in shock that an outsider would try to create their own version of the traditional piece while the more modern Indian designers embraced the idea and used it as a selling point to traditional designers to progress a bit in their designs.Personally I couldn’t imagine anything more wonderful than a huge influx of high fashion, luxury brand designers that take off in both West and non-West fashion worlds and use a variety of Asian design influence. Maybe I’m just a dreamer but the idea is irresistible!

Hermes sari

Retro Fashion at the White House

As much as I’m not one to follow the fashion trends of highly visible trendsetters in American media, here’s two looks I can’t pass up. The retro quality of Alicia Keys look with her mustard yellow tunic top that references the 1970’s and her fantastic Afro (I’d love to be able to do that with my hair!). Her husband, Swizz beatz, wears a suit that, if I’m not mistaken, hints at an Indian style neck collar, an unusual but refreshing feature at such an event. These are great ways to dress a bit more uniquely, even at formal events!

Alicia Keys and husband at 2012 White House Correspondents’ Dinner