Issue 3 Out Now!
Tag Archives: Celine
He was the odd man out among Bernard Arnault’s string of sea changes; having put McQueen in at Givenchy, Galliano at Christian Dior, and Marc Jacobs at Louis Vuitton, shaking up his collection of venerable French luxury brands by handing them over to some of the most irreverent designers of the time. Though just as compelling, Kors’ appointment to Celine lacked the sensationalism those other designers could command. He had no grunge collection, no bumster pants, no theatrical displays of London street energy. He was not, as those designers were then, at the forefront of defining a post-modernist attitude towards luxury. He only had his clothes: well designed and well made, clothes that worked for the wearer and that, in their lush fabrics and exquisite detail, oozed luxury from every seam and stitch rather than by lofty suggestion or subversive association. It’s a focused idea of luxury based on the tenets of simplicity and classicism, an idea of luxury that about 14 years later is perhaps even more compelling as the whole market becomes besieged by the bright and effusive allure of fashion and spectacle.
The current Cooper Hewitt exhibit, Color Moves: Art and Fashion by Sonia Delaunay, could not have a come at a better time; the artist’s simultaneous dress has found itself strown far and across the Fall/Winter 2011 collections, showcasing her vivid use of color blocking, cubist rendering of the body, and focused application of craft. The Delaunay parallel speaks to a renewed interest in ornamentation, prodding designers toward a new language for decoration and embellishment. Delaunay had swam against the French fashion current developing her artistic dress, determined to practice a dress reform of her own. Purposely avoiding the convention and fashion cycle that dictated popular dress, Delaunay assembled her own vocabulary and visual codes within clothes. While designers have just rediscovered the benefits of reduction and restraint, the artistic dress and dress reform of the early 20th century and their expressions of progress in defiance of tradition seem all too appropriate as fashion now begins to reconstitute a sense of richness and craft.
While Delaunay is perhaps the most visible and recognized artist-turned-dress reformer, a look into the genre with a broader view reveals a much larger discussion and body of work…
Looking at these images you begin to get the idea that maybe Phoebe Philo’s transformation at Celine was less about reviving minimalism and more about reprising, with acute accuracy, the label’s prudish bourgeois heritage.
The illustrations for two designs by Charles Kleibacker highlight his strict application of geometry to female anatomy, suggesting that such a direct design concept is, in and of itself, all that is really necessary.
An iconic Valentina image: perhaps no other couturier built such an elitist reputation by subscribing to the sparest sensibility – allowing the idea of exclusion in its purest form to dictate the aesthetic and the etiquette.
While many collections took their cue from YSL’s romance and the exihibit of the designer’s work that was held at the Petite Palais – a perfectly reactionary move against overhyped “minimalism” – there were several designers who seemed to be genuinely interested in pursuing a calmer course. Maybe the term “minimalism” is a misnomer, it isn’t really about the “least possible”, is it? In the 90′s, designers stripped their clothes down to their most abstract forms, removing centuries of convention of what clothes are supposed to be and becoming a gateway for the rest of the industry (like most modernist aesthetics) into lazy design. But the collections from New York and Paris are very designed, with the rich fabrics and the luxurious details, there is nothing minimal about them. Maybe there is no noble philosophy behind them, they are not an ascetic grasp for purity, and maybe they are actually bit common at surface, but they are certainly easy to wear.
Historically it’s been an American tenet that clothes are to be designed with ease and practicality. No, Americans didn’t invent ready-to-wear or sportswear, but their predilection for them has pointed towards an unfettered design vocabulary and clothes that have no use for any excess concept. Beyond ruffles or eccentric prints, embroideries or gems, there are means for aesthetics inherent in clothes themselves, in their seams, the fabric, and in their application to everyday life. Minimal? Not exactly. Pragmatic? Absolutely. Maybe it is enough, more than enough, to dress a woman well.
Definition of PRAGMATISM
: a practical approach to problems and affairs
: an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief
– Merriam Webster dictionary