Sara is my cousin’s sixteen year old daughter and a fan of Vivienne Westwood. She keeps little books full of drawings and sticks pictures of her inspiration in them. Like I was at her age, she’s surrounded by green fields and sheep and the sound of tractor engines but not much fashion to speak of other than what’s brewing in her imagination. Luckily she has the internet where I didn’t. But I imagine the people wearing clothes like that can still seem very far away from where she is.
Her peers all wear hoodies and floppy athletic bottoms with local hurling or Gaelic football logos emblazoned down the leg.
So I think what’s brewing in Sara’s imagination is worth spotlighting. She’s painting, layering, juxtaposing and embroidering. Nice move placing the chunky knit next to the patchwork. And her decision to photograph her dress on her younger cousin messes with the proportion of the garment which together with the exaggerated make-up reminds me of artist Cindy Sherman’s collaboration with Comme des Garçons in the early 90s.
In an industry which increasingly steers young talent towards commercialism and designing clothes that will get you a job (when the reality is your lack of a developed point of view will more than likely lose you the job); in an age of celebrity culture where the examples of style that we are bombarded with all wear the same hair, enhance the same body parts, use the same stylist, and easily blend into one another on red carpets, there is no time to unleash what’s inside, be free and just create. Maybe living in the mountains in Ireland will allow Sara that and she’ll be all the better for it. When my New York City students first arrive in my class they often resort to drawing looks Rhianna has already made popular or recreating on paper the skintight blandness of those sisters whose name must not be mentioned in my presence.
Be warned. Heads might not roll but bad grades will.
This is your time to explore, I tell them. Rip it, flip it! Slice, dice, but forget nice! Challenge everything, let your mind soar and travel where your feet or your student budget can’t take you. Accept nothing at face value, including perceived notions of commercialism.
Measuring creativity in units that sell will come soon enough. Sara’s patchwork painted pattern pieces will be replaced by grids and Excel sheets in the blink of an eye. Trust me, I know.
The youngest movers and shakers operating in the fashion industry have nothing to do with this lot below (sorry Kanye. And Riccardo–oh, by the way, you should be ashamed of yourself. While we’re at it, may I take this opportunity to applaud Juergen Teller for refusing to shoot Miley Cyrus for the new Marc Jacobs ad campaign. He and Jacobs had worked together on his campaigns for years before this):Moving and shaking in fashion looks more like this:
So have fun and don’t go conforming. Not just yet. In the words of Rei Kawakubo, now is the time to…
My novel set in the international fashion industry is now available. You can buy Silk for the Feed Dogs here.