I went into fashion month this time around feeling very disillusioned by it all. I was bored of the Instagram antics. I was sick of seeing all of the parties being discussed instead of the actual clothing. I was just over it, in general. Then something changed. Maybe the parties in the other cities aren’t as intense, maybe I just don’t follow the right people online. Regardless of the outcome, I feel that as fashion month progressed we did actually hear more about the clothes (and there have been quite a few really great shows this season too). Paris is the end of it all, the grand finale.
I’ve noticed a lot of buzz about Rent the Runway recently. They are in the midst of a new marketing campaign promoting their new, lower priced subscription, and, as a result, coverage of the service has been myriad, from sites like Fashionista all the way to AdWeek. For $89 a month, you can rent four pieces per monthly cycle. This is in comparison to their unlimited subscription which costs $139 to have any three pieces at once (which can be traded for another item at any time) instead. Rent the Runway is an interesting concept to me, because you are paying either a monthly fee or a single-time fee for the actual item (depending on how often you think you’ll use the service) to essentially borrow clothes and return them. You spend all of this money and don’t actually keep anything at home.
Rent the Runway was founded in 2009 by two Harvard Business School graduates. The initial concept was to provide occasionwear. You could rent a dress for a formal event like prom, a wedding, a gala, anything. The idea was that instead of spending $200 on a dress that you will wear one time and then banish to the back of your closet, you could spend under that dollar amount to rent a dress and return it afterwards (no questions asked, different than what would happen if you tried to do the same thing to a store). You could also rent a designer style which you may not be able to afford in a regular store like Barneys but you could wear one-time for a manageable price-point. Since then, the service has expanded into all categories of clothing and accessories. They want to be the go-to source for a woman’s everyday wardrobe, not just for the once-a-season event that she may have to attend.
In one of the articles linked below, a representative from Rent the Runway mentioned that under the new subscription plan, each item only costs around $20. The point being made with this figure was that the service was intending to compete with fast-fashion stores in capturing the women’s dollars. Instead of buying a cheap shirt from Zara, rent an expensive one from Rent the Runway. You get the quality you can’t normal afford for a price that you can. However, I wonder how many women would be comfortable with not actually owning their clothes. What if someone compliments your cute sweater and then you can never wear it again? That’s what seems weird to me because I can’t imagine having something I love and then not owning it, then not being able to afford it if I actually did want to add it into my closet.
Currently, Rent the Runway operates across the US with physical stores where you can try on the clothes in a select few cities (New York and Los Angeles included). They also ship all across the US. With the new round of marketing campaigns they are targeting the US in its entirety. They’re putting adverts on national tv. Besides the lower cost subscription, a huge thing that the brand is pushing is the sustainability factor. According to representatives from Rent the Runway, the brand is entirely sustainable as it uses reusable garment bags and 100% ‘green’ dry cleaning practices. Furthermore, because the customers aren’t actually purchasing the clothes and are sending them back after use, clothes that are unwanted are going back to Rent the Runway, not ending up in the landfill.
I think that Rent the Runway is a great concept but I’m not sure how I would feel about having my entire closet “in the cloud”, as they put it. I like to own my pieces and wear them again and again and again. I think that is a pretty sustainable option. I would consider Rent the Runway for an occasion if I needed to rent a gown. However, for everyday use I’m not quite there yet.
It seems that fashion is increasingly referential. Nothing is really new anymore. No new silhouettes are created. No new innovations are made. Nothing. But is this a bad thing? And is it unexpected?
I started to think about this topic after catching up with all of the shows at Milan Fashion Week. There were two brands in particular that I felt specifically looked back in time, into their own archives – Versace and Dolce & Gabbana. However, their techniques were different. Versace was deliberate, Dolce & Gabbana was not.
This season’s Versace show was, as Donatella put it, a tribute to her late brother Gianni Versace, to mark the twenty year anniversary of his death. The show was filled with her takes on his most famous designs. It was like the highlight reel of Gianni Versace’s career and what made him, and the family name, famous and into a brand. Donatella looked back into the archives (no, literally, she went to the physical archives and looked at his pieces) and chose the silhouettes and prints which were most iconic and ran with it. She featured the Marilyn Monroe and James Deen portraits by Andy Warhol (which Gianni turned into a multi-colored, tile print), she used the baroque that was last en vogue back in 2013 when hip-hop artists like Migos and Drake were obsessed with the brand, and the leopard print (most notably, the yellow version worn by Kaia Gerber who opened the show). According to this New York Times article on the show, “Every garment will come complete with a label that notes the collection and the year, so consumers will know the moment of origin.”. It is a way to incorporate the brand’s history into it’s present show but do it in a way that is of the moment but still collectable. I suspect that items from this show will be just as valuable as the originals from 20+ years ago. Many have wondered if this collection was Donatella’s farewell to the brand as rumors about her imminent departure have been swirling for months now, but she says otherwise. It was, in fact, just a tribute to her late and beloved brother. Of course, no mention of this show would be complete without bringing up the finale which featured the supermodels of Gianni’s shows marching out to Freedom ’90, the iconic George Michael song which lent its sounds to a Versace show back in 1991. Of course, the crowd went wild for this. It was nostalgia at its finest, and that’s what made this show great.
Dolce & Gabbana, on the other hand, offered none of the nostalgia factor. They produced a show of beautiful, albeit boring, clothes that could’ve been any one of their shows from the past five years. Dolce & Gabbana refuse to innovate anymore and it has gotten dull. It is hard to believe that 10 years ago, they were one of the main attractions in Milan and they actually made futuristic, fashion-forward styles. Remember the show opened by Snejana Onopka strutting down the light-up runway, after arriving in a glass elevator and descending down some stairs, to the sound of Justin Timberlake’s Sexy Back? That would never happen nowadays. Instead they play it safe, season after season, year after year. I guess they are doing what works for them and their business, but that is why Versace was all over your social media for the entire weekend and Dolce & Gabbana was a blip that almost went unnoticed.
Designers often look back though, at their past work (like the No. 21 show, also at Milan Fashion Week), or at the brand’s own heritage. That’s what almost every designer does who becomes the Creative Director of a storied brand, like Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne. The chainmail, futuristic styles are nothing new, but they work and people love them because they look cool. It is said that Alexander McQueen was so impressive because he is one of the only designers of the past quarter century to create a brand new silhouette, the Bumster, the ultra low-rise pant style which exposed the top of the butt and caused women to shave their pubic hair because the top of the area was revealed. When the Bumster trickled down into mainstream fashion, it came in the form of low-rise jeans, beloved by your favorite mid-2000s celebs who loved to show off their g-strings peeking out above their waistband.
Maybe this is just how fashion is going to be going forward. It isn’t about innovation. It’s about commercialism. It’s about sales. It’s about social media coverage. It’s about short-term attention. It’s about building a brand. The only way to build a brand is to be consistent, but I believe that there is a way to do it by innovating or making some changes and introducing new things along the way.
Yay! Italy! Milan Fashion Week was always my favorite out of the four weeks when I was younger. Now with the revamped Gucci, Milan is even more of a staple than it used to be. Some people even skip London and go straight to Milan from New York. I used to always love Milan because I felt that the designers often presented a unified front in the sense that they always designed very feminine and womanly clothes. I also used to love Dolce & Gabbana and I looked forward to the show each season. Now I don’t care for it as much as before but I can still appreciate the beauty. Things have changed slightly but Milan still remains one of the highlights of fashion month for me.
London Fashion Week is not normally my favorite fashion week out of the big four. My favorite show always tends to be Topshop, which, as a fast-fashion retailer, is not expected. I think there have been some major losses to London Fashion Week, the same way that New York has experienced an exodus this season, especially with Tom Ford choosing to return to America. His was a show that you could count on for glitz and glamour. Regardless of the losses, there were still a few great shows. Here are my favorite looks!
A vital historical inaccuracy which we continue to perpetrate is the premise of flappers wearing fringe. I didn’t actually know this was the case until I read an article on Racked detailing the history of the infamous flapper dress. Think about every flapper costume you’ve ever seen on Halloween, any photoshoot in a magazine, any movie set in the jazz age – the dresses all look the same. Short and flirty with lots of fringing. Only when Hollywood tried to portray the 1920s party girls on the big screen did the extra fringing, filled with embellishments, become part of the look – and it was done for that reason, the look. Hollywood costume designers embellished the dresses so they were striking on screen, catching the light and sparking for the cameras. Real flappers didn’t wear heavy fringe. Nor did they wear super short dresses. The hemlines of their dresses were much longer than the above-the-knee styles that we wear today, and although that length seems “long” for modern standards it would’ve been too risque, too scandalous for the 1920s.
On the back of this inaccuracy, I began to think about other periods in fashion. When we think of each decade, we tend to be able to give a vague description of the styles. For example, the 1950s conjure up the full-skirted prom style dresses and Americana – blue jeans and white t-shirts like what James Dean wore. The 1960s are mini skirts and go-go boots. The 1970s are hippy-chic with flares. The 1980s are all about big, big, big with shoulder pads and power suits. The 1990s are minimalist. The 2000s were tacky-chic. But what is the present day? And what will they get wrong about us in the future?
The 2010s have been strange. Nothing new has come out of this time period in terms of fashion. Everything is instead a look back to the past. That can even be seen in the styles of denim we wear. Something as small as jeans can show a lot about culture. We started the 2010s off in skinny jeans, a run over from the 2000s when bootcut jeans disappeared to be replaced by skinny jeans, originally called drainpipes. Even these were a hark back to the past, popularized by the likes of the Rolling Stones in the 60s or even Elvis Presley in the 50s. Acid wash was a popular style in 2011 – 2012, and this was a reach back to the 80s. High waisted styles of skinnies were popular too, always with lots of elastane inside.
The silhouette got a little bit more relaxed for some people starting in (I think) 2013 when Topshop introduced the Mom jeans. Originally intended as a little bit of a joke, Mom jeans are meant to be like the jeans worn by mothers in the 1980s and 90s. High-waisted, rigid denim in an often unflattering shape, they tend to flatten and elongate your butt. I never got into these. Early adopters started wearing these towards the beginning of the decade but by 2015 onwards they were as commonplace as skinny jeans. It has now gotten to the stage where people have proclaimed skinny jeans to be dead (but we all know they will never be gone fully).
In 2017, the most coveted jean style is a pair of vintage light blue Levi’s that make your butt look amazing. Some people DIY the hems to be raw edge too. If buying vintage isn’t looking back to the past, I don’t know what is. We are in a phase where anything goes now. Denim is embellished, ripped, slashed, frayed, patched. Anything you can do to jeans, we now do. I think the increasingly casual way of dress and the impact of denim is what the 2010s will be remembered for.
What about denim will they be able to get wrong in the future? In 2050, when they are making a movie set in the 2010s how can they really go wrong when we have everything all at once? I just hope people keep their old Topshop jeans because, genuinely, I use the new Topshop styles as an indicator of where things are going with denim -100%.
A months or so ago, Fashionista.com published an article entitled “Free the Nipple: How the NSFW Runway Trend Translates to Retail”, a story about how nipples are prominent on the runway, often exposed through sheer fabrics or implied via the whole no-bra look, and how this movement has now reached fast-fashion stores and mass-acceptance. I’d agree with this. Perhaps it’s just living in New York and attending a very liberal school, but I’d say this is definitely the case. Most people aren’t afraid to go braless anymore, something that was frowned upon just a few years ago, and some people go even further. I remember watching a Seinfeld episode where Elaine buys her friend a bra as a gift because her friend always goes braless and gets so much attention. In turn, her friend then wears just the bra and no shirt to make a point. It was funny and classed as totally scandalous at the time, yet nowadays it is totally normal.
I created a few looks on Polyvore, as shown above, which feature either bras as shirts, bralets, mesh shirts, or lacy sheer bodysuits. I wanted to show the various different ways you could style this look for different occasions. I find myself wearing similar outfits on the regular and not feeling risque in the slightest. It’s funny how quickly things become norms.
The Fashionista article was particularly interesting because it was in the long form, something that they don’t do too often, and featured an interview with a trend forecaster who offered further insight into the matter. I’m always interested in what trend forecasting agencies have to say because they are meant to be the people who know what is happening in fashion before it even happens. At my school, we have access to databases like WGSN where we can see trend forecasts for the upcoming seasons, the same level of access that brands and other organizations can pay for. I find it fascinating to see if they are actually right or not. Often they are.
Read the article that I linked above and let me know what you think about this “trend”, if you can even call women’s body parts a trend (which is a whole other talking point).
“Free the Nipple” – information from the organization pioneering the current version of the movement
I decided that in my week before beginning my job and internship I was going to style a little shoot. Originally I had planned to bring in a model but then I thought I should just try it out myself, and I think it turned out pretty nicely. What was intended to be just a small photoshoot turned into a lookbook video. Honestly, I like the outcome. It was fun to shoot. I got a new camera so I have been playing around with it and trying to work out the settings etc. This was a cool, creative project for me. Maybe I’ll do some more!
This was filmed at the beginning of June, so two whole months ago now. As I had mentioned before, I started off this summer thinking that I wanted to do styling and personal styling on myself seemed like a good avenue to go down. I thought about making more videos like this for YouTube and doing various lookbooks but alas decided against it. Since I waited so long to post this, the majority of the pieces are unavailable now, having been heavily discounted in the summer sales. Apologies for the inconvenience of this and if I choose to make a similar video in the future I will definitely be more timely!
This is one of the most iconic Alexander McQueen collections due to the finale dress. Made with real flowers that rotted off during the show, the dress was meant to represent the idea that beauty decays and is not forever. This particular piece has been analyzed time and time again by fashion scholars, museum exhibitions (Savage Beauty, for example), and die hard fashion kids on Tumblr. However, the rest of the collection is just as extraordinary. Overwhelmingly pretty and romantic, the collection is a standout from the designer and in my top three favorite shows of his.
I feel like we just don’t see runway shows like this anymore. Clothing is much more commercialized nowadays with things ready to be worn straight off the runway and on Instagram. You can’t imagine people wearing McQueen’s designs for likes, because they weren’t that kind of pieces. People often debate whether fashion is an art form and with McQueen’s designs it is easy to argue that it is. He created beautiful, intricate, museum-worthy pieces that were not made just to be sent to retailers to sell on the shop floor. If you see McQueen in Barneys it won’t look identical to the runway pieces because they make modifications to make the collection more sellable and wearable for the everyday customer. I’m so curious as to what this collection will have looked like in the stores because you know the big gowns will have been changed, but I wonder by how much.
I hate to admit it but I’ve fallen into the Kardashian’s trap. It started off innocently, watching their show whilst eating breakfast in the morning if I had nowhere to rush off to and now I’ve found myself invested in their external businesses, purely because of what I’ve seen on the show.
I’ve been vocal in the past about my distaste for the Kardashian/Jenners in the fashion industry and I still stand by that partially. I don’t think Kendall should be booking all of the modelling jobs she is but you also can’t knock her for getting a paycheck and taking advantage of the awesome opportunities that come her way. You can’t knock Kim for sitting front row at fashion shows or wearing vintage Galliano or Vivienne Westwood (as she has been favoring recently). If she gets invited to the shows and has the resources to wear these clothes, of course she would. And finally, I can’t knock Kanye for his Adidas line because that truly is his passion and you can see that clearly.
The things that I refused to give the Kardashians a pass for in the past were their clothing lines. I’m not a huge fan of the celebrity designer trend and the fact that just because they have a well known name they can easily find financial backers and launch a line like its nothing. However, since watching the show and learning a little bit more about the brands coming out of the KarJen klan currently, I’ve become slightly more intrigued.
First off, there is Kendall + Kylie, a contemporary line sold in stores like Bloomingdale’s, Lord & Taylor and Nordstrom. They sell clothing, shoes, and accessories. It was a full-on brand from its very first season. On an episode that I just watched (a late repeat), Kendall and Kylie are at their showroom in New York with Nicole Phelps from Vogue Runway. Phelps is there to review the collection. When the pair are taking her around the showroom, they pick up some of their favorite pieces and describe them as cool and simple and can’t say much more than that. They can’t describe their customer besides the fact that she used to be a California girl but is now more than that. Phelps doesn’t seem too impressed. I know that the show is scripted to some extent but I do feel like Kendall and Kylie’s lack of descriptive adjectives to really explain to Phelps what their collection meant and stood for was genuine. They aren’t really involved in the creation of the line besides giving final approval and being the face of the brand and that is evident. Their role aside, the merchandise is actually cute and if you were to see it on the floor in a Nordstrom store you would probably buy it. The only downside to the brand is the price-point. They wanted to differentiate the line from others they have done in the past, like the PacSun collection or the Topshop collaboration. This was meant to be more high-end and the prices reflect that, although I don’t think there is that much of an evolution in the styles shown. In the end, Nicole Phelps wrote a very fair review for Vogue.
The next KarJen brand that I was interested in is the Kids Supply, Kim and Kanye’s childrenswear capsule collection. Because of the size, I instantly find childrenswear adorable. It helps that North West is the best dressed child in the world (besides the extremely age-inappropriate lace and mesh shirts that they used to dress her in) so I feel like the couple know how to dress kids. The collection featured an embroidered bomber with “Calabasas” motifs (which was reversible too), mini slip dresses, caps with “kids” embroidered across the front, and t-shirts. There was a small product selection but it sold out within the weekend. Some items are on pre-order. I liked this line and I’m honestly not mad at the couple for trying to enter the childrenswear market. The pricing was high but you also cannot criticize someone for that. It’s like when people laugh at Gwyneth Paltrow and her exorbitantly priced gift guides on Goop. It’s not for everybody and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean that it is an invalid market to target just because you don’t fit into their income demographic.
Finally, the brand which I was actually the most impressed with and would love to see in person is Khloe’s denim line. Launched in October last year and entitled Good American, the line features jeans, skirts, and jackets in sizes 00 – 24. It is meant to cater to every body shape and fit and flatter all. I think that’s a bold statement to make yet everybody who I’ve seen wearing the jeans looks amazing. Khloe and her partner have done a good job on the fits, with the Good Cuts with the released hem being my personal favorite style. The premium denim market is pretty full, with brands like Paige, Frame, and J Brand being longstanding stars. However, Khloe’s line managed to disrupt the norm and proved to be Nordstrom’s second biggest launch ever. The line itself was the biggest denim launch of all time. It made $1 million on its first day. Pretty impressive for a reality tv star, huh. I think that figure alone just shows the bankability of the KarJen family. It makes sense that they want to capitalize on the fashion industry while they can. Their looks are some of the most influential.
I have softened on the KarJen family. I used to think of them as representing the decline in culture (and I guess that argument still could be made) and everything that was wrong with modern society, but now I can appreciate their hustle. This family is damn good at business and knows how to build brands. It will be interesting to see how long each of their brands continue for. In the past, there has been Kardashian Kollection (a collaboration between Kourtney, Kim and Khloe) which was sold at Sears. This line was unsuccessful. They have the DASH boutiques which are more of a tourist destination than a fashion spot. Then Kendall and Kylie have their previous collections and brands. As with everything, the brands will live as long as they continue to be popular. Judging by social media and sales figures, they’ll be here to stay for a while.