Tuesday, January 29, 2008

GUCCI: Plaid + Plaid = Punk?

The most recent issue of W magazine features a mini-mag, one of those annoying 50-page affairs that requires you to flip the magazine over to read it. It mostly focuses on a fawning interview with Keira Knightley and James McAvoy (fine, fine, they were absurdly hot in Atonement, got it), and seems to contain exclusively ads for the new Gucci Spring '08 collection. The photos are, in my opinion, really strikingly gorgeous (well shot, Inez & Vinoodh). And the clothes...ooh! Normally I don't love the Gucci hypersnob aesthetic; this is a new direction for them, and I heartily approve.

What's interesting is how sharp and rock-and-roll these looks are, considering the ultra-traditional preppy prints and styles that they're made from. Exaggerated glen plaid is tailored into skinny cropped trousers and combined with a high-necked blouse in an exaggerated box plaid...and somehow, with an intimidating tight leather jacket and an impeccably styled badass model, the entire thing looks impossibly edgy.

Again, a ridiculously preppy ensemble--pink knee-length straight skirt and coordinating colorblocked shell--looks anything but stodgy with its sharp leather accessories. I love handy visual contradictions, and this tickles me. If only I'd had a python biker jacket to pair with my J. Crew sweaters in high school, maybe the bad boys would've asked me to the prom.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Why Fashion is Fascinating

When I decided to go to fashion school after I graduated with a degree in sociology, some people were confused. "Isn't that kind of...unrelated?" they'd ask, and I imagine they were silently adding, "...and kind of a step down?" They wondered why on earth, after proving that I had brains and could Contemplate Issues of Social Science, I would want to throw it all away on the frivolous, anti-academic ditz-land of fashion.

Simple! None of the above is true. Fashion is pretty obviously related to sociology--the study of how we behave as societies--and is a part of everyone's life, even those highbrow scholars who think that caring about clothes is for the weak. WRONG! We all wear clothes, every day, don't we? And even the most clueless make decisions about what they wear--decisions that have definite meaning and importance.

Fashion is the only way of telling people what we like, what we do, who we're friends with, what "scene" we're in, and often how much money we make--in short, who we are, or perhaps who we want to be--without saying a word. No introduction necessary (and no laborious hours of get-to-know-you small talk, nor wasting of far too much money on drinks). The fashion choices made by those who claim to be anti-fashion are just as revealing as the fashionistas' outfits parading down Rodeo Drive.

So we can see that fashion is anything but entirely shallow and frivolous (we're not saying it isn't somewhat, though...!). It is an essential tool for expressing yourself. Madonna says we've gotta express ourselves, so it must be true.

Whether we like it or not, fashion speaks volumes, and it has its own languages and dialects. Linguists study the rise and fall of trends in speech patterns, the changes language goes through depending on region, the social and psychological implications of how people speak...and even the just-plain-hilarious aspects of language and slang. Same with fashion. It's fascinating, revealing, ridiculous, totally necessary...and utterly absorbing to fashion sociology wonks like me. Since my friends and loved ones can only tolerate so much of my ranting about trends in jean leg width or the relative attributes of various brands' marketing campaigns...what better place to let it all out than the trusty ol' internet?

What's hot, not, in, out and why...what makes me stop and gawk on L.A. sidewalks...what runways and reality have to do with each other, if anything...notes from me and people all over about what style means on a daily basis...this is The New Black.*

*doesn't whatever is "the new black" change all the time? ha, that's the genius of it!