It may seem in my recent posts that I am fashion obsessed, fashion fanatic, fashion whore, what have you. Truth be told I am not. There are several parts to me recent strange behavior. Part one: as I mentioned before I’m going through some shit and refraining from substance abuse has caused me to credit card abuse. Part two, like all living creatures, man woman, cat, and dog, alike, I get caught up in shiny pretty things. Part three: I’m a Libra; I have a deep-rooted passion for beautiful things and find harmony when surrounded by beautiful things. This may make me vain I realize that. In the past I have surrounded myself with different types of beauty, weather it be art, music, dance, people, I always had some sort of beauty that I cling on to. Now this is not a rant about any of that, rather, the fact is that I was laying awake at night unable to sleep and thinking about my newfound love for luxury fashion. In particular I was thinking about Chanel and Alexander McQueen. I started to analyze why it was that I had a few niche designers that I had the utmost respect for. It is not because they are some of the highest level of luxury one can peruse but rather what they stand for. I bet many people don’t know this but the classic Chanel bag designed by Madam Coco herself was not to simply have a pretty thing for women to put their things in, but rather the first bag to provide a shoulder strap thus giving women the freedom to use both hands whereas before women used clutches limiting their range of movement. And that to me is in a nutshell what Chanel is about. Moving forward, creating statements through fashion in order to have an impact on social behavior. Perhaps not in a Nobel Prize winning sort of way, but important non the less. The house of Chanel creates pieces that are not only beautiful but contain very important elements as well. While maintaining the feminine mystique, 'femininity', and sexuality, there are the elements of androgyny, perhaps a bit of toughness, and a sexual appeal that needs to be able to suite the modern day woman. The clothing is allowing for the line to be blurred between feminine and masculine, while maintaining its provocative nature. Madame Coco wanted women to be allowed to be sexy, and also be practical. Now I’m sure looking at the runway shows one might think how are any of these clothes practical, well I do not believe it is the literal form of the clothing but rather the idea of the clothing that accomplish this. For me the philosophy speaks louder than the actual piece of fabric. For example, in the latest spring 2012 collection many references were made to the ocean, the slicked back hair with pearls, the fresh face 'out of the water' makeup, and the color schemes. The ocean is a very powerful reference, it is where life started, and the womb of life on earth one might even say, hence a symbol of femininity. The line itself of course had a few fun dresses and skimpy bikinis but must of the cuts were the trade mark boxy cut of Chanel, the classic Chanel jacket and dress pant, the tightly slicked back hair, all things that one might think to find in a men’s wear collection. However Chanel pairs this with elegance, beauty, femininity, and to my delight, a lack of fragility. These styling’s are not of delicate little sea creatures but of 'I am woman hear me roar', politely, that is. Chanel marries the two wonderfully, creating, almost even elbowing, a space for the female to maintain her sexual allure while also giving off an air of strength, not the damsel in distress, or 'girl in picnic outfit looking for single male, must like cats". And it is in this sense that I would argue that Chanel is indeed very pragmatic and one of the leaders in our world of change.
Now McQueen of the other hand, is almost the opposite in terms if philosophy. Let me make a comparison, if Chanel is the da Vinci of fashion, McQueen is the Picasso, or even the Dali. McQueen’s line is not necessarily about a social stance, but rather an aesthetic undertaking. The pieces themselves are statements of aesthetics. They are not pretty; no they are shocking, disturbingly beautiful. They are like thought bubbles on the philosophy of aesthetics come to life. With out ugly there is no beauty, with out chaos we would not know order, and these are the works of McQueen. One might look at the headpieces and say, but you have put a woman’s head in a cage, what is that supposed to mean? That I fear would be a very narrow minded attempt to analyze the mind of this genius. These lines of clothing dose not exist in our world, but refer to a different time space capsule. Like Dali’s paintings the clothing are somewhere between a nightmare and wonderful fantasy, something one is tempted to delve into, but would have (literally) no idea how to get out of. These clothes do not exist for the change of here and now but for some other realm, perhaps the future, perhaps the past, perhaps something that has no end or beginning and simply is. I am not trying to claim that these are futuristic pieces that one would wear in the year 5670, though one could interpret it that way, which is not my approach. I believe that the clothes exist in a different magnitude then of what one just puts on their body, they are a range of philosophies that man has been battling with since the beginning of time.
Both designers are timeless in different ways, Chanel because it will always be at the forefront of fashion breaking old rules in order to create new ones and then breaking those in a never ending cycle, McQueen because the work is referencing something very raw and instinctual, ideas that have been troubling philosophers, artists, and all people alike since humanity, the question of what is beauty. His work is thought provoking, and questioning; once one answer is reveled another pops up. It is timeless.