Asian street fashion is an enigma to most Westerners. Even if they have lived on the continent for an extended period of time, chances are that their country of origin or ancestors has more influence on their style than their newly-adopted homeland. I lived in Thailand for three years at the end of high school, and it still tickles me pink that once the temperature drops below 25, many Thais will pull out parkas and puffer jackets, simply because that is ‘cold’ for them, and it also gives them a chance to experience winter fashion in a tropical climate.
Shoichi Aoki uses Fresh Fruits to display the wide range in Japanese street fashion, across a variety of ages and demographics. From the adorable toddlers who are rainbow from head to toe, to Lolita girls, to couples dressing in matching punk-inspired outfits, Aoki has selected a large sample size and even included some outfits that almost conform to the Western fashion sensibilities. The age range also seems to discredit the theory that street fashion is primarily a youth culture.
I love the distinct style which, in some instances (like the Lolita style), have the basis in Western fashion from decades or centuries passed. In some outfits, I can clearly pick the influences from the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. But though the past has influenced the design of the clothing itself, the Japanese have truly made it their own through their original pairings of “clashing” (to the Western eye) patterns, colours and fabrics. What really inspires me, though, is how individual each person looks, even if the themes of their clothing are similar when you really scratch the surface. In their own unique ways, they combine Japanese cultural identity with both traditional Japanese dress and Western fashion, to create a look that is all their own....more
I have to admit I am somewhat of a fashion novice. Therefore, while I knew who Alexander McQueen was (and let’s face it, who doesn’t?), I knew very little about the man himself, apart from the tragic circumstances surrounding his death.
Enter Savage Beauty. Apart from the striking holographic cover, where McQueen’s face morphs into almost a graphic skull, the chosen designs are something to pore over with envy, and the preface and introduction are written by two close friends of McQueen himself.
The preface, by Andrew Bolton, deals with McQueen’s overarching inspiration – love. Bolton asserts that McQueen used the themes of love and beauty to expose the prejudices and limitations of society, while also using his art as a form of self-expression. McQueen himself stated, “What you see in the work is the person himself. And my heart is in my work.” McQueen also drew heavily on Romanticism in many of his collections, emphasising the concept of the Sublime – the quality of greatness, which can be shown in many forms, such as aesthetic, physical, moral, intellectual, metaphysical, spiritual or artistic. McQueen himself saw nature as a vehicle for the Sublime, and thus he included many natural elements in his designs, such as razor clam shells transformed into a shift dress, or a gown covered in flowers that would wilt, and eventually shrivel up and die.
In the introduction, Susannah Frankel focuses more on the man himself, rather than the concepts behind his work. She calls McQueen “magnificently antiestablishment at heart”, and launches into a short history of McQueen’s early life and career. From an apprenticeship at Savile Row, he graduated from a highly regarded course at Central St Martins College of Art & Design. After graduation, he made a name for himself as a critically acclaimed designer but was still receiving government assistance while producing his own lines. His interest in history was influenced by his mother’s ability to trace their genealogy back to the Huguenots, French Protestants of the 16th and 17th century. Unlike most designers, who didn’t execute their own patterns, McQueen could cut a garment in mere minutes, while crouching on the floor of his studio, and was considered a genius by the fashion world at large.
The resulting book is a lush and organic collection that showcases the many facets of McQueen himself – his love of love; strong natural themes; Scottish nationalism; and a desire to break the boundaries of fashion. As someone new to the Alexander McQueen legend, the pictures alone fascinated me, but Bolton’s theory of the inspiration behind McQueen’s designs shed a whole new light on the designer and his wonderful, yet tragic, life....more