Sunday, 10 November 2013

Fashion Talk: Fashion Is An Expensive Fantasy

Alexander McQueen FW2013-14
Fashion is absurd I could always attest to that statement. Fashion is also a waste a common perception we always hear and like the former, I can attest to this one as well. 

Nevertheless, there is a side of fashion that not many people are able to see: Fashion is the force that encourages you to bring out and embrace your inner fantasy.

Taking cue from Lewis Caroll's iconic masterpiece Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, think of the fashion world as wonderland and we, fashionistas, as Alice. Within this surreal sphere, the designers are the white rabbits. 

Season upon season, we would faithfully follow the white rabbits, running through the uncertain depths of the enchanting wonderland. While the real white rabbit may take us to the Red Queen’s castle, in this case, our journey ends at the fashion show venues.

Backstage, nervousness conquer the white rabbits or the designers. They are walking here and there, making sure that every creation fits on the models like luxurious handcrafted lambskin gloves; every detail is well-taken care off; and there is not an iota of space for mistakes. 

Marc Jacobs FW2013-14
Subsequently, their hearts are pounding wildly, thinking of reviews that will appear in every media outlet on the next day. Would it be good or God forbids, vice versa? Only He can tell what’s exactly running through the editors' minds.

As usual, the subjects are anticipating. Not for the show but for the Red Queens – fashion editors in layman term – to arrive and fill the front row seats. Now that the queens are here, the designers switch their roles from white rabbits to storytellers. 

As storytellers, designers craft their stories in the form of collections. Each collection acts as a gathering of beautiful verses that chronicles every movement of the tale, starting from the first look and down to the last.

While reality may sell without too much of an effort, there are designers who want their customers to leave their own world, even just for a while, and embrace the fantasies they have created for them. 

John Galliano
Fantasies vary from subtle role playing of iconic characters or personalities in different interpretations of time; memories of travelling to inspiring places; and perhaps, the surreal subjects taken from famous artworks and paintings.

Take John Galliano for example. For years, Galliano is known for his extreme take on surrealism. His works are often deemed as frivolous or eccentric; too risky to be commercialised. 

Yet, women were amazed by his theatrical efforts season after season. He made them embrace audacity and eccentricity without fear. 

Furthermore, thanks to the surfeit of fantasy and his bravery in marrying the DNA of Dior designs with utmost whimsicality, Galliano has successfully propelled Dior to a greater height within the fashion industry as a highly revered fashion house and couturier in the entire world.

Haider Ackermann FW2013-14
Through these “wearable fantasies”, fashionistas are able to escape from the bitterness of real life in a very therapeutic way. 

That is by merging their personal characteristic with the collection’s storyline, hence forming an exclusive world that is brimming with nothing but pure happiness. 

But of course, to acquire this kind of happiness would require you to part with big sum of money, as producing an art of this level is certainly not cheap.

Anyone can tell you that there is no difference between wearing an inexpensive high street label trench coat with the one from Burberry Prorsum. 

Just like how we assume roses – no matter what they are known as, a rose is still a rose – the same way goes to the trench coats: no matter what the differences are - the labels, the materials used, and where they were made – a trench coat is still a trench coat. 

Jean-Paul Gaultier FW2013-14
Yet, that is certainly not the way how fashion should be looked at. To see fashion, one has to see it from a different point-of-view: not political, not economical but artistic.

Like other branches of arts, fashion is a result of several meticulous and time-consuming processes. To create a dress, let alone a collection, designers have to go through stages of rigorous steps. 

Thinking may not take hours but it could be days or even months; sketching can go from as little as 30 sketches and up to hundreds; and perfecting the designs until they achieve an agreeable level of perfection in terms of cut and detailing could take slightly longer than the other processes.

Next, add in the time spent on travelling to the exotic parts of the world, number of days dedicated to researches, and of course, the wealth of material and time spent by the artisans to create artisanal yet wearable work of arts. 

Lanvin FW2013-14
Don’t forget the amount of money spent on multiple advertising spreads in the first few pages of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue to entice fashionistas to buy – not merely on the products but rather on the unique brand experience or the “fantasy”. 

Combine the factors altogether into a math equation, it will culminate into a solid answer why a Chanel tweed boucle jacket can set you back up to RM70, 000.00 apiece or higher.   

Nevertheless, to change people’s perception on fashion is a rocket science on its own right. At the end of the day, most people will always see a bona fide Chanel tweed boucle jacket or a Birkin bag in gleaming black Nile crocodile leather from Hermès as a waste, not an investment – a notion that even God himself would not be able to alter – and fantasy does not deserve a place in our world at trying times like this. 

Thus said, fashionistas, let’s keep our heads high and revel in our fantasies with fashion. Sometimes, it feels great to dress as someone we are not, even when Halloween is officially over.       

*Runway images by style.com; John Galliano photo by Google. 

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