Sunday, 31 October 2010

Curing Fashion Fatigue

Image from i-D Magazine issue 304, winter 2009.

I have discussed the things which I dislike about fashion several times before on this blog; every so often they become so prominent in my mind that I get a sort of fashion fatigue and lose interest in fashion altogether. I was having one of those moments recently, but to combat it I decided to list all the designers, fashion houses, photographers etc. which I love, to remind myself that a few rotten elements need not spoil fashion as a whole in my mind.

It was actually quite a useful exercise to consolidate in my mind what I love about fashion. My scanned list is here. I don't expect people to read it through, but I do quite recommend making one. I'm sure there are people/things which I have missed off, and please excuse any spelling mistakes, because I just did it off the top of my head without researching or anything.

Obviously I couldn't resist doing a dislike list too. This will probably be more contentious. Remember, it's just my opinion, which is by no means to be taken as an absolute.

*debating my inclusion of Riccardo Tisci. Love Givenchy HC sometimes..I think it's just his menswear offends me so much. Probably best not to take this 2nd list too seriously.

I say I don't like most magazines which is, for the most part, true. I really like fashion best when it is presented well on blogs, in 'real' life (in shops and on people), in books and in exhibitions/museums. The latter two have always appealed to me particularly because when fashion is treated with the gentleness and intellectual rigour of a talented author, researcher or curator, its greatest qualities can shine through without all the off-putting distractions which often cloud them otherwise.

Most of my interest in fashion is thanks to fashion exhibitions which I have seen in London since a relatively young age: the Armani exhibition at the Royal Academy, an exhibition of 60s-70s fashion at the Barbican Gallery (?) about 10 years ago, shows of young designers' work at the (sadly now defunct) Crafts Council Gallery, various exhibitions at the Fashion & Textiles Museum and, of course, the V&A's permanent displays, all stand out particularly.

More recently, the Hussein Chalayan show at the Design Museum, the Viktor & Rolf at the Barbican, and the Stephen Jones hats exhibition and the Fashion v Sport show at the V&A have proved to be brilliant. The Yves Saint Laurent retrospective which I saw in Paris earlier this year was absolutely breathtaking, and about six years ago I saw a really great Emilio Pucci exhibition in Florence.

I can't wait to see the current Japanese fashion exhibition at the Barbican Gallery, and the Fashion Illustration show at the Design Museum. I have also resolved to read more fashion books, and to set aside the time to go to more of the talks and discussions about fashion which a lot of the museums I mentioned put on. I often wish that I had studied fashion or design history and theory. It might not be too late to change that, but the priority at the moment is work.

edit: thanks for all the great comments. I've posted a brief comment clarifying my 'dislike list'


  1. You and Me share alot of likes :D haha but i have to say that Ricardo Tisci, for me at least, is a talented designer and he's produced some amazing womens ready to wear and couture, but with that said I understand the dislike because everyone who thinks they like fashion is in love with Givenchy now it's really overrated. And I agree the menswear is bleh and Balmain is so overrated now too but i loved the past collections better 2011 got boring and uninspired.

  2. you would adore my design history tutor, i have never men such a fun, witty, crude but very charming, obsessive and knowlegdeable person. i think he would love this post.

    really interesting to see your views and who and why. i have so many books and never seem to find the time to read them properly. once my last year of uni has finished i'm going to start living and doing things i actually want to do!

    glad you liked the watch

  3. I agree with the Tisci comments, his menswear has reached a dead end. Also don't forget the upcoming Dior / René Gruau exhibition!

  4. Oh My~~ I had an "orgasm" reading your dislike list!! Finally somebody said something about Riccardo Tisci and Friday Ginanini! But after all, fashion can never separate from business and to say its fatigue, I'd rather call it occasionally doubt ~~ Great read !!!

  5. curious to know your reasoning behind including JW anderson in your dislike list....

  6. You didn't mention Jeremy Scott. He should be on the top of your 'likes' page.

  7. Hi,

    Would be interesting to know your reasons for disliking LV, Marc Jacobs and CB's Burberry too. :)

  8. I just went today to the Japanese Fashion exhibition. Interesting but I missed a bit if the magic they captured in the Victor& Rolf exhibition with the amazing " Doll House". Of course it is fascinating to see how the Japanese approach fashion. The way they deconstruct clothes questioning how clothes can be put on the human body. The way they work from the one dimensional and transform it to the three dimensional ( " The Flatness "). They really conquer the boundaries how much to de-form clothes and therefore the body but on the other hand my problem is that I think fashion is to be worn an . Sometimes I think that Japanese Fashion is either too cartoony or too abstract and just created to be exhibited in a museum. But it is definately worth seeing especially Yamamoto whose designs definately have caught the essence of eastern beauty and poetic about them. I understand your thought about approaching fashion more intelectually ( that's why I called myself " the fashion philosopher ") but here I must tell you in the end fashion is a visual art and it should be worn by real people and seen in a real life context and not too much put down in words and written about in complex essays. For that we have poetry and literature. I have read my first book about fashion as I was nine year old ( I was lucky and I found the book twenty years later again- it is a German fashion history book written by a Russian in the 1960s- really great!!) and I keep reading a lot of biographies of designers because I think that it makes you better understanding the designs if you know something about the live of the designers and their " moment in time ", their historical background. Also the more you know about fahshion history the more you understand the links between today's design and the past and how today's designer are transforming old fashion ideas and translate them into new designs. To go back to study fashion.., you do not need to go back to school to be honest. You already have an excellent knowledge and a very good gut feeling about fashion. Just do what you do. People like us " study " always fashion by looking at people, reading and writing about fashion, going to fashion exhibitions.... that is in our nature. I am just giving up my day job to completely emerge into the fashion world with all it's pro and cons. I just love fashion! And my personal last note: JW Anderson is just boring.

  9. lol victoria beckham...(i approve).
    this is a damn good list, i'm especially appreciating the 'early 90s bad taste' bit.


  10. i love givenchy men's wear. sure it's getting a bit repetitive but it's a great look and aura being put forth i think.

    you dont like marc jacobs? thats kind of a shocker!

    but speaking of rude, obnoxious, and over commercial... that to me sums up terry richardson which i noticed in your LIKE section (some of his early work is an exception, but now i feel like he's a total mess)

  11. we're gonna have to take it outside for including j.w. anderson on your dislike list. lol. but asides from that, i agree with you 99%. actually make that 98.5% because i do love mid 2000s burberry, but his last couple collections (especially women's) were complete rubbish. wait i lied again, i thoroughly enjoyed men's autumn/winter 2010.

  12. ah you dont like alexander wang?
    i agree with your list completely except for that sore thumb!

    i think he is an amazing and talented designer, creating himself off of such a minimalist idea, yet completely distinguishing himself from the rest.

    Dropping out of Parsons only in his SOPHOMORE year to create a line that has turned into a huge success is truly inspirational.

    I ask you to reconsider! ;-P

  13. I think I get what you're saying with your dislike list but sometimes it isn't the fault of the designers - more the hype machine around them. Your posts always give me plently to think about and tend to remind ME about what I like about fashion.

  14. I like your handwriting. That is all.

  15. I'm really pleased so many people have commented on this, great comments.

    Lucinda is spot on about it mostly being the hype around certain designers that I dislike. I literally just thought 'what are the fashion dislikes that spring to mind?' and then made the's hardly intellectually justified or anything, and I'm defiinitely prepared to be convinced otherwise. It's really just the lighthearted counterpart to my like list.

    My issue with J W Anderson is that we are constantly being told he's the next big thing in menswear but so far I'm only seeing soulless Raf Simons re-hashes, and some stupid ugly boots with crystals all over the toe which I think really pushed me over the edge.

    CB's Burberry is not very original (this season's shearlings were almost identical to FW05 Raf and FW07? Dior Homme), it's very commercial and sellable..but it's always hyped up massively by the fash media because of the big advertising budgets that Burberry controls. Ditto with Gucci and LV. Marc Jacobs' work just isn't interesting any more, since he decided to become a man-skirt wearing 'jock'. And his brand of quirkiness has never resonated well with me, but that's just a personal taste issue.

    Fashion Philosopher - very interesting on the Japanese Fashion exhib, I can't wait to see it.

    Alexander Wang - I think he is very overhyped and frequently *references* other designers work in his collections . Read Cathy Horyn on Alexander Wang (and Riccardo Tisci) if you're in need of a laugh.

    Oh, and Terry Richardson is a guilty LIKE. Certainly can't give that one an 'intellectual' justification. I think I like him because he offends so many people, for the same sort of contrarian reasaon that I dislike the big brands (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Burberry..) that *everyone* seems to like.

  16. I love lists they are so cool :)
    Each time I´m not knowing what to do while silly latin lessons for example I´m writing lists :D
    favourites: like/have to do / where I want to travel :D

  17. thanks for the idea...i'm soooooo making one today!!!



  18. What's your take on modern day Karl Lagerfeld/Chanel? Just curious...

  19. i love how raf simmons and jil sander are in the same <3 list as dolce & gabbana and thiery mugler.i appreciate the minimalist and understated persona though passion is better exuded by boldness and sex.