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A CLASSIC BEAUTY OR A SHALLOW AFFAIR ?

  • TEXT BY FRAUKE FENTLOH
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    FRAUKE FENTLOH

    Editor

    Frauke Fentloh is a freelance writer who lives and works in Berlin. Her interest in fashion lies in its cultural codes and contradictions: its modes of conformity and individual expression, the obsession with the new and reproduction of the old. She has studied Communication and Literature in Berlin and Paris.

  • Collage by ALINA LARISSA
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    ALINA LARISSA

    Editor
    Illustrator

    L I L A is better than B L A C K

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Piece of Me

“I want people to be afraid of the women I dress”  Alexander McQueen

 

Fashion is often considered a shallow affair, a colourful surface with little behind except tiny dresses and fancy shoes. And even if we grant it some social relevance this often lies in its means of compensation – when economy crashes fashion goes retro and all the merrier. Its glitz and glamour make grey reality a bit more bearable, it seems. Or does it not?

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While it’s true that a lot in the fashion industry is about pretty clothes and flawless bodies there are however some designers who choose to display not only beauty but also a monstrous, somewhat disturbing element. Instead of letting us escape the daily dread they throw us into a realm of shades. Alexander McQueen notoriously sent his models down the runway in torn and bloodstained dresses, Thom Browne turned his recent women’s shows into costume horror stories. And Rick Owens is a reliant supplier of dark and draped, goth-inspired luxury garments – he once famously described his work “as Frankenstein and Garbo, falling in love in a leather bar”.

Challenging classic beauty and involving notions like crisis and fear certainly isn’t the easiest way to go for a fashion designer. But although morbid designs are far from reigning the fashion world they have made their mark over the past decades.

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The dark side first found its way into fashion in the 1980s when japanese designers Rei Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto descended on Paris. With their inky and meager aesthetics they shook up the European fashion world, which at the time was all about bright coulours, wide shoulders and shameless abundance. Instead of the cheery power look they promoted loose and unstructured garments, ripped dresses, sometimes marked with what looked like bullet holes. Their designs, plain and seemingly formless, were meant to challenge common standards of beauty. Kawakubo and Yamamoto were soon labeled anti-fashion and Hiroshima-chic, their followers nick-named ’the crows’.

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Like Martin Margiela would do some years later they emphasized the imperfect and unfinished, showing seams and open hems and garments in dissolution – deconstruction had found its way into fashion. At Comme des Garçons Kawakubo experimented with unusal volumes, creating other-worldly bodies and distorted silhouettes with padded dresses. Critics dubbed the designs as ‘tumor’ dresses.

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Read the full story in I Love You #10 – The Crisis Issue. Buy it here

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