This post was initially intended to be a comment to Gertie's thought-provoking question about the meaning of the phrase 'fashion-forward'. But as I was writing it, I realized I had to say more than would fit in a comment format. Gertie has a talent for digging up hot topics, and this is one of the reasons I enjoy reading her blog, besides the love for couture we both share, I believe.
I loved how she admitted that she had no idea what 'fashion-'forward' meant, when she was asked to create a look for the American Sewing Expo "Passion for Fashion" contest.
To me, FASHIONABLE refers to a garment, or the entire look, that has an up-to-date feel and is likely to appeal to certain number of people. I mean, fashion is when a group of people wants to wear certain types of clothes, right? Like, people are into color-blocked garments now...
Fashion is about trends. We get tired of things, we crave for change after a while. Pale hues follow saturated colors this year, for example. See this month's Vogue. Only understandable - our eyes want to rest to indulge in colors again as summer approaches.
But FASHION-FORWARD has to be more, it has to have elements of design, or construction, that make it stand-out from mass-produced clothes you are likely to find at many chain-stores.
Fashion-forward is about creating these trends, responding to what people are more likely to desire now, in broader context. In insecure times, some vintage fashions, or conservative garments could mean stability. I am not trying to trace some Freudian complexes to justify trends. I am just saying that fashion doesn't exist without a broader context and as the context and environment changes, so does fashion.
If you are interested in the subject, I highly recommend an out-of-print book by Tony and Claes Lewenhaupt called CROSSCURRENTS. It follows art, fashion and design from 1890 to 1989. Judge yourself:
"... the bewilderingly beautiful trailings and curves of Art Nouveau could tell much about the times, its longings and ideas. Should the style preserve the past or develop the future?
The wife and the home stayed in their locked position but daily papers, trains, and above all the bisycle let the outside world move in closer. Feminism was clamorous, but the tyranny of the corset was tighter than ever. And La Belle Epoque desperately held on to old ideals - wine, women and song - while Social Democratic Party united the masses in Europe.
The economy was good and that was what decided how far the freedom would be permitted to go. And, consequently, the hemline"Like it? I love this book. Here is more, now on 1980s:
"The obsession with physical fitness resulted in broader, fortified shoulders. When work-outs and jogging gave results, the fashion accentuated the muscular curves of the body."Designers who notice these trends ahead of trend-spotting companies are truly fashion-forward. McQueen, named by many commenters, was an innovative and extremely talented designer, and often fashion-forward, indeed. But so is Carl Lagerfeld, or Elbaz, or Galliano, Nicolas Ghesquiere, or Christopher Kane, or Vivienne Westwood.... (really in random order).
As for vintage, Gertie admitted, jokingly, that she is 'fashion-backward' (for her love of retro and vintage). But vintage can also look fashion-forward, mixed with unexpected accessories, shoes, bags, hairstyles. If not, it is a very strong personal statement, right? Passion? Maybe. Fashion? less likely.
What do you think, readers?