Monday, 31 March 2014

Video portrait: Jack Barford

Playing around with: new lens, fly cam, light flares, blossom, and trying to find the funniest soundtrack.
Dark grey Sunday in Hyde Park with Jack; test edit for insta (looks better watched on phone).

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The evolution of normcore

The normcore debate has been a fantastic demonstration of the complexities involved in fashion's  turbulent attitude. Like a spoilt child, the industry changes it's mind quickly and decidedly - but when it's decisions are so fascinating, there's no chance that any of us are going to disagree or look away. The patterns and movement of trend continue to baffle some people whilst others endlessly ride their own wave of style - yet occasionally, an aesthetic comes about that splits fashion's loyal followers into two very distinct camps. 

Coined by New York trend forecasting agency K-Hole, normcore is the label used for those with a desire to be "sartorially blank". Comprising mostly of simple and neutral casual wear, the look seems to have originated from downtown NYC - and has been popularly described as "what your Dad wore in the nineties"(think beige chinos, tucked in t-shirts and laced up trainers), or how a 'normal' character would be styled in a present-day film or sitcom. The position tries to emulate the look of someone who doesn't care about fashion - but what's difficult about normcore is that only 'fashion people' are participating in the dialogue - as well as the trend itself.

image via daily Seinfeld

With this in mind, I'm not completely sure what the two very distinct fashion camps actually are. Is one either for normcore or against it? And would that mean that if you prescribe to the trend, you're sartorially aware, despite making a stand to oppose such a fashion position? Unlike most logical discussions, a conversation or investigation into the topic of normcore probably won't help you understand it. But what is worth noting is the recognisable movement - particularly within the fashion blogger network - towards a much more simple aesthetic.

If, as quoted by Sean Monahan when interviewed about the 'craze' on Huff Post Live, normcore really is about being "sartorially blank", then the appeal seems paradoxical. It's suggested in the interview that K-Hole understands the concept of being individual as something not to be celebrated. Yet those who are embracing the normcore movement seem to be hugely celebrated for doing so - both in terms of stylish individuals and brands alike.

 From top left to bottom right: Acne Studios, Acne Studios, The Row, Damir Doma, Studio NicholsonMatthew Miller
Images via the instagram feed of blogger India Rose

Even the frivolities of the most recent batch of fashion weeks failed to shake off the desire of many to be plain. An international array of brands dominated the runways with incredibly simple, neutral, and often layered looks: long coats, straight trousers and regular, flat work shoes or trainers received more of the 'cool press' than the elaborate and colorfully varied looks seen elsewhere - as did the stylish show guests who were aware of the movement. Somehow, the decision to be reserved and modest - to be a little bit too desperately normal - made all of the bouncing dresses and glittering high heels look kinda outdated. Of course, the point is that these plain looks were not boring. Immaculately tailored with highly considered use of material and movement; ambitiously measured in volume and length; defiant lines, original silhouettes.. this new aesthetic was just that: new. And isn't that just what our spoilt child fashion so consistently craves?

Recognising trend is not as much of an art as starting one. Yet it will always be interesting to pick up on the adopted habits of the wide-reaching fashion community - whether it's easy to understand or not. Being normal - to the core - apparently just got interesting. But those who have always just been normal and don't really get it just got a little bit more dull.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Mind mapping

Just an example of how I work around a brief.
This was a curatorial brief during uni, in which we had to create a show proposal based around the theme of a lacuna. A lacuna is a gap, a break, a space. I decided to build from this idea by identifying the lacuna that many young people go through between university and finding that dream job.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Fashion Week: Show Production

Catwalk shows receive worldwide press, which focuses on the collection of garments being presented. The pieces stand as an investigation of a theme; a sartorial dialogue that the designer expresses through the looks and the attitude with which they are walked. Some collections work in a stark environment, with nothing more than white floors and lighting, rows of chairs and a runway. However, the elevation of a show through its dedicated production is often what intensifies the experience of watching the collection - and in many ways extends the designer's theme throughout the show as a whole.

In a time when the exclusivity of the catwalk situation has been lost through the far-reaching networks of social media, it makes sense for brands to create an experience that can only be appreciated by those actually in attendance. Whilst music and lighting have always played an important role in shows, the introduction of immersive experiences - particularly technological ones - has become more and more common place during fashion weeks over the last few years. The direction and production of this ever-more important element of a fashion show continues to fascinate me, and I'm intrigued by the fine line of focus between the clothes themselves, and their setting.

As is clear from their blog, Bureau Betak have an extensive portfolio as a special events company. Dedicated mostly to the luxury fashion industry, they produce events, spaces and experiences. Most recently, their directional input into the F/W14 Christian Dior show, which took place on Friday 28th February as part of Paris Fashion Week, resulted in an overwhelming display of synchronized lighting; an array of coloured shapes developed as the collection did, fluctuating between purple, white and blue. Despite creating impact as a heavy presence in the showroom, the installation highlighted the clothes, transcending the models and the outfits by placing them into a shared, immersive, dream-like environment. 

Seamlessly integrating the complex lighting system into the show, this production served to effectively highlight the collection - and also added some excitement for the pre-show instagraming guests. After weeks worth of shows taking place in various venues around the world, it often happens to be these installation details which remain more memorable than the clothes itself. As fashion's cyclical system continues season after season, perhaps within these accompanying installations is where we'll see the largest development of progression.

Monday, 3 March 2014

Pringle of Scotland A/W14

Integration of 3D printed elements into traditional and progressive woolen weave techniques.
Essay (including interviews with Massimo Nicosia, Pringle's head of design, and Richard Beckett, the architect who he worked with the design the 3D printed elements) coming soon.

In the mean time, it's worth noting the themes, references and shapes at work in this collection. Pushing through into a very fresh aesthetic, Pringle of Scotland deliver the things we didn't even know we wanted: a tailored, considered sportswear silhouette, combining futuristic shapes with a 90s grunge kind of attitude. Remember the brand, though. The legacy that this classic label made for itself started out as a cricket and tennis outfitter - and with this in mind, one can only applaud the bold way in which Nicosia has re-imagined Pringle of Scotland and its trademark wool. Commercially viable, wearable, and progressive in terms of its material incorporations? Sounds like a fascinating mix to me.