Runway

Maria Grazia Chiuri's Spring 2018 Couture collection took inspiration from surrealist artist Leonor Fini, who was exhibited by Christian Dior in the gallery he was involved with before becoming a Couturier. This collection however, didn't feel true the nature of couture at all. Many of the pieces felt distinctively ready to wear in their primitive silhouettes, limited colour palette, and uninspiring construction. Couture makes room for almost anything but this collection felt far too commercial to fit in to the dreamy opulent wonderland of the couture space.

One of the most shocking aspects of this show was the quality of construction. I'm not claiming to be an expert on the work of couture ateliers. However, I feel confident in saying that the use of the legally protected term Haute Couture sets a precedent of unmatched quality and construction that is expected when extreme amounts of money are put into 100% hand crafted pieces made by the most talented ateliers in the world. Disappointingly however, there were many pieces in the show that showed wonky seems, uneven cuts, and puckering fabric.

One thing I did appreciate about the collection was the extensive research that went into the artist who inspired the collection. Chiuri says she was inspired by how Fini used extravagant clothing to produce a woman's identity. “She used her image to be regal and powerful. Surrealism speaks about dreams and the unconscious, and often about women’s bodies. It’s very close to fashion.” Though I stand by the artistic merit of using that aspect of surrealism as inspiration for a collection, I don't feel it was done effectively. Surrealism is meant to release the creative spirit of the unconscious mind, and simply printing surrealist motifs onto what felt like uninspired ready-to-wear did not do the movement justice in my opinion.

On a brighter note, the eyewear designed by Stephen Jones was certainly a step in the right direction amongst the many faults I saw with Chiuri. She has clearly established that her time at Dior will heavily express feminist imagery in light of her being the first female creative director of the house. Though I haven't been a fan of her graphic t-shirts in the past, this was an interesting turn if the interpretation I had was at all correct. My immediate thoughts when seeing the pieces was that they were referencing Islamic modest-wear such as the niqab. France is the central hub of the conversation surrounding the presence of religious symbols and the complicated debate about freedom of religion and freedom of expression vs secular society and the exploitation of women. Given that the underpinnings of surrealism lie in freedom, it all feels like a fitting motif in this collection and this new period for the house. Overall, despite the greatest of intentions and inspirations, this was a disappointingly one dimensional season for the house of Christian Dior.

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Self Designed

One of my most recent design projects was painting a pair of jeans using 8 different colours of sustainable fabric paint. The motif was a fluid 70s pattern that accentuated the eccentric colour palette I was working with. Furthermore, there's something very interesting about the silhouette created by the stiffness of painted denim.

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Runway

Valentino's Spring 2018 Couture show was a breath of fresh air. Pierpaolo Piccioli created a collection that was so much more playful than its counterparts in this current couture season and it manifested in more ways than one. Firstly, in his own words, this collection was "couture for the present day" in that Pierpaolo dared to present separates on the runway while retaining a clear distinction from ready-to-wear. His cami-tops and silk trousers still exuded enough opulence to pair so well with the more structural pieces that were the focus of the show. Secondly, the colour palette felt so fresh and exuberant with dusty pinks, muted yellows, and exquisite mauves.

Despite the freshness of the collection, the headpieces completely stole the show. Philip Treacy's designed perfectly matched the free spirited energy of the show. Many were made out of feathers and others were made out of fabric that mimicked leaves or flowers. All of them however exuded a sense of weightlessness. Treacy said himself that the inspiration for this came from wanting to express a powerful yet ethereal woman.

Overall, the show was a contradictory cocktail of beauty, power, and elegance in the best way possible. The dichotomy of a couture show full of pieces for a powerful working woman that was still based in classic couture elements such as feathers, bows, ruffles, and hand embellishments was so clear. The contradiction was developed and thought out and therefore, exactly what this season and this house truly needed.

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Editorial

This was a recent amateur shoot that I styled in collaboration with a friend of mine who played the role of the photographer. Everything was intentionally very spontaneous and lacklustre. The idea of the shoot was to portray a naïve character blowing bubble gum in playful pink imagery and display him nonchalantly juxtaposed with the dried gum on the raw dirtiness of the sidewalk.

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Runway

Iris Van Herpen's show was true to the role she has created for herself in the couture space. She as always lead the way as the season's techy outlier by pursuing constant innovation. This season, her use of 3D printing was absolutely magnificent. She managed to blend fluidity and rigidity so well that the lines completely blur.

One of the defining characteristics of Iris' work is that it's always impossible to tell how something was made. Every piece looks so natural despite the extremely meticulous nature of the construction process. This season, what hid behind the fluidity was foam-lifting and laser-cutting of a parametric pattern heat-bonded onto invisible tulle and perforated patterning of nude leather and liquid fabric bonded to Mylar. The collection was heavily inspired by nature and its effortlessly presented complexity, perfectly mirroring the dna of the pieces. This is what I love about Iris Van Herpen. Her clothes look so natural yet are hiding intricate technological innovation behind every invisible seam.

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Self Designed

​This was another one of my recent design projects in which I made a raglan sleeve t-shirt out of plastic netting in various colours with woven multi-coloured yarn embroidery. I used 8 pieces in total, 2 of each of the four colours purple, yellow, blue, and green, and knotted colourful yarn to make the seams that hold the t-shirt together. Furthermore, I also took smaller pieces of the yarn and weaved through the front and the back of the t-shirt in sporadic vertical patterns for added effect. The statement I wanted to make with this piece is about the lack of representation of androgyny within fashion. The industry has time and time again been limited to heteronormative silhouettes and styles, thereby promoting cisgender roles and drowning out the voices of the queer community. By embracing the sheer, nearly transparent nature of the material, I hoped to shed light on the gender ambiguity that defines androgynous fashion that is consistently underrepresented as part of the industry’s larger problem with heteronormativity.

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