Hi guys! I’ve been looking at quite a lot of fashion shows clothing designs, and while studying postmodernism in my class I was curious to know how the postmodernism in the fashion industry works and what kind of designs are out there. Let’s get in to it!
Fashion, especially catwalk shows, has always been considered a bit weird. The truth is anything postmodern can be considered a bit out of the box because it defies its traditional conventions and creates its own style. Postmodernism in fashion and design has developed mainly over the last 20 years with designers such as Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen demonstrating its key elements.
For example, the relationships between art and popular culture have been revised, as art is no longer just a painting on a wall, but an abstract garment that is available for the public to wear. Fashion designs which were previously only available for the very rich with cash to splash are now being brought into popular culture, for example contestants on the X factor are often seen wearing high fashion labels such as Valentino. The collections are constructed products and designers are influenced by the postmodern element of using a mix of the old designs and conventions with new ideas and create an entirely new design, for example a 60’s hippy influence mixed with 80’s grunge.
It’s the most obvious example of style over substance for example the intensely ripped jeans from a collection from Maison Martin Margiela. Celebrities can be seen sporting similar styles, which aren’t at all practical for everyday life yet people buy into this celeb-obsessed culture, even though there isn’t actually a lot of clothing for the money you may pay. But that’s ‘FASHION’.
Now let’s take a look at some of the famous influential designers
Vivienne Westwood found her place in fashion during the rise of the 1970s Punk movement, helping to set the tone for new wave music and creative freedom. Donning tartan checks and her go-to leather jacket, Vivienne Westwood maintained her punk spirit which she claims she adopted because she “was upset with what was going on in the world”. Living in a world where the older generation failed to make changes, Vivienne found the punk scene her calling. She continued to push the boundaries of fashion with her then trademark bleach blonde bedhead hair style. This type of exhibitionism evoked the exact type of reaction she anticipated, she is a pioneer for using fashion to provoke emotions and shock her audience with her candidly wild life.
In 1965 with all her creativity, she discovered the role fashion could play in politics. It was then that she truly realised the influence her work could have on the way British people saw the world.
Her Autumn/Winter 1993-1994 collection, shown at Paris Fashion Week, was quintessentially British and some say her most famous catwalk show. The entire affair was an exhibition of all things 90s, for which Vivienne worked alongside Scottish craftsmen to create her own tartan pieces. She layered plenty necklaces and even had Kate Moss fronting the show along with her best friend Naomi Campbell.
These days you can find Vivenne Westwood commenting on International politics, campaigning for Nuclear Disarmament and marching on the streets of London for The People’s Climate. She does so alongside activist models and friends she has made in the industry that share her devoted approach to using fashion as a political voice. She is known to have donated more than £1,000,000 to the Cool Earth charity, protecting endangered rainforests, and is openly dedicated to others like it. Her attitude towards sustainable fasion is projected in her work with the Ethical Fashion Initiative, whom she has worked with since 2013 developing her “handmade with love” collection usingrecycled materials collected from Nairobi’s biggest slum. The collection includes patchwork bags and hand-beaded clutches.
McQueen is most known for his theatrical designs and powerful runway shows. His runway shows were always anticipated and would leave a trail on controversy afterwards. He is one of the few designers who are bold enough to present collections that shocked spectators and held qualities that other refer to as “disturbed and raw.” He has brought many elements that impacted the fashion industry with things like his bumster pants, skull print, theatrical runway shows, and extreme silhouettes. Burton is doing a magnificent job today keeping these elaborate elements of McQueen’s designs but it can honestly be said that the extreme factor is not the same.
Many events in the 1990’s brought along controversy and chaos. At this time, the gay-rights movement was going on which fought for the protection of civil rights for homosexuals. Scandals happened during this decade various times including the Bill Clinton scandal and the Heaven’s Gates cult took the lives of thirty nine people through a mass suicide. It is within all of this that McQueen found inspiration. Each collection he presented and runway shows were based off a certain theme with a deep meaning.
The last runway show he did which was his Spring/Summer 2010 line where he introduced his famous “armadillo shoes.” The runway show properly named “Survival of the Fittest” featured models walking in elaborate and dangerously high-heels that resembled an armadillo. Many thought it was just part of the design, but these shoes are actually part of the moral of the show. These models are fighting to walk on the runway with these glamorous but potentially harmful shoes and putting on an incredible exhibition. In other runway shows, he uses different themes that relates to current times, such as political, fantasy, theater, and much more. McQueen looks at anything for inspiration. Whether it be people like stylist Isabella Blow, or events that occur at the time. He also like to mix in elements to his designs like nature. He has one catwalk show based off on water and futurism, and another based off of moths.
McQueen is iconic because he was not in the fashion industry for long but for the time he was, he managed to blow everybody away. His gift for tailoring allows him to create the imaginative designs he is known for and to construct breathtaking runway shows. He has set new trends not just in the clothing itself, but also on how designers present their collections. He is the first to use models who do not fit the stereotypical mold. He once even used a former Paralympian, Aimee Mullins, to wear a pair of hand carved wooden prosthetic legs on his catwalk. He never cared for working with supermodels and when he does, he often enjoys messing with them and getting them out of their comfort zone. His mixture of extreme silhouettes on theatrical catwalks truly put on a performance you would never forget. This “wow” factor in McQueen is what made him stand out and is one of the main reasons why he is so missed. You can always expect the unexpected from McQueen and that is why he is an icon.
We can say that both McQueen and Westwood had amazed everyone with their outstanding and out of the ordinary imagination that they’ve turned it into fashion, they are not afraid to create something new and doesn’t care if people would look at it as being weird because fashion is art, and art has no boundaries.