Fashioning the object

I find fiercely independent fashion design studios intriguing. Driven by a singular vision, unwavering in self-belief and marching to the beat of their own drum. At the Art Institute of Chicago, curator Zoe Ryan rounded up three such designers – Bless, Boudicca and Sandra Bucklund – for an exhibition exploring their working process and vision.

Zoe explains her thinking behind Fashioning the Object:

I was interested in the way in which these designers harness a conceptual and intellectual approach to fashion design, imbuing their work with visual fictions drawn from daily life, and using the platform of fashion design as a forum for creative expression, dialogue and exchange, as well as an armature for understanding our place in the world. At the centre of these designers’ works lie narratives that aren’t fictional or escapist, but rather, relate to daily life – either the experiences of those around them or their own struggles.

These designers have a cross-disciplinary approach using film, photography, graphic design and installations as a way to create work. The traditional methods of fashion presentation is overturned and gives their viewers the chance to engage with their work in a different way and to make sense of it.

This more multi-faceted approach enables these designers to frame their work, provide insights into their working process, and ultimately emphasise their ideas and inventive spirit in an effort to offer more complex readings of their work that go beyond any single garment or accessory.

Fashioning the Object exhibition runs from 11 Apr to 5 Aug 2012 at the Art Institute Chicago


What’s in your closet?

There’s a voyeur in all of us. We can’t help ourselves. Peeping through the keyhole gives us a thrill.

I remember when I first discovered The Selby.  For the next month and a bit, I was addicted. Checking in regularly – about twice a day – for the latest home visited by Todd Selby and his camera. His site wasn’t enough to sate my appetite so I went out to buy his book.

I’ve brought up The Selby because yesterday, while browsing Style Bubble, I was tipped off by one of her posts about a similar site. An outfit called The Coveteur paid her and her closet a visit. So I skipped over to their site to check them out. And, by God, I sure wish I hadn’t.

Just slightly over a year old, The Coveteur was founded by designer Erin Kleinberg and stylist Stephanie Mark with photographs taken by Jake Rosenberg. The trio dives into the closets of the fashionable, takes the pictures and leaves. Anna Dello Russo, Erdem and Natalie Joos have all been coveteur’d.

Equally compulsive is the Behind The Scenes, diarising the fun and frolics behind each Coveteur shoot.

Decoster Concept

When we read about the Chinese fashion industry in the news, it’s nearly always about piracy. Its label as a nation of copycats is misplaced. For beyond this stereotype, there is an increasing number of young Chinese experimenting with fashion for individual expression and looking to their own rich history for inspiration.

Decoster Concept is one such design house and JOURNAL managed to catch up with its design director, Ziggy Chen, for a quick chat.

China is a huge market, and we know it very well, it’s perfect for us to let it be our foundation, then we can go hit the western market. Chinese fashion is getting better, I see a new generation of people who are having their own understanding of fashion.

Decoster Concept launched its debut spring/summer 2012 collection at Shanghai Fashion Week in the latter half of 2011. It is the conceptual offshoot of its main Decoster brand, which has over 60 stores in China. Ziggy seeks inspiration from old Chinese culture, for example, seen in the image above of the Mongolians. “It is a brand new project where we can express our ideas. We just want to do some clothes we love to wear, that’s all.”

To give his traditional Chinese garments a modern twist, Ziggy experiments with materials such as wool, hemp and linen, augmenting it with leather and fine cotton.

The inspiration of the spring/summer 2012 collection draws from the lives of the people who have walked this world in the last century. The foundations of design strike on the balance of being sartorially interesting without overwhelming the wearer. The fabrics contain a certain ruggedness that never comes off as tough. Just like this world, the pieces enclose the feeling of already living and breathing a life. In this collection, respect and tribute is paid to the traditions and origins of various cultures.

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