“I think designers aren’t instigating women to be more sexy, so I was pushing that" – Riccardo Tisci
Riccardo, focusing on the important problems
Regarding ~fashioney~ films though, I thoroughly recommend Girl Model, which is among the most weird and upsetting movies I’ve ever seen. It felt like a modern Charles Dickens thing
Quick summary: Two adolescent Russian girls are sent to Japan and promised excellent futures modeling. One has very little money and the other has none at all and neither can communicate in English or Japanese and it immediately becomes apparent that if the documentary filmmakers weren’t present to supervise, the girls would probably fall into very dire circumstances because no adult is present to look after or help them.
I watched Notebooks on Cities and Clothes a long time ago so maybe I should revisit it before aggressively proclaiming it masturbatory but it was very hard to sit through. I think that if you’re going to watch it you have to enter the experience understanding that it is not:
-a documentary -a film about yohji yamamoto -recorded with functioning audio equipment
This is a “reflective essay film.” Yohji and his work function as an illustration of the concepts the German filmmaker Wim Wenders is exploring. Wenders seeks to compare the artistic process of fashion design to filmmaking, and discourse about identity and how it is affected by environment and clothing. There’s also a lot of talk about film vs digital and the then-dawning digital age; it’s definitely a film that shows its age. It would appeal most to a very patient person with a strong interest in avant garde filmmaking.
From what I recall: There’s a lot of Wenders filming Yohji staff in mirrors or filming a camera screen playing a recording of his film crew or filming his camera filming his digital camera filming the road as he drives around. In the interview scenes, Yamamoto speaks about ten words per minute while staring wistfully into the Tokyo skyline. There are lengthy scenes in a dim billiard room where Wenders and Yamamoto and various people are conversing, but the actual dialogue is unintelligible. Throughout all of this, the driving scenes in particular, there’s a lot of lengthy, introspective, waxing narration. For a 79-minute film, I found it pretty exhausting.
The only engaging parts I recall are a few scenes where the audience is offered a look into Yohji’s atelier and the opportunity to see how he and his staff work.
every time someone recalls that apocryphal “a woman should be two things: classy and fabulous” line, an angel loses a wing and is left with a hideous gangrenous stump
Designers seem to often enjoy mythologizing women and their lives. Interviews inevitably yield remarks like “women are more [this] when they’re [that],” or “she doesn’t [this] and she knows [the thing], and that is what makes her so [something]”. “Dangerous,” “seductive or “captivating” will almost certainly be one of the words filling those brackets.
I recall there was a fair amount of this happening in Notebooks on Cities and Clothes. (A film which, by the way, I recommend to no one without a very high tolerance for masturbatory, self-obsessed filmmaking. Wim Wenders is insufferable.)
I realize that this theorizing can be an important step in the design process, but it’s something that does make me wonder if the women the guys are designing for and haranguing about are existing humans
This is vaguely in response to the conversation about Yohji that was taking place but it’s a thought that’s been churning around in my mind forever.
*Invites friend to hang out*
*Surprises them with the fact that I’m actually sick and need them to take care of me*
Obviously I can’t speak from personal experience but my sewing professor tells me she gets innumerable Parsons students in her evening classes because the New School’s curriculum no longer includes competent garment construction which is frankly preposterous considering their out of state tuition is over $43,000 a year
Anonymous said: What are your thoughts on Alexander McQueen? Everyone in fashion worships him and I always feel bad I don't. While I recognise the incredible craftsmanship of his clothes, I also feel like his works were never really designed for people to live into them, it's this "clothes before people" attitude that I see in many new designers and fashion graduates. Awfully dramatic designs that make no sense in the real world whatsoever but the teachers never seem to call them out because "it's so McQueen".
I don’t think much at all about Alexander McQueen. I, like you, am more concerned with comparably practical design. Accessible design. I think clothes are more interesting when they fit within a plausible life. Truth is more compelling than fiction. Unfortunately, we are in the minority, friend!
It goes without saying that McQueen was an incredibly talented designer, and his work was certainly very important to the course of modern fashion. For me, looking at his garments invites a lot of questions about the creation of impossibly beautiful things and whether it’s good or bad or necessary. It brings to mind Gothic cathedrals and Italian frescoes. Certainly there’s something very moving about that overwhelming beauty that comes from great human effort, right? I look at the details on his gowns and think, “how could a human have made this!?” (Interesting contrast to Iris Van Herpen’s equally elaborate work, gestated in the womb of a machine?) I feel happy that McQueen’s house supported so many craftspeople, none of whom get nearly enough credit for his success.
But I think if there’s anything to be learned from McQueen about how to great designers are produced, it’s that learning the rules counts. He was excellent at aesthetically innovative design, at making things the likes of which people had never seen before, season after season. This was because he knew the ins and outs of garment construction, something that a lot of designers (or wealthy young fashion students with the means to launch their own collections) don’t. He worked on Savile Row for years to learn his trade, and now you’ve got rich kids getting lauded for graduate collections made entirely by commissioned ateliers. They’re not breaking the rules before anyone else because they never put in the time to learn them. (Or the schools never invested the money in teaching them properly. Central Saint Martins. Parsons.) I guess this is irrelevant to discussion of design, but I feel a special pride for any successful designer who came from humble beginnings, a phenomenon that grows increasingly rare in today’s industry climate.