Further to my Clueless post of last week, I’ve just read Susie Bubble’s interesting post about Louise Gray, and the way in which she took a quote from Clueless about being “a traitor to your generation” and ran with it til she ended up somewhere connected to the start but far, far down the road. It’s amazing that Clueless has become a standard fashion designer reference, perhaps one day it will rival the Riviera or 1960s London for dominance. Gray’s show (above) resisted producing a literal interpretation of Cher’s iconic yellow check miniskirt or faux-fur backpack, and arguably ended up with something bearing little or no resemblance to the picture she might have pinned to her ideas board.
Susie’s comment about resisting being too literal with one’s inspiration reminded me of one of the most disappointing collections of the season in my eyes, Rodarte. Much as I love literal metaphor dressing/dancing (I always point at my invisible wristwatch when it’s “time for love” or whatever), this seemed so blunt. I’ve thought print was Rodarte’s weakest design element since last year’s woodgrain print and this collection proved it to me. Rodarte have taken a rather dated outline and applied Van Gogh’s work to it on repeat without re-contextualising either influence.
Similarly, when it comes to getting dressed, however much I love someone’s look, slavish copying has never led anywhere good. I always chuckle over celebrities’ advice in magazines to “mix designer with high street” as if descending to the high street is a brave aesthetic decision rather than a necessity, but I acknowledge the idea at work. I’m averse to the idea of the mishmash outfit that is thrown together without care on some level, a fashion concept that has dominated Topshop for a few years and has led to us falling out. Fashion that relies entirely on the wearers being young and skinny is lazy.
Style.com suggests that Rodarte’s approach can be read in the context of post-modernism, the school of thought that elevated the sample and the mash-up to important contemporary artforms. After a year of intensive study on it, I still couldn’t give you an elevator pitch for postmodernism but maybe after seeing the V&A’s exhibition on it I’ll be able to relate it to fashion more eloquently and not relate artistic efforts like the above to bad taste alone. However, what I have gleaned is that it means taking a language and mixing it up, rejecting its previous connotations, or any big story. There’s no story whatsoever in Rodarte’s work this season because there’s no room for imagination.