$91,500 Hermes Crocodile T-shirt
“You get what you pay for” is a common idiom the world over. Fashion is a commodity based industry and the perception of ‘value’ or ‘exclusivity’ is one of the most effective selling points for designer products. The most expensive items and brands are given a halo effect through the exclusionary impact of price. If you can’t afford to play the game, you can’t shouldn’t take part at all.
High fashion was never built to be inclusive or democratic; in fact the exact opposite was true. Fashion was an insider culture with it’s own set of aesthetics, values, and lifestyle. Legendary couture houses such as Chanel or Dior were built to accomodate the tastes and needs of an aristocratic class. The idea of luxury has been since been re-packaged and commodified ; ensuring that any major city the world over will have it’s pick of Louis Vuitton, Gucci or Prada. Historic couture houses became huge global brands. Large holding companies the likes of LVMH, Disel Kering (formally PPR) and OTB have mastered the formula of branding and selling luxury. They continue to dominate by hiring talented creative to give the design credibility all while spreading the word through celebrity endorsements, worldwide PR campaigns, and huge advertising budgets.
Read the full article after the jump
Image via Oh Fantastic
In the late summer and early fall of 2008, events for Maison Martin Margiela’s 20th Anniversary were in full swing. Parties. A runway show homage to the company’s past. A traveling exhibit stopping at multiple major museums. In retrospect, the attendees were unknowing participants in a celebratory wake for the career of Martin Margiela: after months of rumors that Martin Margiela was distancing himself from the design process, the Maison officially announced that he had already left the company he founded.
In November 2012, the Maison did it again. The party was ostensibly for the launch of H&M x MMM, but if you took a step back you could see it meant more. It was a coming out party for the new Margiela brand: bold, brash, quietly self-aggrandizing, keeping itself in the public eye any way but advertising. It was a move Renzo Rosso telegraphed not long after he claimed a majority stake of Maison Martin Margiela in 2002; a strategy that looked brilliant with the rise of the 24 hour internet news cycle, and prescient by the rise of social media. Now it appears the company is using social media to bridge the gap between the old, quiet, anonymous brand, and the new brand. But the “new brand,” still visually intact as white, weird, and playfully intellectual, looks to be only an open door allowing us to see inside the Maison. A move that, while popular, effectively destroys the old brand identity based on anonymity, like a magician giving away all of his secrets. Does the company have anything to take the place of the identity it destroyed, or will they just hope the white door is enough? And do they fear that consumers will discover the open door is just an illusion, revealing little more than clever designs in white?
—-Read the entire feature after the jump
Believe it or not we have reached our 200th post here at Third Looks. A heartfelt thank you goes out to everyone who has contributed, supported or simply enjoyed this blog since it’s humble beginnings over a year ago. I couldn’t think of a better way to commemorate this milestone than presenting this comprehensive Maison Martin Margiela Reference Guide. A friend of mine is a Margiela devotee and has spent ample time and effort putting together this hefty reference guide on all things Maison Martin Margiela.
The Maison Martin Margiela Reference Guide
Information about Martin Margiela, and Maison Martin Margiela, is everywhere, but a proper reference does not exist. With respect to Martin Margiela’s clear wishes to remain anonymous, and his continued silence after his retirement, I have omitted most personal information about him. This is a long read meant as a reference, not an article. If you are coming in totally blind, feel free to read the following short articles to get oriented:
Click through the jump for the Reference Guide
It’s the middle of Paris Fashion Week and runway shows are going up on NOWFASHION like fashionably delayed clockwork. Thousands of blog posts, tweets, forum discussions will be posted today reflecting on Hedi’s first collection under the re-vamped YSL (ahem Saint Laurent Paris) label. Countless new items will be hung onto retail shelves online and uploaded digitally on a myriad of online shops.
It’s no surprise that fashion has an obsession with newness. The fashion industry is about capturing the energy and excitement of new designers, new trends and new designs. In a 2011 cover story in Fantastic Man Raf Simons states “I want new, new, new” in reference to his design output. It’s not often when anyone stops and asks the question “Is fashion’s obsession with newness healthy?” The answer is not black or white but I feel that this is a question worth asking.
Somewhere along the line the coverage and pace of the fashion industry accelerated to a breakneck pace. Luxury brands and fashion houses have thrived off of creating business through a culture of “It Bag” and “Designer of the Moment “worship. Nowhere is this climate more evident than outside the runway shows in Milan, Paris, London and New York where a parade of perfectly groomed and pea-cocked men and women pose for an army of streetstyle photographers. The number one rule to abide by if you want to be snapped for digital eternity: BE ON TREND.
As we dive head first into this strange new world I feel it is the responsibility of the gatekeepers of fashion to not just feed our appetite for what’s new, but to deliver appropriate context and reflection on what has come before. If there were just one blog post about a designer’s archive for every one hundred about a new fall coat consumers would be more knowledgeable and passionate about their purchases. High fashion is an industry that relies on image and frivolous consumption for it’s profits; but the best selling point of all is great design.
I see much more reflection of past works among film or music critics. Film critics like Robert Ebert routinely go back and review older films. Music publications frequently print pieces that reflect on discographies by artists who are dead or retired. There is no reason that fashion media can’t hold itself to a higher standard and follow these examples.
By looking back at past collections , critics can shed new light on a designer’s body of work or re-visit the cultural impact of a particular collection. From a consumer perspective, a shopper may not find their dream leather jacket on the designer floor at Barneys, but they may discover what they truly want through a decade old editorial. The signal-to-noise ratio in the fashion media is worse than it has ever been and it’s hurting innovation in the industry. The press would be doing a service to the entire fashion community if it spent less time obsessing on newest and just a little more effort researching the past. Highlighting truly GREAT design is a responsibility that fashion critics , magazines and blogs should take on whether those designs are brand NEW or years OLD.
“We are losing those young people because we have too much information by media, especially [through computers]. We can see everything at the same time, so already they are spoiled too much. So when we have talk sessions with young designers or students, I tell them: “Be bright. Your eyes have become dirty.”
The Internet and the pace of information it provides is here to stay. The best way to refresh our ‘dirty’ eyes may be to take a break from the new from time to time.
By Rocky Li