What is Industry Standard, Anyways?

New York Fashion Week was more political than ever this year; thanks to the Trump presidency. Some designers expressed their anger at the system, and some asked themselves what they could do about it. The fashion industry is notoriously problematic, mostly for arguments related to body image and representation. Four designers at NYFW took this opportunity to ask themselves, “what is industry standard, anyways?”

Vetements are known for pushing the boundaries, aesthetically and otherwise. This year at New York Fashion Week, the prestigious fashion house took on the issue of ageism in the fashion industry.

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The first word that comes to my mind is “wacky”, but it’s good for the fashion industry that they did this. In a time that seems to call for one, this is most definitely a fashion statement.

Nomia took a more minimal approach and used friends and Instagrammers instead of models.

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Most Instagrammers are at least model-like, but the standard for high fashion is more rigid than that. Most designers won’t hire women who are shorter than 5’9″, or have a waist that is larger than 25″. For reference, the average height of a North American woman is reported to be between 5’3″ and 5’5″, and their average waist size is 38″. So not only must you be freakishly tall if you want to be a model, but you should also have nearly half the girth of the average woman. It’s great that the average body shape and size is making it’s way into the fashion industry, but what does it mean for the future of fashion? Will we be seeing less industry standard models on the runway and more regular people, or will this trend die out with the season? Only time will tell.

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The designers at the helm of Rag + Bone took a unique approach to their presentation this year. Instead of shooting a lookbook or holding a runway show, the designers threw a party with their favorite friends, Instagrammers, and a boatload of instant cameras.

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Erin Fetherstone didn’t stray far from the traditional runway presentation, but she did hire ladies of a certain age to walk for her. In addition to being impossibly tall and thin, the ideal  high fashion model is underage or at least looks like it. Tackling ageism in the industry is no small task, but Fetherstone and the rest of the designers I’ve discussed here are off to a great start.

Oscar de la Renta Appreciation Post

Whether you follow high fashion or not, you’ve probably heard of Oscar de la Renta. Known for their opulent gowns and decadent perfumes, this house is a mainstay at Fashion Week. During the first fashion month of 2017, Oscar de la Renta and associated brands released the following collections.

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Monse is known as yet another label by Oscar de la Renta designers, but this collection is deserving of much more recognition. The asymmetrical, avante garde designs cling to the antiquity that la Renta is known for, but reconcile this with a certain modernity.

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Here at Girl in the Arena, we like Oscar de la Renta, but we love Monse. This collection is all kinds of fall fashion goals.

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Proenza Shouler has been at the helm of her own line for a while now, but hardcore Oscar de la Renta fans will remember her from those days with one of the most prestigious houses in the industry. This collection is not as outspoken as some of the other collections presented by Oscar de la Renta alum; it’s vague, timid, and inspired by modern art.

This season, Shouler sure looks like Vetements. Why not try to be a little more like Vetements? In today’s streetwear-saturated market, more and more designers are taking a turn towards a more casual aesthetic. So much so that this Spring 2017 Couture collection looks more like one meant for fall and/or winter.

These restructured and repurposed fabrics beg the question: “what exactly is the future of fashion?” A decade ago, it was clear that designers were trying everything and anything to break the rigid mold of runway fashion. But what would constitute a fashion statement now, in a time which seemingly calls for one?

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Instead of fixating itself on this existential crisis, the Oscar de la Renta line itself stuck to structured silhouettes and shied away from taking any bold risks. Some critics were bored by the designs and a curtain failed to open at the actual presentation, resulting in an unfavorable review from Vogue.

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Regardless, this collection is perfectly classic and fits in well with the brand. No doubt most of these dresses will make an appearance on the red carpet this fall.

Avante Garde at Paris Fashion Week

Between haute couture and avante garde, the French are known for innovation in the fashion industry. Haute couture simply means “high fashion”, but avante garde is a style of dress, architecture, art, and design that can be better understood through example. During the first fashion month of 2017, the following designers debuted these designs for FW17 at Paris Fashion Week.

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Each x Other took some bold risks that paid off for a ready-to-wear collection without relying on gimmicks. These crisp lines and structured designs are perfectly avante garde without being too over-the-top.

According to this designer, we need to stick together if we want to change the status quo. The idea behind this collection is no man is an island. Collectives create things; and we need togetherness more than ever in these politically divisive times.

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Hermes delivered this luxurious collection of preppy essentials. The exaggerated and oversized elements of these designs reconciles their preppiness with current trends.

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At Esteban Cortazar, the oversized trend continued. This comfortable-looking collection is chock full of rich patterns. This avante garde designer is originally from Britain, but now resides and delivers his collections in Paris.

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This Jacquemus collection is about a Parisian couture girl who falls in love with a gypsy in Southern France. It’s classically preppy, but also comfortable and hinged on the aesthetic principles of avante garde.

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Veronique Leroy stood out from the crowd by delivering luxe crushed velvet and high end craftsmanship in his designs. This avante garde collection is such because of the often oversized sleeves and the blingy belts.

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This Junya Watanabe collection is all about 1970’s punk. If you’re thinking it’s a little out there, that’s because it is; that’s kind of the point of avante garde. This collection is great because of all of the creative fabric mash-ups and the andogynous aesthetic.

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Talbot Runhof once worked for the pentagon, and perhaps that’s why his latest collection is all about the post-truth era. The knit sweaters reading “un-presi-dent-ed” and “lie to me” are a direct criticism of the country which Runhof once called home.

As with most American-turned-Parisian designers, most of these designs borrow from modern streetwear trends. Although Runhof has designed some of the nicest lampshades of the season, he has not compromised on the rich fabrics and textures for which European fashion is renowned.

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I’d hate to reduce this Reem Acra collection to simply stuffy evening wear, but it kind of is. Ten years ago, most of the stuff you would see on the runway would be eveningwear. Then, designers started taking risks by throwing sweatpants on their models and the streetwear trend was born. Perhaps streetwear sells because it’s relateable and wearable for more than one occasion, but either way, eveningwear collections are diminishing every season.

According to the designer, this collection is about “be[ing] yourself” and saying “yes I can”. Whereas the designs might not be so relateable, the philosophy behind them is; perhaps we would all feel like “yes I can” if we wore decadent gowns like these on the daily.

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This Valentin Yudashkin collection is also fraught with eveningwear, but these designs rely on structure and solids instead of exaggeration and pattern. They might be red carpet ready, but they’re street ready too.

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These opulent designs are the perfect marriage between eveningwear and streetwear.

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At John Galliano, these structured designs made their debut.

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This collection is a great example of the avante garde aesthetic because of the boxy silhouettes, plunging necklines, and cool hats.

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The FW17 Anrealage runway presentation was anything but conventional, and so were the designs. This collection is markedly post-structuralist; the designer has taken traditional silhouettes and warped them into something new.

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It might be avante garde, but it still looks quite wearable for the catwalk or the sidewalk.

For contrast, let’s have a look at Comme des Garcons FW17. And yes, this is still a ready-to-wear collection.

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If you look up Parisian avante garde in the dictionary, you’ll find Comme des Garcons. The brand was recently noted at the Met Gala; for those of you who don’t know, every year the Met Gala is designated a particular theme by a board of celebrities. This year, Tom Brady, Gisele et. al. chose Comme des Garcons as the theme.

Most of their guests came under fire for not adhering to this theme at all, and instead arriving in trendy, blingy, clingy gowns. Several notables arrived in Comme des Garcons, but it is kind of like cheating to wear something from the actual designer being honoured at the Gala. If I were invited I would have at least stuck with a notable French post-structuralist designer.

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Rick Owens would have been more than a suitable choice for the Met Gala this year because it’s over the top, it’s avante garde, and it’s post-structuralism all in one. Avante garde is about experimentation and boundary-pushing, even if it means putting wacky hats on your models every now and again.

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The inspiration behind this runway presentation were the ideations of a distracting royal ceremony. It’s distracting all right; but that’s what avante garde is all about.

Evolution of Fashion

Decade fashion is almost always in style in one way or another; however, the decade that’s in fashion is constantly changing. During the first fashion month of 2017, plenty of designers were inspired by vintage vibes, but these collections were made with a specific decade in mind. We’ll start with the 1920’s and work our way up to the ’90s: this is the evolution of fashion.

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At NYFW, Kate Spade delivered this collection for FW17. This borrows on modern day street style trends, but it was inspired by the 1920’s. Ah, the 20s; when prohibition was on everyone’s minds and bootleg liquor on nearly everyone’s lips. Provocative dress was starting to make it’s way into mainstream women’s fashion. This devil-may-care attitude is a great reminder of how far women in the U.S. have come, but also, how far they have yet to go in the wake of the Trump victory.

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Tanya Taylor‘s FW17 collection can also be understood via it’s feminist underpinnings. Throughout history, colour has been equated with power; think of the jewel tones adorned by emperors in both ancient paintings and pop culture. In the 1920s, Japanese kimonos were being made with more colour and vibrancy than ever before. This is a powerful symbol for the steps towards gender parity that women were making at the time. This collection is reminiscent of those colourful kimonos and 1920’s Japan.

At Paris Fashion Week, Nehera dropped this 1930’s-inspired collection for FW17. Although it is infused with subtle street style vibes, this collection is ultimately an exploration of masculinity.

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The ’30s were about an economic and cultural backswing from the roaring ’20s. Feminine dress was becoming reacquainted with class and the collapsed economy was giving way to a more meaningful exploration of masculinity. More men were suffering from depression and suicidal tenancies than ever before, and many were giving into a life of crime in order to keep their children and wives fed. Nehera imagines a spectrum of masculinity in this collection, from 1930s gangster to struggling businessman to street urchin.

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Rochas delivered this collection at Paris Fashion Week that was inspired by the 1940s and 1950s. This is an exploration of femininity through structure and elegance; in the 40s, and 50s, this is what a woman ought to have been.

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These designs borrow modern streetwear trends, such as ruffled Victorian collars and androgynous beauty, and re-imagine them for simpler times.

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What is considered the feminine ideal is dynamic throughout time and space; in the 40s and 50s, graceful and reliable were two adjectives by which most women would be thrilled to be described.

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As with most high fashion shows, the Rochas show closed with a selection of glamorous evening looks. If this doesn’t scream old Hollywood, I don’t know what does.

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The old Hollywood vibes thrived at Miu Miu. This collection was inspired by the 1940s and 1970s. In case you’re wondering, that’s not real fur. If you’re viewing this on a screen with a high enough resolution, then you can tell this is nothing other than loads of cheesy fake fur.

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Although it might seem like it was inspired by Toad from the Mario Brothers games, this is actually about glamour in the face of an unpredictable future. In these turbulent political times, it is more important than ever for women to express ourselves – from aesthetic dress to demanding the same political rights as men.

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In conclusion, the Miu Miu way to rage against the machine is to look fabulous.

Back at NYFW, Rebecca Taylor dropped this collection for FW17 that was inspired by the 1940s and the 1980s.

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This collection is made up of businesswear for the woman working 9-5, and glamorous evening looks that she might wear out to happy hour.

At Milan Fashion Week, Bottega Veneta debuted this collection inspired by the 1940s.

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This feminine collection is all about structure. The look is glamorous and polished.

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This ladylike has everything a socialite might need in her FW17 wardrobe.

No. 21 debuted the collection below, which was inspired by the 1950s.

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This collection draws its aesthetic from the designer’s vision of the American southern widow, however, it’s all about texture and layers for fall.

During Paris Fashion Week, Olympia Le-Tan showed this collection of postmodernist takes on 1950s tropes, such as knee-length hemlines and menswear-inspired collars.

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These designs were inspired by arcades; these Parisian shopping meccas were the spot to pick up the latest fashion and gossip alike. Olympia Le-Tan imagines the women in the arcades as femme fatales and noir heroines; it’s a sharp departure from the elegance and grace of 1950s femininity portrayed by her fellow designers.

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Alessandra Rich imagined the ’60s this season with this collection of kitschy streetwear and eveningwear.

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As her surname suggests, this collection is all about the wealth and decadence of starlets from the 60s.

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Zuhair Murad dropped this collection for FW17 that was also inspired by the 1960s. Although he may be busy dressing stars, Murad never misses out on an opportunity to bring rich patterns, textures, and applique to his ready-to-wear designs. He is known for his dresses and gowns, however, there are plenty of separates in this collection.

At London Fashion Week, Topshop Unique dropped the ’60s inspired collection that is pictured below.

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Although this is giving me major Kate Moss vibes, according to the designer, the inspiration behind this collection was the phrase “Keep Calm + Party On”.

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British fashion is known for it’s structure, but more and more designers have been taking a post-modern approach. Because certain details are exaggerated, this collection is markedly post-structuralist.

During Milan Fashion Week, Luisa Beccaria dropped this dreamy collection of ’60s-and-’70s-inspired streetwear and eveningwear.

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This brings me all kinds of hippie and vintage vibes.

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It’s the complete wardrobe for the girl who loves party frocks.

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So many designers this season brought ’70s-inspired collections to the catwalk that you’ll have to wait to read my blog post about them all. However, I’d be lying if I said Luisa Beccaria wasn’t one of my absolute favourites.

Etro‘s ’60s-and-’70s-inspired collection also dropped at Milan Fashion Week, but delivered worldly vibes instead of dreamy ones.

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For FW17, Etro is all about animal print. The eveningwear reminds me of the rich Italian scarves that the designer is probably constantly draped in.

During NYFW, Tadashi Shoji debuted this collection of 60s-and-70s-inspired eveningwear and streetwear.

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Shoji is from Japan, but now makes his home in America. His collections are often inspired by his sense of place and belonging in the world.

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I’d list all the reasons why I’m fangirling over this collection, but I’d run out of bandwidth. In short, the vivacious velvet, fresh florals, and masterful usage of millennial pink all have me swooning.

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Not only is this collection aesthetically stunning, but it comes with an empowering message. According to the designer, this is about feminism and self-expression. As he said himself, “the time to express your true self is now!” This message was supplemented with the youth revolutions in the ’60s and ’70s that also inspired this collection.

During Paris Fashion Week, Chloe debuted this ready-to-wear collection for FW17.

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This ’60s-and-’70s-inspired collection is the lead designer at Chloe’s last runway presentation after 6 years. The designer made a name for Chloe as a streetwear brand for Instagram-savvy starlets.

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Nearly every one of these looks is Insta-ready; but I’d expect no less from the creative geniuses at Chloe.

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This collection cleverly mixes modern street style trends with ’60s and ’70s vibes in ways that no one else has. From oversized sweaters to slouchy plaid shirts, Chloe has delivered everything a fashion fanatic could fantasize about for fall.

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I love the bold patterns and chic florals, but these minimal looks are just as eye-catching.

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There are few things I love more than a beautiful tulle dress, but a flurry of them at the finale might be at the top of the list.

Some of the best ’80s vibes were delivered at Natasha Zinko during London Fashion Week.

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Zinko might be known for her jewelry, but she is breaking the mould for this fall and winter with this collection of desirable separates and street style statements. This Instagram-ready collection is inspired by ’80s Barbie and is adorned with rabbit motifs.

During Milan Fashion Week, Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini debuted this collection that was also inspired by the ’80s.

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The aesthetics behind these designs are vintage Elizabeth Taylor and The Cure.

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This collection is chock full of bold patterns and bold choices; what could be more ’80s than that?

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Not many designers took on this decade, but Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini proved that the ’80s can be chic.

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Major props to the lovely creative people at the helm of Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini for their masterful use of millennial pink.

In Paris during Spring 2017 Couture in Paris, Jean Paul Gaultier dropped this collection of avante garde separates and evening gowns.

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This Vetements alum put an ’80s spin on classic Vetements.

During Milan Fashion Week, Arthur Arbesser presented this collection made of comfy, cool, Italian fabrics.

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This was inspired by Wings of Desire, which is a 1980s film about earth angels in Berlin. The look is1980s militia with a touch of Parisian avante garde.

Neil Barrett dropped this more minimal ’80s-inspired collection for FW17.

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In the early ’80s, Barrett was expressing his creative freedom in London while he was away at college. He was learning about the world while recognizing societal injustices, and considered himself a punk. This collection is all about Barrett’s nostalgia for the scene in London during the early 1980s.

Albino Teodoro delivered the ’80s-inspired collection below for FW17.

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Although he resides in Milan, Teodoro identifies with Japanese culture. In the 1980s, Japanese youth were revolting against a harsh system with rigid norms. This collection mirrors that questioning of authority with gentle deconstruction in the details of these otherwise structured designs.

During New York Fashion Week, Tibi debuted this ’80s-inspired collection for FW17.

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There are less and less collections for the working girl than there are the Instagram street style starlet; this season, Tibi took a nostalgic look back at ’80s business casual staples.

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Whether this change is due to a diminishing quantity of traditional 9-5 jobs or business casual just doesn’t sell anymore is still up for debate. However, by infusing some vintage vibes into the public sector, Tibi is making business casual desirable again.

During Milan Fashion Week, MSGM delivered this collection that was inspired by a television show that first aired in 1989.

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If you’re familiar with the intricacies of The Red Room, you’ll recognize the setting of this runway presentation from Twin Peaks. The designer at the helm of MSGM analyzed the symbols from the first two seasons while he eagerly awaited the third. According to MSGM, we should be paying attention to the owls and trees when we’re watching the new season.

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The patterns are rich, the fabrics are Italian, and the vibe is high school, but it works. Among my favourite looks in this collection are the Big-Bird-esque coat, the printed dresses, and the denim-on-denim looks.

During Paris Fashion Week, Guy Laroche delivered this collection of minimal basics that are reminiscent of the ’80s and ’90s.

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The designs is about as avante garde as a Parisian designer can get without any patterns. This collection is less about millennials who crave vintage vibes for their Instagram posts and more about the Gen Xers who actually experienced adulthood in the ’80s and ’90s.

During NYFW, Nicholas K debuted this collection that looks like the ’70s but is actually inspired by ’90s Marc Jacobs.

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According to the designer, the look here is space gypsy. Although it was inspired by the ’90s hip hop scene, this collection is a defensive reaction to the current political climate.

During Milan Fashion Week, Diesel Black Gold dropped this collection of desirable denim and notable neutrals.

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Diesel Black Gold are known for delivering futuristic and street savvy collections. However, this collection was inspired by the grunge scene of the 1990s. These nostalgic and romantic designs are a sharp departure from what we’re used to seeing from the creative geniuses behind Diesel Black Gold, but I’m not complaining.

Plenty of designers delivered all kinds of vintage and retro vibes during the first fashion month of 2017. For your reading pleasure, I have organized the best representatives from each decade into the preceding list. If you enjoyed reading it, make sure you share it with your friends!

Trend Alert: Frills and Ruffles for Fall

Runway fashion is often a great predictor of what we’ll see come into style four to six months down the line. Designers launched their collections for autumn and winter 2017 during January and February, leaving us fashion enthusiasts plenty of time to predict which trends will be the biggest in fall fashion. Among lampshading, metallic footwear, and oversized sweaters, frills and ruffles donned more designs than I’ve ever seen before. Does that mean we’ll see more girlie details on street style starlets next season? Only time will tell.

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At New York Fashion Week, Zimmermann dropped this collection of super girlie and frilly statement pieces. Not only are these details super-feminine, but they’re chock full of texture and often layered – perfect for fall.

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This collection is great because it borrows on some of the biggest trends in street style without straying from the brand. Vintage vibes were big during fashion month; even if they weren’t completely decade-inspired, most of the collections I saw during fashion month were righteously retro. In addition, millennial pink was big for Spring 2017; this trend shows no signs of slowing down.

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Even the all-black-everything looks are girlie and frilly. I wouldn’t exactly consider myself a girlie girl, but I’d gladly swap my entire fall wardrobe for this collection.

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Sea are known for delivering vintage vibes as well as super girlie and frilly dresses, but this season, they took a risk by unveiling a pantsuit or two. If this doesn’t prove the pantsuit trend is real, I don’t know what does. Although it might seem like we’re further away from our first female president than ever, a certain candidate’s signature style has become inaugural to the fashion industry.

The pantsuit is not such a good thing for feminism or for women in general. You might have heard the feminist theory that pants equate power to masculinity, but the real issue here is more complicated. In my opinion, heteronormative women in globalized nations actually have a huge advantage when it comes to aesthetics and dress. Society is generally much more forgiving to girls and women for experimenting with their personal styles. For men, however, it’s a major societal taboo to wear anything other than pants or shorts – and God forbid they wear makeup. It’s great that women can wear pants without fear of social ridicule, but it’s even greater that we can express ourselves with dress. This freedom should not be taken for granted because not every woman in every part of the world experiences it; especially women in parts of the world that are excluded from globalization, and non-cisgendered women.

Johanna Oritz debuted an expressive collection of dresses and denim several weeks later at Paris Fashion Week. This collection also caught my eye because of the decadent frills and ruffles adorning nearly every garment.

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This might feel like a resort collection, and that’s because it kind of is. Although it’s technically FW17, the designer herself indicated resort as a huge inspiration for her this season.

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This glamorous collection reconciles eveningwear and avante garde into a vacation wardrobe to die for.

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This collection has everything a socialite might ever need, until next season. Although it’s inspired by street style, it’s not for the 5th avenue brat-pack. It’s for a slightly older crowd.

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According to Oritz, she was also inspired by the aesthetics of South American romance.

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Rodarte also debuted a collection of avante garde statement pieces at Paris Fashion Week. Although this instantly reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, the actual inspiration behind this is Charlotte’s Web. In Charlotte’s Web, a friendship blossoms between a pig and a spider on a farm in the 1950s. They eventually discover that the farmers intend to slaughter the pig, and the spider saves his life by weaving messages into her web. Although she dies at the end of the novel, she leaves behind a litter (?) of baby spiders, which the pig continues to care for.

That explains the black lace and the millennial pink. However, what really caught my attention about this collection are the ruffles. Most of the collections I’ve mentioned so far are girlie and glam, but there’s something a a little punky about this. With a way to wear them for everybody, I can seriously envision more frilly ruffles in the mall this autumn than ever before.

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Maggie Marilyn also dropped some ravishing ruffles in her collection for FW17. Underneath the frills, firm shoulders, stripes, and solids structure these designs.

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The designs are avante garde, but the vibe I’m getting from this lookbook is laid back. According to Marilyn herself, this collection is inspired by Jane Austen. Austen is known for creating laid back, but also ambitious female characters. There are many ways to express femininity, but the Maggie Marilyn way is to dress chic, chill out, and focus on your own grind.

During the first Fashion Month of 2017, I noticed more frills and ruffles appearing on designs than I’ve ever seen. As they often do, perhaps these styles will trickle down from the catwalk in Paris to the mall in your city. For now, a girl can hope.

5 Designers at NYFW Who Took Bold Risks That Really Paid Off

The fashion industry is often the subject of criticism for reasons that have since become cliches. Some of the most common criticisms revolve around the serious and structured nature of high fashion. Whereas resting bitch face has become a modeling mainstay in the industry, designers are making less and less serious clothes for serious women. Five designers at NYFW debuted collections for FW17 that stood out to me for the bold risks they took.

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The designer at the helm of Self-Portrait this season described this collection as flowering out of his own experiments with his personal look. Although this may explain why this looks so much like a streetwear collection, it does not explain why he took the bold risks he took. Some of the looks are trendy to the core; for reference, check out the choker, corset, and lampshade on Look 1. However, some of the looks are aesthetically unique. One of my favourite looks is the crushed velvet dress in a neutral tone on a girl with a nearly identical hair colour. The attention to tone and detail is what makes this collection great.
This season saw more streetwear collections than ever before. The fashion industry is changing; and perhaps it’s changing with the winds of Instagram-savvy street-style starlets. At Maryam Nassir Zadeh, streetwear staples were also juxtaposed with bold runway risks.

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The great thing about street style is there are so many ways to do it right. This Maryam Nassir Zadeh collection for FW17 is both minimal and optimized for Instagram models with shoppable closets. The bold risks I love here are twofold: bodysuits and nipple freedom. Bodysuits are becoming a more common sight across social media platforms (especially red one-pieces for summer), and over 3 million posts on Instagram have been captioned with #freethenipple. Both of these trends gained more traction on the runway this season than ever before. Maryam Nassir Zadeh knows that to keep her runway collections fresh, she has to keep her ear to the ground.

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Zoe Jordan took on a more avante-garde take on streetwear vibes. The boldest risk here is opting for a lookbook instead of a runway presentation; more designers than ever before are doing this now in order to save on costs and exercise more control over how the clothes are captured by photographers and portrayed to prospective buyers.

For Fall and Winter 2017, Zoe Jordan is wrapping us up in feminine fuzzy coats and topping it off with fur hats; not to mention the zebra-tie-dye sweatpants. These bold statements are feminine grunge; it’s about making a statement while staying comfortable.

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PH5 also opted for a lookbook instead of a runway presentation for their modern art-inspired knitwear collection. But this time, they didn’t just stop at knitwear; latex leggings, fusion lace, and a rainbow jumpsuit also make appearances throughout the lookbook. If that doesn’t scream bold risks, I don’t know what does.

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Anna Sui took a lot of bold risks, but also made a lot of safe calls. Not only do the Hadid sisters make appearances throughout this show, but Kendall Jenner, Taylor Hill, and probably other Instagram starlets and Victoria’s Secret Angels I didn’t recognize also sashayed down this runway. The casting may have been about safe calls, but the beauty and the fashion were anything but.

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It’s vintage, it’s avante-garde, it’s street style, all rolled into one. It didn’t take long before the bold patterns, rich textures, and Victoriana collars had me forgiving Sui for her star-studded cast.

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These five designers made the boldest statements at NYFW. The fashion industry isn’t always forgiving to those who dare greatly, but and Self-Portrait, Zadeh, Jordan, Ph5, and Sui made that leap and made it work.

Rage Against the Machine at NYFW

New York is widely regarded as the fashion capital of America – the land of the free, the home of the brave, the birthplace of modern democracy. The United States might not be known for their unified front right now, but designers at NYFW FW17 appeared to be on the same page.

The creative people of America’s fashion industry are in an uproar over the state of their country’s political affairs. With the Trump victory fresh in their minds, five designers pulled out every stop in an effort to create the angsty, edgy collections.

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I know what you’re thinking; it’s Gigi in Jesus pants. You’re right, but the people’s designer didn’t just stop there. As a relative outsider in the fashion industry, there was no one better than Jeremy Scott to publicly express his outrage at the Trump victory. Fit for nasty women and perhaps courageous bad hombres, this is about anger and ferocity. In the face of political oppression, perhaps Scott is suggesting we embrace our bad selves.

Scott grew up in rural America where he found himself surrounded by conservative fashion and ideologies. From a young age, he was creative and imaginative; he was constantly pushing the boundaries of art and aesthetics. After graduating from high school, he moved to New York, and then to Paris, where he eventually started his self-titled line.

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Although he faced a great deal of rejections at the start of his career, Jeremy Scott has become both an icon and a mainstay on the red carpet. Scott is known for blending street style and pop culture, but it’s a certain rebelliousness that makes this collection so distinct. It’s like, fuck fashion, I let my 5-year-old dress me, but if the 5-year-old has a penchant for fishnets.

In some ways, Jeremy Scott is the epitome of The American Dream. He was born without any connections to the fashion industry, and now he’s dressing pop stars and working for some of the most iconic houses in the biz. Not only has he done something great, but he’s done it himself.

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These looks are loud and proud. That butterfly applique dress was so nice I screenshot it twice. The Jesus motif was used throughout the show, perhaps poking fun at the looming reunification of church and state under a Republican presidency. No doubt some of the Trump supporters he’s encountered have reminded him of some of his less-than-favourite high school classmates.

Scott is, and always has been, an underdog. And who better than a chronic underdog to rage against the system? The big fashion houses donned by 5th avenue brat packs could never make a statement like this, even during a time in which seems to call for one, and get away with it.

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The looks that are supposed to be for men were even more outrageous than the ladies’. Typically, women can get away with more when it comes to fashion; but not at Jeremy Scott.

Although he now finds himself a fixture in the fashion industry, his haters are never far behind. Suzy Menkes and other high profile fashion writers have called his designs ugly, superficial, and stupefying. However, he never alters his vision to suit his critics.

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For me, the highlights of this show were Gigi in an Elvis-inspired jacket and pants, the applique dress I mentioned earlier, and the “As Seen on TV” top at the end.

Public School gave another obvious nod to the Trump presidency with their “Make America New York” hats, pictured below;

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When faced with the tough prospect of inspiring a political left-wing, the designers expressed a desire for more liberal-thinking leaders. “This Land is Your Land” blared in the background as models stomped down the runway donning either rural and rugged or silken and feminine looks. It’s about coming together by celebrating our differences; perhaps Americans should abandon the metaphorical “melting pot” in favour of a more Canadian mosaic.

Philip Plein expressed a desire to “make New York Fashion Week great again” at his presentation. Although the actual collection wasn’t as daring as some of the other politically-inspired presentations, this drew a great amount of press coverage because of who was seated in the front row.

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With Madonna, Kylie Jenner, and Tiffany Trump in tow, this show started with the vehicle of spectacle and took it past the point of reason. With his markedly avante-garde style, to paraphrase this designer, he chased his dreams until they came true. Sounds like a lot of talk, but this is actually a great collection.

High-powered businesswomen might actually wear this stuff to the office, causing their male counterparts to think critically about aesthetics and dress. Plein falls a little short here by assuming that boys and men cannot think critically about attire without the assistance of heteronormative women, however, his point is valid. Women actually have an advantage in the world of fashion, because it is socially acceptable for us to wear things that are thought-provoking and occasionally daring. This is particularly true for women in the spotlight; see Plein’s star-studded front row.

Rachel Antonoff, on the other hand, does not design pantsuits for high powered businesswomen nor dress stars for her front row. This season, her clothes are meant for trashy, tacky, opinionated women.

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She said it herself; there’s beauty in trash. With this collection, Rachel Antonoff is keeping the market of loud and liberal women alive. Not only can she talk the talk, but she can walk the walk; Antonoff is very active in the U.S. political scene, particularly within grassroots women’s movements.

I am obsessed with this collection because of this masterful usage of millennial pink as a backdrop against vintage-inspired perfection. Antonoff touches on nearly all the major trends without obscuring her uniqueness: everything from the 90s-inspired denim looks to the silk pajamas to the Victoriana-inspired finale dress has me shook.

Antonoff uses her line to express her political views in subtle ways. However, Wendy Nichol used her presentation to send explicit political messages.

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I know what you’re wondering; what do all those little signs say? Lucky for you, I counted all of the messages and discovered that some phrases were used twice, and others once. The phrases that were used once are as follows: I am (a/n): warrior, mad, Iranian, woman, horrified. The phrases that are used twice are as follows: I am (a/n): immigrant, fearless, uncategorized, fighter. You’re welcome.

The clothes are meant to complement the political messages. This collection of back-to-basics utility pieces is contemporary, classy, yet caustic. Wendy Nichol is angry about the way the world is and the direction in which it’s going.

Street style, desireable basics, and vintage wear will reign as top trends this fall and winter. In this unpredictable political climate, however, it’s becoming more fashionable to be an underdog.



Vetements Appreciation Post

The Vetements alum brought it during the first Fashion Month of 2017. The tagline for their fashion shows could be “expect the unexpected”, if that weren’t already a cliche. Vetements are anything but cliche. Vetements are about clothes; just clothes. Unlike the other shows at Spring 2017 Couture, Jean Paul Gaulthier brought us an aesthetic of multivocality.

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Multivocality is an abstract way of understanding the world that was originally derived by Mikhail Bakhtin while he was studying literary theory. Instead of understanding the world in terms of structures and boundaries like most of the other scholars at the time, Bakhtin was very interested in the ways in which humans make meaning by weaving together seemingly unrelated phenomena. He was particularly interested in studying novels. He saw the novel as the ultimate weaving together of truth and experience. To explain this to his peers, he often used metaphors that related back to the fine arts, such as voice, sewing, and weaving.

This collection by Jean Paul Gaulthier is about multivocality. Instead of hinging on a theme or era, this collection draws together voices across time and space to deliver a unique message about femininity. This collection brings together 80s cowgirl, Anne of Greene Gables, and the Matrix vibes for a rhyme and reason; women can be anything we want to be. Instead of trying to fit ourselves into categories, we could be finding out what makes ourselves really tick.

Being a woman might be tough right now, but it is pretty awesome that it’s more or less socially acceptable to express ourselves with attire. But what about women who don’t look like fashion models? What about regular people who the entertainment industry would deem as “extremely fat”? At NYFW, mother label Vetements took on the issues of ageism, racism, and body positivity. And no, that’s not your accountant in the bottom right hand corner and that’s not your grandmother in the top right hand corner.

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Although plenty of these models are industry standard, there are enough “regular” people in this show that I had to double-check I was still reading NYFW coverage. Many designers this year experimented with non-industry-standard types, but this show is completely unrivaled because it asks us this question: what if every fashion show were like this?

Vetements are prolific. Joseph used to design Vetements, but now he designs a self-titled line of ready-to-wear garments. Pictured here is his latest collection for Fall 2017.

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Joseph plays it pretty safe, taking trends made for millennials and making them acceptable for all generations. Among the top trends this year are androgynous aesthetics and the loveliest of lampshades. For those of you who don’t know, lampshading has become a huge trend where over-the-knee boots are paired with a solid dress or shirt.

Balenciaga have become a household name on their own, but they began as a branch of Vetements. During Paris Fashion Week, they debuted this ready-to-wear collection for Fall 2017.

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This is one of my favourite collections of the season. I love the neutrals, the jewel tones, the silhouettes, the shoes, everything. Need I go on?

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See for yourself. I might be a sucker for oversized sweaters, but even for all of the beautiful oversized sweaters I saw during fashion month, Balenciaga made some of my favourites.

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I love the coloured tights for back-to-school season. Balenciaga has not only made superb streetwear and elegant eveningwear, puts both looks in the same show. How do they do it? Balenciaga.


Brave New Couture

Paris Couture week is the pinnacle of innovation and experimentation. The fashion industry can be both a welcome distraction from these politically tumultuous times, and a powerful reminder of what we need to do to change that. Here are the highlights:

It seems unfair to reduce the Armani Prive Spring 2017 show to an Orange is the New Black joke, but they didn’t give me much more to work with. To read more about this new trend, check out my blog entry here. With Nicole Kidman and Isabelle Huppert on either side of Roberta Armani, it seems pretty clear that making orange the new black is exactly the prerogative at Armani Prive.

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Orange is the New Black is a powerful cultural symbol on which to base a collection of designer duds. The show does a great job of representing women as actual human beings, as opposed to sitcom mothers and daughters. The designs were as lavish, loose, and markedly feminine.

In contrast, the Maison Margiela Spring 2017 Couture show was raw and reduced. Admittedly, this collection is a commentary on social media. The first few garments are cage-like and minimalist. Reducing a garment to its seams is the fashion equivalent of posting a no-filter, no-makeup selfie. In this analogy, the flashy decals that appear later in the show are Snapchat filters; once the novelty wears off, you realize you have more followers on Instagram and they’d probably rather watch your Story there.

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Technology is changing our society, for the better, or for the worse. Which models we see on the runway has been permanently altered by social media; some designers still refuse to cast them, but in this day and age, it seems girls with large social media followings can pick up one day and decide to become a model. Givenchy received a little bit of heat and a lot of press in the fashion world for it’s star-studded lineup.

Social media has changed the air of mystery that used to surround celebrities. We have become more privy to their personal lives than ever before, and this has impacted how we receive their work. These days, celebrities have a public persona behind the many characters they play. These personas have replaced the magic of Old Hollywood. The same thing is happening in the fashion industry.


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The look at Givenchy was Victorian version of the “it girl”. By hiring models with personas, designers are adding another dimension onto their shows. Instead of imagining ourselves in the clothes, we imagine what sort of character the model would be when she’s wearing those clothes. This is really important because it draws the focus away from the self and unto the collective consciousness.

Givenchy imagines a universe and our job, as the audience, is to populate the universe with details. The details we can imagine are limited because very specific individuals have been placed in the Givenchy universe. Very subtly, the fashion world is changing how we think by placing celebrities at the axis of our focus.

Controlling how people think and what they think about is one of the trademarks of dystopian fiction. More Americans are picking up a copy of George Orwell’s 1984, but our present condition is actually much more like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World.

In Brave New World, the citizens are controlled by inflicting pleasure. Huxley would fear our current predicament because we are given so much information that we are reduced to passivity and the truth is lost in a sea of irrelevance. In these politically tumultuous times, becoming a the type of culture that Orwell warned us about is a common fear, but we became the culture Huxley feared decades ago. In a trivial culture, man’s infinite appetite for distractions distracts him from changing the system that constrains him.

Art can be a vehicle for change, but it can also be used to reinforce the status quo. Armani and Maison Margiela debuted collections that reflect the former, and the Givenchy collection reflects the latter.