|Fit, Function, Fashion
||[fév. 28e, 2010|02:43 pm]
'Practical' has come to be such a shunned word, directly connotated with 'ugly'. But all that the queen of chic herself, Coco Chanel, was trying to do when she started out was to liberate women by creating more practical clothes for them. She invented the bag strap because she became sick of clutching her bag. For Coco Chanel, there was never any compromise between what was practical and what was chic. The two went hand in hand.
Is there any successful high-end designer today whose main aim is to liberate women?
Now, the clutch handbag is stylish again. As are high-heeled shoes that you can't walk in, and bustiers, corsets. (Even I think bustiers and corsets are beautiful, and there are past entries on this blog about them.)
The most avant-garde contemporary designers aren't the ones increasing practicality, but people like Hussein Chalayan, who once made a table that could also be folded out into a skirt. Indeed impressive. But it is always the female body which has to be compromised within this sort of art/fashion. Menswear seldom enters the rhealm of design so innovative it's more for view than wear. There seems to be an unwritten law: unpractical but beautiful is for women only. This attitude to fashion as art is mirrored in everyday wear as well.
There was an episode of Project Runway once where the designers had to design clothes for each other. One male designer had made a pair of mens' trousers, and the judges criticized him for not having added pockets. "Without pockets, it looks like a pair of women's trousers!" Michael Kors - a womenswear designer - said, aghast. In the same episode, the judges kept saying how menswear was the hardest thing a designer could make, without ever really elaborating on why.
Could it be because men as consumers have been conditioned to expect more? Because fashion-conscious men demand function AND fit AND quality AND style? A man can buy a suit and whilst in the shop have it directly tailored to his fit.
Women have to settle for tailoring their own bodies instead.
And still we're the ones who end up with less practical clothes of lower quality.