… if we want to enjoy fashions thoroughly, we must not look on them as dead things; we might as well admire a lot of clothes hung up, limp and iert, like the skin of St BArtholomew, in the cupboard of a second-hand-clothes dealer. They must be pictured as full of the life and vitality of the women who wore them. Only in that way can we give them meaning and value. If therefore the aphorism ‘All fashions are charming’ offends you as being too absolute, say – and then you can be sure of making no mistake – all were legitimately charming in their day.
Posts Tagged ‘Martin Margiela’
My friend Joe recently shared some photographs with me, one of them was this photo of Steve Albini. He told me when he took this photo he was fixated by Albini’s rapturous stare. Here he is 26, fronting Rapeman in London on tour with Sonic Youth in 1988. The band was around from ’87 to ’89 and drew its name from the members’ collective mind-warping reflections on a Japanese comic of the same title. They would become characters themselves. Rapeman had an acutely abrasive and true metallic sound from a Travis Bean aluminum guitar coupled with a peculiar clairvoyant reductionism in the lyrics. After a moment with the intense glare, my eyes shifted downward. Albini’s denim is revealing. With the anti-quantity of negative space, the origins of these apparent threads presented a bit of a mystery. Is the denim falling apart or is on its way to being completed ? Are they being exhibitionist or in the throes of a suppression whereby the fabric itself attempts the void ? This denim isn’t fraying, it’s an ongoing confrontation of being completed, conformed to a modern, standardized form- a form obsessed with measurement(s). Perhaps this ‘fray’ left and was seen again on Martin Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2008 catwalk. Albini likely never gave a second thought about the jeans, and likely saw them as dispos-able. The jeans register as nothing rather than something, yet at the same time, they’re analogous to Rapeman’s sonics and lyrics, or composite. ___ Here they are held up by the horizontal guitar strap which also acts as a belt: A fusion of the guitar and the jeans which reminds that the demeanor and intensity of the music were more perpendicular than parallel. ; Could the same be said for a [potential] mass reproduction of them based on a tailored cut of these? ___ In a video my friend showed me, Patti Smith apparently cried [http://vimeo.com/51908409] when she saw herself, her own look, on Ann Demeulemeester’s catwalk. Later Patti becomes Ann’s friend and maybe more poignantly— her customer. In the end buying back her own look. The jeans are an event, a supernova in slow motion. an eventual coming and people were drawn to them whether they saw them at a show put on by Rapeman or Margiela. VG
|MMMSS08. photo source: http://auctions.yahoo.co.jp|
My friend Joe recently shared some photographs with me, one of them was this photo of Steve Albini. He told me when he took this photo he was fixated by Albini’s rapturous stare. Here he is 26, fronting Rapeman in London on tour with Sonic Youth in 1988. The band was around from ’87 to ’89 and drew its name from the members’ collective mind-warping reflections on a Japanese comic of the same title. They would become characters themselves. Rapeman had an acutely abrasive and true metallic sound from a Travis Bean aluminum guitar coupled with a peculiar clairvoyant reductionism in the lyrics. Aside from the intense glare, my eyes shifted downward. Albini’s denim is revealing. With the anti-quantity of negative space, the origins of these apparent threads presented a bit of a mystery. Is the denim in a fray or is on its way to being completed? Are they being exhibitionist or in the throes of a suppression whereby the fabric itself attempts the void? This denim isn’t fraying, it’s an ongoing confrontation of being completed, conformed to a modern, standardized form- a form obsessed with measurement(s). Perhaps this ‘fray’ left and was seen again on Martin Margiela’s Spring/Summer 2008 catwalk.
Boundless Presentation, Beijing, ↓
Translation by Sophie Cao.
(first appeared in the F de C Reader 1)
You design for Hermès in China and you also have your own brand, Boundless. What is your background? I entered Northwest Textile College (Xibei Fangzhi Xueyuan) in 1986 to study fashion design, and after graduation in 1990 I stayed in the college working there for 7 years. In 1999 I got offered to work in Shanghai for Chen Yifei clothing studio, so I moved to Shanghai, where I have lived until now. From 1999 to 2002, I worked for Chen Yi Fei studio, then became freelance for a while, and in 2005 I started my own studio, Parallel, and set up my brand, Boundless.
Did you have much international experience before joining Hermès? Our school in Xi’an has a partnership with the Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Antwerp, and they helped us set up the training school and sent teachers to China. I assisted the Belgian teachers, helping them teach and prepare their classes; it was a good experience. After that, I interned for 3 months in a haute couture clothing company in Rome.
How is it to work for a European brand? Shang Xia Hermes is based in Shanghai, and most of the people working there are Chinese. I feel that what interests me most is sourcing original material and researching handcrafting skills. There are challenges too, since in China we still lack experience in dealing with luxury products. We need French designers or consultants to direct us.
How does it feel to design for somebody else? I started my own brand before joining Shang Xia, and I’m trying to keep it. Shang Xia has certain codes that must be followed. It is interesting researching new fabrics and material and visiting handcrafting shops. For designing, we have some freedom but we also need to listen to the art directors, and I don’t mind that I don’t have my name on the brand. I have my own brand to realize my own ideas. I think that is an OK balance. I need something from Shang Xia and I need something from Boundless too.
In general, is there a lot of European influence in your work? Yes. Firstly, I think that I was influenced by Europe from working with the Belgian teachers. That was very important for me. Then my three months internship also influenced me a lot.
You mentioned Martin Margiela as an important designer. Martin Margiela is one of my favorite designers. He is so important to me because he changed the way I view clothes. He has a unique approach to clothing. He finds inspiration from the very idea of clothing itself beyond any specific clothes as such. This deeply inspired me. Besides, his design is grounded in his daily life in Belgium or Paris, while at the same time concerned with philosophy. That is interesting and inspirational.
Where do you look for inspiration for your own design outside Hermès? Boundless’ main inspiration is from two sources: one is the Chinese way of looking at things; the philosophy. Also the techniques of Chinese cutting, very flat cut, no draping or darts… it is interesting to see how the Chinese make clothes. Also traditionally we have different mentality of how we look at the body. Both Chinese and Japanese, we think the body should be covered, not shown to people. From ancient times Chinese and Japanese clothes were very loose. You cannot see the body directly. The materials were quite soft, normally made of silk cotton or linen. You can feel the shape of the body but you don’t actually see it. That enables more imagination. Sexiness is expressed that way but not through the act of seeing. It is a different mentality and that is why we make clothes different from Europeans. Europeans tend to think that people should be proud of their body, so one function of the garment is to help show the form of the body, hence they make the hip part or the breasts look bigger, and invented cutting and sewing skills and techniques to realize these effects. Another inspiration is ordinary life. It is interesting to see how everything is mixed: western things, Chinese things, old things, new things. Actually, it is quite a mess. Beijing is a mess. Sometimes I like this mess. It is bad taste, but interesting, and has much power.
I agree. Things are still arriving to this country so everybody is figuring out how to use what styles and all. In Europe we have a proper context for everything. Certain people wear certain garments. Here you see for example people with totally different backgrounds wearing the same garments. It is both funny and it makes you think of the meaning of things. How do you feel about design in general in China? Can China be the next Japan? The general situation now in China is active, full of chances. The economic boom generates more demand, which enables more opportunities for designers, but the general design level is not high. So far it is not comparable to Japan. The current situation of fashion designing in China is more or less similar to the contemporary art in the 1980s and 90s… Artists at that time tried all kinds of styles from the West; now the fashion designers are doing the same. They copy every style from London or Milan or Paris… All styles can be found in China except their own style. I trust that in 10 years this will change. Besides the designers’ influence, there is the customers’ influence. Chinese people are into big brands like LV… Even big name avant-garde designers may find it difficult to sell their products. Many rich people like to consume big brands from Europe. It is a fact. Even not so wealthy people who cannot afford big pieces would rather buy small items from big names. Many tourists and students studying overseas, buy lots of those during discount season. Also many online-shops act as a middle man for European products and charge fees. All in all it shows that when consuming fashion, Chinese consumers are not considering design or shapes or material but the brand name or their faces or social status. I do marketing for my own little brand and at the same time work for Hermès. I can see the difference. My brand sells in some private shops in Beijing and Shanghai; it has a small number of products, but I do feel that more and more people are interested in such products made by Chinese local designers. On the other hand, Shang Xia Hermès is a luxury brand and only sells in Shanghai. And it is directed to wealthy people only. These customers don’t consider the money they’re spending when buying Shang Xia Hermès… I don’t expect this to change in the near future, I am afraid. It is not a mature consuming attitude; it is worrisome. Maybe in five to eight years something might change.
Everything in China is moving quickly… in 5 or 10 years it will be incredible. And many students go aboard to study fashion. Altogether, there are more than one million Chinese studying abroad. It is true that many students go abroad. I think it’s good. One reason is that their parents have more money to support them while studying overseas. At least they will learn about techniques and the procedures of the fashion industry. It helps to improve the level… In my opinion, the most important thing is that they find their own way of viewing things. Personally I wish students can find themselves, form their own attitude to fashion design. Second important thing is to pay attention to the quality.
How would you describe your work? There is the type I called flat, learned from Chinese cutting and the mentality of how we look at things. Flat cutting is the trademark of traditional Chinese and East Asian ‘couture’. I also got influence from Japanese vintage, like how to set the positions of neck and arms, because in this way when people wear the clothes they got the twist or turning of the fabric, so when you create the proper form and the positions, even if you don’t make a twist shape or sew it in a certain way, you still get the effect. That is the Chinese way of thinking – you don’t make the finished garment itself, you make the system to generate it; the thing is not fixed but naturally comes out of the environment that you create. In Europe you can use the draping technique to make the form – you shape it perfectly the way you want it – even you take off it to hang it on the rack, the shape is still there. But for my clothes, if you take it off from the body, it becomes flat.You don’t see the shape or plissé any more. That is very Chinese – we don’t make the plissé or the form, we just use different position of the neck and arms and let the body do the turning of the fabric.
Did Issey Miyake inspire you? Yes, I got much influence from Issey Miyake and I need to work hard to get away from him. Otherwise I will be in his shadow. In general now I try to find first hand material rather than look at other designers’ work.
What about other Japanese designers? Comme des Garçons and Yamamoto are my favorite designers. I learnt a lot from them. They really set up Japanese fashion style which is really great. Before them, there was only one standard from Paris, after them there was two standards, and later came another standard from Belgium. I went to Japan three times, though very briefly, but I could feel the Japanese are strong at design. Maybe it is to do with their character. They are organized. They like to control things… even nature. Japanese do like nature, but under control. Look at the bonsai, the trees they plant in the backyard, are all controlled, height and shape. It is not like in America where they would just let the trees grow.The difference is that in Japan they take good care of trees and garden plants and keep them looking impeccable, while in China, they just leave them there without any care. It is so dirty.There’s a big difference between Japanese and Chinese. That is why Japanese make everything organized, everything is controlled by humans, and everything is designed. Somehow it is a bit too much and don’t feel relaxed. Of course the environment is really clean, but maybe for certain things it is too much. But due to such character, they have great fashion and graphic design.
At the UCCA shop they were selling a skirt you had made from an IKEA towel. As a Swedish person I know this kind of towel well: every family has it in their kitchen. When I was a kid, we also had it and saw it every day. When I saw it in the UCCA shop, I saw something out of place. The IKEA tag was still there on the skirt. I had been looking for something like this in China, more than just the surface and the look, something more conceptual… Though IKEA is originally from Sweden, now it is in China, so it’s also meaningful for us. My studio uses lots of IKEA furniture. It is important for Chinese life, especially for young people. It helps us make life look nice. So IKEA is also part of our life now even if it is from Sweden. That is why I choose things from IKEA, like a towel or the print fabric. The towel is often used in the kitchen to clean and dry the bowl. I think it is perfect for summer to make a dress or top, because it is cotton and it is easy to wipe the sweat off with it. Also I like cheap and low tech things. When I made the skirt, I kept the tag. I found that interesting.
Lots of fashion people like to buy branded things and they are proud of those brands, and would like to show the brands. But of course they are not proud of IKEA or cheap things. When someonebuys an LV bag they want a big label to show it is LV, but if it is IKEA they don’t want to show it is IKEA. That is the interesting twist of the whole branding part. So you left the tag on. I wanted to joke about those people, to tease them. I want to keep the IKEA tag on the dress and if you don’t like it, then just don’t buy IKEA.
In Sweden, if you visit a 20-something’s home, most of the furniture you see will be from IKEA, from second hand shops or from their parents’ house. You can recognize the furniture. If you use too much IKEA, we think it’s boring; it shows a lack of personality. What does IKEA mean in China? I think maybe it has a higher status here? I think in China it is a bit different. Normal Chinese from small towns or cities would still think IKEA is expensive. People from Beijing or Shanghai, white collar, can easily afford it. So most young people in big cities buy furniture from IKEA because in China there is no nicely designed and low priced brand for the massmarket. IKEA sells well just because it is low priced and nicely designed. In China, low price always means bad taste.
In China when you rent apartment, it will come with furniture. But things in the apartment are always really ugly and of low quality. Even if they look good when they’re new — sometimes they copy some designer’s or big label’s work — in a month or so, they will have broken or started to rust. So after living in China, I begin to really appreciate IKEA and understand its value. IKEA is important for young people because they care about style now. Also in Chinese big cities, people move fast. In a year many people would move two or three times. If they buy expensive furniture, then when they move to next place the furniture may not fit. With IKEA, at least it looks good even if it’s cheap. That is why they want it. Uniqlo is the same. Muji is a bit more expensive.
You live in Shanghai. In China most art and creative things are in Beijing. Why have you decided to live in Shanghai? When I moved in 1999, Shanghai was a good choice. Compared to Beijing then, it was easier to find fabric and clothes factories. Pattern makers were also better than in Beijing. In those years, the most important reason was Chen Yifei who gave lots of freedom to his designers, and his brand had a really good image. I didn’t have second thoughts deciding. Of course now for creative things like art and music and film, Beijing is a much better place. Shanghai is more commercial. But Shanghai is good for fashion because the business environment is good. And the central city area has narrow streets where individual designers can rent small shops. Individual designers firstly appeared in Shanghai, since they could rent a small shop for about 2000rmb, and start designing from there. They could live there and at the same time made money. It was a completely new way of thinking compared to before when all we could do is work for companies. Only in those years in Shanghai did people find that they could live and work in that way. Beijing had this later because it has wide roads and not so many narrow lanes that allow people to walk slowly and appreciate those individual designs. Recently though, fashion designers are more active in Beijing. The reason is that when they finish studying in Europe, they come back to Beijing and considering that here they have more media and more opportunities. That is how Beijing got more active recently.
Ai Weiwei recently said that Beijing is a dirty and inhumane city… if you were to make the choice today, what would it be? It’s a difficult question. I have been thinking about this for a few months. This is a very personal thing. Different people have different feelings about a city… But I agree with Ai Weiwei. If you live a normal ordinary life, Beijing is not convenient. But if you like music and art, or you like to meet different kinds of people, then it is a good choice. If you want to have a more relaxed middle class life, then Shanghai is a nicer choice.
Let’s talk about design again.. For me the three most important designers are Comme des Garçons, Yohji Yamamoto and Maison Martin Margiela. However they are all gone now. MMM is Diesel now. Yamamoto is bankrupt. CdG still has this anti-fashion image, but they are making purses and this Play thing… I think it is normal though. CdG, Rei Kawakubo… they are old, and it is natural that they don’t make their collections as fresh as they used to. Everybody will have that day. Time moves on. I respect these three designers. But if they want to stop working I understand. Actually it may be better to stop. Especially for Yamamoto, I didn’t like his last collection much.
Maybe we are looking for something else. We don’t want just famous names or labels anymore; maybe we want something that’s personal too… How do you see the future of design? It is a big question! One thing for sure is that everybody is waiting for a surprise. Japanese fashion is gone, Belgian fashion is gone, the Antwerp six, anti-minimalism. That’s why people are all waiting. I can think only for China, but here we can’t put our hopes on the big companies. They make lots of money, but the only thing they can change is to have a better working place and better wages for workers. Some of my friends own companies, they also had harsh years in the past 2 or 3 years because they had to pay higher salaries to workers and they had to make their prices higher. For individual designers, they still need to find a way to work better. There are four ways to improve. One is to go abroad, like Uma Wang. She did well, she’s from Shanghai, now she has shops in Milan and London. Joyce is also doing well in Beijing, finding her own way. The second way is to open their own shop to sell their stuff, like me. The third way is those who do well and in 2 or 3 years start to make enough money and go to department stores to open shops. The last way is to use the Internet to sell. Decoster just opened a concept store, Vera Zaishi Wang… Everybody is looking for the right way to work.
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M is wearing (cw t) 1. gold lamé pull-over top : Gaspard Yurkievich 2. artisanal skirt : maison martin margiela
3-4. maison martin margiela artisanal dress ( reworked carseat cover )
ph. chieko kawaguchi
trying out new arrivals with Sayo:
photos and styling alin huma and sayo akasaka