Sunday, April 20, 2014

Verner AW14 White Wash

White Wash was much more than Ingrid Verner's Autumn/ Winter collection for 2014. It was a sociopolitical commentary on the implementation of policy affecting Indigenous Australians over the past century. In one of the gutsier moves made by present-day Australia designers, Verner examines and reflects on Australian history as well as representation of women of colour in the fashion industry. It was made to stir controversy and evoke some deep soul-searching and it delivered on this level as well as aesthetically. Although I already love Verner and her (albeit brief) collaborative effort with Monika Tywanek, it's this sudden move towards poignancy and deriving meaning from fashion that has me intrigued. I generally resent the opinion of fashion being viewed as a trivial pursuit and that all things are immaterial.  

As the title of the collection suggests, White Wash is a minimalist collection comprised of monochrome tones with an uncompromisingly unique approach to garment structure and design. Although you could hardly accuse the premise of the collection as being too simple or bare in substance, I think the simple colour palette really reinforces to us the complex nature of the 'White Wash'. That society is no longer subdivided into shades of black and white but there are shades of grey to every spoken word, action and person. It is the variety of different textural elements and techniques Verner showcases, combined with her ability to combine intellectual thought packaged within a fashion collection that firmly plants her among some of Melbourne's best and brightest designers. 

Following a common trend amongst fashion designers around the world, high heels have been abandoned for the clean and versatile pair of sneakers. This has been very popular at Fashion Week in Sydney with white Reeboks storming the cat walk at Karla Spetic and New Balance at Kiaya Daniels. While some fashion editors, insiders and bloggers may fiercely reject the idea, what speaks volume about this trend is that the shoes are all sparkling white and pristine. It's their state that indicates so much about the lifestyle of the wearer. While I dread to think what would happen in the first hour if I were to wear a pair of white shoes, I am in favour of this swing towards balancing both comfort and style. It still presents the necessary challenge of trying to style the shoes with an outfit with the addition of adorable socks, if appropriate. The biggest benefit of this trend is looking cute without compromising fashion savvy street cred.

Verner presents a balanced, and contemporary view of modern Australia for the consumption of a morally conscience audience. Without the abstraction or use of vivid colours, the form, function and texture of the clothes takes precedence with a diverse range of silhouettes. Sensible winter coats were made to mimic warm duvet blankets and engulf the wearer in a deliciously obscure way creating a quilted, patchwork suit of armour. I'm don't really have the capacity to buy more than one coat for a single season and wear lots of layers when I go out anyway, but I think I need to add these jackets to my hit list of things to buy. Simply because I no there will be nothing else like it for years to come, it at all.

Trousers varied from form-fitting and quilted, to mottled tracksuit pants, to billowing wide legged incarnations branded in the White Wash logo. What really struck me was that each idea was itself, really different and could have easily been made the feature of it's own collection- but instead each has been offered within this same, cohesive package to really delight and confuse. To quote Lawrence Weschler, on David Wilson's Cabinet of Wonder, "It’s that very shimmer, the capacity for such delicious confusion... which make constitute the most blessedly wonderful thing about being human." While it may seem like an exaggeration to talk about pants in this way, I really did love being continually surprised by each new idea and having the ability to exercise choice.

I have unhealthy and obsessive feelings towards those garbage bin bags like, they are on a whole other level of greatness. Their design is integral to this whole serious discussion about modern Australian culture and the white wash, but because of the way they look they intrinsically deter copy cat designs. Because they look like a garbage bag- I could make a DIY of this look but I would still look like a disgusting bag lady! I think there's something really great about a designer who is clever enough to prevent others from degrading their reputation and stealing their unique designs. That said, Verner has been cheeky enough to borrow the design of high top canvas shoes from Converse and re-brand the trademark Chuck Taylor star with her own White Wash patch.

Some may be content to buy into the international brands like H & M and Uniqlo coming to town and they're entitled to buy into such  cheesy, crass commercialism but in some small way, Australian fashion is fighting back by demonstrating its complexities and its craftsmanship. Importantly, there are those who are story-tellers who are able to use their craft to draw our attention to a greater social consciousness, and they do it in style. In my literary studies class, our lecturer questioned the status of the word "story-teller" or rather its use in an essay we were analyzing. I think if you look back over time, to societies based on oral traditions without things being written down it was the story-tellers who were revered. While that isn't necessarily relatable to the 21st century, where everything you say or did can be archived online I can appreciate the hybridization of both art and narration with something that can be worn.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mushroom Gang

Wearing: Country Road sweater, vintage blouse, garage sale skirt, American Apparel socks, Lipstick jelly sandals and mushroom bead from ginettepomette (etsy).

I got this sweater for my birthday but I haven't been able to wear it until now because the weather is finally a little bit cooler. When I unwrapped it I was immediately reminded of little red toadstools so it made sense to wear it in a weird, mushroom-themed outfit. I've been kept really busy lately with lots of different assignments and coursework, but aesthetically I feel very restless. I'm stuck in a rut and I think a big change is coming soon, or I'm in the middle of one which has a lot to do with growing older and maturing and being twenty now instead of a teenager. Maybe I'll chop off all of my hair or dye it or use extensions, who knows.

In other news, I opened an etsy shop. It's called Strange Magic and you can find it here. I'm selling handmade and vintage stuff including clothes, brooches and flower crowns.

Friday, April 11, 2014

I'm Glad I'm a Girl

It's been a long time since I put together a moodboard, but I felt particularly inspired by Phiney Pet's AW14 lookbook. What really fascinated me was the interface between teenage girl editing with cartoons and professional photography, as well as the pastel colours and subversive riot girl vibes. Meadham Kirchhoff has been catering to this particular aesthetic for a while now, strengthened by their close associations with Rookie but it's still fascinating to see the fashion industry portray the teen dream. Or I will never get really get sick of this aesthetic because somehow I have regressed in life and generally feel confused about how I want to dress. A lot of the time I feel overwhelmed by fashion subcultures- because there are so many that I like but at the same time I can never fully commit to one. But a lot of the time, when I am unfocused or when I'm in a mood I stare at the trinket dish in my room and the plastic beaded necklaces or the pile of stickers on my desk. 

1b- Meadham Kirchhoff Fall 2014 Backstage, 3a, b- Model of South Sudanese origin Nykhor photographed by Kasia Bielska for an editorial titled Nykhor in Bloom printed in the #7 June 2013 issue of The Lab Magazine. 4, 5a- The Teenage Gaze by Petra Collins, b- Arvida Bystrom. 6a- Style Rookie, b- Phiney Pet AW14 ‘I Need a Real Man!’ Neoprene T-shirt. 7b. 8a- unknown via, b- unknown via, c. 9b- Rookie Mag Hometown Heroes, c- Hole: Softer, Softest. 10- unknown via, 11b- Laurence Philomene.
1a, 5c,11a- dreemboat. 2, 7a, 9a- Photography by Arvida Byström I love fake magazine 2013.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Phiney Pet AW '14

Phiney Pet has delivered another stunning collection following the success of their Summer/ Spring campaign for 2014. Recogniseable is the same cutesy aesthetic combining dreamy, professional photography and cartoon editing wrapped around an ambitious array of designs and colour. It's impossible to single out one stand alone piece, but I do love the texture of the tinsel running suit and fur-trimmed hemline skirts. I'm most attracted to unusual pieces which are difficult to replicate in by any mas production factory line- those pieces are worth paying top dollar for. They offer not only a membership to an exclusive club, but an extension of a new identity. I've been thinking a lot lately, about identity and creativity. While some might argue that fashion is trivial and a distraction from more, "important" pursuits, I argue that it gives meaning to serious matters and is an important to me. It defines who I am, what I like and importantly how I interact with other people. 

 I liked the cartoon eyeballs and 'housework sucks' shirt so much I made a page in my dairy about it. But instead of 'housework sucks' I found an even more amusing slogan of 'how to find a dealer' written in white smock clouds to be at the centre of my composition. Not that I condone drugs, illegal activity or sleeping in class. This seemed like a better compromise than printing out the entire lookbook and sticking it in my diary with stickers and glitter glue everywhere. Because while that would have been visually appealing, it wouldn't have been a new interpretation- I guess. Hopefully I will finish enough sketches and collage pages to show you guys my journal, but at the moment I just don't feel that it's ready yet. This dilemma is largely due to mountains of assignments and a backlog of notes and lectures to catch up on. I also waste me time on sites like Etsy and Tumblr a lot of the time in a vain attempt to feel inspired. BTW I do not inspired after this, I feel tired and unfulfilled when I look at my mountain of homework and multiple tabs open in my browser.

What I love most about this collection is the way that it interacts with and represents women. Of course their established aesthetic is great and I feel really inspired whenever I see Phiney Pet but it's their look books and how they choose to edit their shoots that really distinguishes them. For me, I feel like this is problem is universal in a lot of ways as a blogger. It's not necessarily the best outfit that generates the most attention but they way in which is is shot, presented, editted and the layout of a webpage that determines how it will be received. And of course it shouldn't be a material pursuit used as a vehicle in order to achieve some sort of fame or success but self-expression. But sometimes I feel like my best ideas aren't quite everyone's cup of tea or something I feel quite average about will receive a better reception than expected. Basically, everything is complicated. 

*All images via