The end of Paris Fashion Week brings to a close the major shows of the Spring/Summer 2014 season. You know who has a lot of opinions about clothing? My parents! Though neither of them usually gives much thought to what happens on the runway, there is no shortage of critical fashion analysis when I go home to visit, particularly from my mom (see: “You’re not going out in that, are you?” “I don’t think that’s supposed to be worn as a dress,” and “Isn’t this funky? I think this is funky.”) I joined them both on Skype last night to find out their thoughts about some of the more famous collections.
1. Claire, a.k.a “Mom.” She describes her look as “very casual.” Her go-to outfit is black pants and a top with a three-quarter length sleeve. Her favourite places to shop are Winners and the Bay.
2. Mark, a.k.a “Dad.” He says his favorite outfit is “jeans, sneakers, and golf shirts.” He likes to pull his sweat socks up all the way when wearing them with shorts.
The Show: Gareth Pugh
Claire: Look #1. Really? Why/How/When/Where would anyone wear the headdress? And what is it?? The model’s face looks grumpy and quite frankly I don’t blame her.
Mark: The models look nasty. Like really, really mean!
Anna: He was online.
Mark: Don’t let me influence your picks. Just think of me as that Simon guy on A.I.
Claire: #16?? For heaven’s sakes – the hat is sooo distracting that I don’t even look at the outfit.
Anna: The designer actually has a background in costume. A lot of big pop stars like Lady Gaga and Beyonce have worn his work.
Mark: ATTITUDE!!!!! Did you see the link to the David Bowie article I sent you?
Anna: Yes, dad, we’re doing something completely different now.
Mark: Your mom’s writing a lot.
Claire: #29 – a sloppy kimono jacket with collar too high up that you just want to scrunch it down. And a white skirt that drags on the ground and will collect so much dirt that it will become filthy. And bandaged shoes??
Anna: Did you see anything you like?
Mark: It’s a…WALK-OFF!!!!!
Anna: We’ve all seen Zoolander. This is something else right now.
Mark: First model walks, second model duplicates, then elaborates.
Mark: My big question is, and I know it’s based on not knowing, but who really wears all this? I mean, it’s not like you’re going to see any of that walking down the street, or at the ballet, or at the mall?
Anna: A lot of the more exaggerated pieces are seen as like, part of the performance of his runway shows. But he’s gotten a good reception from some folks in the art world, and again, a lot of pop stars and performers wear his pieces.
Mark: Actually, it doesn’t look that bad. I think what I find off-putting is the model’s expression. I think she just needs an orange mocha Frappuccino.
Claire: Overall impression, I just don’t get it…who would wear this? There are a few pieces that would be so nice without the high shoulders; and being covered from head to toe in fabric!! The top in #17 is nice.
The Show: Dries Van Noten
Claire: Except for a few pieces, these are the kind of items you wear when you want to get on the ‘fashion police’ page of the trashy magazines. Honestly, it is like over achieving kids in kindergarten art class that want to use up every item in the craft piece they are making in hopes that someone will find some beauty in it. And it is usually the moms who say how wonderful it is and keep the treasure locked in a box forever. I think these designers were those kids.
Anna: Ok, let’s try a completely different kind of designer.
The Show: Jil Sander
Anna: The others were from Paris. This one showed in Milan.
Claire: Some of these are actually quite nice
Anna: What do you like about them?
Claire: That they flatter the figure and you can actually see someone wearing these
The Show: Givenchy
Anna: Can you be more specific? About the clothes. What do you like?
Mark: I think it’s the simplicity of those designs. Plus, no floppy sleeves to catch on. Also, they’re more form fitting, without being tight. On the other hand, #19 is just too boring. #18 is better. #28 and 34 are good. 28 is colourful and sporty, while 34 is spring like.
#47, no, because it looks like when she bends over, her boobs will fall out.
Anna: Don’t say boobs.
Mark: I didn’t. I wrote it.
The Show: Jean Paul Gaultier
Mark: OK. I like his stuff better. Like, much better. Right away it looks more user friendly. It makes me think of riding motorcycles. Action stuff. I’m done the first page page. I liked them all. Now looking at the next page. I don’t like the second page. Black looks better. I like the model in #15, cause she looks like Jesse’s first girlfriend.
Anna: Wait, from Breaking Bad? Which girlfriend? Do you mean Jane?
Mark: Yes. Page 3: too artsy. No soup for you. NEXT!
Anna: Wait. How does she look like Jane? Are you sure you mean model #15?
Mark: It’s what I see. Just like Jane explaining those paintings to Jesse. In Breaking Bad. I didn’t like much after the first page, except the blonde model in the red dress on the last page. She says to me, “Uma Thurman in Pulp Fiction.” Except blonde.
The Show: Alexander McQueen
Anna: Mom, don’t say booby. Who do you think would wear such a collection?
Claire: Extroverts with a lot of money. No one with a figure beyond a size 0 could even attempt to wear any of these and feel good in them.
Anna: Do you mean like, because of the stigma surrounding bigger women who wear fashionable clothing?
Claire: Not sure I can call these fashionable clothing – the items with a ruffle of feathers around the bust and butt. These are the areas most women try to draw attention away from. How can one sit with a ruffle of feathers on their behind? #13 & #14 – would be a breeze to go through airport security…they can see through the holes of the outfit. #19 would be great at a Formula One Car Race.
The Show: Chanel
Anna: Are you gonna get a yacht next? Also: you’re married.
Mark: No, but if I was, and in distress, I would make #22 climb up the yardarm and wave. They’d see her for miles. The designer looks like they were inspired by business, or office wear. Not too serious, but not frivolous like some other ones.
Anna: Who do you think would wear or like these clothes?
Claire: Way more inclusive audience of all sizes, ages of women.
Mark: Audrey Hepburn.
Anna: Why Audrey Hepburn?
Claire: Because all women of that era loved Chanel.
Mark: She’s waif like.
Anna: Audrey Hepburn was super into Givenchy. They collaborated a lot. Givenchy was the collection with the blue faces.
Mark: I thought she looked familiar
The Show: Stella McCartney
Anna: This is Paul McCartney’s daughter.
Mark: “By George”, said John,” I think Paul has lost his Ringo.”
Anna: Would you wear them yourself?
Claire: Yup, and I would feel fashionable and good. When you look at fashion styles like these designers, are you supposed to think of them as pieces of art, or as wearable, functional items of clothing that make you feel like you want to wear them and be seen in them?
Anna: It depends on the designer. Some are more commercial, and are intended to be sold in stores. Still, a lot of times the pieces will be exaggerated for the runway (hemlines shortened, hips widened, paired with more dramatic hair, makeup). Some pieces can look really different when styled a different way. Some designers like being more theatrical, or making a statement. I read this book in my late teens, when I was really getting into reading about clothing – Fashion at the Edge: Spectacle, Modernity, and Deathliness. It’s a good analysis of some of the more experimental designers of the 80’s and 90’s.
Mark: 10 and 11 remind me of when Troy and Pierce got in trouble with Chang. On Community.
Anna: But this isn’t about me.
Mark: Here’s my opinion (based on the movie, Rush, which we just saw): In high end racing, like Formula 1, manufacturers try stuff out, to win races. They have huge budgets, and occasionally something trickles down that is useful for day-to-day driving (anti-lock brakes, safety devices). The way I see it, a lot of these OUTRAGEOUS outfits might have components that will look good for day-to-day fashion, not just on slinky supermodels. That is, clothing designers might use parts of these as inspiration. Am I close?
Anna: I think you nailed it. Actually.
Mark: It’s worth seeing on the big screen.
Anna: We should probably trade jobs. OK, out of everything you’ve seen: what were some lasting impressions?
Mark: Sublime to the ridiculous.
Claire: Shhh, your brother is on the phone.
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