Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Army of (designer-clad) Clones

Balenciaga's fall runway show was amazing. Interesting, creative, gorgeously structured...the list of complimentary adjectives goes on. It was an excellent modern interpretation of Cristobal's original Balenciaga woman, with stiff collars and minis, a simple black and white color palette, and some serious platform heels. Although there was some intricate decoration involved, the best pieces were sleek, clean, and perfectly cut. All in all, Nicolas Ghesquiere more than lived up to expectations set by his storied predecessor.

It is also the collection that is most likely to get played out and boring before the clothes even hit the stores. First of all, fashion magazines love Balenciaga (check out the stellar review of the collection, and Ghesquiere in general, at style.com). But more importantly, the house has "encouraged" magazines to only use the highly stylized "complete runway looks" in editorials. Too much of good thing, in fashion, tends to result in overexposure - which means we all get bored.

For most of us, fashion is all about our own interpretation. Really, it's sort of a giant self-serve buffet and no one chooses exactly the same meal. But only with yummy shoes and lots of sparkles instead of limp, probably sneezed-on lettuce and instant mashed potatoes (can you tell I don't really like buffets?). Seriously though, a big part of the joy of fashion is in the decision making process, and seeing what other people have chosen as well. Wearing runway looks head to toe, or even just seeing only that in magazines, gets old real fast. We (the fashion press and civilians) need to mix it up at least a little to keep it fresh.

Honestly, there really is nothing more boring than playing it too safe. A little black dress and pearls may take you anywhere, but what's the point if no one notices or remembers you? Wear shocking pink accessorized with a (real or faux) fur boa and I guarantee you will be memorable. Wear something crazy by Betsy Johnson, Cavalli, or any unknown designer whose work you love. Or just wear something from Target - as long as it's you!

So Nicolas Ghesquiere, I do "respect your vision" and I think your latest collections have been amazing. But have some respect for the creativity of others too and let us style your designs our own way. Try seeing your work through the eyes of others, maybe it will inspire something new.

After all, if you give ten girls the same black jacket, you'll probably end up with ten completely different looks. And that is something that the fashion industry needs to remember, before we all turn into an army of very stylish clones.

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