Avant-Garde fashion history
Context Page Introduction 2 History of avian-garden 2-3 Avian-garden in fashion history 3 Contemporary fashion and avian-garden 3 Discussion of Suzan Hens’ autumn/ winter collection 4 Discussion of Assistant Louse’s 2011 autumn/winter collections-5 Discussion of Black Coffee’s 2013 winter collection 5-6 Discussion of Luda Inglenooks 2012 autumn/winter collection 6-7 Discussion of Taboo Machete’s 2012 collection 7 Conclusion 7-8 List of Illustrations 9-13 List of References 14-15 What is avian-garden and how does it fit into South African contemporary fashion design?
In order for one to determine if you are for or against avian-garden, and pacifically in relations to South African avian-garden, one must first define avian- garden and explore the origin and history of the movement. According to The Oxford Dictionary of Art, avian-garden is defined as “a term originally used to describe the foremost part of an army advancing into battle (also called vanguard) and now applied to a group, particularly of artist, that considers itself innovative and ahead of the majority’ (Chillers, 2004:42).
Avian-garden therefore refers to designs that are new, innovative and cutting edge. South African avian-garden is presently a very small part of the local fashion industry, UT it is a developing fashion trend with great potential. South African avian-garden designers are constantly pushing the envelope in order to stretch the minds of the consumers and other designers. This carries great potential for the South African fashion industry as well as the economy, for if the designers succeed to be truly avian-garden, it is bound to have a positive outcome.
I am therefore arguing for the existence and development of South African avian-garden and will be discussing Suzan Hens’ 2011 autumn/winter range, die form, Assistant Louis 2011 autumn/ winter range, Black Coffee’s 2013 winter range, WREATHE, Luda Inglenook’ 2012 autumn/winter range, Anamosa, as well as Taboo Machete’s 2012 range, Kabob EAI Balboa.
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Avian-garden first made its appearance in art during die late nineteenth century and early twentieth century. A small group of artist decided to break away from the rules that bound artist into creating only an established style of art.
They actively attacked the institution of art in order to separate and detach themselves from it, but also to reincorporate themselves and their art into life (Berger, 1984: xvii). The first avian- garden art appeared is the Italian Futurism, French Cubism and German Expressionism movements. These movements were so different due to their fundamentally new aspirations and origins in relation between the artist and the world as well as the subject and the object. Dadaism, Surrealism and Constructivism followed soon after, continuing in these aspirations (Cabooses, 1971 : 53).
During the late twentieth century, the fashion century came to an end and postposition came into being. This new fashion movement is expressed in the reversal of the relationship between the fashion designer and follower. Since the ass’s, fashion is no longer initiated by the aristocracy or the bourgeoisie and then hefted down to the general public, but now introduced by the general publics street style where after it moves into the salons of haute couture where it is adapted and mimicked (Vine, 2005: 63).
In the ass’s, fashion designers started implementing the use of non-fashionable elements to create the avian-garden fashion beyond fashion. Western Paris-based fashion designs and ideas were shattered and the idea of dressing oneself as a ‘man’, Woman’ or ‘lady became an out of date concept. The avian-garden fashion trend aimed to expose the old function of clothes that classified people into groups of age, gender and status (Geeky, 2012:103). Furthermore, avian- garden designers aimed to shock the public and not to create beautiful and luxurious clothing (Vine, 2005: 64).
Today, contemporary civilization is so desensitizing to norms and values that designers struggle to succeed in using the shock treatment as a way to draw attention to their work. It is also very difficult for designers to create totally new designs, for almost everything has been done before. Due to this, as a designer, avian-garden is such a difficult movement to be apart of. South African designers therefore also tend not to be a part of the avian-garden movement, but to follow the European trends and use it as part of their design inspiration.
A few South African designers has accepted the challenge of designing avian-garden garments, but are they really a match for the famous and established avian-garden designers or are they simply following in the footsteps of other avian-garden designers? In case study 1, Suzan Hens’ 2011 autumn/ winter range is depicted. This range’s name is “die form”, because she drew her inspiration from the anatomy of the human body (Hens, 2011). When one looks at the images, one can see that in some instances, continues lines are used to depict the flow and natural rhythm of the human body.
Her aim was to reveal the inside of the body on the exterior of a garment, thus creating an exoskeleton (Hens, 2011). This is evident in every design due to the different techniques that she implemented. In this collection one can also see that the muscular and skeletal systems are taken and distorted and warped to create remarkable designs. The fracture shapes in the garments, also contributes to an anatomical silhouette. Suzan describes her collection and says “it is about inner symbolism, looking at our inner physiology and taking it outside which in turn represents the unveiling of our hidden psyche” (Hens, 2011).
Suzan Hens is one of South Africans leading avian-garden fashion designers, but does her designs live up to the standards and definition of true avian-garden design? Although her range has a very interesting concept, and forms such an excellent collection, it is not truly avian-garden, for it has been done before. In 2010, Gucci had a range inspired by x-rays and the same year Jean Paul Guiltier launched his creation as part of the fall collection, inspired by exploring the concept of wearing narrower as outerwear Goanna, 2010).
This proves that although her designs might have been lassie as avian-garden, it is not truly innovative. She did thus also not set a trend, but followed the trendsetters. In case study 2, one can see Assistant Louse’s 2011 autumn/winter collection. In this collection, he uses different layers of fabric to represent an exploration of self- expression in the context of social, sexual and traditional cultures. At the same time it also comments on our perception of an African aesthetic (Melange, 2011).
Assistant was inspired by the way that different cultures wrapped their cloths, especially the Mass’ and Indian cultures as well as the ancient Greeks (Mulberry: 2011). He also explored with African aesthetics in his collection, which can be seen in the beaded necklines. His collaboration of different cultures’ way of wrapping their clothing, led to a balance of colonial and nomadic styles. In this collection, a diverse range of high-wasted peg-leg trousers can be seen along with harem pants and pleated shoulder shawls.
Loose fabrics are also used to create these different kinds of wraps and loose silhouettes. The warm and earthy colors, such as mud-grey, brown, blue, red and burnt orange, also refer back to African aesthetics. These colors bring the collection and theme to life. Colorful belts that are wrapped and folded over loose vests as well as over-sized neck pieces are also some of the accessories and styling that contributes to the feel of the overall range (Mulberry, 2011).
Assistant Low is viewed as one of South Africans up and coming avian-garden designers, but these designs can not be classified as truly avian-garden. The use of fabrics, such as t-shirt fabric, and the combination of clothing items might be a new addition to traditional culture’s wrapping cloths or way of styling, but that does not make it avian-garden. As soon as a designer uses another culture’s clothing as inspiration, the ND product is likely not to be avian-garden, for it has mostly been done before.
The third case study is Black Coffee’s 2013 winter range, WREATHE. This range entwines together contemporary engineering and fabrics with classic and feminine silhouettes. The textures that is clearly visible and one of the key elements of this collection, is created by braiding industrial felt and the layering of mesh panels. In this collection, Black Coffee experimented with the sculptural process of carving, where the shape is exposed within and not constructed by the foundational material (Black Coffee, 2012).
This also served as their inspiration for the range. With this collection, Black Coffee hoped to create a ‘collection that captivates by precision and seduces through romantic imagination’ (Black Coffee, 2012). This collection uses a very soft and feminine color palette in order to convey the romantic feel and to highlight the classic silhouettes. It also uses the classic clothing elements such as high-wasted pants, coats and dresses but change them in such a way that they appear as innovative garments.
In 2009, Given launched a spring range with a dress that appears to be very similar to some of Black Coffee’s 2013 winter designs (Style, 2012). Although that is the case, Black Coffee can still be viewed as an avian-garden designer, for it creates truly innovative designs that are beautiful and functional at the same time. In case study 4, Luda Inglenooks 2012 autumn/winter range, Anamosa, are depicted. His inspiration for the designs is traditional Xhosa bodywork, craft, symbolism and colors.
He uses these in knitwear made of mohair and merino wool in order for mammograms, Xhosa initiates, to wear it after they have gone through the initiation process (Inglenook, 2012). This knitwear depicts his cultural aesthetics and is very practical at the same time. AAA of his designs is contemporary and yet culturally applicable and brings the Xhosa aesthetics to any outfit (Design Indaba, 2013). One can clearly see the use of the Xhosa patterns and the bodywork inspiration in the Jersey designs. They are also colorful, true to the Xhosa traditional colors.
Furthermore, Luda has succeeded in creating garments that is formal enough for the mammograms to wear, for they traditionally have to wear formal clothing for up to six months after the initiation process, to symbolize their newly found manhood Inglenook, 2012). This Jersey-knitwear does not seem to be avian-garden design, but no knitwear has been made using Xhosa patterns and bodywork as inspiration before. If one looks at the definition of avian-garden, stating that a design should be innovative to be classified as avian-garden design, then Luda’s Anamosa range can be classified as avian-garden design.
Case study 5 depicts Taboo Machete’s 2012 range, Kabob EAI Balboa, meaning blanket of the prestige (Design Indaba, 2013). Taboo uses Bassist blankets to create stunning coats and handbags. The handbags are made out of the blanket scraps, in order to eliminate as much waste as possible. By up-cycling the blankets, Taboo is also contributing to a “greener” society (Macbeth, 2013). Traditional Sotto patterns can be seen in the coats, as they are traditionally on Bassist blankets.
These blanket coats can certainly be classified as avian-garden, for it is cutting edge, and has not been done before. There is currently a blanket trend amongst males, but none that include fashioning clothing out of blankets. The trend merely includes males draping blankets with fashionable patterns around their neck and shoulders, almost like an over-sized scarf (Bogart, 2013). Contemporary South African fashion does not really include avian-garden fashion designs. Most trends are simply copied from European fashion trends, for we are a season behind.
Therefore South Africa has a very small, yet developing avian-garden fashion movement seen in the designs of fashion designers such as Suzan Hens, Assistant Low, Black Coffee, Luda Inglenook and Taboo Macbeth. These designers’ works would most likely not be classified as avian-garden by famous European designers, but from a South African point of view, they would qualify. Just like the small group of artists that broke away from the bounding rules of revises established art styles, our small South African group of designers is attempting avian-garden design.
They may not be the leaders of the pack, but they are certainly contending and attacking the system of following European trends. Although I have now seen that South African avian-garden is really limited and almost none existing, I am still arguing for the development of South African fashion design. I believe that the success of being truly avian-garden will lead to exposure and publicity for the country, which in turn will lead to a positive economic outcome. 2003 words List of Illustrations Case Study 1: Suzan Hens Suzan Hens, Die Form, Audiometer 2011.