15 Best Looks from Paris Couture Fashion Week SS17

- - Fashion Shows

While we are currently in the throes of international Fashion Week 2017, we thought we would take a look back at 2017 Couture Week, to get a better perspective of what we are seeing on the ready-to-wear runways and to offer a contrast. Couture will never die as long as  as fashion luxury conglomerates like LVMH and Kering need it to hype their handbags and perfumes. Those of us in the fashion community are grateful, because the couture preserves the art and craft of fashion. Where would we be today without the talented petits mains who so skillfully work their magic in designers’ ateliers? However, this past couture season offered up an interesting mix. Sure there was the ‘over the top’ frou frou of ruffles, embroideries and feathers, but a few new-to-couture designers, introduced bold color, cleaner lines and even minimalistic silhouettes. These elements went a long way in creating memorable couture evening wear that we can’t wait to see on starlets at this weekend’s Oscars.

We selected both timeless and avant-garde looks from Paris Couture Fashion Week Spring Summer 2017 . Let’s take a peek:

Sheer, Embellished and Appliqué

Feathers, sequins, beadwork, embroidery and appliqué set the trend as adornments on evening dresses at Paris Fashion Week. Elie Saab showcased embellished sheer gowns in a beige, pale gold and blue color palette. These dresses were accessorized with slim belts, decorated sunglasses and matching hair scarves.

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Elie Saab (Image Credit: ElieSaab.com)

Givenchy’s cream-colored gown with feathered touches

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Givenchy (Image Credit: Givenchy.com)

Leaving pastels behind, Armani Prive’s collection showcased bright orange as its summer color.

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Armani Privé (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Minimalistic

While some couturiers were committed to showcasing embellishments, in the true couture tradition (let’s face it, who else but fans of the couture can afford these labor intensive clothes?), Valentino’s collection, in contrast, came as a surprise. Valentino designer, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s red column gown with cut-out slit armholes, focused on clean lines and less structure.

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Valentino (Image Credit: Valentino.com)

At Schiaparelli, Bertrand Guyon is also feeling a more modern couture aesthetic. His white gown, devoid of embellishments, adds drama to this clean shape with the addition of cape that hangs from the shoulders giving the appearance of being suspended from nothing!

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Schiaparelli (Image Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

Bridal Gowns

Couture bridal gowns are ‘big’ business. At Paris Fashion Week this selection didn’t disappoint. Zuhair Murad’s offered a peplum-shaped embellished white layered gown with a long sheer veil, something that could also adorn a wedding cake. Victoria’s Secret model, Angel Alessandra Ambrosio, walked the runway wearing Ralph & Russo’s embroidered bridal gown, complete with a full length feathered cape.

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Zuhair Murad (Image Credit: ZuhairMurad.com)

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Ralph & Russo (Image Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

The Fantasy Theme

Maria Grazia Chiuri chose a fantasy and fairytale theme for Dior’s new collection, with a pastel color palette, colorful intricate floral appliqués, garden-inspired accessories and tall headdresses.

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Dior (Image Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

True to their ‘over-the-top’ reputation, Viktor & Rolf’s SS17 Couture show featured avant-garde Cinderella-like dresses, embellished with randomly shaped patch-work pieces on voluminous tulle skirts.

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Viktor & Rolf (Image Credit: Viktor-Rolf.com)

The Royal Inspiration

Guo Pei’s Marie Antoinette-inspired collection walked the line between museum-worthy and wearable.

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Guo Pei (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Jean Paul Gaultier, one of fashion’s original ‘bad boys’ and the designer of Madonna’s iconic Conical Bra (which sold at auction for $52,000  in 2012), served up his unique brand of couture with this sheer dress complete with stand-up ruffle collar, circa 16th century. A successful mix of queenly vintage and modern style.

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Jean Paul Gaultier (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Art Takes the Runway

At Maison Margiela, John Galliano collaborated with tulle artist Benjamin Shine for his artisanal couture collection, featuring a white floor length coat with Shine’s black tulle portrait of a woman dramatically placed across the front of the coat. Does it get any better than this?

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Maison Margiela (Image Credit: MaisonMargiela.com)

Futuristic Fabrics

Dutch designer Iris van Herpen’s couture collection was entitled “Between the Lines.” Van Herpen, known for her artistic collaborations, teamed up with Berlin artist Esther Stocker to explore the design elements of negative and positive spaces, gaps and contours, light and shadow. Laser-cut fabrics and Soft 3D hand-casted PU fabrics were hand-painted in another collaboration with architect Philip Beesley.

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Iris van Harpen (Image Credit: irisvanherpen.com)

Ruffles

At Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld channeled ‘ruffles,’ while attempting to targeting millennials, as his final look was presented on French kid star (Johnny Depp’s) Lily-Rose Depp. A baby pink gown with all over ruffles looked like the perfect prom dress for the wealthy girl whose parents have money to burn.

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Chanel (Image Credit: Chanel.com)

Giambattista Valli’s ruffles adorned the shoulders and hemline. A real show-stopper that is red carpet-worthy, for sure.

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Giambattista Valli (Image Credit: Vogue.com)

Chanel once said, “It is the unseen, unforgettable ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure.” Surely today’s designers are creating couture that can’t be forgotten even after the wearers’ departure.

Long Live Couture!
[Top Cover Image Credit: Chanel.com]

5 It-Accessory Trends for Spring Summer 2017 from the Runways

- - Trends

University of Fashion blog gives readers the latest insight into Spring Summer 2017 accessory trends from both ready-to-wear and couture collections. With bold, chunky and colourful accessories, designers are going for the all-eyes-on-me look for the accessories this year. Take a look at the top 5 styles:

1. Novelty Accessories

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Novelty handbags by Chanel (left) and Dolce & Gabbana (right) (Photo Credits: Vogue.com)

From robot-shaped to animal-inspired, cameras, drums, dragonflies and frogs – all were seen as bags and jewelry in Spring Summer 2017 ready-to-wear collections of Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, Chloe and Tory Burch.

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Novelty jewelry by Chloe (left) and Tory Burch (right) (Photo Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

2. Three-Dimensional Embellishments

Large studs, three-dimensional floral appliqué and doll charms were seen at Fendi. Dolce & Gabbana had statement metallic embellishments on hair accessories and three-dimensional floral embellishments and rose-shaped patterns on shoes. Gucci had large bows studded with pearl and rhinestones on pumps.

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Embellished accessories by Gucci (left) and Fendi (right) Photo Credits: Vogue.com)

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Dolce & Gabbana accessories (Photo Credits: DolceGabbana.com)

3. Printed and patterned Shoes

Art has been making its way from clothing to accessories this year. Religion, nature and underwater life were some of the themes seen on shoes, printed and hand-painted and even patch worked on boots, wedges and platform heels.

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Printed shoes by Maison Margiela (left) and Michael Kors (right) (Photo Credits: Vogue.com)

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Printed shoes by Alexander McQueen (left) and Balenciaga (right) (Photo Credit: Vogue.com)

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Wedge shoes with underwater pattern by Dolce & Gabbana (Photo Credits: Vogue.com)

4. Matching Visors

Visors get more and more stylish as fashion keeps up with the modern-day woman. With embroidery, embellishments and prints adorning this summer accessory, design houses like Dior, Ralph & Russo and Max Mara made visors an essential part of the feminine outfit for 2017.

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Matching visor on Ralph & Russo model (Photo Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

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Embroidered visor on Ralph & Russo model (Photo Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

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Dior visor (Photo Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

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Look from Dior SS17 RTW (Photo Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

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Max Mara models backstage wearing visors (Photo Credit: MaxMara.com)

5. Logo and Branding on Accessories

Designers are taking inspiration from street-wear, classic 90s branded tees and fake clothing sporting luxury logos to create their own proudly branded modern-age versions. Dolce & Gabbana had logo slippers inspired by hotel night slippers to match their logo tees. Dior’s accessories in SS17 RTW collection were all about the logo. From logo rings to clutch handles to chokers to shoe straps, all were emblazoned with the word “J’ADIOR”, a logo-tistic take on the French phrase j’adore. Moschino had its logo sprawled unabashedly across a pair of thigh-high boots and handbag straps.

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Dior accessories (Photo Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

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Dior ring & choker (Photo Credit: ShilpaAhuja.com)

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Chanel earring (Photo Credit: Vogue)

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Moschino thigh-high boots with logo print (Photo Credit: Vogue.com)

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Dolce & Gabbana logo slipper (Photo Credit: Dolcegabbana.com)

The trend of wearing more than one statement accessory continues, these styles are here to steal the show, bringing a fresh update to the looks. And as for whether or not these styles continue to be in trend next season, we’ll be sure to let you know!

[Top Cover Image: (left to right) Dior handbag (Image Credits: Dior); backstage models from Chanel  SS17 RTW show (Image Credits: Chanel.com); Maison Margiela printed booties(Image Credits: Vogue.com)]

Japan: Its Influence and Contributions to Global Fashion

- - Fashion History

When you think of Japanese fashion, you think of the kimono. But dig deeper and you’ll find that Japan’s contribution to the world of fashion is much, much, more. In fact, Japan has greatly influenced the western world of fashion, even more than its eastern counterparts; China, India and Southeast Asia!

After World War II, Japan geared up for a revolution in terms art, architecture, fashion and technology, while preserving its historical roots and its aesthetic philosophy of wabi sabi (the art of Imperfection). It was out of this very philosophy that Japan established itself as a creative power house, one that would eventually take the fashion world by storm.

Traditional Japanese Fashion

From Paul Poiret to Eileen Fisher (and hundreds of designers in between), the classic kimono silhouette, with wrapped obi sash, has appeared in numerous designer collections over the years, in one form or other.

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Traditional Japanese Kimonos (Image Credits: japan-zone.com)

Kimonos come in many different styles, each worn for a different occasion. Frequently, they are made in cotton or silk and featured in multi-colored block prints, embroidered or in woven floral patterns.

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Traditional Japanese Kimonos (Image Credits: fotoedu.indire.it)

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Japanese Obi (Image Credits: Wikipedia)

Two of the most widely recognized Japanese patterns are cherry blossoms and butterfly prints. Traditionally, Japanese fabrics also use dyeing techniques and wood block printing to create repetitive patterns.

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A fabric featuring a typical pattern of Bingata, a dyeing technique from Okinawa, Japan

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Popular traditional pattern made with wood block printing (Image Credits: Fabrictales.com)

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Fabric with traditional Japanese butterfly print (Image Credits: fabricandart.com)

Western Fashion Draws Inspiration from Japan

Japan’s rich heritage became inspiration for western designers, such as Marni, Armani and Zuhair Murad.

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Zuhair Murad Fall/Winter 2011-12 Couture (Image Credits: Weddinginspirasi.com)

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Marni Spring Summer 2014 Ready-to-Wear (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Armani Privé Fall/Winter 2011-12 Couture (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Armani Privé Fall/Winter 2011-12 Couture (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Proenza Schouler FALL 2012 READY-TO-WEAR (Vogue.com)

Proenza Schouler Fall/Winter 2012 Ready to Wear (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

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Prada Spring Summer 2013 Ready to Wear (Image Credits: Vogue.com)

Japan’s Contributions to 20th Century Fashion

While Western designers were busy drawing inspiration from traditional costume of Eastern countries such as China, Japan and Indonesia (known as Chinoiserie and Orientalism), Japanese designers were inspired beyond their roots, turning their wabi sabi aesthetic into a major fashion movement that began in the 1970s and continues to the present day.

De-Construction Movement

The De-Construction Movement, which started in 1970s and gained momentum in the 80s, refers to the era of collective avant-garde artistic expression in fashion. Traditional feminine silhouettes were challenged, essentially de-constructed, to give way to a new aesthetic. A group of Japanese designers, led by Rei Kawakubo, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto, played with the idea of androgyny and embraced unevenness and imperfection while simultaneously creating beautiful clothing.

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Suit by Comme des Garçons from the De-Construction Era circa 1985 (Image Credits: metmuseum.org)

Rei Kawakubo, founder and designer of Japanese fashion house Comme des Garçons, is regarded as one of the most important names in the fashion today. Blurring the lines between perfect and imperfect, male and female, made and unmade, these designers appealed to the modern woman who preferred comfort and over the body contoured clothes of that period.

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Comme des Garçons photo-shoot circa 1989 (Image Credits: calvertjournal.com)

Zero Waste

The Zero-Waste movement was led by Japanese designer Issey Miyake. With his A-POC collection (A Piece of Cloth) in 1999, Miyake minimized waste by making clothes out of a single piece of fabric, so that excess fabric waste wouldn’t end up in over-crowded landfills.

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A-POC by Issey Miyake (Image Credits: moma.org)

Cosplay

Combining the words “costume” and play”, this term was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi in 1984, and refers to the trend of wearing costumes of a particular character or theme, such as Japanese anime. Over the last few years, cosplay has extended itself to outside the realm of anime and manga characters and become commonplace, owing to events like FanimeCon and ComicCon with themes from Hollywood movies and American pop culture.

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Cosplay of the Yu-Gi-Oh character “Dark Magician Girl” (Wikipedia)

Japanese Collaborations & Exhibitions

In 2003, Marc Jacobs began a collaboration Japanese artist Takashi Murakami on a series of Louis Vuitton iconic handbags. In addition to his work with Vuitton, which only ended in 2015, Murakami has had numerous exhibitions of his work and has been featured in major magazines. Japanese artist Yayoi Kasama also designed a series of handbags for Vuitton in 2012 and has had her work featured in exhibitions around the world.

For their upcoming spring 2017 exhibition, The Costume Institute of Metropolitan Museum of Art will honor the work of Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons.

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A bag from Takashi Murakami’s Multicolored Monogram collection for Louis Vuitton. Photo: Louis Vuitton

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Kylie Jenner in a photo-shoot for Complex magazine created in collaboration with Japanese artist Takashi Murakami who incorporated his trademark anime-graphics (Image Credits: Complex.com)

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Yayoi Kasama handbag for Louis Vuitton 2012 (NY Magazine)

And Now?

The world is still in awe of all things Japanese, from sushi to sumo. Japan’s sartorial legacy, which in addition to Miyake, Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto, also includes designers Hanae Mori, Junko Koshino, Kansai Yamamoto, Junko Shimada and Kenzo Takada. Today, a new crop of design talent beginning, with Limi Feu (daughter of Yohji Yamamoto) and Tae Ashida (daughter of legendary designer Jun Ashida) are bursting onto the fashion scene and are being noticed.

Will China, India and other non-western cultures, be able to step up to the plate and make their own unique mark on the global fashion stage, just as Japan has done?

Let us hear your thoughts!

Wedge, column, pear and hourglass: 4 body types to know

- - Trends

The “real woman” challenge on Project Runway draws a distinctive line between designers who are adept at working with actual clients and those who design on a standard size 6 dress form. Often design students, through no fault of their own, spend their design education creating on a dress form, which does not necessarily reflect the “real” woman they will one day dress.

For emerging designers who have yet to make their passion a business, it is important to consider who your client will be and how your designs will fit her body type. Or, if you are designing for only a specific body type, it is important to consider how that might affect your business’ bottom line.

At latest report, the average American woman is 5’4”, 166 pounds and has a waist size of 37.5 inches. This is a stark contrast in size to the typical size 6 or 8 dress form most fashion design students use to design. But these are important statistics to take into account when it comes to selling your designs and making sure the women who want to wear your clothes can.

BodyShapes

Regardless of height and weight, standard sizing or plus size, there are four body types designers should be familiar with: the wedge, column, pear and hourglass. Over the course of fashion history, there are many examples of designers who have been known for specific silhouettes that mirror these four body types. Take a look at the following:

Claude Montana and Thierry Mugler, famed French designers of the 1980s, were well known for their broad-shouldered silhouettes. Notice how this silhouette gives the appearance of the wedge body type and a great silhouette to minimize the waist and hips by broadening the shoulders.

Look no further than the 1920s to find designers who embraced the column silhouette, as in the Paul Poiret illustration above. Other designers to research include Madeleine Vionnet and Madame Grés. This silhouette is great for women who don’t have a defined waistline and whose shape is less curvy.

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Yves Saint Laurent’s trapeze silhouette of the late 1950s is a good example of a silhouette that follows the shape of the pear body type. Narrow at the shoulder and more voluminous at the hip, this silhouette was also made popular by Pierre Cardin and Rudi Gernreich in the 1960s. This silhouette is popular with girls whose waists and hips are larger than their bust.

And most famous for the hourglass silhouette is Christian Dior and his New Look, as seen above. Nipped in at the waist, and balanced at the shoulder and the hip, many designers have worked to achieve this ideal including Charles Frederick Worth, Azzedine Alaia and of course, Alexander McQueen. Girls with this body shape, accentuate the appearance of a smaller waistline with belts and body contoured clothing.

Understanding the four body types is just the tip of the iceberg for designers today. As the market shifts to accommodate a growing plus sized industry, many designers are shifting their offerings to support both their clients and their businesses. As recent as 2014, the British design collective of Clements Riberio, Giles Deacon, Hema Kaul, Jamie Wei Huang, Lulu Liu and Vita Gottlieb, were the first plus-size brands to show at London Fashion Week.

There has been a growing body positivity movement for some time. In 2004, Dove created their Campaign for Real Beauty which fostered conversations on female self-confidence and self-esteem issues, no matter her size, shape or race. Dove beauty ads featured plus-size women as the “real beautiful.”

However, as recent as last summer, Leslie Jones, star of SNL and Ghostbusters, struggled to find a designer who would design for her due to her size. She took her story to Twitter and her exchange with Christian Siriano made headline news. Siriano, a long time champion of dressing women with diverse body sizes was honored to step up to the plate. Siriano says of his collection in general, “We want to make sure that the collection feels cohesive, but we want to make sure that the models and the women wearing it are just as different as the women that shop in a store.” In fact, Siriano included plus-sized models in his fashion show last September to prove his point. In addition, many designers including Siriano and Isabel and Ruben Toledo, have partnered with plus-size retailer Lane Bryant as a way to make their designs accessible to all women.

We know this is a lot to consider as you are just learning to drape, draw and sew. However, we are dedicated to helping you navigate the fashion industry and its quickly changing trends. Take a look at our recently posted video for more information on body types and the plus-sized market.

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Inspiration China- Moving Beyond Dynasties & Dragons

- - Fashion History

History

China has been a cultural marvel for the past 5,000 years, beginning with their discovery of the silk worm during the Neolithic period (4th millennium BCE). Chinese artisans wove the most amazing textiles and introduced robes with intricate handcrafted embroideries that, to this day, provide a wealth of inspiration. Over time, Western designers began incorporating Chinese cultural symbolism into their designs: the philosophy of Confucius, Chinese calligraphy and porcelain, Imperial Chinese dynastic robes featuring embroidered dragons (a symbol of power), the martial arts of Tai Chi and Kung Fu, Chinese medicine and food, and of course, the Great Wall.

After the Chinese national revolution of 1911, the country began to accept a more “modern” form of dress. By the mid-twentieth century, the tight-fitting dress known as a cheongsam or qípáo, became traditional women’s dress and the “Mao suit,” a modern revolutionary garment, often made in blue cotton, was the expected attire for men.

Subsequently, when we visualize Chinese or Chinese-inspired clothing, we imagine large dragon motifs, dense floral embroidery, including lotus and plum blossoms. Works of calligraphy paired with red geometric borders and China porcelain art comes to mind. With time, Mandarin collars, Mao jackets and frog closures also found their way into Western designers’ collections.

China’s Influence on Western Fashion

Let’s take a look at some of the best and most popular examples of how Western designers used exoticism, borrowed from the Far East, in their collections.

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Paul Poiret circa 1912 (Courtesy Collectorsweekly.com)

French designer Paul Poiret was highly influenced by Chinese fashion with his famous ‘lampshade’ dress and embroidered Chinese-inspired robe from 1912.

Fast Forward to the 21th Century

In his Fall/Winter 2004 ready-to-wear collection, Tom Ford designed his version of the Chinese cheongsam or qípáo, with added sequins and a side draped detail.

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Sequinned Chinese cheongsam by Tom Ford for Saint Laurent Fall/Winter 2004 RTW collection (Photo Credit:  Vogue)

Roberto Cavalli’s Fall 2005 ready-to-wear collection showcased this silk gown with a Chinese blue and white porcelain pattern.

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Chinese porcelain-inspired satin evening dress by Roberto Cavalli Fall 2005 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Designers continued to channel China in the Fall 2011 collections of both Ralph Lauren and Naeem Khan. Khan was inspired by the book The Silk Road.

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Ralph Lauren Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

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Naeem Khan Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Far Eastern influences continued as a trend that same year as Oscar de la Renta featured ornate Chinoiserie patterns on coats and silk dresses.

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Oscar de la Renta Fall 2011 ready-to-wear collection (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Christian Louboutin brought Chinese inspiration to accessories, with his dragon motif pumps and flats.

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Black Pumps with dragon motif by Christian Louboutin (2014) (Image Credits: Christian Louboutin)

Metropolitan Museum of Art: China- Through the Looking Glass

The impact that Chinese aesthetics has had on Western fashion and the extent to which China has fueled the fashionable imagination for centuries, was explored in a show entitled: China – Through the Looking Glass, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2015.

The Met Gala Opening (2015) saw celebrities getting into the spirit. Traditional talismans like dragons, yin-yang and butterflies abounded. Jennifer Lopez poses on the red carpet with this strategically placed dragon-motif gown.

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Jennifer Lopez wearing a gown with dragon motif at Met Gala 2015 (Huffington Post)

The gala was also provided a showcase for Chinese fashion designer Guo Pei, who designed Rihanna’s golden yellow gown. Pei, whose couture collection is shown during Paris Fashion Week, channels Chinese Imperialism, by utilizing rich fabrics and intricate embellished embroideries for the stars that seek out her work.

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Rihanna wearing a golden yellow embroidered gown at Met Gala 2015 designed by Guo Pei

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A dress from Guo Pei Fall-Winter 2016/17 haute couture collection (Image Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

The year 2016 was a big one for Chinese inspiration as dragon motifs were favoured by designers at Emilio Pucci, Giuseppe Zanotti and at Gucci.

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Emilio Pucci dragon print silk jacket (2016) (Image Credits: Polyvore)

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Dragon Shoe by Giuseppe Zanotti (2016)

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Details from Gucci Pre-Fall 2017 collection showing dragon motifs

Chinese zodiac signs also became a marketing opportunity for Western fashion designers as the Year of the Monkey ushered in a series of monkey-motifs that appeared on handbags, watches and on this studded jacket at Valentino.

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Studded suede jacket by Valentino for the Year of the Monkey (2016) (Image Credits: ShilpaAhuja.com)

Gucci went China crazy with this updated cheongsam that featured a floral and dragon motif in a patchwork combo from their Pre-Fall 2017 collection.

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Dress from Gucci Pre-Fall 2017 collection featuring dense floral patterns in red (Image Credits: Elle)

It appeared that Gucci just couldn’t get over ‘Chinoiserie Fever’ when they created this blue and white Chinese porcelain-inspired dress for its Cruise 2017 collection.

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Silk dress – Gucci Cruise 2017 collection featuring China porcelain print (Image Credits: Gucci)

China’s Future

China has given the Western fashion world a plethora of design inspiration and yet for a country that: comprises 19.24% of the total world population, ranks number 1 the list of countries in world population with a total of over 1.4 billion people, we have yet to see Chinese designers reach the status of a Ralph Lauren, Giorgio Armani or Tom Ford. However, stay tuned. We at UoF have our eyes set on a new group of Chinese designers that we think are about to change the future of fashion. Let’s face it…they have lots of inspiration to tap from.

Inspiration India – How Marco Polo Brought Us a Treasure Trove of Ideas

- - Fashion History

Ever wonder where fashion designers find inspiration? Well, wonder no more. Fashion designers don’t work in a vacuum. They find inspiration in a multitude of ways and places: through fashion forecast services, at museums, in magazines and books, on the street, at flea markets, from the music scene, in food and in nature, as a reaction to current global events and from interior design and architectural styles like art nouveau, art deco and mid-century modern.

Historical fashion is another great way to adapt and infuse something new and fresh into a collection, which brings us to our favorite source of inspiration: TRAVEL. Fashion has been inspired by international destinations throughout history. Dressing, draping and dressmaking techniques have been borrowed and exchanged so many times that sometimes it gets difficult to trace back their roots. Cultural elements also get interwoven into designers’ inspiration. Once Marco Polo opened the Silk Route in 1269, he not only initiated trade between the Mediterranean countries and the Middle, South and Far East, but also inspired the borrowing and cross-pollinating of cultural elements.

UoF’s new blog series will explore various cultures that continue to have a profound effect on fashion, beginning with:

India

Designers in the western world love turning to the exoticism of the Far East when looking for inspiration. India is one of the countries. With its rich history and diverse culture, India has turned muse for many of the biggest names in fashion and continues to do so today.

Let’s Begin

Paisley is one of the earliest examples of an inspiration remix and came to the west by way of the cashmere goods trade, from the Vale of Kashmir, down to India, and then to Europe. The teardrop-shaped motif, known in India as Buti, is an ancient Indian design that is still used today in Indian sarees and in the west in textiles for bridalwear, dresses, blouses, neck-ties, tunics and in home décor textiles and rugs. The name ‘paisley’ was given to the motif when imitation Indian shawls were copied and manufactured in Paisley, Scotland during the early 19th century.

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Indian Kanjeevaram saree with buti motif (Image Credit: Wikipedia)

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Victorian Antique Kashmir Hand Woven Pieced Paisley Shawl 1800s
(Image Credit: www.1860-1960.com)

By the 20th century, international travel increased and fashion designers found inspiration, especially in South Asia. An example in American pop-culture, is a scene from the 1961 film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, in which Audrey Hepburn, who was taking a bath, had to improvise a saree-inspired gown on the spot using a bedsheet.

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Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s wearing saree-inspired bedsheet gown (Image Credit: mongolcom.mn)

In the contemporary fashion arena, fashion houses like Hermès, Chanel and Jean Paul Gaultier have designed whole collections inspired by Indian fashion. Jean Paul Gaultier’s Fall 2007 couture collection featured satin tunics, bejeweled turbans and even a sherwani (knee-length coat buttoning to the neck) for the bridegroom’s ‘maharaja’ look.

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Jean Paul Gaultier Fall 2007 couture collection

 

Hermès Spring Summer 2008 women’s ready-to-wear collection took inspiration from Indian ethnic menswear with adaptations of Nehru jackets, churidar pants and bundhgalas. The collection featured saree-gowns and tunics, replete with turban-inspired headgear in metallic shades.

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Hermès Spring Summer 2008 RTW collection

Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection, popularly known as their Bombay-Paris Collection, was also a tribute to India and inspired by Indian maharajas’ and maharanis’ opulent, excessive outfits, jewelry and adornments. The fashion show featured Nehru-collared dresses with embroidered hems, tunics worn over leggings and saree-drapes.

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Chanel Pre-Fall 2012 collection

Marchesa Spring 2013 collection was inspired by the vibrant Indian color palette consisting of fuchsia, peacock blue and eggplant with fine gold embroidery touches.

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Marchesa Spring 2013 collection

Christian Louboutin has taken inspiration from India more than once. Recently, the shoe-designer collaborated with Indian fashion designer Sabyasachi to create embellished and embroidered shoes for his runway show.

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Christian Louboutin embroidered shoes for Sabyasachi Fall Winter 2016 collection (Image Credit: christianlouboutin.com)

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Christian Louboutin embroidered shoes for Sabyasachi Fall Winter 2015 collection (Image Credit: christianlouboutin.com)

Many other designers have tapped India for inspiration such as, Alexander McQueen, Ellie Saab, Isabel Marant, Naeem Khan, Louis Vuitton and Vera Wang. New young designers have emerged who are also inspired by the fashion of other cultures, in an effort to bring the world together on a global basis. And with the amplitude of diversity and richness that Indian culture has to offer, much inspiration still remains to be unearthed. What’s in store for the future of Indian-inspired fashion has yet to be seen. We can only hope it’ll be even more awe-inspiring and mesmerizing than the past.

Field trip: Sydney and Melbourne

- - Field Trip

Escape the bone-chilling temps and the uneasy political climate in the U.S. for a ten day sunny stay in Australia? Count. Me. In.

Sunny Australian summer laneway

Sunny Australian summer laneway

Although it took me a bit to wrap my head around the time difference (subtract 7ish hours from the current time in the states, go back one day and you have a successful switch to Australian time), Sydney and Melbourne have always been on my list of cities to experience. What I found in the land down under was an eclectic design culture where local designers are thriving. I visited outdoor markets and perused laneways and arcades (gorgeous hidden strips of shops, each with their own personality and vibe) and marveled at the ease with which local artisans described doing business in Australia. What I did not find in terms of fashion was a signature Australian style – unless of course I count the easy, colorful beachwear and bikinis necessary for time spent on Australia’s beautiful beaches.

Sydney Opera House

I started my stay in Sydney where I quickly got the impression Sydney is to Manhattan as Melbourne may be to Brooklyn? Much like Manhattan’s Empire State Building, there’s no mistaking the Sydney Opera House skyline silhouette. I took the opportunity to see the opera house up close and was surprised by the textile inspiration I found in the tiled patterns that simply cannot be conveyed from far away. As for shopping, Sydney is home to all of the usual suspects in terms of Topshop, Uniqlo and H&M in addition to luxury designer boutiques. However, I was on the hunt for the local scene.

Bondi Beach Market

Beachwear at Bondi Market

Convinced that I would discover a signature Australian design aesthetic, I headed to one of the Paddington Markets as well as Bondi Market located just off the beautiful Bondi Beach. In addition to the many sections of beachwear and jewelry, I was surprised to find influences from the world over – particularly Scandinavia and Japan. In talking with vendors, it seemed local production was very manageable and that taking one’s business from local markets to an independent boutique was not an uncommon route for designers. Yoshi Jones is an Australian designer that encompasses all that I observed. A well-known Sydney designer, she is heavily influenced by Japanese design and fabrics and has made her way from the Paddington and Bondi markets to an independent boutique.

Summertime at Bondi Market

Summertime at Bondi Market

For me, the fresh flowers, the colorful hand printed souvenirs and gorgeous food were standouts in Sydney. Edible flowers seemed to accompany every dish, and if ever I were to find design inspiration in food, Sydney and Melbourne would be front runners in terms of places to visit. Speaking of Melbourne, my initial analogy proved to be true. Just as Brooklyn is packed with emerging artists and creative inspiration, Melbourne boasts a similar feel. A visit to the suburb of Fitzroy will have you roaming in and out of shops for days.

Inside E.S.S.

Inside ESS. Laboratory

Again, no aesthetic specific to Melbourne or even Australia, but you will find a wealth of locally made goods influenced by worldwide design. One of my favorite shops was ESS. Laboratory – started by a Japanese designer who now makes Melbourne her home, studio and place of production.

Overall Wall at American Vintage

Overall Wall at American Vintage

Another shock to my retail system was the amount of vintage I found in Melbourne. Take a look at the WALL of overalls I found at aptly named American Vintage Clothing Company on Brunswick Street in Fitzroy. This hidden goldmine was packed wall to wall with denim and classic Americana staples from American flags to Future Farmers of America jackets from each of the Midwestern states.

As a blogger for the University of Fashion, I understand you are looking for fashion-related tips (and field trips), however, I have to mention once again Australian food and drink – the coffee was the best I’ve sipped and just take a look at this Vegemite avocado toast, complete with edible flowers from Fika.

Vegemite avocado toast at Fika

Vegemite avocado toast at Fika

This slice of heaven was located an hour train ride outside of Melbourne in Ballarat. Should you make the long trek to Melbourne, tack a quick trip on to Ballarat for not only the food and coffee at Fika, but the stylie baristas who will serve you. Questions/comments about the land down under? Feel free to leave them in the the comments below. Cheers, mate!

X marks the spot at Fika

X marks the spot at Fika