Fashion equals: creating a new platform for art

My rather battered Oxford English Dictionary tells me that fashion means firstly a "current popular custom or style, especially in dress" or secondly to "form or make (into)".

Feature by by Lucia van der Blast | 16 May 2006

My rather battered Oxford English Dictionary tells me that fashion means firstly a "current popular custom or style, especially in dress" or secondly to "form or make (into)".

In this new regular column I hope to discuss the former; popular customs or movements in culture and style, including those relevant to clothes. When researching what The Skinny reader might appreciate in a fashion voice I looked at the massive amount of fashionable happenings taking place across Scotland. Events and launches sponsored either by tourism bodies or drinks marketing companies among many other sources, including the retail sector for example.

This column is not necessarily about retail and sales though, it is about what is truly fashionable in Scotland and its cultural societies. Therefore from time to time you may read about the current "custom or style" in bars and clubs.

Currently there are fashion awards and festivals and new shops and re-launches coming out of our ears, and keeping abreast of the latest commercial venture celebrating fashion is increasingly confusing. It is often difficult to equate some of these with the fashion designers, who often are slightly eccentric figures working out of dingy (read: urban) studios or even their own bedrooms in addition to the chosen few with their own 'houses'. As we all know by now Fashion Designers do not just make clothes, but they sell a dream they've designed and made fashionable. Alexander McQueen, available from retail bastions Harvey Nichols and Cruise, is famous for his punk gothic clothing and now fragrances, but did you know that everywhere else in the world apart from the UK you can buy McQueen cushions and throws? Here in the UK his East End bad boy image, formed in his early years of rocking around Brick Lane bars, is used to promote how edgy and street his multi-million pound global empire is. It is about living and joining the McQueen dream.

So, what seems to be in fashion just now. Well, competition and rivalry seems to be ruling the roost just now. If the rumour mills are to be believed certain noses have been put out of joint. Rival fashionistas (those who from an early age follow designers with reverence; committing their entire lives to the communication of the designers ideologies) have been creating strategies to further their own businesses within this famously bitchy industry. You know what though? Fashion's best kept secret is that everyone's actually lovely and creative. Often from an intense architectural, art based, pattern cutting or textiles focused background they are also fiercely protective, and those on the perimeter may feel left out, hence the bitchy reputation.

If you find you are trying to do your thing in the industry and it works then go ahead and get right in there. Fashion thrives on new concepts and relies on people to break new boundaries. So perhaps we should also think on next time we see someone wearing socks as gloves, a striking hair colour or sunglasses in the dark. Think about famous figures Lagerfeld and Chanel, all known for their quirky and often aggressive personalities as they constantly strive to create their art. Don't concern yourself with failure, fashion is all about trying to make something new. The odd failure is inevitable. If Scottish fashion continues to bitch within itself those concerned will get left behind as raw energy emerges and creates individual, innovative and saleable ideas for new ways of being. It is about self discovery, then I do suppose a lot of hard selling and marketing comes in handy after that... Think I'll leave that for next month.

Fashion equals: creating a new platform for art.