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Time To Get Graphic

Posted on January 14 2021

In a time of perpetual dull grey skies and seemingly endless streams of grim news coming from our phones, TVs and laptops, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the hopelessness of it all. We think it goes without saying that we’ve never been more appreciative of (or dependent on) the arts to lift our spirits and stave off the gloom. As the majority of us have been bound to the confines of our homes for a great many months now, we’ve taken to just about every form of creative outlet imaginable as both producers and consumers, and the world of fashion has been no exception.

 

  

Fashion has always been a true medium for unbounded creative expression through the use of colours, fabrics, graphics and other such ingredients. Take Off-White’s adventurous use of colour-blocking and striking visuals as a means of interpreting the nuances of youth subculture, or Versace’s signature portrayal of baroque patterns and motifs, a portrayal that has become synonymous with opulence and luxury within industry circles. That same expression has a tendency to spill into a handful of neighbouring forms such as music and art, two fields that Givenchy’s own Matthew M. Williams has heavily contributed to in his own way before and during the establishment of his own fashion career.

 

Now more than ever, it seems that we could all benefit from adding a little expression into our wardrobes and our lives. We’ve been encouraged by the more bold and beautiful designs in our current showcase and hope that they might inspire even the smallest amount of optimism in these trying times.

 

Y-3 CH1 All-Over Print Jacket

To really appreciate Y-3’s CH1 all-over print jacket is to understand that there is more to its design than first appears. There are multiple layers to its composition, both literally and metaphorically speaking. On the one level, the all-over print emulates the visual appearance of layers of ripped posters on a wall.

But hidden amongst the worn posters, you’ll find a mysterious young woman, who is equal parts enchanting and haunting, the call sign of collaborating artist Suzume Uchida. The combination of juxtaposing graphics makes for a wonderful, multi-layered composition which shrouds the garment in a veil of mystery. Who is this woman? What is her secret? And what is the significance of the torn posters? We may never find the answers, but we will continue to be drawn in by its cryptic appeal… 

     

     

    Valentino Pop Skin Print T-Shirt

    Valentino has often been known to experiment with animal prints and skins with their ready-to-wear collections in the past and that propensity is revisited with their flamboyant ‘Pop Skin’ graphic, exhibited here in this t-shirt. The keyword here is ‘pop’, a clear reference to the striking colours and exotic imagery that leap off the canvas, just like some wild, magnificent beast.

     

    What’s most interesting, however, is the ostensible vagueness of the animal (or animals) that actually provide the inspiration for the design. If we had to guess, we’d probably go down the serpentine route, but part of the fun in this piece derives from the mystery surrounding the artistic source material. Valentino’s Pop Skin t-shirt is certainly a head-turner and, judging by its delightfully ambiguous nature, a guaranteed conversation starter to boot.

     

     

     

    Givenchy Blue Floral Print Hawaiian Silk Shirt

    You’d be forgiven for thinking that Givenchy’s featured shirt looks slightly out of place in contrast to the designer’s more traditional aesthetic. But perhaps that’s exactly why it stands out to us. The azure blues and sharp mint greens really do catch the eye in this intriguing piece, which clearly draws its inspiration from the archetypal Hawaiian shirt silhouette. 

       We’re not sure if it’s the free-spirited buoyancy of its vibrant colours or the sudden yearning for summer getaways and sun-soaked beaches that it awakens within us, but there is something truly captivating about this auspicious effort from Givenchy. Something that teleports us far away from the dismal reality of the current state of the world.

     

     

     

     

     

    Christian Louboutin Loubishark Multi-Panelled Trainers

    Where do we even start? There’s just so much to unpack with Christian Louboutin’s outstanding ‘Loubishark’ sneaker. Their latest spin on the chunky sneaker trend works in an assortment of colours, fabrics and motifs that both oppose and complement each other in ways that make this particular model so incredibly unique. When was the last time you saw a sneaker that not only combined cracked, chrome leathers with honeycomb meshes and smooth suedes, but somehow managed to do so without becoming garish or overbearing?

     

    In our humble opinion, Christian Louboutin is at his very best when he allows himself the freedom to create without limitations or an implicit duty to adhere to any predefined guidelines. As is the case with this collection-defining silhouette, the results are often truly awe-inspiring. Bravo, Mr Louboutin, bravo.

      

      

      

      

     

     

    Featured graphic: Off-White’s Caravaggio print

    It can sometimes be difficult to find a correlation between the inspirations and processes of Off-White’s Virgil Abloh from season to season, especially when it comes to the thematic undertone of the prints and graphics he chooses to implement. Throughout his ready-to-wear collections, he has cycled through a catalogue of varying reference points, ranging from 90s era cartoons all the way through to renaissance art and beyond, quickly shifting between artistic directions and rarely fixating on one or another for too long.

     

    The Caravaggio print is the exception that proves this rule. It has remained an ever present conceptual reference throughout Off-White’s collections, despite being executed in several different visual styles since its first appearance. So what keeps drawing Virgil Abloh to Caravaggio and his art? Why does it seem to have such a huge influence over his creative process?

    To have any hope of understanding its contextual significance, we think it best to recall Virgil Abloh’s conceptualisation of Off-White as “haute couture meets streetwear”. The label exists within the spaces found in between the two spheres, seeking to manufacture a natural synergy between them. This would go a long way towards rationalising Abloh’s proclivity for combining Italian baroque paintings with oversized hoodies and t-shirts. By imposing such a dramatic juxtaposition, we can infer that he is challenging the notion that high art should be reserved for the older (and inherently wealthier) generation and, in effect, challenging the presumptions and stereotypes that divide the circles most commonly associated with haute couture and streetwear.

    It’s all the more fitting that Caravaggio specifically should be chosen as the de facto muse for Abloh’s creative inspiration. One could perhaps argue that Abloh’s inclination towards creative rebellion has been influenced by the life of the Italian painter himself, an artist who was regarded as somewhat of a rule-breaker and controversial figure in his time. It’s a common trait shared by both creatives that maybe helps to explain both Abloh’s fascination with Caravaggio’s art and subsequently the driving force behind his own creative process.

    The Caravaggio print is Virgil Abloh’s most conspicuous attempt to bridge the gap between two fashions disciplines that have perhaps operated in isolation for too long. To make so-called “high art” more readily accessible to a younger generation of fashion enthusiasts. To define the grey area in between black and white as Off-White.

      

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