Monday, May 10, 2010

notes on a scandal

So Royal Australian Fashion Week is over for another year, and once again I feel a slight disappointment. To preface this rant I'd like to say that yes I know, supporting local talent is important rah rah rah, but I think one needs to be picky and honest about what they like or dislike. Luckily blogging allows such honesty and I hope that there are others who feel comfortable expressing their actual opinions rather than saying that they loved everything which I'm sure isn't the case.

To be frank, I feel like some Australian designers take too liberally from the work of others, in some cases to the point of blatant reworking of another collection (usually from the previous international season). As someone who spends a lot of time looking at photos and videos of both local and international runway shows, this becomes clear pretty much every time RAFW comes around, and basically it fucking sucks. I'm not alone in picking up on this - Vogue Australia's Editor Kirstie Clements mentioned this problem in one of her Editor's Letters last year, and Alicia from Sea of Ghosts tweeted about it last month.

Obviously complete originality is impossible - Chuck Palahniuk's oft quoted 'Nothing of me is original, I am the combined effort of everybody I've ever known' line has informed my entire generation of that fact - but there is a line between being inspired by something and essentially using it. Last year there were blatant rip-offs of Balmain, Chloe and Givenchy. This year I can see many elements of recent Prada, McQueen and Marc Jacobs shows. Is this even conscious copying? Are Australian designers really that starved for ideas? Where is has the innovation gone? These are questions that a lot of people are asking themselves, and I think the only way to have them answered is for a change to happen.

Unfortunately this kind of thing goes on all the time; it happens overseas too (and this is independent to the trickle-down effect that we all know and love, I'm talking about "designers", not chain stores of any kind) but RAFW being a relatively small event which follows the international collections, it's all the more concentrated and pronounced.

You might be asking yourself, who am I to criticise? I feel like I'm justifying myself here but it's okay, no, important to be critical. If there's anything I have learnt at university, it is that every judgement is valid, at least to an extent. If I can make a critical assessment of Nietzsche for an essay, why not apply the same discerning eye to the big guns of the Australian fashion circuit for my personal blog?

I'm not saying that there isn't talent in the Australian fashion world - there is, and barrels of it. The wealth of potential is precisely why I would like to see more honesty in the designs and vision coming out of things like RAFW. This, I'm sure, would have nothing but positive effects on sales, credibility, and each label's fashion legacy.

On a more upbeat note, I love a lot of Australian designers for what they create, and I think these are the ones that should be supported most, by both the press and consumers. In my opinion, Arnsdorf, Karla Spetic, Romance Was Born and Dion Lee are leading the pack. Hopefully over the next few days I'll have time to post my favourite looks (a much needed burst of positivity to balance out this post, haha). Until then, you can see all the collections on the Vogue Australia website.

1 comment:

  1. You're totally correct in saying that blogging should have a critical element, where so often it is just a load of self-indulgent and dishonest purple prose. To me, this is the beauty of blogging: it's such a great platform for people with a specific interest to be entirely subjective, without the editorial or advertising constraints. It's sad because it is so easy to tell when someone is being an ass-kisser.
    As for RAFW, overall I didn't find it disappointing however there were a select few collections which I found to be a total let-down. *Ginger and Smart cough*
    The trickle-down effect from international runway in which you speak is one of the reasons why I guess I was mostly attracted to the collection's that really pushed beyond obvious and failed attempts at artistic appropriation - Birthday Suit, Konstantina Mittas, Zimmermann, Romance Was Born, Karla Spetic and Dion Lee, to name a few. Also there were some really dope up-and-coming stuff in women's ready to wear, like Carly Hunter which was really quite amazing.