Are designers crazy?

Have you ever seen images from the Parisian catwalks and wondered “who in their right mind would ever wear that, much less pay thousands to do so?”

Some of the so-called designs coming from couture houses range from the bizarre to the impractical to downright ugly.

Looking at such crazy get-ups, it’s easy to be dismissive of fashion. However, don’t assume whatever happens on those catwalks is irrelevant to you.

In the fascinating documentary The September Issue, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour explains how the looks presented during fashion shows end up trickling down into the stores we mortals shop at.

Often, the creations on the catwalks are over-the-top exaggerated versions of the esthetics the designer are trying to capture, and will never be put into retail production.

Instead the general themes — the colours, fabrics and silhouettes — will be translated into wearable pieces for the designer’s collection.

Then these trends are mimicked by the contemporary mass market clothing producers and end up in your closet.

And it has been thus for all of history.

In centuries past, couture fashion houses, with men as the professional creators and women as seamstresses, styled the nobility and wealthy.

When they created a new look — a different neckline, a shorter skirt, a blouson sleeve — that style was soon adopted by the tailors clothing everyone.

It has only been in the last few generations that independent designers and female professionals have gained popularity, such as Coco Chanel.

Sometimes their catwalks have been more about show than fashion as they explore issues of gender identity, class, and commerce through their collections.

The late brilliant Alexander McQueen is a good example. His fashion shows were a spectacle, complete with strobing lights and booming music. His daring ensembles made statements about Scottish culture and myth.

While I can appreciate the theatrics of McQueen’s shows and the exquisiteness of his tailoring, I have little room in my wardrobe for his couture gowns. Unless I end up getting an invitation to New York’s Met Gala, not likely.

If you are like me, there is a ray of light amid the designer craziness as a crop of new women-focused, minimalist ethical tailors gain traction.

They create simple functional clothes in quality fabrics that are sustainably sourced. Some of the best are AYR (All Year Round), Sassind, and Grana.


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About the Author

Marla is best known for her 19-year career in the local charitable sector as a fund development and marketing manager with the Okanagan Regional Library, United Way, UBC Okanagan, and Kelowna Community Resources. 

In 2014, Marla and her husband decided to take a break from the work world, and, four years, later they are still enjoying Okanagan summers, winters in Mexico, and extensive travel. 

Marla has had a life-long passion for fashion, designing her own graduation dress and formal gown for the 1990 Miss Interior competition before age 20.

In 2014, she was named one of nine Style Ambassadors for a year-long marketing campaign at Orchard Park Mall. Her motto is “Life is short...you might as well go through it looking good."

If you have a style question or topic you’d like Marla to cover in this column, contact her at [email protected]

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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