Odd how a simple line in a comment on a blog can start you on a train of thought and have you arrive at an intersection you'd never considered before.
Susie Bubble of the imitable Style Bubble dealt with some interesting criticism on a recent post about the Louis Vuitton cruise show, something along the lines of a focus on 'unattainable and inaccessible fashion', but while Susie eloquently responded to her critic, is was the further defence of Susie by British fashion journalist, Alex Fury that contained the line that has now resulted in this post.
'...if you love fashion and not just clothes.'
At first, it seems difficult to divorce the two, what is fashion without clothes? And conversely what are clothes without fashion? But, are they actually two distinct spheres; two very different kettles of fish. Because while fashion generally results in garments - or clothes, clothes do not necessarily possess an element of fashion.
Does that make any sense at all?
Alex was pointing out that it is exactly the high fashion that seems so unattainable and inaccessible to many of us that is fashion, '...high street clothes *aren't* fashion. They're imitations. This is fashion. This is what gets picked over, masticated, reproduced for the masses. These are the people producing the new ideas and pushing us to places that are brave and new.'
And there is certainly truth to the charge of imitation and reproduction, but it's the separation of what is fashion and what are clothes that is most interesting. To me at least.
Consider it this way, you can love clothes and have no idea who Nicolas Ghesquiere is. You could own a thousand pairs of shoes and have a wardrobe that takes up half your house and not have a clue who Phoebe Philo is. The difference seems to be that loving fashion means those names do mean something. Because loving fashion isn't just about the clothes.
It's about so much more. On a purely aesthetic level, it's about fabric and cut and silhouette and shape and the way garments move as they saunter down the runway. But it's also about history and making references to that history and breaking free from it; it's about experimentation and pushing boundaries and forcing people to think about fashion in an unexpected way. It's about asking people to consider their relationship with their body, with fabric, with something as benign as seasons.
No, fashion isn't just about the clothes. And you can have the clothes without the fashion. But you can also have the clothes and the fashion. I don't believe it's an either or situation. I think it's about appreciating what each is about and taking from both what matters to you. Whether that be the actual garments themselves, or simply an appreciation for an aesthetic as imagined by Miuccia Prada or Sarah Burton.
The democratisation of fashion doesn't mean that everything has to be attainable and accessible, let's be honest it never has been and never will, but it does mean that you get to choose what works for you. You can take a bit from high fashion, some high street, maybe some vintage or thrifted gems, some eco-design, one offs from exciting new designers - or even your own homemade threads, and you get to make it your own version of fashion.
And, really isn't that what it's all about?