A Lack of Inspiration

I am writing this off five hours of sleep. Fatigue has stolen my ability to form thoughts and a need for sleep has replaced my need for ideas. At such times when a lack of inspiration is the result of a lack of sleep, the answer is not to simply take a nap. That would be wasting precious hours of thought and potential ideas. Sleep is never the answer. No, when you're lacking inspiration, the solution is clear: find inspiration. That sounds really easy but if you've ever been without inspiration and looked for it, you know it isn't that simple. To find inspiration, you must know what it is, and that leads us to the question, what is inspiration? 
My two favorite dictionary definitions are the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative and a sudden brilliant, creative, or timely idea. My personal definition of inspiration is a combination of these: inspiration is a physical object (including things that aren't exactly physical such as writing and fragrances) that makes you think something new, or remember something from the past. 
Times when the only part of your head working is your eyes are the perfect time to soak in inspiration. Even if you can't conjure up ideas, or words to convey those ideas, certain things are bound to get your mind moving. And I know this because I've just come out of an inspiration-less rut of my eyes skimming over computer screens and printed pages, waiting for something to jump out and inspire. 
To find inspiration there has to be a need for it. I'm always amazed at how much I get done during a school day, and that is because there is a priority to get things done. Give yourself deadlines and things will get done. 

My last piece of advice for getting inspired is one that I've used many times before, from finding personal style to organizing coffee table books. Don't turn your nose up at anything because inspiration can come from anywhere. What was this post inspired by? A lack of inspiration.

Photos by Kelly O'Connor.

It’s Not About Fashion, It’s About Style

Fashion shows have always been more than a simple showcase of designer clothes from the season. All that is really necessary to show off the clothes is a few mannequins, or maybe even just coat hangers and a rack, but fashion houses have always felt the need to show off their clothes in a spectacle of scenery and styling. The clothes don't create the same atmosphere or contribute to the same theme without all those unnecessary extras. The attention to and importance of scenery just keeps growing; a space transformed with every show, and, more recently literal transportations for shows in various locations.

But the styling of the collection is even more important. Careful styling can transform clothes; one can watch a runway show, buy a piece from that collection, and it would look completely different separated from its kind. It's the reason why brands with heavily themed shows can still make a profit from those who don't wish to look so themed. The motif of a collection is only present when the pieces are all styled and in a setting that supports the same motif. When by themselves, the clothes are just clothes.

Chanel is an excellent example of this. During the shows, a Chanel collection will look horribly themed, normally looking at place alongside Dr. Seuss characters, but on racks in a store the clothes look far more subtle and wearable.

Gucci men's wear spring collection and women's resort collection.

At the end of the day, there are two components to a good runway show: the newness of the clothes and the newness of the presentation of the clothes. If the quality of one of those components is higher than the other, the less of the other component is needed in order to be fresh. For example, if the styling and scenery is innovative, then the actual clothes themselves don't need to be that new, but if the clothes are eye-openingly revolutionary, then they can speak for themselves and don't require many distractions.

On men's fashion week in Milan, journalist Angelo Flaccavento wrote for Business of Fashion:

"We have entered a wholly new era of fashion design: a post-postmodern age in which what's pivotal is the way items are assembled, not the way pieces are designed. The most influential inventors working today, Miuccia Prada in primis, are not, in this respect, creators of radically new things, but heralds of a different, more personal ways of wearing things."

Today, designers are not using new silhouettes, details, or fabrics, but instead creating fresh styling for what already exists. That statement is not a question of the creativity of these designers, but instead where they choose to channel their inspiration in order to create a successful runway show.

Alexander McQueen Resort 2016

As we saw in her fall 2015 ready to wear show, Burton works best when staying true to McQueen's adage that there is no better designer than nature. For resort, she took inspiration from good old Mother Nature, but mixed those elements with smart tailoring, edgy leather, and a general eccentricity for that good, bold Alexander McQueen look. Metallic threads woven into knits and tweeds guaranteed avoidance of the traditional, cozy appearance, and provided an almost glamorous element to the collection. Needlepoint flowers were printed on leather for an edgy look with a hint of granny. Curious jewelry that would look at home in a quiet thrift shop adorned the models, complimented the clothes, and altogether added to this quirky, yet rough character. Smart, lace-up shoes accompanied all the looks and added to that subtle granny factor. A few of the looks were dangerously close to being that cliché fluffy-tulle-dress-with-rocker-leather-jacket-and-boy-shoes-angsty look. You know the one. These looks were, however, saved by careful styling and a well-placed Knucklebox clutch, the reliable McQueen champion. Thick belts were another star in this flowery collection, possibly a homage to the traditional kimono belts that were seen in Burton's Asian inspired spring 2015 ready to wear show. 

The attention to detail is that which has come to be expected from Alexander McQueen. The little elements make up the big motifs, such as the texture of a fabric or a wavy edge. All the subtle craftsmanship makes up the major theme of the collection. Anything that is dainty and delicate is meant to be so and as is any sharpness, all to create this tough flower, this strong elegance, this dandelion that refuses to be killed. Despite its inspiration, this show was anything but garden variety. 

Photos via Vogue.com.

Maison Margiela Resort 2016

The world is going through a change. And since fashion is a reflection of the times, fashion, too, is going through a change. Gender identification is a topic that has recently become more widely addressed and discussed. Models like Hari Nef and Andrej Pejic have brought the subject into fashion, and Orange Is the New Black's Ruby Rose has brought it into pop culture, altogether bringing it into the mainstream. Adding to the gender identification movement was Maison Margiela resort 2016. The photos of the collection showcased at first androgynous, loose fitting, neutral clothing, and then moved on to suits, knitwear, and dresses that seemed a bit more feminine. If non-fashion people (i.e. people who do not regularly view runway shows/collections and are used to a more standard form of clothing) saw this collection, I think they would think it strange not because it featured a male model wearing a collection of women's clothes, but because the clothes themselves seem strange to them. It would seem like just another weird-fashion-thing. What I loved most about this collection is the subtleness. Not the subtleness in the casting choices, because one of the models is obviously male and the other isn't, but the almost unimportance of it. It wasn't a huge social-media blowout or a "revolutionary" collection. Maison Margiela was just another resort collection, which is normally not a good thing, but in this case it is. 

Photos via Vogue.com.

British Vogue's Sense of Humor

The most recent video that British Vogue posted to their YouTube channel stands out a bit from their usual celebrity interviews, fashion, and beauty tutorials. It's titled The Minion Trailer, and when I initially saw it, I didn't make the connection between Vogue and those little yellow cartoons that are everywhere. The preview depicted Stephen Jones showing bright yellow socks, and if that doesn't make you click "play," I don't know what will. 

It's fun to see fashion people like Suzy Menkes refer to those little yellow creatures seriously. A must-watch for 30 seconds of lightheartedness.

UPDATE: British Vogue just released a second minion video!

The Magic of Paris

There's a certain magic that comes to mind when one mentions Paris. Its reputation enthralls those who've never been, and its charm ensures those who have come again. I don't know if an intense, nostalgic, magical feeling is naturally occurring in the city, maybe the stones and soil that act as the base of the city are enchanted, or if the charm is simply the result of centuries of acting as popular backdrop for emotional films, photos, and artistic innovation. But I don't really want to know where it's coming from; it's not an intriguing type of charm, but rather one to be simply accepted and left on it's own. Magic and charm fill the streets of Paris as blood through veins, most likely because that allure is the blood of Paris - it keeps the city alive and thriving. 

It's not just the city that is appealing, but rather what it represents. Those traditionally French buildings are, indeed, beautiful, but they are beautiful because of what they stand for. For me, right now, Paris is a goal, Paris is the place where everything will work out magically, like the city itself.  The sight of those buildings make me think of aspiration and inspiration. Paris represents a general happiness, hope, and independence. The reason that Paris is so appealing to so many is that it is exactly what one is looking for. Yves Saint Laurent was looking for creative experimentation and challenges, Julia Child for improvement, and plenty others for various reasons. Paris already has so much history, but it also has room for the future, and room for the now. 

I'm not sure if locals find the city as charming as those who don't know it, and I suppose I'll never know, unfortunately not being a native Parisienne. But I do know that Paris has a power to captivate and inspire, that Paris is something abstract and meaningful, that it's not just the intersecting lines and stars on a map that make up Paris, but rather the feelings. One can experience "Paris" outside of the physical Paris, and it can be just as magical, but nothing compares to the relief of knowing that you're in a place of character and aspirations, or the hope that you may one day get there.

I'm sorry but I had to include this one. For those of you not born after 2000, or parents those, this is a still from the Disney Pixar movie, Ratatouille, a moving film about trust, hope, friendship, and food. I most definitely recommend watching it.

This is actually my favorite out of all these Paris photos because this is what I picture as my Paris, my goal, my hope.

Alexander McQueen Spring 2016 Menswear

I don't normally review menswear, but fashion is fashion, so I decided to give it a go. And what better place to start than Alexander McQueen?

A story was told with Alexander McQueen's spring 2016 menswear show, and this was also one of the beginning chapters of a much larger story: London menswear collections. But McQueen's, or rather, Sarah Burton's, characters were of seafaring and adventure, but not so rugged as we're used to. "Tattoos" were printed on starched fabric, making the collection sharp and clean-cut, with a contemporary vibe. Collections today can normally be sorted into two general categories: those which are clearly made for the youth and those which obviously taken from the past. This collection, however, seemed almost ageless; not excessively young, nor stealing from a grandfather's wardrobe.  This collection introduced a new age, somewhere in the middle, as well as a new character, equally halfway. And if the previous references weren't enough, the show ended with vivid, map-like prints of sea monsters and oceans, sure to evoke images of pirates and explorers in every viewer's mind. 

Every cut, line, button, and print was so evidently intentional; it was no coincidence that the models' hair was left wet and wild and the lines sharp and crisp. All these elements contributed to an idea of a smart sailor, a futuristic mariner. She took two very traditional styles, rustic seafaring and smart tailoring, and brought them together in just the right proportions.