We’re constantly being advised on how we should look and dress, but truth is most of it should be ignored.
This quote from Jane Rapley in her previous role as Head of Central St Martins College, resonated recently. It describes how she and her team coached aspiring designers at the world famous institution:
“We coax it out by teaching… We try to recognise where their interests lie and where they get stuck. Then we say “… Have you looked at this for inspiration? Don’t you think you should look at…? Who are your influences?” We’re not looking for uniqueness as there is no such thing. We’re looking for evolution and distinctiveness.”*
Just prior to reading this I’d been surfing the British Vogue You Tube channel and despite a lovely shoot with Naomi Campbell in Brixton I felt a pang of disappointment when I realised that we’re so forcefully encouraged to hero worship a Made in Chelsea-could’ve-been (Cara Delevigne, it’s true), a nineties pop star with a decent taste in demure dressing (V Beckham) and a super-star-model-come-stylist with a sixth-form attempt at directing a fashion video (Moss). What struck me is how far removed big brand fashion is from the raw creativity and talent of the real designers and artists within the industry. How an idea or inspiration can be diminished by the pout of a celebrity, a big budget and a hard-nosed sales projection.
I’m not down with the new talent, but I do follow (like a disciple) the work of the legendary Susie Bubble and other bloggers, which demonstrate that there is without question fantastic, fresh talent out there. It’s just not depicted in our mainstream.
If style floats your boat, then you’ll get your inspiration in a variety of forms – a documentary, a film, a work of art, a holiday, the nice boots the girl ahead of me on the high street was wearing the other day.
We may enjoy what they’re about, but the traditional fash pack isn’t setting our looks any longer. These days style inspiration comes from elsewhere and everywhere and not just the commercial feeds. Just as the students of Central St Martins are encouraged.
High five, style icons.
*Quote from Fashion Makers Fashion Shapers, Anne-Celine Jaeger (Thames & Hudson, 2009)