Monday, September 22, 2014

Dissonant Composition

    Here's a great example of the current design exploration of dissonant composition.  The individual words in use here do not seem at first glance to work to create a coherent statement.  What makes it focus into something readable by the viewer is the palette of colors chosen.  The softness of the colors helps to merge the bulky shape of the sweater, the architectural stiffness of the skirt and the fragile quality of the camisole, into a sentence we can comprehend, even if we don't care for it.  Without that hook for us to hang onto, this combination would be a visual shout that would leave us perplexed.
    The reasons, I believe, that designers are looking into such seemingly unrelated combinations are as profound in the way they speak about us as they are interesting to look at.
    The first reason is that with the ever expanding access the interweb has allowed, influences and products are shifting around the globe with far greater speed and over much greater distances.  We are now able to shop in stores in Tokyo, or get custom items from a fashion house in Berlin, without leaving our homes.  We can purchase a necklace from Nepal, mud cloth from Africa, and crocheted lace from Ireland all in one go, and if we wish to, mix them together to create a statement, sartorially, that has never been uttered before.
     The second reason relates to the first: originality.  Such a beguiling notion, that of being able to say something truly unique, has a powerful appeal in this globalized world where malls everywhere have precisely the same vendors, marketing precisely the same things. The idea of being able to, and free to, mix items from disparate cultures and times into a melange that is new, and wildly personal, is one that more and more people are looking at with interest.
     Since so many people on the streets are examining this idea, designers are working to fulfill that need in production garments, which to a significant degree, really diminishes the impact of the original idea.
    But perhaps the most important of the reasons why this technique of mixing is gaining ground. is the sense so many of us have of being lost, unheard, and unseen.  We live in a culture that increasingly asks us to conform to ever more unrealistic ideals of beauty, style and achievement.  More and more people, in a psychological expression of demand for notice, are choosing the simple and very effective expedient of individualizing their apparel.
     For most people this is as simply realized as the wearing of tribal jewelry, or a vintage jacket.  For others, the need to be seen and heard within the throng leads to much more complex efforts, requiring far more personal commitment to get to, and maintain.  But for them, the cost in effort is worth the return in notice.  Sure, this may seem a shallow, vain thing, this desire to be seen; but when everyone looks just like everyone else, it can, for many, become impossible to do anything other than rebel.
    For my own self, my choices in this regard mostly took form in my kilt wearing.  And recently it has taken form in other ways, largely through interesting shoes and brilliant color combinations.
    What ways, if any, do you see yourself expressing your Attire voice in a manner designed to garner notice?  I will be interested to hear your stories.


  1. KiltdnTiltd, this is poster Qitkat from Tom&Lorenzo's blog. I've been following you on facebook for a while, enjoying your tremendously insightful posts on many memorable fashion developments. I haven't felt compelled to comment before, but I am curious to hear from you about your feelings on the subject of "cultural appropriation." That seems to be a contentious topic among commenters on that blog; I've occasionally weighed in, and generally found myself to be on the minority end of commenters. I myself dislike the term intensely. I wonder if you've noticed those conversations also. Upon reading this post, I found myself thinking that you and I are probably like-minded on the subject. I love the idea of respectfully borrowing from cultures around the world, sartorially giving one's own identify a shot of individuality; I decorate my own home the same way. Would you care to weigh in on this often sensitive, volatile topic? If not in a reply, perhaps in a post of your own in the future?

    1. OMG Qitkat! What a delight to hear from you! Answering your last question first; how about I do both? I'll respond to you here, and also do a post about it, since its a subject well worthy of delving into.

      You and I are clearly in the same 'verse about this, and yeah, I have seen the sometimes contentious conversations that occur every time the notion of cultural appropriation comes up.

      Since I'm going to post about this, I'll just start with a few thoughts. If a garment or accessory is for sale in the open marketplace, either in a brick and mortar business, or online, how is it appropriation to purchase and use what is being offered? Also, if a designer can be deemed inspired by a nation, or a segment of a culture's artistic expressions, how is that appropriation? Ultimately its rather like information on the internet. If you put something out into the world, you give up and fantasy of ownership.
      How's that for starters? (smile)
      Thanks again for weighing in, and let your friends know about me here, I can use all the push I can get.

      Be Well,