Monday, February 23, 2015

Two Visions, One Result- Elle Saab And Gareth Pugh

   I'm going to juxtapose two designers who could not be more distant from each other in terms of how they present people, but who both possess the same significant characteristic.  Elle Saab, who's whole design aesthetic is about glorifying women in a classic, and deeply feminine way,
and Gareth Pugh, who is all about pushing boundaries of sexuality, and identity, creating a powerful, and often forbidding persona in the process.
Both of these deeply talented people have one overriding aspect in common that guides, and enhances their work. 
     Each person who is a designer of apparel, or rather a good one, has a baseline position from which they move; a central point they express, regardless of the clothes on the runway, a way of looking at the world, and our place in it, that never leaves, never is diminished.  Its one of the things that ends up making their work seem better somehow, than others, or at very least, more recognizably theirs.
    Why is it that this is part and parcel of being a good designer?  It is a relevant indicator of how committed to their art they are.  If someone designs whatever, for whoever, without some reigning aesthetic, the end result is lesser for it, because they haven't fed all they are into their work.  And since in the case of apparel, and the greater Attire language, the ideal to be reached is for the greatest clarity, and originality of expression possible, it becomes that much more essential that the person behind the designs is fully committed to the work they present.  After all, we all want and need clothing that speaks our lives in a symbolic way for us, when we haven't the words to express it in words or action.
    Whether, like Elle Saab, the ideal presented is of gracious, and fairly classic femininity,
or like Gareth Pugh, a far darker, more aggressive vision, is ultimately not the point.
  The point is, that the designs done gain substantively in terms of their ability to express a sartorial thought, when they have been given the maximum care, and attention a designer can devote.
    By this I don't mean that the work of people not operating at the couture level is somehow less expressive.  Not at all true.  Small scale designers, working with limited resources, can produce garments that are fully as meaningful as major designers, when they have that same kind of baseline design position which they never abandon.
    Now, in terms of what this offers to the Attire language, its simple.  We are, all of us, not the same in out outlook, needs, or aspirations.   What these wildly variable designers at every level offer us, is a huge vocabulary of words from which to choose, that, carefully selected, can aid us in presenting to the outer world, not only our fantasy of ourselves, but, more importantly, our essential truth.  And if we are to move forward into a truly global community, as it seems we are destined to, telling our essential truth will become vital to our very survival as a species.

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