It’s Still The Beautiful That Sells

It was really hard for me to understand the grip that Grunge had on fashion for the last two decades and longer.  That “Ugly was beautiful” was so irrational to me.  I understand there was (as there always is in fashion) a swing away from the opulence of the 80’s to something that was the opposite, but usually these swings last for a decade. Grunge lasted for 2 decades, and then fashion became a sort of mish-mash free-for-all.  But the truth is that beauty sells.

From Vera Wang’s first collection which started in the midst of the Grunge craze.  The collection was an immediate success because the fashions were beautiful and classic.


It’s still the really beautiful clothes that bring out the artistry. With every shape, size and style known to man available to the consumer, it’s hard for the consumer to make a choice.  The consumer is not a profession fashion editor, and never will be and shouldn’t be.  Most often consumers’ needs are not really considered, and the consumer is shown garments that are worn by movie stars (on and off the stage), music stars and those enjoying their 15 minutes of fame.  These are the real consumers.  It’s the marketers who appeal and design for the audience rather than the stars that sells, but the temptation for the designers to get a quick bump by having their garment worn by a star is very tempting and can appear to be profit in the making.

But the notable and remarkable last seasons of Rodarte S/S 2016

Or the first season of Valentino (by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli) after Valentino…

These beautiful clothes and collections are noteworthy not only for the press they generated but because of the beautiful styles they portray.  Beauty always sells and beauty is always in.  I know you see lots of weird looking stuff out there……

Rei Kawakubo for Comme des Garçon and these look really weird, unless you know what you’re seeing, and for me it’s the silhouette – that’s what this is all about….the waist is in, the dress is in and it’s all about the shape of the dress.  But unless you’re part of the fashion intelligentsia, you wouldn’t know to see this or look at it. In 6 years from now, it will be easy to see as is this look from John Galliano from 6 years ago foretelling this new more feminine silhouette:

Even as old as this look is, it’s forward and fashionable now.  This is what classic is – it lasts decade after decade while the trends come and go.

So when you see a new trend, put it to the Classics Test (how would/will this look in 10 years?…in 20 years?) and if it passes, do it!  At the same time you can still do fresher and more modern looks with a classic line (a line that lasts longer) when you sew, and that way it becomes a newer look, but lasts a long time!

  1. I am commenting regarding the newsletter I received this morning of the tenth.

    Apologies that I comment via the blog but, there was no other place to do that.

    Rarely do I comment anywhere but, felt that by remaining silent would do a disservice to anyone uncomfortable about speaking out at all. I felt that the fashion and activism paragraphs in the newsletter implied consumers buy fashion based on the merit of the design exclusive of the designer’s or brand’s social activities or social view points.

    I strongly disagree as fashion is inherently aspirational. What we put on our bodies consciously or unconsciously advertises to the world our class, status, desires, lies and dislikes. One cannot separate what a brand or designer does or says from their artistic output.

    Artistic merit cannot stand alone – social aspiration and social statement outweigh artistic merit if it were possible to have two identical products from two different designers or brands. And yet, we do not live in a vacuum where all things are equal, because they are not. If people choose not to buy or endorse a product they are engaging in social participation. Your own blog posts and newsletters engage in aspirational discussions in relation to clothing.

    If a brand or designer could be unequivocally divided from their product why would we care where or how a product was manufactured? Why would we buy the Lauren vs. the Hilfiger vs. the Herrera? Why indeed would a Natalie Chanin and her business model matter? Why would we care about Christian Siriano?

    People have always dressed and adorned themselves to advertise who they are, what tribe they belong to, what religion they follow, what class they belong, what class they want to be perceived as belonging to.

    Adornment is not a mathematical equation where one aspect is pure and apart from the another aspect. Social activism is and always will be a part what we choose to put on our bodies.

    • Robin thank you so much for your comment, and love your energetic response. Maybe cause I’m so flaming independent, I didn’t even like a design/designer for the sake of the designer’s name or what he/she believed in!; Sometimes I totally disagreed with what they believed in but loved their designs so much it didn’t matter. Some designers looks are pretty scary (John Galliano before his de-tox) but I adored his designs!  Thought they were inspired and advanced! So being for one thing or another really wasn’t something I was interested in pursuing, I was interested in the lines, the balance, the silhouette, the color(s) were much more important than the designers name or press package or anything else.

      Mainly what I was talking about is when I came of age and began to want to learn sewing and design, sewing was considered the WORST subject I could pick. So bad that even Jackie K’s blessing
      couldn’t pull me back from the depths of dunderheadedness!!!!! I kept wondering why And why do they have authority to tell me (or anyone else) what’s right and what’s not? The truth is
      that they didn’t, and although I had to learn that decades later in my life – much later than I would have liked – I finally did learn. I always knew I wanted to sew, I just didn’t have the teachers come to school at the right time to learn it as soon as I would have liked.

      I see some fairly remarkable restrictions coming out today. You can do this, but you can’t do that. The increase in intolerance and especially in areas that tell you if you are in or not, are running rampant. There is no rhyme or reason to a lot of this. Simply do this or that because it’s in you will get ahead faster or if you don’t adhere to the latest cause du jour you will be superfluous, oblivious and basically unacceptable. Those sorts of labels are not only irrational, but nonsensical, and to have them presented as law or some other sort of authenticity to the more naive, inexperienced
      and particularly vulnerable minds is irresponsible and cruel.

      Don’t get me wrong. Artists can have activism and causes. That’s great. What I rail against is the pressure that an activism or cause becomes mandatory and even worse, have to profess belief in a certain vein or else there is the threat of ostracization by a magazine editor(s) or other selective group(s). This gets a little authoritarian and the antithesis of a democracy. I would like to think that simply because a person is an artists that they can pursue their craft in a more equal environment, than one fraught with dictatorial edicts, whether they are in the guise of activism or rulings and will not have an effect on an individual person’s choice in the direction of that
      person’s life, vocation or choice.

      And that was my effort – to encourage artists, designers, creators and makers to pursue the dream of their soul; to follow their bliss; and to do what they have an aptitude and drive to do, even if
      that means they are going against the grain or worse pursuing a dream that may not be considered chic, modern and especially worth the effort. Twice before I have done this: once when I started
      studying under my mentor and secondly when I started my company. Family members and most people outside my immediate friends told me that it was not a good choice of vocation or business model. I believed that I could add to the choice of consumers in my local community, not take away from the market that was there, and lo and behold I formed a niche in a place that no one saw a void or even a niche before. That’s often what happens with people who pursue something which the rest of the world finds irrelevant or outré. It turns out to be the exact opposite.

      • That was a stimulating conversation between you & Robin to read. I agree with both of you. I think it IS important to know who creates and produces the clothing you wear (I’m a home sewer with a goal to make all the clothing I wear – I’m 62 yrs old and have just returned to sewing on my 60th after an almost 40 yr hiatus!)- but what we choose to wear should be what we like, what’s comfortable and what compliments us (in that order). We do make a statement about ourselves in our clothes.

  2. Robin is commenting to my weekly free email I send out to only those who request the email. I do not spam or clog up your email inbox with email unless you choose to request the email. It’s free, and as you can tell opens up discussion and discourse in places that maybe aren’t normally discussed on sewing or sewists sites. To request to be on the weekly free email, at the top of this page, on the right in the green box, put in your email and name, and click OK, and that’s it!

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