Fashion struts in artistic videos and photographs
BY MAKIKO TAKAHASHI SENIOR STAFF WRITER
Japanese label "beautiful people" promoted its new lineup with live models in a downtown shopping mall and at other spots during the Tokyo Collection in October. (Provided by Hirokazu Ohara)A shot from the video of Gareth Pugh's Spring/Summer 2011 collection. (Makiko Takahashi)A sci-fi image from Undercover's "Underman" brand collection. (Provided by Undercover)
The standard fashion show image of beautiful models dressed in designer clothes walking down a runway in front of an audience is losing ground these days.
An increasing number of brands are presenting their collections in artistic works of video and photography, as well as in street performances, as was seen at recent fashion weeks held in Tokyo and Paris.
The trend seems to show that fashion brands are seeking ways to present new realities and diverse messages for a new era.
Gareth Pugh is seen as one of the most promising young designers at the Paris Fashion Week. He used an audacious video to present his 2011 spring/summer collection. It showed the delicate feel and details of the clothing in a heart-pounding and dynamic manner.
The video featured a model wearing a geometric patterned chiffon mini dress and another model dressed in a pair of sharply shaped men's-style trousers. Their images flickered and overlapped with each other in a rapid transition.
The new clothes offered contrasting elements, such as Gothic charm and a futuristic sense, life and death and beauty and ugliness, all of which were amplified by the images.
Pugh explained that the clothes can look more beautiful than when presented in a show, and it is video that has more reality in the Internet age.
The purpose of the runway show was to lay out the direction of the season in a comprehensive manner, including how to present music, the venue and its setup, models, hairstyle and make-up. If there is a better way to achieve it, then they might as well take another approach.
There have been fashion shows without a runway, but those had more to do with a lack of funds or other reasons. But recently, fashion brands seem to be seeking ways to present their fashion by means other than live shows to fit with the times.
For example, Alexander McQueen, who died last year, attracted attention with his 2010 spring/summer collection that concurrently featured beautiful, highly stylized videos. The show, which became his last, was also streamed live on the Internet.
Viktor and Rolf presented their 2009 spring/summer collection in an online showcase.
At the Tokyo Collection Week held in October, promising designer Aguri Sagimori showed a sweet and mysterious video she made in collaboration with a video artist.
"It would be a waste to present the clothes in a one-time show after working so hard to make them," the young designer said.
"Besides, with video, I can convey what is inside my head in a straightforward manner."
Another Japanese fashion brand, "beautiful people," placed models in many spots at the Tokyo Midtown complex in the Roppongi district. The models held a balloon in their hands with a Twitter-like comment printed on it.
"Feedback not only from industry professionals but also from all kinds of people in town is interesting," the brand's designer Hidenori Kumakiri said. "I felt this approach would be widely accepted now."
Meanwhile, Undercover held an exhibition during Paris Fashion Week titled "Underman." It featured a collection of Underman-themed photos and new designs.
The photographs followed masked hero Underman's fight against evil. The elaborate approach involved staging an explosion and other special effects.
The exhibition allegedly cost as much as a fashion show usually does.
Art director Katsumi Asaba commented on the trend. "With the incredible evolution in computer graphics and other technologies, (designers) are now able to convey far more than simply showing their clothes."
At the same time, fashion brands are likely beginning to re-examine the modern fashion system symbolized by fashion shows.
The system has expanded the market by giving priority to efficiency. But now, fashion brands seem to ask themselves whether the annual events have limited the possibilities for designers to pursue diverse forms of expression, while neglecting wearers' real sense of living their daily lives.
Amid an increase in glitzy fashion shows that feature easy-to-grasp clothing ideas designed for people in emerging countries, it has been pointed out that fashion shows have lost their original meaning.
Even amid the increasing number of fashion events are streamed live online, there are also moves to regard realism as the true nature of fashion and revive the importance placed on fashion shows.
"A growing number of presentation ideas are being conceived. We have to reconsider the best ways of expression to provide insight on the way things are today," Asaba added.