clothing sounds far too mundane, and fashion sounds too...fluffy, unsubstantial. each piece that i buy, i see some beauty in it, something i can reflect on, even if it's just a well-placed pleat. when it's done well, it's art to me. my own personal collection. i generally gravitate towards pieces that reveal a person behind the design. i don't mean the seamstress (or machine) who produces it, but the individual who designed it, who thought to pile on asymmetrical ruffles around the neckline of my new dress, for example.
mass american retailers like j.crew produce some very useful, efficient fashion, but i don't usually see the soul in it. but then there is another kind of fashion art that the us excels at: the blank canvas. american apparel t-shirts, though ephemeral, are as basic as can be (i know, the guy was technically canadian). the basic men's 501 levis jeans are the ultimate blank canvas when you get them shrink-to-fit.
i think growing up as an american helped inform my interest in personalizing that blank canvas. but now, ironically, the results are not always well-received here. i wonder if iris apfel was as applauded for her style on a day to day basis when she lived in her now-celebrated ensembles as she is today, post museum exhibit. despite not having a fashion tradition, like france, there are, nevertheless, standards of style here, and the majority dictate that we should happily buy the mass looks and consume the trends. hasn't been a hard-sell from what i can see.
i felt a jolting difference in amsterdam. i sensed utter fashion freedom. more important than not observing any particular popular "looks" i didn't receive any "looks" for my own. i didn't sense the herd-mentality that seems so pervasive in the us. even "alternative" nooks and crannies, like williamsburg, brooklyn, are filled with replicas of one "alternative" identity. clothing here quite often seems to represent what group you belong to. do you belong in williamsburg? do you belong in the hamptons? do you belong in chickasaw, alabama? growing up, i was told i didn't look like i was from l.a. - since i did in fact grow up there, i should be the perfect example of whatever one who is from l.a. ought to look like, but that was apparently decided by a herd, and i did not match that. i think one reason i felt so wonderfully content in amsterdam was because there did not seem to be any expectation for anyone to match anything. i had never realized that i found the attitudes toward my fashion choices that i encounter here to be oppressive, until i went to a place where they did not exist. (ps that top pic is the flag of amsterdam.)
if you had to choose a place to identify with, fashion-wise, where would it be?
what elevates a piece in your eyes? what makes it art and/or worthy of coming home with you? what makes it click for you?