Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you had a wonderful holiday!
I confess I've been feeling rather irritable towards the state of fashion design these days, a sentiment that got me into trouble thanks to an inartfully phrased comment...In any case, suffice it to say that I'm stuck with the feeling that the fashion industry in general is stagnating, despite the successes of individuals designer/artisans here and there. It's as if the discipline of fashion design is missing something, and that imagination and craftsmanship, however undeniable in some cases, are boxed into familiar cultural and conceptual categories. Where, I wonder, is the progressive design, the revolutionary design, the design that aims outside the ivory tower of high fashion and high prices? Where is the design that goes beyond mere exercises in aesthetics?
So I've been stuck inside a room with no windows and no doors. My chilling challenge: to find a way out! Without metaphorically hanging from the rafters, of course. Then an idea started forming once my penchant for melodramatic excess settled down. For some time, I've been thinking about when my interest in fashion was kindled: with the discovery of goth,and my first deliberate stylistic choice to phase out colours to achieve an all-black wardrobe. I don't tend to let myself become ensnared, encapsulated, or otherwise embalmed by labels - and I'm not going to start trotting any now - but insofar as I have a home for my gothic sensibilities, it is with the unique and remarkably durable goth (sub)culture for which I still feel an affinity towards. And so, as my wardrobe has been subject to my idiosyncrasies, I've been considering re-calibrating my personal style, which was wandered over the years...and as I revisit some familiar, but neglected friends - Shrine, Lip Service - I may have found the antidote to the funk I've been in. Oh yes, there's still a revolutionary spirit to be found, fashion design that makes a statement, assumes a point of view - fashion design that actually means something.
Before featuring those old friends in future posts, however, I have to credit a new discovery for sparking my enthusiasm back to life: Los Angeles-based Heavy Red, whose gorgeous, sophisticated designs break my heart. Unmistakably gothic, with a hint of sex and cabaret, a certain literary erudition, an imaginative distillation of death and romance. I could run out of adjectives. But consider this: there's something "easy" in fashion designers choosing to be everything to everyone - or, at least, tuning their career for mainstream fashion. I greatly admire designers like Heavy Red, not only because I relate but because they've chosen the more difficult task of embodying a particular alternative culture, a task that entails both preserving an essential character while imagining new ways of expressing that character. For example, I can't think of anyone else off the top of my head who designs gothic swimsuits. Yes, Heavy Red is that good. And reasonably priced, too.
But enough with the yakkety-schmakkety. How about we take a look at some clothes? I had to pick a few somewhat at random, because they're all so enticing. So feast your eyes on...
The costume, easily rivaling anything American McGee or Tim Burton could conceive, includes a blue Alice dress, brocade corset, cream jacket, and strait jacket straps.
Silver and pretty.
A bold fitted dress with side zipper, adjustable straps, and an elastic along the top back to allow for differences in bust size.
Beautiful corset with 12 steel boned panels, 4 interior layers, an inside waist ribbon, a 5 prong busk front closure, a 26 grommet closure in the back, and a 5" vanity panel in back.
A versatile four-panel skirt that can be worn tied up or in an A-line style, designed to be worn with a variety of tops.
Heavy stretch nylon/lycra pants with a soft cotton interior. The panels on thighs and shins are made of stretch faux leather.
Stunning fitted gown with black satin garter panels, hand sewn strips of black and red cloth at the hem, and adjustable straps.
There you have it: a small but delectable sampling from Heavy Red's drop dead gorgeous collection. And in case you're wondering, they do offer men's clothes too. I'm told the designer is working on some items for the next collection; I'll be sure to report back when they're released. In the meantime, though, do visit Heavy Red's website and admire their entire collection...
Disclaimer: Images borrowed from heavyred.com with the kind permission of Heavy Red.