Wednesday, 25 November 2009

A lecture with Colin McDowell

After our 2oth Century Fashion lecture with the fashion historian and editor Colin Mcdowell (above) I was left with many inspirational thought provoking words of wisdom from the legend of the fashion world.

We found out that his favourite era of the 20th Century is the 1950's, when women were still elegant, the last era of couture, when the older woman still had her fashion and their models and fashion wasn't so dictated by the young. He loved the beauty the stately grandeur of the decade and regards fashion as a high point before it started going down hill.

He also regards fashion as having three stages, which can be regarded as skirt lengths from very long (which he thinks will never return in the modern world), the average length and then the mini. The Mini is the time which he regards fashion as dropping dramatically!

He also thinks couture is not what it was, garments are regarded as couture just because a more expensive fabric is being used and it has nothing to do with the hand made and personnal unique quality of traditional couture, he thinks this is very common with American designers such as Armani.

The best tip he has for all us wannabe designers buy all the old Vogues, American and French from the 1930's-50's, as all designers use these as their sourcebooks, but beware they are very expensive, £100 a magazine!

His favourite designer of our time is John Galliano he couldn't rate him more highly, as he looks to the 1950's for inspiration and even uses Dior's mother as his target customer, which he likes as she's an older woman unlike all the targeted markets today and on the high street use.

He also regards the 1950's as the end of the fashion Editor and the beginning of the rise of the Fashion Stylist as all designers now go to the stylist rather than the editor for advice.

There is only three designers he regards as moving fashion forward at the moment and that is obviously John Galliano, Mucca Prada and Marc Jacobs.

As John Galliano is gradually bringing in the Underwear look, alot more sucessfully than the likes of Vivienne Westwood and Jean Paul Gaultier ever did.

Prada is constantly looking at new fabrics and innovations, taking a scientific approach to the future of fashion.

He doesn't regard Coco Chanel as a designer at all let alone one of the best, but an activist! As she was all about the attitude, bringing women equal to men and proving that they are if anything better!

Madame Vionnet he regards as the Real Inventor, with her modernisation of the bias cut and actually turning the industry into a fashion business registering her designs. She makes Chanel seem modest and small compared to her genius.

Balenciaga is the next of his great designers, the original label not the modern day designs. Pierre Cardin and Courreges are just his disciples.

Yves Saint Laurent another of his all time greats for continuing Chanels work of making women's garments simplier and actually creating Men's inspired clothing for women, revolutionary ideas.

This was in times when there were strong leads and women decided how they wanted to be dressed, before the high street and the bad time in fashion reigned: the modern world in Colin's views.

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