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the black sheep in fashion world.

anti _fashion

front cover: outside

front cover: inside

Corso Triennale di Fashion & Textile design


Relatore Prof Bonizza Giordani

Tesi di Vu Nguyen Anh


i/ introduction


ii/ overview 1. definition 2. examples

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iii/ fashion vs anti-fashion 1. history 2. Anti-fashion movement in 90s - 00s. 3. The rapport between fashion and anti-fashion.

_048 _050


_092 _152

iv/ influence of anti-fashion 1. current fashion industry 2. new generation of designers 3. personal experience - final collection

_160 _162 _164 _194

v/ conclusion





i/ intro-

As a personal reaction to the problematic fashion industry nowadays, I tend to look back into the heritage of historical costumes - a crucial part to form human civilization, and look around into spontaneous things happen in my everyday life to find inspiration. During the research process of developing ideas for this collection, I ran into an enormous amount of fascinating ideas and an never-ending flow of knowledge that brought me constant straying thoughts. One or more of these straying thoughts, which don’t even have anything to do with fashion themselves, profoundly entered and infected my process of design. I want to create functional clothes in which contain emotions, experiments, visions and lifestyles, things considered to be timelessly valuable. All of these things don’t necessarily have anything to do with the term ‘fashion’, ‘being fashionable’ as well as seasonal fashion trends - the fashion that already has been proved and sells. At that point I no longer see my design as solely ‘fashion design’ anymore, with ‘fashion’ in general meaning, instead, I prefer ‘apparel design’ to call this collection.

Coincidentally, not so long later, I found that method I used in developing this collection have some similarities in philosophy of what people called ‘anti-fashion’. Before that discovery, I already had a concept of ‘the-type-of-fashion-which-does-not-look-likefashion’ which I get inspired and influenced by some of my role models in fashion design such as Belgian designer Martin Margiela or Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto - masterful heroes who once changed the scenario of fashion industry, but when it is named by word, the term can be properly researched and discussed, as that’s what I want to deliver by entering the monumental archive of fashion history and writing this thesis. The reasons I write about ‘anti-fashion’: this term somehow is not used accurately by a lot of people who claim to love or care about fashion, and out there on Internet not so many resources about this term are reliable and informative enough, thus, from what I’ve learned and cultivated during my research process using various resources and references from several experts from fashion industry, culture and anthropology, I’d love to sum up all of these pieces of knowledge, along with some of my own discoveries while developing my personal collection, into a valuable documentation for anyone who cares about the topic, including my curious self; secondly, by completing this thesis, I passionately want to pay my warmest tribute to my beloved people who lead, support and help me on the first steps into my career in the near future.


The thesis contains 2 main parts: knowledges I collected along with some new discoveries around the topic and how it influence my vision in design, especially in how I work it through my graduate collection. During my research, due to scarce resources on the topic, I mainly use resources I found on Internet, in which a documentary called ‘Anti-fashion in the 90s’ by Olivier Nicklaus, a manifesto by trend expert Li Eldelkoort in 2017 on Business of Fashion Voice (#BoFVoice) (videos can be found on Youtube), several articles written by fashion experts and interviews of high-profile designers related to the topic: Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester, Walter Van Beirendonck, Hussein Chalayan, Helmut Lang, Raf Simons, Christopher Lemaire.. , a book about fashion anthropology written by Ted Polhemus ‘Fashion and Anti-fashion’ which wide-opened my eyes with the fact that anti-fashion has existed so much longer than I once thought it does… Besides, I write about how I approach the philosophy of anti-fashion method in fashion design, how it affects my way of working before and after I discovered the term, and personal mental struggling as known as my personal experience when creating and making my 2D sketches into real garments in this collection.



1. definition

ii/ over-

ANTI-FASHION: / ˈænti ˈfæʃən / any fashion that is intentionally contrary to the mainstream, may represent an attitude of indifference or may arise from political or practical goals which make fashion a secondary priority. The term is sometimes even used for styles championed by high-profile designers, when they encourage or create trends that do not follow the mainstream fashion of the time.

We all acknowledge about the famous anti-fashion movement in the 1990s that made fashion never be the same again, however, existence of the term ‘anti-fashion’ was given birth a long time ago, parallel with the birth of the term ‘fashion’ itself, from workwear of primitive and peasant people, military uniforms, classic menswear, permanent body adornments to various types of street styles and traditional clothes from various cultures and sub-cultures throughout the world.

2. examples



attire and aristocrat traditional


The Queen’s coronation gown is traditional, ‘fixed’ and anti-fashion; it was designed to function as a symbol of continuity of monarchy and the British Empire.


A coronation gown is a gown worn by a royal lady becoming a queen at her coronation. The design may vary, but it generally has covered shoulders. A royal robe is generally worn over it. The crown, sceptre and orb complete the attire. Coronation gowns are also worn by queen consorts, although theirs is generally more simple than the elaborate versions worn by queen regnant. “ Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation took place on 2 June 1953. Ordered in October 1952, it took eight months of research, design and workmanship to make the intricate embroidery of her coronation gown. It featured the floral emblems of the countries of the United Kingdom and those of the other states within the Commonwealth of Nations, including the English Tudor rose, Scots thistle, Welsh leek, Irish shamrock, Canadian maple leaf, Australian wattle, New Zealand silver fern, South African protea, Indian lotus flower for India, the Lotus flower of Ceylon, and Pakistan’s wheat, cotton, and jute. The gown, like the Elizabeth’s wedding dress and other notable royal dresses of this period, was designed by Norman Hartnell.It was the Queen’s wish that the coronation dress should be made of satin, like her wedding dress, with accentuation of regal elegance, but with no undue emphasis on shape. The gown now forms part of the Royal Collection.”


Rules governing ceremonial court and aristocratic dress not only reflected power ranking in the premodern world, but also were designed to reaffirm the legal status of royal and aristocratic privilege, and thus to secure the influence of the ruling class. Clothing was precious and expensive and was worn throughout a lifetime - as an idea of ‘anti-fashion’.


folk costumes


of peasants


‘ The tendency of folk costume is not to change grandchildren must wear the costume of their grandfathers ‘. In reality, it does take on some features of current fashion and changes subtly and gradually along the time. Compared to the phenomenon of fashion change, this change is somehow different as eventually the costume remains traditional. “A folk costume (also regional costume, national costume, or traditional garment) expresses an identity through costume, which is usually associated with a geographic area or a period of time in history. It can also indicate social, marital or religious status. If the costume is used to represent the culture or identity of a specific ethnic group, it is usually known as ethnic costume (also ethnic dress, ethnic wear, ethnic clothing, traditional ethnic wear or traditional ethnic garment). Such costumes often come in two forms: one for everyday occasions, the other for traditional festivals and formal wear.”




Most people are familiar with the Hollywood image of the swashbuckling pirate/privateer, dressed in a loose fitting flowing shirt, head bandana, sash, and trousers. But by the time modern film and media came to reflect on the subject, the reality of life at sea from the late 16th to the early 19th century had long passed from human memory. Some of the earliest descriptions of a sea-mans’ dress dates from 55bc, few year after the Roman invasion of Britain. The sails of longboats in the Roman fleet were to be dyed light-blue and their crew were to wear clothing of the same color to match the color of the sea and lessen the chances of the boats being attacked. Sea-fairing crews for King Edward the confessor (1042-1066), wore blue tunics made from raw materials that the men purchased on board, most worked barefoot. Some fifteenth-century sources depict sailors were hooded gowns with wide sleeves that reached to their elbows with slitted hems which made it easier to work aloft. During sixteenth century, the typical male dress comprised a hat, linen shirt, jerkin, breeches, hose, and shoes; the most prevalent foot coverings were either slip-on shoes or ankle boots. Some of these items are still worn today with not much modification or added features to make them more ‘fashionable’.




and uniform

Both are clothing worn for work. They require an adequate provision of durability, safety, organization identity and a standard corporate image for the wearer / the wearer’s organization.

They strictly remain identical and functional rather than having a meaning of being fashionable or solely attractive appearance.


“ In Britain from the mid 19th century until the 1970s, dustmen, coal-men, and the manual laborers known as navvies wore flat caps, corduroy pants, heavy boots and donkey jackets, often with a brightly colored cotton neckerchief to soak up the sweat. Later versions of the donkey jacket came with leather shoulder patches to prevent wear when shouldering a spade or pick. Mill workers in Yorkshire and Lancashire wore a variant of this basic outfit with English clogs. The cuffs of the pants were frequently secured with string, and grandad shirts were worn without a collar to decrease the likelihood of being caught in the steam powered machinery. “


“ Military uniform is the standardized dress worn by members of the armed force and paramilitaries of various nations. Military dress and military styles have gone through great changes over the centuries from colorful and elaborate to extremely utilitarian. Military uniforms in the form of standardized and distinctive dress, intended for identification and display, are typically a sign of organized military forces equipped by a central authority. The utilitarian necessities of war and economic frugality are now the dominant factors in uniform design. Most military forces, however, have developed several different uniform types. � In the 21st century, the style has also made a huge impact on the fashion industry. Workwear has not so just become a style of clothes that has been adopted by the hipster subculture, but a culture and way of life in this particular community. Pompadour haircuts, tattoos, denim jackets, military trench coats, lumberjack flannels, chambray shirts, raw denim, and work boots take part into this workwear style.




Workwear influence in fashion: During the 1980s, workwear such as the donkey jacket and Doc Martens safety bootswere popular street attire for British skinheads, suedeheads, hardcore punks and football hooligans. More recently, Celtic punk groups such as Dropkick Murphyshave adopted aspects of the look such as the flat cap to assert their working class Irish identity.




Military influence in fashion: The military of the world have had an unmistakable impact on fashion. Whether it be the varied terrain, weather encountered, or nature of living in one’s uniform, over the last several hundreds of years these factions have become responsible for pieces that don’t just merely take up real estate in the closet, they are essentials of menswear: neckties, khakis, Ray-ban aviators, trench coats, cardigan sweaters, Dr. Martens, camouflage, pea coats, bomber jackets, the white t-shirt, fishtail parkas, the Wellington boots, desert boots, cargo pants, the Cartier Tank Watch ‌


permanent body



Body modification and ornamentation can be found over the world. Permanent body adornment takes on many forms, such as tattooing, scarification, body piercing, ear spools, earplugs, tooth filling etc. In the simplest terms, “body modification” means to deliberately alter one’s physical appearance, though people usually assume the phrase applies only to such practices as tattooing and piercing or the more esoteric branding and scarification.


They are the deliberate altering of the human anatomy or human physical appearance. It is often done for aesthetics, sexual enhancement, rites of passage, religious beliefs, to display group membership or affiliation, to create body art, for shock value, and as self-expression, among other reasons. Body modification has been around as long as humans have lived, and with its rich and fascinating history, the practice is unlikely to die out anytime soon. Humans will continue to reshape and redefine themselves by modifying their bodies.


These permanent body arts are drastic and traditional methods used in part to hold on to the illusion of absolute social and culture stability.


When it comes to fashion, everybody loves talking about those classic, timeless, and essential pieces. They fit everyone well, they are comfortable and safe, and perhaps make good investments. ‘Timelessness’ in terms of fashion design is also a fascinating phenomenon, as it has a contrary meaning to the term fashion itself. Being by definition a realm of constant transition, fashion is very much about change - a context in which talking about timelessness may sound paradoxical. Richard Sorger, fashion designer and senior lecturer at Middlesex University, notes that

timeless pieces “exist outside our notion of what is ‘fashion’”.

Thus, ‘timelessness’ is commonly used in the fashion slang as an easy phrase to cover various design pieces that have survived decades, surviving the fast-pace of fashion. The Burberry trench coat, the Birkin bag, the Max Mara camel coat 101801 and the Levi's 501 jeans model; these are all frequently referred as ‘timeless’ pieces.



fashion ‘timeless’


Is it simplicity, a hidden complexity, or is it such that stay behind the formulas of a timeless fashion piece? Definitely, the pieces celebrated today as cult objects have not been conceived with a timeless built-in feature. Furthermore, some of them were initially designed for specific purposes, not necessarily related to fashion. Danilo Venturi, Head of Business and Communication Department at Polimoda Florence, believes these designs have to be linked to a specific generation, to a subculture, or a dominant archetype in society. “For instance, Converse All Stars were conceived for playing basketball, but they didn’t become an iconic product until they were adopted the punk movement.” It was the same for Ray Ban Aviators; “They had a medical use in the beginning, protecting your eyes from the sun, but they became the sunglasses for those who wanted to look like rock stars, when real rock stars actually started to use them for protection from the flashing cameras.” As he wrote in his book Luxury Hackers, there must be the “shadow of the future” - “the feeling that a certain product has always been there and it’s impossible to conceive its end”. “Perfect craftsmanship is always appreciated on the garment, old or new”, says Filep Motwary. Celia Stall-Meadows highlights simplicity as a factor. And last but not least, Richard Sorger brings into question

the concept of ‘heirloom pieces’ that can be passed down from mother to daughter, father to son.




Moreover, a lasting design should be highly desired and imbued with emotion. As noted by Filep Motwary, timeless pieces such as Mugler’s jackets, or YSL tuxedos, flatter the body, conveying a sense of empowerment. It’s the same for the Chanel jacket which intended to ease women from the constraint of the wasp-wasted silhouette of the 1950s, or the Diane von Furstenberg wrap-dress described by Vogue as a “sartorial symbol of women’s sexual liberation”. Motwary stresses that “we ought to make things that will be remembered and loved for the emotion they brought to us. The moments we spent wearing them.”


street /



The “street� approach to style and fashion is oftentimes based upon individualism, not simply current fashion trends. Using street style methods, individuals demonstrate their multiple, negotiated identities, in addition to utilizing subcultural and intersecting styles or trends. This, in itself, is a performance, as it creates a space where identities can be explored through the act of dressing.



Street style is generally associated with and taken deep root in youth culture and subculture, often seen in major urban centers. The history of identity and the history of clothing run on two parallel rails. In this connection, street style works as a facilitator of group identity and subcultural cohesion. Since the close of World War II, Western culture has seen a dramatic decline in the significance of the traditional sociocultural divisions such as race, religion, ethnicity, regionalism, nationalism, in defining and limiting personal identity. The Tribe groupings, such as bikers, beats, and teddy boys in the 1950s; mods, Hippies, and Skinheads in the 1960s; headbangers, punks, and b-boys in the 1970s; and goths, new age travelers and ravers in the 1980s got dressed and unusual body decoration as an expression to create a sense of identity ... They all became the symbol and trace of youth cultures, pop culture and an undeniable part of history, particularly fashion history. Street style is an incredibly viral, instant, addictive facet of fashion that’s changed lots of the ways in which fashion gets made and consumed. Its fast characteristic links it also to the term consumerism.

How styles change over time, it also challenges the use of “fashion� in relation to the purchasing and wearing of clothing, as this conceals the complexities of practice.





Personality traits and values that hippies tend to be associated with are “altruism and mysticism, honesty, joy and nonviolence”. As in the beat movement preceding them, and the punk movement that followed soon after, hippie symbols and iconography were purposely borrowed from either “low” or “primitive” cultures, with hippie fashion reflecting a disorderly, often vagrant style. As with other adolescent, white middle-class movements, deviant behavior of the hippies involved challenging the prevailing gender differences of their time: both men and women in the hippie movement wore jeans and maintained long hair, and both genders wore sandals, moccasins or went barefoot. Men often wore beards, while women wore little or no makeup, with many going braless. Hippies often chose brightly colored clothing and wore unusual styles, such as bell-bottom pants, vests, tie-dyed garments, dashikis, peasant blouses, and long, full skirts; non-Western inspired clothing with Native American, Asian, African and Latin American motifs were also popular. Much hippie clothing was self-made in defiance of corporate culture, and hippies often purchased their clothes from flea markets and second-hand shops. Favored accessories for both men and women included Native American jewelry, head scarves, headbands and long beaded necklaces.





- fashion


The roots of the anti-fashion movement can be traced back to the 1990s, when designers started to overtly criticize human obsession with glamour. By definition, the movement stood in opposition to the fashion establishment. It rejected the excess of the 80s, while it has also built a new kind of fashion awareness, cultivated by Martin Margiela and Rei Kawakubo. In fashion theory, the concept of fashion is usually linked to the avant-garde, especially that of the 1990s - when the approach to fashion is growingly intellectual, conceptual, clothes that underwent deconstruction and recycling process become wearable artworks, and fashion shows become fashion performances. The spirit of ‘anti-fashion’ emerged as a rejection and revolt of its time, and the superficiality and excess that fashion was associated with. By its very nature, ‘anti-fashion’ was a post-modern response to the circumstances of both the world and the fashion industry.


iii/ fashion


Does the clear distinction between plain fashion and anti-fashion really exist? We have seen both cross-fertilization and contradiction between style and design, avant-garde and mainstream, fast-fashion and slow-fashion, but have we recognized that thin borderline between them two?

anti anti anti anti

- fashion

1. history As we can see, fashion and anti-fashion share a lifelong love-hate relationship. The concept of anti-fashion is closely linked to the fundamental dynamism of fashion since its early birth. Throughout the history of fashion, it was confirmed obviously with so many examples.

Gabrielle Chanel began with her own anti-fashion movement, creating new style for women based on men attire in 20th century, later became a classic style which was follow by ladies of all generations. Her idea of designing clothes which have no influences of what were considered fashionable at that time is brilliant, and she revolutionized the way women wore clothes in the way that no one expected.



Trousers For Women : Although during the war women often had to wear trousers when working in traditionally male jobs, Chanel played a huge part in accelerating their popularity as a fashion item. While at the society beach resort of Deauville she chose to wear sailor’s pants instead of a swimming costume to avoid exposing herself, and the style spread quickly as her legions of followers emulated her. In the end, the designer regretted how her careless decision affected the course of fashion history. Aged 86 she said: “I came up with them by modesty. From this usage to it becoming a fashion, having 70% of women wearing trousers at evening dinner is quite sad.” The Little Black Dress : It’s hard to imagine a world without black as a foolproof outfit color choice, but before Chanel the color was reserved for funerals and widows in mourning. The fashionable reds, greens and electric blues that her peers dressed in made the designer “feel ill”. “Therese colors are impossible”, she declared. “These women, I’m bloody well going to dress them in black!” In 1926, Vogue published a sketch of her calf-length simple black sheath and labelled it a “frock that all the world would wear”.



Jersey : Chanel was the first designer to use jersey, which at the time was reserved for men underwear. Simple, practical and comfortable, the fabric was the complete antithesis of what fashionable women clothing had previously been: flashy, excessive and based around an uncomfortable corset. This choice of material was also one of necessity: the war had resulted in a short supply of more expensive fabric, and early in her career it was an affordable option to buy in bulk. The Chanel Suit : The designer was one of the first to borrow from menswear for women’s attire when she created her iconic suits. Consisting of a collarless boxy wool jacket with braid trim, fitted sleeves and metallic embellished buttons with accompanying slimline skirt, the outfit was the perfect choice for the post-war woman who was trying to build a career in the male-dominated workplace. The suit was favored by celebrities like Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, and made its mark on history when Jackie Kennedy wore it on the day her husband was assassinated.


During the same period, Italian artist Thayaht designed the Tuta as known as jumpsuits, an utopian outfit inspired by workwear and soon grabbed attention to the Italian elites of the time.


Thayaht was the artist and designer best known for his revolutionary design of the TuTa and his involvement with the Italian Futurist movement. He was a painter, a sculptor, a goldsmith and an inventor: his most brilliant idea was in fact a garment, which in his mind was simple and easy to sew, elegant and economic, very different from the bourgeois stereotype. The jumpsuit was called “Tuta” (in Italian), because of its “T” shape.


Even if jumpsuits were considered for a longtime as a work-wear garment, since the end of the 1960s they became the smartest woman’s theft of a men’s wardrobe. It has changed a lot through times, it has been worn by both sexes in different shapes and different occasions, by artists, singers, actresses, fashion icons, but it always preserves the same simplicity and grace that Thayaht gave it.


The Zoot Suits were first associated with African Americans in urban communities such as Harlem, Chicago, and Detroit but were made popular by jazz musicians in the 1940s, later became a declaration of freedom and self-determination, even rebelliousness of the youth. Garments such as oversize jacket or high-waist, wide-legged, high-cuffed trousers still can be found in many designs in the modern day.



The inventor of the zoot suit is debated, variously attributed to Harold C. Fox, a Chicago clothier, Nathan Elkus, a Detroit retailer, and big band trumpeter Louis Lettes. The suits were especially popular in Harlem during the 1930’s (with the lower class youth) where the ridiculously designed suits were known as “drapes”. They were also popular in the Swing and Jazz scene and Latin youth but their popularity quickly spread to all youth, entertainers, and street thugs. Since the zoot suites required a large amount of materials to manufacture, the U.S. War Production Board classified them as extravagances and stated that the materials used to make them were “wasted materials.” In response, zoot suiters wore them as declarations of freedom in an act of rebellion. This in part contributed to the 1943 Zoot Suit Riots.


Rudi Gernreich’s infamous monokini of the early 60s - the first topless swimsuit ever was also a statement of Anti-fashion, as the designer expressed his vision of liberation ‘freedom - in fashion as well as every other facet of life’ - a symbol of sexual revolution.




The suit’s creator, Rudi Gernreich, was an Austrian -born American fashion designer and early gay activist who had learned about female fashion in his aunt’s dress shop in Vienna. Rudi and his mother fled Austria after its annexation to Nazi Germany, where Hitler had banned nudity, among many other acts. Austrian citizens were advocates of exercising nude, a rejection of the over-civilized world. Gernreich was very much against sexualization of the human body and the notion that the body was essentially shameful, which was reflected prominently in his designs.


Widely censored in the media and renounced from all corners including Vatican officials and the U.S Republicans, who tried to blame the suit on the Democrats’ stance on moral issues. Even the Soviet Union chimed in, calling it barbarianism. Never intended by the designer to be a commercial success, over 3000 monokinis at $24 were sold in New York in the summer of 1964 at leading store like Henri Bendel. The monokini greatly influenced the sexual revolution by emphasizing a woman’s personal freedom of dress, even when her attire was provocative and exposed more skin than had been the norm during the more conservative 1950s. The Peggy Moffitt photograph became a celebrated image of the extremism of 1960s designs and raised the feminist issue of whether both genders should be allowed equal exposure above the waist. In its December 1962 issue, Sports Illustrated declared that Rudi Gernreich had “turned the dancer’s leotard into a swimsuit that frees the body. In the process, he has ripped out the boning and wiring that made American swimsuits seagoing corsets.”


Each phase of avant-garde was initially described as Anti-Fashion - Kawakubo’s frayed clothes in the ‘80s, Westwood’s punk style, McQueen’s subversive shows, Margiela’s repurposed garments or Chalayan’s conceptual multi-functional clothes etc..

anti 68




Vivienne Westwood

In the mid-seventies, this was the de-facto uniform for a disenfranchised generation of British youth. They mocked the government. They listened to the Sex Pistols. And, if they could afford it, they wore Vivienne Westwood. They were Punks.

the true fashion rebel



Born in Derbyshire, Vivienne Isabel Swire led an unassuming existence (picking up the second name Westwood via a brief marriage to her first husband Derek) until she met Malcolm McLaren, who would go on to manage the Sex Pistols. Together they ran the boutique SEX on 430 Kings Road, and birthed a spiritual home for punk fashion that served as a landmark for the emerging subculture in the 70s. Its followers, like the generation rent of today, were disenfranchised and disengaged youth, who were frankly disappointed in a government that they felt didn’t deserve them. The anti-fashion, acted as a two fingers up at a stiff upper lip establishment and a powerful visual representation of the movement. Westwood went on to cement herself within the fashion industry with her and McLaren’s Pirate collection in 1981, their first catwalk show, her 1982-83 Buffalo Girls collection, and the subsequent autumn/winter 83-84 Witches collection, inspired by Keith Haring and the emerging hip hop scene that NYC’s underground spawned. It was these formative years that set up the DNA of the label and gained her worldwide acclaim as a designer. She influenced a generation of her contemporaries, introducing innovative shapes and cuts that broke new ground. Her ideologies, whilst born from her punk roots, resonated with the mainstream, and would go on to underpin her eponymous label for the next 30 years.


“You can wear anything today. In my day you couldn’t. If you walked down the street in full punk, people would turn and watch and look at you.”



Rei Kawakubo’s

The Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo is one of fashion’s most influential designers. Her clothes are provocative and often at odds with prevailing trends. She refused to accept stereotypes in fashion. Although she has been designing collections for over 20 years, Kawakubo happily remains a nemesis to the system and, as a result, has often been labeled ‘anti-fashion’ and her work, unprecedented and different to categorize.


avant-garde in the 80s


In 1981, when Rei Kawakubo brought her first collection to Paris, she was nearly forty and preëminent in Japan but largely unknown in the West. Mugler and Versace were the harbingers of a new moment: of a giddy, truculent materialism embodied, in different guises, by Margaret Thatcher, Madonna, Princess Di, Alexis Carrington, and Jane Fonda. These women were tough and glitzy and on the make without apologies, and so was fashion. When she first showed her range in Paris 1982, her austere, almost monastic, clothes were so different from the colorful creations of the time that her style was dubbed “Hiroshima chic”.

anti 78

She also introduced the now familiar and much imitated “unfinished” look with ripped clothes and exposed seams on wool suits and squarely declared that “what’s inside is more important than the outside”.


Martin Margiela’s


deconstruction fashion.


Martin Margiela first got the fashion world thinking in 1989 with a collection that challenged what luxury could be. He has rarely been photographed, never gives full interviews and always skips the traditional end-of-show bow. However, Belgian-born Martin Margiela remains one of the most influential designers in history; a mysterious rebel that rose to fame by boldly going against the fashion status quo. Applying ‘grunge’ techniques such as deconstruction, recycling and raw finishes, in an intelligent and sleek manner, his ideas provoked shock and intrigue. In a rejection of mass media culture, Margiela became an anonymous design hand and has hardly ever been photographed or interviewed. Working under the collective ‘Maison Martin Margiela’ for over 20 years, Margiela left the label in 2009, however a ‘faceless’ team continue to produce surreal and challenging collections.




Deconstructed: When he started working in early 1980, Martin Margiela went against everything that was considered traditional couture. Inspired by his mother’s deconstruction and reconstruction of furniture, Margiela’s designs often revealed the structure of the garments, intentionally exposing the linings and seams. When faced with a piece of material, Margiela was more likely to start not by sewing, but by destroying.

Oversized and Androgynous: Many Margiela designs give the impression of being ill fitted — the clothes are rarely made to fit a model’s measurements, opting instead for the XXL alternative. His clothes were more often inspired by the rules of architecture and sculpture than by classic tailoring. The avant-garde silhouettes allowed for the clothes to be gender fluid, an aesthetic that has influenced a younger generation of designers and has permeated right through to contemporary street style. Notable amongst Margiela’s disciples is Demna Gvasalia, who actually worked at the brand before launching his own coveted label Vetements.

Strange materials: Martin Margiela was renowned for using unorthodox materials. Over the years, his eclectic mediums have included car seat belts, wigs, baseball gloves and doorknobs. Once, Margiela even dyed his clothes by melting colored ice onto the fabric — his strategies are unique! The designer took the same daring and progressive approach to his fashion shows, with models often wearing masks or blindfolds so that attention was focused purely on their clothes.



The Antwerp 6+1



The Antwerp Six includes Belgium’s six most influential avant-garde fashion designers: Dries Van Noten, Ann Demeulemeester, Dirk Van Saene, Walter Van Beirendonck, Dirk Bikkembergs, and Marina Yee. In the 1980s, they all received their diploma from the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Antwerp. There they learned to create fashion under the supervision of Linda Loppa. At the time of the collective’s creation, the six designers’s work represented a radical breakthrough. Their vision was so different and unusual that it transformed Antwerp into a reputable destination in the fashion world, especially after their participation in the London fashion fair in the late 1980s.




Thereafter, the fashion collective split to work individually, developing each a distinct and unique style and trademarks. Their legacy can still be felt today as they set the example for generations of fashion designers following in their wake, such as Kaat Tilley, Raf Simons, Veronique Branquinho and many others at Flemish academies. Bill Cunningham, fashion photographer for the New York Times, commented on the division of styles in Paris in 1991: “ With half the fashion world in Chanel uniforms, there was bound to be a youthful rebellion. One group of seven Belgian designers has emerged as a force to be reckoned with, and three of them – Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester and Dirk Van Saene – showed collections here this week. The Belgians specialize in turning clothing inside out, highlighting the inner structure and seaming as forms of embellishment proudly worn on the outside.”


Hussein Chalayan

Drawing on themes as disparate as architecture, aerodynamics, space and religion, Chalayan has earned a reputation for being London’s cerebral designer, marked by his unique talent for combining philosophical ideals with wearable clothes. He rose to prominence in the 1990s, heralded by the Guardian’s then-deputy fashion editor Charlie Porter as a “leading light of the reinvigorated London fashion industry”, positioned alongside fellow Central Saint Martins graduate and designer Alexander McQueen.



2. anti-fashion movement

in 90s - 00s In the 1990s, fashion world mirrored the outside world. It was an era of flux and cynicism, part of the culture that was experiencing European integration, the end Iron Curtain, Globalization, War, instability, and the reactionary illness and despair in response. It was dark, desperate and somehow violent. At the core of the anti-fashion movement of the 1990s was this intellectual approach to fashion, a rebellion against the establishment of the current situation, the existing orders and structures of the fashion world in late of the century. In other words, the Anti-fashion arises as a reaction to ‘official’ fashion at that time. By its very nature, Anti-fashion was a post-modern response to the circumstances of both the world and the fashion industry. Anti-fashion did make its drastic movement in the fashion world during this period, started with these remarkable names : Yohji Yamamoto, Rei Kawakubo, Martin Margiela, Ann Demeulemeester, Helmut Lang, Jil Sander, Hussein Chalayan etc..




Yohji Yamamoto, with his characteristic blend of simplicity and elegance, described “anti-fashion” as simply “not following the trends”, and rejecting many of the existing tales of fashion. He calls himself a dressmaker - instead of a fashion designer - who does not walk the main road of fashion and distinctively has his own vision about women and beauty, dedicatedly and silently creates beautiful garments in which the women can feel protective “maybe from men’s eyes or a cold wind”. His aesthetic is absolutely against the flashiness, superficiality and excess that mainstream fashion was associated with. Yohji dressed makeup-less models in flat shoes, messy hair in twisted, unfinished and shocking garments, offering a radically different vision for what beauty meant. He also brought successfully his excellent skill in ‘making-clothes’ into his deconstructed garments that inspire a lot of designers later.


Yohji Yamamoto became internationally renowned as a fashion designer in the early eighties for challenging traditional notions of fashion by designing garments that seemed oversized, unfinished, played with ideas of gender or fabrics not normally used in fashionable attire such as felt or neoprene. Other works revealed Yamamoto’s unusual pattern cutting, knowledge of fashion history and sense of humor. His work is characterized by a frequent and skillful use of black, a color which he describes as “modest and arrogant at the same time”. Central to Yohji Yamamoto’s work are the textiles. “Fabric” he said once “is everything”. Each one of the fabrics used in his collections are made to his specifications by different craftspeople in and around Kyoto in Japan.





S/S 99


Yohji Yamamoto did two wedding-themed collections in the late nineties, each of them transporting. It’s hard to top a runway-spanning bridal hat that required four attendants, each of them carrying bamboo poles, which he showed for Spring 1998, but he managed it the following year with an enchanting show that had models removing one dress, only to reveal another, and then another. With “Here Comes The Bride” playing in the background, a veiled model in a white two-piece suit opened a sequence of breathtakingly beautiful bridal adaptation. The fabric themselves felt well-worn, floating upon the bodies that modeled them. As the show progressed, models started to fling off the gloves that concealed their hands, use tissues pulled from bodices to wipe their mouths, even unzip the white pockets on their crinoline hoop skirt to reveal a practical bridal kit, including flat shoes and a bouquet. “Behind the wedding dress there must be many stories,” he reasoned. Tim Blanks called it “one of the most enchanting fashion shows I’ve seen”. The collection was one that brought audience members to tears as they simultaneously delighted in its wonderful irreverence; a show that combined the spectacle of (anti)-fashion with the ritual pageantry of a wedding. With gender roles both celebrated and subverted, the formality of a wedding swiftly transformed into a flirtatious explosion of joy, it was simultaneously romantically ethereal and charged with subtext; the embodiment of a designer who consistently brings a cerebral beauty to the runway.



Kawakubo took her precision and care of a sculptor to her garments, approaching fashion design almost as if it were a work of fine art. Her modern, feminist sensibilities and rejection of submission to men were even in her line’s name, as Comme Des Garcons translates directly into “like the boys”. The woman that Kawakubo designed for would be “one who is independent, one who is not swayed by what her husband thinks, one who can stand by herself”. Her clothing does not look like anything else: dress can bulge with padding, sleeves can be endlessly long or nonexistent at all… She tossed fashion’s rules in the trash, built her own empire and keeps making radical clothing that stretches our definition of beauty.


Kawakubo’s silhouette had nothing to do with packaging a woman’s body for seduction. Nearly any biped with sufficient aplomb, one thought, might have modeled the clothes, though especially, perhaps, a self-possessed kangaroo, whose narrow shoulders and well-planted, large feet are a Comme des Garçons signature. The palette was monochrome, with a little ash mixed into the soot, and one hears it said that Kawakubo “invented” black — it is one of the “objective achievements” cited by the Harvard school of design when it gave her an Excellence in Design Award, in 2000. What she objectively achieved was the revival of black’s cachet as the color of refusal.

Conventional fashion, and particularly its advertising, is a narrative genre - historical romance at one end of the spectrum and science fiction at the other, with chick lit in between _ and Kawakubo doesn’t have a story line, insisting, not always plausibly, that she works in a vacuum of influence and a tradition of her own creation. “I never intended to start a revolution”, said Kawakubo. “I only came to Paris with the intention of showing what I thought was strong and beautiful. It just so happened that my notion was different from everybody else’s.” Kawakubo ennobled poor materials and humbled rich ones, which were sent off to be reeducated in the same work camp with elastic synthetics and bonded polyester. She crumpled her silks like paper and baked them in the sun; boiled her woolens so that they looked nappy; faded and scrubbed her cottons; bled her dyes; and picked at her threadwork. One of the most mocked pieces from 1982 was a sublimely sorry-looking sweater cratered with holes that she called “Commes des Garcons lace”.





Kawakubo’s most radical challenge to the canons of Western tailoring lay in her cutting. Couturiers before her had experimented with asymmetry in the one-shouldered gown or the diagonal lapel, though they were still working from a balanced pattern with a central axis—the spine. She warped her garments like the sheet of rubber that my high-school physics teacher used to illustrate the curvature of space, and she skewed their seams or closures so that the sides no longer matched. Just because a torso has two arms, she didn’t see any reason that a jacket couldn’t have none or three, of uneven length—amputated and reattached elsewhere on its body. Among the many mutants that she has engineered are a pair of trousers spliced to a skirt; the upper half of a morning coat with a tail of sleazy pink nylon edged in black lace; and her notorious “Dress Meets Body, Body Meets Dress” collection, of 1997—“Quasimodo” to its detractors—which proposed a series of fetching, body-hugging pieces in stretch gingham that were deformed in unsettling places (the back, belly, and shoulders) with bulbous tumors of down. The historian and curator Valerie Steele sees “a kind of violence—even a brutalism—to Rei’s work that made most fashion of the time look innocuous and bourgeois, and from that moment an avant-garde split from the mainstream and hurtled off in its own direction.” Steele was, she adds, “an instant convert.”

“Doing something new doesn’t necessarily have to be beautiful in the eyes of the people who look at it,” ; “The result of doing something new is beautiful. The fact of doing something new and people being moved by it is what’s beautiful.”




Maintain the status quo has never interested Rei Kawakubo. She upset it with outsized clothes that shrouded the body when she made her Paris debut in 1981, and more than a decade and a half later, she was pushing buttons again. Often referred to as the “lumps and bumps” show, it featured tubelike gingham dresses stuffed with lumpen filler that sculpted - some said deformed - a new silhouette. “it’s our job to question convention.”, told the designer. “If we don’t take risks, then who will?”



S/S 97


Both of these Japanese designers revolted against a certain imperialism inherent in French fashion, and western Europe standard of beauty itself.


anti anti anti anti



Ann Demeulemeester, a member of the ‘Antwerp six’ also offered radical visions that left a lasting legacy on the fashion world. She firmly believed in making garment to express individuality, not something to hide behind. With a close attention to detail and use of cutting-edge techniques and materials, Ann Demeulemeester consistently produces pieces that are distinctive and instantly recognizable. She created a highly recognizable fashion uniform for a clan of working women who constitutionally objected to power suits. Her deconstructed suiting, trailing long skirts, and drapey white shirts were functionally elegant and subtly suffused with the indie attitude she continually tested against the principles and her own poetry. She believed that design had no purpose unless it was totally original, and wanted to make lasting garments that could survive the era of excess in fashion.



For Demeulemeester, doing anything other than her highly personal, utterly sincere vision of strong femininity was unthinkable – and she remained financially independent and in control of her own brand until her graceful exit from her company in 2013, publicly stated by a handwritten letter. Throughout her career, the hallmarks of her design remained the same – romantic proportions, experimental fabrics, asymmetric and androgynous cuts – and eventually influenced designers that lacked Demeulemeester’s long-time devotion and commitment to such tropes. At a time when most designers sought to increasingly expand and be everywhere in the world, Demeulemeester was perfectly happy in the one she created for herself in Antwerp – and remained in for over two decades





S/S 97


She presented a dress-focused collection for Spring 1997 that so beautifully combined classicism with asymmetry and nonchalance with elegance, that select pieces ended up in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. “I wanted to create a new silhouette again,” the Belgian designer said, “because I felt so tired of seeing all these women in close-to-the-body clothes.” She set out create a new silhouette that was counter-current to body-con sex appeal. The models emerged in elegantly nonchalant garments shrugged off one shoulder or were cut to resemble classical drapery that felt sensual and romantic. “At the show, Demeulemeester rocked the fashion pack with pounding decibels of Patti Smith’s Because the Night on the soundtrack, bedroom hair on the models, and reams of clothes exquisitely cut to look like they were falling off in a vampy grunge-meets-gangsta way,” wrote Katherine Betts of the asymmetry-heavy show.


Her close friend and contemporary Martin Margiela, got his start working for Jean Paul Gaultier. Coming from modest starting point in the fashion industry, he would cut, sew and paint vintage garments that he sourced himself. He believed in repurposing garments and achieving beauty through the rejected ecology of the fashion industry. With Margiela, everything can be used to make fashion: plastic, wood, ropes etc.. and his unexpected way of making clothes: garments sewn inside out, missing sleeves, raw unfinished hems - all underscored with impeccable tailoring and craftsmanship. In the 90s his shows were radically personal and humanistic expressions about clothes when fashion otherwise seemed estranged from everyday realities. He managed to shake the whole fashion industry up while still remaining almost completely anonymous. The influence of Martin Margiela on today’s fashion world cannot be underestimated: his challenge to the status quo of the fashion system, the status of the designer, model and the concept of the garment itself have changed the industry forever, and the consequences are still widely felt today.



Margiela was obsessed with clothes: how they were constructed, what shape they took, and the ways in which they were sold. His focus was on garments, not the women on which they were shown, and for two consecutive seasons he made do without live models. By looking at the designer through these narratives, one nearly overlooks his multiple silhouette innovations which changed the face of 1990s fashion and created a new concept of the garment in relationship with the body. To revive your memory, here’s a sampler of Margiela’s most game-changing silhouette transformations:



The shoulder: When Margiela arrived on the scene in 1989, his introduction of a narrow-shouldered silhouette, in direct contrast with the hard-bodied, broad-shouldered women of the 1980s, set the tone for the new decade. The shoulder line was slim, and female and male shoulders were sometimes placed over each other in one garment. The focus on the shoulder instead of the waist as a structuring principle is an Eastern design concept which permeates Margiela’s career: much like in the work of Cristobal Balenciaga, the shoulder is the focal point for the silhouette. His narrow shoulder line from 89 morphed into many different shapes over the years, ending with the conical shoulder of his last collections.

Flat garments: In Spring-summer 1998 and Autumn -Winter 1998-99, the Maison Martin Margiela collections had sub-themes with two-dimensional ‘flat’ garments, which were totally flat when not worn, Reminiscent of Japanese origami principles, whereby the flat piece of paper is folded into a 3D object. The garments had displaced sleeves and necklines tilted to the front and were inspired by the shapes of plastic grocery bags. The eerie silhouettes included The ‘Flat’ collection was shown as a video presentation, sharing its location with the Comme des Garçons show of SS 1998.



The woman as living doll: In Summer 1997, the same season as Comme des Garçons’ Body meets Dress collection, Maison Martin Margiela dressed the female body in a Stockmann tailoring dummy, thereby also deconstructing the idea of the ‘ideal female body’ or a standardized body type. By dressing the living body in an inanimate dummy, the shrill contrast between the fetishized female shape and the real body beneath shows how alien this standardized shape is from reality. Like the shoulder motif, the motif of the doll as an idealized version of woman, is a recurring theme in Margiela’s work, which he deconstructs in different ways. You could see it as an answer to the surrealist tradition of fetishized female body parts, but from a more woman-friendly perspective. Similarly, his oversized collection (Italian size 78) from Autumn-winter 2000-01, in which found garments are blown up to a size 78, is a one-size fits all collection to be worn by all kinds of bodies and sizes, since size 78 fits no one and thereby, everyone.



To the uninitiated, at least some of Margiela’s designs may seem confrontationally anarchic, but to know them is to love them. After all, the common ideal that the designer is working against is far from forgiving. Until recently, Margiela showed his designs on “real” people, as those who work in fashion like to describe them, as opposed to professional models. The clothes themselves, meanwhile, have a timeless dignity – a humanity, even – which, in an industry that is often unashamedly fascistic where perceptions of beauty are concerned, is a rarity. Equally unusual, particularly for a conceptually driven designer, is the rich vein of humor that runs through the work. In Margiela’s hands, for example, a feather boa becomes an oversized stuffed boa constrictor; a “fur” coat is crafted in tomato-red Christmas tinsel; and a sequined dress is printed on to white or black jersey – that’s T-shirt material, then. And his creations are never knowingly red-carpet friendly. While Margiela’s aesthetic may not be obviously commercial – rightly or wrongly, this word tends to denote either fast fashion or characterless basics – his clothes sell extremely well, both in his own boutiques and less rarefied department stores, where a customer might pick up a Margiela jacket and buy it, just because it suits them, knowing little, or nothing at all, about the person behind its making, and proving that the customer might be more discerning than all too many would have us believe. Margiela burst on to the Paris fashion scene during the spring/summer 1989 season, and took the establishment by storm. This was not surprising given that his debut came at the end of a decade that exemplified all that was status-driven, and in which designer fashion realized the full potential of its power. This designer turned his hand instead to transforming a leather butcher’s apron into a sinuous evening dress. He ripped apart a vintage tulle ballgown and turned it into a sequence of beautifully cut jackets.



Alexander McQueen once said: "Of course I like Martin Margiela, I'm wearing him now. His clothes are special because of the attention to detail. He thinks about everything, the cuff of a jacket, the construction of an armhole, the height of a shoulder. I think it's very much about cut, proportion and shape, the simplicity of it, the pared down-ness of it. His clothes are modern classics.”

Struggling to understand this fledgling talent, the press labelled his work “deconstruction” – seams were reversed, darts were exposed, loose threads were allowed to hang down like cobwebs, and tights, if there were any, were likely to be worn laddered and over shoes. Then there was the Margiela label, a kick in the teeth to power dressing if ever there was one. It was – and for the main line, still is – a blank, white rectangle, tacked roughly into the clothes. Leave it in place and, to those not in the know, the four large, white stitches disrupting the garment’s surface look like a manufacturer’s error. Remove it and no one will know that it is a designer purchase in the first place.


Although it might easily be argued that Martin Margiela is the godfather of the European avantgarde, to pigeonhole him as anti-establishment would be to misunderstand his profound respect for the craftsmanship and rigor that underpin the design tradition. In 1998, his employment as creative director of womenswear at Hermès confirmed this fact. On the face of it, this was a bizarre and indeed risky collaboration on the part of the France’s oldest and grandest status label. “We consider that, in the case of Hermès, products of quality become status symbols,” the powers that be at Margiela explained at the time. “Our decision to collaborate with Hermès came about more through our love of traditional craftsmanship and expert technical ability, a point of fascination for us since the beginning of our company.” Over the five years that followed, Margiela created quite the most lovely understated collections for Hermès – from loose-fitting masculine tailoring to black crêpe evening dresses that were the height of discreet elegance – all unveiled twice-yearly in the distinctly conservative and ultra-luxurious confines of that label’s rue St-Honoré store.





S/S 97

A/W 97


Margiela’s twin obsessions were dissection and reconstruction. His S/S 97 collection introduced what would become a signature piece, a top that referenced the humble dress form on which it was made. Like dressmaker dummies, Margiela’s linen tops were numbered and lettered. Printed at the bottom were the words “semi couture,” reminding us of the anonymous hands that are involved in the making of any garment. The A/W 97 collection featured new versions of the previous season’s dressmaker-form tops and even more explicit references to the materials and process of clothing construction. There were jackets made of pattern paper, visible basting stitches, and layered looks that were literally pinned together in parts. One-armed and asymmetric garments gave the impression they were half-finished. If wigs mode from old fur coats were a bit outré, sleeveless coats and chunky knits never looked better. “He has influenced a whole generation of designers, and will influence generations to come. The frayed hems, the visible darts, he has invented a whole new vocabulary, a vocabulary of construction. Martin Margiela changed the way we make clothes.” - said Sophia Kokosalaki.




Margiela’s twin obsessions were dissection and reconstruction. His S/S 97 collection introduced what would become a signature piece, a top that referenced the humble dress form on which it was made. Like dressmaker dummies, Margiela’s linen tops were numbered and lettered. Printed at the bottom were the words “semi couture,” reminding us of the anonymous hands that are involved in the making of any garment. The A/W 97 collection featured new versions of the previous season’s dressmaker-form tops and even more explicit references to the materials and process of clothing construction. There were jackets made of pattern paper, visible basting stitches, and layered looks that were literally pinned together in parts. One-armed and asymmetric garments gave the impression they were half-finished. If wigs mode from old fur coats were a bit outré, sleeveless coats and chunky knits never looked better. “He has influenced a whole generation of designers, and will influence generations to come. The frayed hems, the visible darts, he has invented a whole new vocabulary, a vocabulary of construction. Martin Margiela changed the way we make clothes.” - said Sophia Kokosalaki.



To see anti-fashion in its purest form, one has to look no further than Helmut Lang and his minimal brand of anti-fashion. What Helmut did, which was fundamentally different than the majority of his peers, was make his avant-garde design wearable. His main focus, while still being a true innovator, was making clothes that were meant to look good on people. He gave his models layered white cotton tanks, androgynous flat-fronted boy-pants, ideally plain tailored jackets, Crombie coats like their dads wore, the men’s three-button suit, only immaculately redone, and upgraded parkas to throw on. The cold, impersonal nature often associated with these elements was offset with romanticism and a celebration of the body. While sportswear and tech wear are fixture in the fashion industry now, Helmut brought these elements into the conversation over 20 years ago. Helmut’s approach and radical reimagining and rebellion against the conventions of fashion, in addition to his foresight of many of the trends visible today, make him arguably the most contemporarily influential figure to emerge from the beginnings of the anti-fashion movement. His work left an undeniable imprint on contemporary culture and his influence continues to reverberate among the fashion community today.



It was in the early 90s, according to fashion critic Sarah Mower, that Lang began to bring an anti-fashion crowd into the catwalk fold, offering the punks and ravers of the 80s “rites of passage into adulthood” via subtly subversive power dressing that lent “an air of polish to otherwise underground references”. Lang brought an element of dishevelment to the established European scene, as Anna Wintour explained back in 2000: “Helmut came along and at first it was, ‘Wait a moment, what’s this? This is not in the spirit of the mid-80s,’ which was all about opulence. But then everything crashed and fashion reflected that and Helmut was there to take advantage.”


Lang performed the rites of passage into adulthood for all those who had grown up as punks and ravers, people who’s slouched through their youth wearing nothing but T-shirts, jeans, parkas, and sneakers as their tribal badges of honor. Before Helmut, fashion had nothing for this anti-fashion youth-pack to put on. Helmut Lang suited them. He gave them layered white cotton tanks, androgynous flat-fronted boy-pants, ideally plain tailored jackets, Crombie coats like their dad wore, only immaculately redone, and upgraded parkas to throw on as they made their way to work in the streets of New York City. It was a coded disguise, a knowing way for the cool of both sexes to hide their origins in plain sight.

“Unbound by conventional good taste, he is free to experiment”, wrote Cathy Horyn for the Washington Post in 1992. In a catwalk collection where rubber bands were worn as garters, ultra sheer tights came in black and red and loose T-shirt s deferred the bare breasts beneath them, this almost-but-neverquite theatrical play was softened, integrated into something altogether genuine and worn-in. The list of subtle textural tweaks is long: the cut of a bra and pant look is cumbersome while a sheer black body is ever-so-slightly slouchy; a satin mini dress grounded with flats while threadbare linen jersey lends authenticity to a plastic skirt; a look with a black bra beneath a white T-shirt breaks the showy statement of an army of nipple-grazing looks. The notion of Lang’s work as anti-fashion rings particularly true in this collection – there’s a rawness and off-ness that came to define the compellingly bitter irony of the 90s. Changing the landscape of good taste, Lang worked plastic-coated mesh, tightly woven feathers and panels of plastic beading alongside precision-cut crombies, boxy tailoring and suiting that began to fill the offices of the creative industries.




S/S 92


When Jil Sander garnered international acclaim for her minimalist women’s collections in the early 1990s, she was already an established forty-year-old designer with a very clear mindset about women’s clothes. This clarity also marked her design: simple, unadorned garments made of high-quality cloth, and exquisitely tailored and crafted, beyond following or generating trend, but stick to her own aesthetic and value about an image of a classic, grown-up and sleek urban career woman. She was called ‘Queen of less’.



“My roots are in the Bauhaus movement, which applied functional rationality to the design of practical everyday life,” the designer explains. “Streamlined beauty, clear structures, reduction to the essential and free movement. But functional rationality is only the backbone of my work. I always look for contemporary forms of sophistication and sensual simplicity. I want fashion to be liberating in a subtle way… If there is such a thing as my own signature, it lies in a sense of structure, in quiet beauty and serenity.”



The 90s was when things started to click into place. Sander’s basics (the perfect cashmere V-neck, the ultimate white shirt, the go-to pantsuit) tapped into the mood of the moment. Sander was making clothes that women wanted and could wear. Clever modern pieces for intelligent modern women. The 90s was also a time for some of Jil Sander’s most iconic campaigns, created by a team whom Sander respected and would collaborate with throughout her career: Craig McDean, Peter Lindbergh, Joe Mckenna. A seminal campaign was for spring/summer 1996, featuring American model Guinevere van Seenus in barely-there make-up, slicked back hair and wearing a series of crisp monochrome pieces. The pink wallpaper strip works on a number of levels: humor; realism and unexpected elegance.



Hussein Chalayan burst onto the fashion scene in 1993 with his graduate collection ‘The Tangent Flows’, which he buried in his friend’s garden for several months before presenting. Each of his shows were a performance of contemporary art, always contains a narrative, conceptual and mind-blowing. He made garment which can be transformed into another garment, furniture, wireless device etc.. Though Chalayan has often pulled off maneuvers of seemingly fearless risk-taking, he’s always followed them through with technical brilliance. Whether it’s his use of meticulous pattern cutting or more recently with the water-soluble fabrics employed in his S/ S16 collection, he balances concept and execution, philosophy and wearability, theatricality and technicality deftly in equal measure.



Hussein Chalayan and his vision in fashion: Fashion and elegance: “Fashion is a man-made construct and it is a code. Elegance is personal, you have it yourself, and you take it from yourself. It doesn’t necessarily have something to do with what you wear – it has more to do with how you wear it, and how you use your body. It is a behavior as well.” Fashion and style: “To be a designer is one thing, and to have a style is different. It is to do with the character you have in mind when you’re designing: who do you want to wear that thing ? What kind of image of the body, or image of the woman do you want? It’s very much inviewed by who this person is. Is she somebody that is interested in culture and likes fashion as an art for? Or is she somebody who just wants to look sexy and feel empowered in a way? It is one of those things that seem abstract, but you really envisage a character while you do it. And that’s your style.”





Fashion and intellectuality: “Fashion is very much instinctive. It’s a cultural instinctive pursuit. Designers are not, in my opinion, linguistic people, most of the time. They’re not trained like artists, who are able to articulate their thoughts, even though they’re visual people. A lot of designers become visual people because they’re not good at expressing themselves linguistically. If you are designer and you’re able to think critically, you will be seen as ‘intense’, as ‘heavy’, as ‘weirdly undesirable’, because most people in fashion don’t know that code, and the minute that they hear words like ‘discourse’, or ‘perception’, they find it annoying. In a way, their reaction echoes their own insecurity about that kind of conversation.” Conceptual fashion: “I think the term ‘conceptual fashion’ is awful and reductionistic. I am a storyteller, and I create processes, which involve a story, or a way of thinking, or an idea, so that it can help me to design. I think that to avoid the whole processes, just sit down and design a collection would almost be like nirvana. But fashion is also a product: the person who wears it doesn’t need to know what the process is. She can just enjoy the garment. And I think this is why art curators can have a problem with design: they think that because it’s design, it’s functional, it can’t have any artistic value. But actually some design can have more critical thinking than some art. For me, it’s only about ideas. If the idea is good, it can be expressed as a garment or it can be expressed as a film. No matter for me.”






“I feared things going wrong, but the risk was so worth taking,” said Hussein Chalayan shortly after his A/W00 show. If anything qualifies as a risk, it’s transforming a piece of furniture made from wood into a piece of clothing – and all in front of a live audience. That’s what Chalayan did at London Fashion Week in February 2000: he transformed four chair covers and a coffee table into four dresses and a wooden skirt. On a stage that resembled a living room – complete with four chairs, a table, a flat screen television, several vases and pots – the designer presented his collection to press and buyers. This show bordered on a 1970s “happening”: four models wearing grey shift-dresses approached these chairs, removed the covers and then put them onto their bodies. The last model wearing a similar dress delicately stepped into the middle of the table, lifted it up and transformed it into a skirt. Needless to say, the audience broke into rapturous applause. Futurism and minimalism are tropes that have marked Chalayan’s approach to fashion design, and this collection was no exception. Models including Erin O’Connor and Devon Aoki wore simple clothes in a palette of primarily black and tertiary colors. They looked, according to Vogue’s show report, “Like millennial (and amazingly chic) nomads, they wandered the stage in stiff black dresses inspired by Christian Dior.” As for their hair, it was clipped topiary-like into shapes that resembled elaborate fascinators. Chalayan sees the body as a structure around which clothes are designed to “cocoon” – something that took on a very literal meaning during the finale.


3. the rapport between




coolness - the fine line between Those leading fashion are often praised as innovators, rule breakers, and, therefore, rebels, especially ones that chose to go the ‘anti-fashion’ sidewalk instead the main road of the fashion industry. However, even those fashions that seem, at first glance, rebellious, are eventually duplicated for common consumption, and become absorbed into the machine that is the fashion industry. Vivienne Westwood, who arguably had cool credentials as one of the leading figures of punk fashion, abandoned her allegiance when rips, zips and safety pins were adopted by mainstream designers such as Zandra Rhodes. Westwood implicitly acknowledged that the fashion industry drains subcultural styles of their coolness. “It is not cool to be fashionable” says Vanessa Brown. Fashion is an authoritarian industry with a defined hierarchy, which makes proclamations about what is “in” and “out”. In order to be anti-establishment, cool must be anti-fashion. Heath equates cool with “culture jamming”, or removing oneself from the dominant fashion culture. Despite resisting fashion, cool does not seek to be unfashionable. Indeed, it often maintains some form of unconventional relationship with fashion. Cool rejects the authority of trendsetters, being “outside of, or even antagonistic towards, fashion”, and yet often “demonstrates mastery of fashion”. Ironically, that cool people often unintentionally become trendsetters. This can be problematic, because as soon as others try to emulate them, their style is neutralized. It becomes fashion, becomes widespread, and its cool factor diminishes.

anti-fashion and fashion



anti-fashion and mainstream There is a divide within fashion and music which at times is passionately defended. One the one hand you have the ‘mainstream’ – the H&M shopping, Bieber-loving… Then you have anti-fashion people, and those involved in alternative music and style, who will wear anything but the common look of the time. Anti-fashion looked down on those who took great care with their appearance, such as the mohawk leather-clad young men listening to The Sex Pistols. By the 1990s, this manifested in many choosing to wear very plain clothing with no apparent branding. The minimalist white t-shirt and black jeans outfit was adopted by both men and women, challenging gender expectations of the time by making no solid distinction between what women and men wore. In some ways, it moved beyond gender in favor of a shared, androgynous, common look. Plain and androgynous clothing is incredibly common now in most high street stores, helped by the gradual breaking down of gender constraints which we have seen following the rise of feminism. An aimless wander through Topman or H&M will see vast collections of plain clothes present themselves to beady-eyed customers, sitting in harmony alongside band tees and trending styles. Whatever the truth of this is, it is clear that anti-fashion movements is in opposition to the mainstream but equally cannot escape it. At the very least, they depend on the mainstream in order to define themselves. The fact that both of them can be seen in your average shop is a demonstration of how fashion boundaries have been broken down. What was once upon a time considered ‘going against the flow’ is perhaps now following in the other direction, and so it remains to be seen how distinct fashion indicators will be in the decades to come.


fashion in high-street market



Anti-fashion has not influenced fashion in the late 20th century because it is what fashion has become with the breakdown of definition; it is how the system has manifested in order to survive. All fashion is anti-fashion (a reaction against what came before, manifesting in a climate of appropriation) and so all anti-fashion is fashion. As soon as anti-fashion is imitated it has been adopted by fashion, which uses imitation as a signifier of our aspiration, and so it can only exist before others have seen it. In fact, fashion has always appropriated antifashion ideas, promiscuously but not indiscriminately, whenever they suited its appetite for change. The relationship between fashion and anti-fashion is interdependent, as the evolution of fashion is fueled by an anti-fashion, and the anti-fashion arises as a reaction to ‘official’ fashion.



iv/ influence of

anti anti anti anti

- fashion

1. current fashion industry

Nowadays, the legacy of ‘anti-fashion’ is still relevant in a crazy fast-paced fashion industry where people are constantly surrounded by hundreds of images, ideas and mass-produced fashion branding, when every code seems to be broken and it’s just too hard to find something never-seen-before. There are multiple approaches in fashion which manage to break through all these things. One way or another, contemporary fashion designers inherit and succeed what have been done by the pioneers of anti-fashion in the last century and develop it with profound concerns. - Some projects go against the grain of commercial fashion, with conceptual approach to the art of making clothes, evolving fashion trends and usual recipes. ( 1 ) - Striving to provide alternatives that challenge the flatness of the global fashion industry: designers conceive original fabric, alternative techniques and unique pieces. ( 2 ) - There’s also a band of creators developing subversive aesthetics and experimental fashions, which sometimes are accompanied with other forms of making art, re-working garments etc.. ( 3 ) - Another relevant direction is fueled by artists and designers who create crazy, paradoxical accessories or grotesque objects. (4 ) - Another approach that has become increasingly prominent in recent years: slow down and invest in essential design pieces. Those basic, timeless garments have little to do withe the changing nature of fashion. Their value is based on different features: the use of local materials and resources, recycling, traditional cuts and dyeing techniques, high-quality craftsmanship and, of course, the test of time. ( 5 )

Actually, in the realm of fashion, everything ‘new’ is a little bit ‘anti’. Successful designers - Miucia Prada, Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens, Res Kawakubo … etc know how to grow the anti-fashion seed in order to convert it into commercial products.


2. new generation of designers

The pioneers of ‘anti-fashion’ carved a space out for future generations of designers to rebel and innovate against convention and established standards of design presentation, and representation. Designers everywhere co-opted many of the principles of design the pioneers of ‘anti-fashion’ introduced to the world. Everyone in the fashion world is obsessed with the avant-garde, and those who are able to make noise in the oversaturated fashion world.


Raf Simons revolutionized menswear, as he completely refigured the image of what it meant to be masculine in fashion. In revolt against the bronzed, muscular, European look that was everywhere in fashion, Raf began selecting slim, adolescent pale men as his models, taking inspiration from many previous unreferenced cultural spaces, such as youth subculture. His minimalist aesthetics developed during period of working at Jil Sander made really big impact on contemporary fashion industry.



Simons comes from a practical background. His father was a soldier; his mother cleaned houses. ‘‘I don’t have a cultural background. My parents weren’t at all, at all, connected to anything you could call cultured,’’ he says, quietly but emphatically. He was born in Neerpelt, Belgium, close to the border of Holland. The population, he says, was about 8,000. ‘‘In our village there was no cinema, no museum, no gallery, no boutique. It wasn’t there. . . . I had no access to things I clearly felt an attraction to. Art, and also fashion.’’ He originally studied industrial design at a university in Genk for five years, graduating in 1991. ‘‘I got frustrated,’’ he says. ‘‘What I was doing after graduation was furniture.” He had already begun to be enamored of the fashion world, after a friend, the designer Walter Van Beirendonck, took him to Paris to see the work of another young Belgian designer named Martin Margiela. The show, in 1990, took place in a playground; the children played with the models as they strode out. Simons had an immediate emotional connection. ‘‘It was a split second . . . a flash of ‘Ah! It’s not so on the surface, it’s not so glamour and parties.’ It was so different.’’ Simons gets emotional talking about that show even today.



As much as he dutifully accepted the responsibilities that come with the most high-profile job in fashion, with his own line he has grown increasingly introspective. For the past two years, his collections have been intensely personal: One was literally pasted with images of Simons’s past, patch-worked together, juxtaposing a passport image of the designer as a teenager, a photograph of his parents, a Japanese woodcut. (Simons is a cult figure in Japan, where he has two stores.) A later collection, containing long white coats scribbled with graffiti, was inspired by similar garments sported during hazing rituals enacted at colleges in Belgium, like the one Simons attended in the late ’80s. Simons has also forgone the standard runway show. He’s made his audience stand as his models walk by. For his recent fall show, he constructed a twisting maze of wooden flats, press and buyers clustering around them as the models strode past urgently. Simons told me the show was about Martin Margiela, about his memories and connection to the designer that triggered his entry into fashion. Like Margiela, Simons is trying to make us feel something: surprise, shock, maybe even sadness. It isn’t autobiographical. He isn’t telling us what happened at any point in his life, but articulating how he felt, and trying to make us feel the same.

Simons is constantly questioning. He questions in conversation like he questions in his clothes. Slowly, methodically, insistently, frequently cyclically. Why is something this way? Can it be different? Should it be different? Shall we try? Quiet, simple notions, reiterated time and again. Simons seems a little tired as he poses those questions to me; perhaps exhausted with pushing, and provoking, and making great men’s wear while everyone else is coasting along.



The safe middle of the road is not for him – designer Rick Owens is a man of extremes. He comes from an ordinary background, but today he is an icon of the fashion trade. His signature style is loose-fitting with crazy draping; he himself describes it as “a marriage of elegance and slovenliness.”. The work of Rick Owens is the controlled progression of contrasting elements, the archaic and the contemporary are elevated to a spiritual dimension of clothing. The aim of Owens’s revolution is clearly shown in the innovation of menswear: to introduce radical silhouettes into daily life.




Owens was raised as an only child in Porterville, California, by his social worker father, John, and teacher mother, Connie (whose Mexican roots explain his peyote-shamanic mien). His childhood was difficult, he says, “because I was just a smalltown sissy, and that town was very conservative”. With no television allowed at home, Owens developed a fondness for classical music and literature, which further alienated him from his peers. “I guess I felt a little forced,” he says of his cultural hothousing, “but of course I’m grateful now. I’m even grateful for the bullying, because it motivated me.” Once risen, Owens went briefly to art school with ambitions to be a painter, but left because of the cost and learnt pattern-cutting instead. His twenties and thirties were spent living on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, working his trade by day and enthusiastically haunting the local demimonde by night. “It was very druggy and hustlery, and superglamorous.” In a recent book (which Owens will be signing at Selfridges at 6pm on September 13), he recounts “the trash and the glamour of my formative years. It’s this fantastic story, of all of the denizens of the Spotlight Club, this bar  .  .  .”




Using his experience of engineering fabrics, the clothes were unorthodox from the off. “If you’re going to do it, make a difference; do something, exaggerate it. I think it was a reaction to Helmut Lang: the idea that you can be a rebel if the inside lining has a little dangling thing that only you know about, but you get to pass for normal.” Sharp-eyed fashion buyers and sceney locals including Courtney Love adopted Owens’s “glunge” look; he held his first fashion show in 2001. Modestly, Owens characterises his success as being achieved through repetition and consistency: “you say something long enough and people believe you”. And, surprisingly, he cites Giorgio Armani - whose fashion aesthetic is close to a polar opposite of Owens’s - as someone “I’ve always admired. Because he’s very consistent. Very much about beige, and a kind of hard-edged softness, with a lot of 30s in it - which is a decade I’ve always looked to aesthetically.”


Considered for a long time ‘pretty ugly’, the style was picked by Phoebe Philo and reworked in a luxurious way for Celine. Philo is renowned for delivering safe and perfectly designed products, which hold fast against fashion’s perpetual ins and outs. “I hope the clothes are worth it. They’re well made and the fabrics are beautiful. So I believe they will last, as an investment. They’re not something just to be thrown away.” - said Philo.



It is a strong identity constructed through a series of iconic looks, beginning with the flipping midi skirts that appeared alongside her slouchy tailoring in 2011. An item that adheres to everything that Philo is as a designer, the models were covered but not hidden and it was mature but fun. It was the perfect blend of sex and stomp, and presented a simultaneous vulnerability and practicality that caught a lot of attention. Philo’s importance has not only been in her ability to fetishize particular items within a single brand, though; her broader influence on style and attitudes towards the way that women dress has been vast. The way that her work has explored volume and structure genuinely changed the industry’s direction post-early 2000s frippery, offering a sleeker and more assertive wardrobe. It is an aesthetic influence that reveals itself through the high-street where Cos, Zara and Mango all profit massively from the trends that Philo’s Céline have created. Her philosophy of actually making clothes for women to live in carries through to her strong relationship with comfort. She led the resurrection of the much-beloved Stan Smith and began the arguably questionable furkenstock trend, clearly placing enjoyment of the clothing she creates on a par with their visual appeal.

She once said: “I feel like a working designer. I hope I was hired to be that, not a ‘face.’ Also, I entered the industry when this hideous instant - celebrity culture was growing up, where you could be famous for absolutely nothing. I could have gone to every opening and every event, but I so dislike it. It felt like slavery, signing up to a hideous life of gossip columns. I’d rather not.”



Lemaire makes fashion that is suspiciously quiet. Each collection is a rigorous exercise in restraint, precision, and ease. Not that the clothes aren’t interesting—they are. But they lack the spectacle that most designers stir up for attention. Christopher Lemaire and his partner Sarah-Linh Tran start from reality as they are interested in creating good clothes and the ‘intimate’ relationship they have with clothes. They take care a lot of the functionality of clothes and how to improve the comfort to maximum meanwhile bringing poetry into their designs.



More than 20 years since starting his own label, the designer Christophe Lemaire is still relatively unknown; embracing a level of anonymity, he says, is key to his brand. Building his experience alongside Christian Lacroix and Jean Patou as well as Yves Saint Laurent and Thierry Mugler, Lemaire launched his own brand in 1991. “I was never really attracted to the star system and the whole media-obsessed fashion of the 80s. I really think it was something that preserved fashion more than it served it,” he reflects. “Fashion for me is less of this runway culture, when I am designing, the goal is the person who will wear it. I was always more interested in creating refined and creative, wearable fashion than just images.” Modern, workingwomen from the actor Lauren Hutton to the photographer Ewa Rudling are immortalized on the pages of Cheap Chic Update, dissecting personal style and discussing the importance of a good white T-shirt over fad clothing —central to Lemaire’s sartorial philosophy.



Growing up, the young Lemaire was interested in the quality of life objects could bring and was first attracted by industrial design. “For me, style, fashion and clothes were part of a more global interest in the stuff that surrounds us. Now I have rediscovered why I wanted to make fashion and I’m extremely clear about what I want to do.” Lemaire talks of his clothes in a way that relates them to a kind of costume or uniform – costume to be worn for the theatre of life – it is paramount that his collections work in the everyday. “I can only do 50% of the job,” he smiles. “It’s commonsense that style is very much linked to the person who wears the clothes. I never believed that fashion could be some style that you could buy. I can only try being as precise as possible in the way that I make clothes that will underline a personality.”

“When you have beautiful fabric and you reduce it to the maximum essential design — you can mix it and play with it and then you can tell your own story. I don’t believe the designer can tell you which story you can tell.”



Demna’s designs for both Balenciaga and Vetements have a wry, ironic tone and are littered with pop cultural references. His work is always irreverent; it mocks the excess and the superficial triviality of the fashion world all while contributing to it. Like Internet humor, every one of his collections is dripping with irony: DHL and IKEA were chosen as muses because they’re utilitarian brands powered by necessity rather than desirability. They’re not just unfashionable, they’re anti-fashionable. Demna openly admits “it’s ugly, that’s why we like it.” Where fashion once aspired to beauty and aesthetic refinement, he consciously and unapologetically rejects such aspirations, preferring to ironically embrace the ugly instead.



Demna’s vision in fashion: “Authenticity is something very personal, it’s hard to define what it means in general. I think about this now when so much of the information disseminated online has to do with numbers. Finding what appeals to the most people, most of the time. To me, authenticity can be the fabric you choose to make a parka: a military parka is authentic in a khaki washed cotton. If you do it in denim, it’s not authentic. Authenticity is about going back to the original archetype. Every garment I do is based on a garment that already exists; I don’t invent anything new. Well, apart from the legging that turned into a pump that I did recently at Balenciaga and called ‘pantashoe.’ But typically I would use the term ‘authenticity’ to describe something I can associate to something from my past experience.”

“In fashion we speak of ‘DNA,’ and typically that’s been associated with a product: think of Chanel’s tweed suits for example. In fashion that is authenticity; whenever another brand makes a tweed suit, you reference Chanel. But today times are different so it’s more about an approach or a creative message than a specific product. Vetements is known for a certain kind of irony or questioning and this is something I think will stay associated with the brand. Being the mirror of culture. Some years ago I was quoted as saying, ‘It’s ugly, that’s why we like it’ and ever since people think that I’m into ugliness. But it’s a misconception; I never intended to put ugliness on a pedestal. But then again, maybe something I love because it’s old, dirty and has stains on the back, other people would find ugly. To me, it’s more about finding something beautiful in what other people discard as ugly. Anyway, who gets to decide what’s ugly and what’s beautiful?”





“Irony is both about making you smile or laugh, but it can also be quite painful because it asks questions. With irony you can ask questions that are delicate, but there’s a thin line between irony and sarcasm so I have to be careful not to overstep it. I made a bag for my first men’s show at Balenciaga, which was based on the classic Ikea bag. It was ironic but also authentic. I used the blue Ikea bag during my four years as a student in Antwerp, due to its size and its price. Fifty percent of all students had the same bag for the same reasons, When I did it at Balenciaga I recycled leather that the company had on stock from previous collections, and I finished it as a luxury product. I meant it as an ironic gesture in part, taking something really cheap and moving it into the luxury realm. But it’s authentic too, and that’s why it’s been all over the internet by now. People can relate.”


3. Personal experience

My final collection is the result of thoughtfully collecting and researching process in which my experience and inspiration of anti-fashion meet the random things I found in my daily life. The nonchalant, awe-inspiring and cultural-rich aesthetic of anti-fashion fashion made it an irresistible resource of inspiration. I found myself lost in awe while looking at these incredible designs from pioneer designers from the 90s and fascinated at their very-own philosophy on making clothes, how they express their points of view about this crazy fashion world - materialist world while still being innovative, how they immerse their souls into each piece of garments. They made clothes meaningful, the kind of meaning that we can just find in art piece and poetry. The beauty of their clothing is not fully exposed on its appearance but requires a closer look, a deeper dig, and an attentive mind. And certainly, their clothing is functional and long-lasting. All that was what I absolutely want to bring to my designs.

- Final collection 197




anti 199

Working with an anti-fashion mindset while researching and sketching, I avoided to be influenced by current or upcoming trends in mainstream fashion and tried to figure out which element works best on my design and express my idea most efficiently. The main theme was ‘island’. I had no other choice and decided to start working with the word literally. A list of keywords was made with whatever could pop up in my mind, which relates to ‘island’. Maintaining my own aesthetic which is about classic menswear influence, deconstruction, nonchalance, asymmetry and neutral color palette, while still following the given main theme, I finally got my ultimate list of elements I can use for this collection in which contain no further than 10 keywords. From there, I started doing research on various resources, looking for the right images, details, and inspiration. I made up a narrative for my collection which contains all the elements I chose in the same way I do with my sketches - collaging.


Here are all important elements I used in developing ideas for the collection:


Various Sizing - the idea is about a multi-functional item which contain more than one garment, for more than one person to wear. Your body have nothing to do with your clothing sizes. You wear the size you choose in the way you want.


Hallucination - a garment becomes distorted when you wear it in an unusual way - like the reality becomes distorted when you take drugs.


Pirate Costume - how I desperately tried to stick to the given theme. The draping, a rustic feel of wornout materials, the strangely faint choice of coloring on those costumes captivated me though.


Shades of Green - how I desperately tried to stick to the given theme (pt II). I always love green. Any shade of green can make your day brighter, and more positive. Green represents life. Imagine one got lost on an island, he would be grateful if he found this shade in his sight, definitely not the poisonous one.


Plastik - to funk up that poor choice of color on those old pirate costumes. That I chose to accessorize the outfit, as it is something fun which can make a statement, taking inspiration from the cheap colorful plastic toys I had when I was a kid.

3_ Isolation - welcome to adulthood!

- Our planet is an island itself if we 7_ Retro-future consider the space out there were the ocean.






LOOK #01


3 garments - Refreshing thin white cotton shirt with wood buttons, lengthened asymmetric sleeves with cuts on both wrists, accessorized with an attachable blue stripes PJ shorts to create volume for one sleeve. The shorts can be worn as normal PJ shorts. - Two-sided linen apron with embellished details of wild flowers, made with leave-shaped green ribbon and touch of yellow elastic ribbon, held with 2 knots on 2 sides. - Asymmetric pants with one leg in doubled size as the other, folded in front, closed with leather-covered buttons, made with fresco wool material.






#01 211

LOOK #02


3 garments - Draped asymmetric shirt made with light blue striped cotton, accessorized with dark leather-covered buttons, sleeve is inserted with large elastic band. - Asymmetric pleated skirt with embellished details of wild flowers, made with leave-shaped green ribbon and touch of yellow elastic ribbon, worn over cropped flare basic linen pants. - Basic cream linen cropped flare pleated pants.





#02 217

LOOK #03


LOOK #03

2 garments - Fishnet dress with turtle neck, lengthened sleeves in 2 types of material: loose-weaved fabric and elastic netting on white cotton, closed with leather-covered buttons on behind the neck, with green straps attached to side hems. - Thick hemp asymmetric coat with exaggerated shoulders, cotton lining, styled with elastic belt under the breasts. Can be worn as a dress.






#03 223

LOOK #04


3 garments - Babydoll shirt with asymmetrical neckline, made with fresco wool and pleated elastic fabric, embellished with wild flowers details in green and yellow. One sleeve is in cocoon shape and the other one is cut off from a basic shirt and enlarged by 2 sizes, accessorized with a knotted strap in the same fabric. - Cream linen bra with crossed strap and gathered hem line, worn over the shirt. Can be worn alone as an individual item. - Cross draped long skirt with raw hem in cream linen, side zipper.




#04 228



LOOK #05


3 garments - Buttoned deconstructed shirt with blue and striped cotton, lengthened sleeves with cuts. - Flare pants with netting and green strap details, made with fresco wool. - Oversized dress with asymmetric strap in fresco wool, can be worn without button or buttoned.




#05 234

anti anti anti anti

From these 14 garments, one can mix and match up to 10 other looks as they are all complimenting each other in the harmony of colors, textures and shapes. Strongly influenced by the aesthetic of my favorite designer - Martin Margiela, along with his way of making clothing out of practically everything, the idea about ‘multi-functional’ clothing appeared in the middle of my creative process. With a garment, the wearer can use it in several ways with built-in press studs, flexible measurements which range from the smallest to the largest possible to create a unique look. Mainly using traditional and timeless fabric such as linen, poplin, hemp, fresco wool, cotton etc with low price as a statement against low quality and shortlived materials in the same price range that can not provide wearer such a comfort, my collection at first seemed not to be a surprise considering textile utilization, but I use some techniques such as fabric manipulation, embroidery, drapery, netting, material mix-and-match to create another dimension for garments in my collection.


v/ conclusion

Throughout the research process enduring almost 2 months, I learned a lot, and personally I have gone through a lot of emotional conflicts happening in my inner self. It would be a conflict between an ideal image I imagined versus what I could actually achieve in the reality due to some limitations which later I found myself coward and weak having surrendered. Or it would be the uncertainty, insecurity versus the determination of achieving something entirely different with complexity compared to what I’ve done in the past. I’m not even sure if other people can get what I do, whether if they can read my messages or see through the process to comprehend the effort of bringing an illusion into a real image. It might be easier to compromise objectively and make something else more comprehensible, more accessible or prettier, but it just doesn’t sound right to me. They might call it stubbornness, impossibility, failure or whatever it is. But I call it honesty. I found the only solution possible to solve all these conflicts: stay true to my guts and make whatever I wanted to make at the first place. I take comments, advices and critics to be the camera lens that help me to see what others can see, edit some editable things in my work and stick to the values that I put on it from the beginning.


Another thing that I’ve learnt during the process of making this collection is that seeking for help in the right time is gold. I usually do things alone, all by myself because I felt most secured when being in control in every facet of what I’m doing, and bothering people for my own business is such a bad thing to do when it comes to confronting and solving problems, especially when I design or create things. But this time I decided to seek for help. Creating a collection sounds generally easy enough: I researched, gathered ideas and resources, made mood-boards, and sketched them on paper, did what I did for over 3 years since. Then it comes the hardest part: turning the sketches into real 3D clothes and can be worn by human. Honestly I did freak out. Even though I had a habit of imagining as detailed as possible how the patterns would be practically put together and how fabrics would flow and fall on the body when I sketch, there are still a lot of things I never thought of before coming up when I start to work on fabrics and patterns. I figured out that I could not make them all by myself as my experience on pattern-making and sewing is weaker than my imagination. I got generous help from my mentors, a great pattern-maker friend and a local machinist to finish some of the most complicating garments in this collection. I should’ve thanked them much more than I did. Without them I could not accomplish what I’ve done today.


It was a beautiful journey developing this collection, exploring and discovering what I truly love to do by learning from the pioneers of “anti-fashion”, revisiting their archives to analyze how they actually got impacts on shaping the fashion industry in general, and on my visual thinking on a personal level. By digging into the initial relationship between anti-fashion and fashion, the ugly and the beautiful, the timeless and the fashionable, I found the topic extremely appealing to understand profoundly how the fashion industry operates on a professional level. Without the problematic fashion industry that we have today, ‘anti-fashion’ cannot exist as it does. and vice versa, without ‘anti-fashion’ ideas and methods, fashion industry cannot survive as it will finally run out of true originality to generate innovation and ‘newness’- the basis of the existence of the term ‘fashion’. Furthermore, fashion design is not simply about getting inspiration, sketching and creating a piece of visually beautiful clothing out of the paper; it is more important to reflect our own lives and transfer an idea into a piece of garment; to emphasis the process of working both mentally and physically to achieve the final result; to create something that can resist the power of time; to trust one’s instinct and authenticity; to innovate yet appreciate the true form of tradition without considering what is ‘fashionable’. Working with ‘anti-fashion’ mindset in fashion industry is the truest way to stay honest to my instinct, to not be polluted by the problematic nowadays fashion industry, and to create the purest pieces of clothing. We learn the importance of ‘fashion’, but we also learn the importance of putting that term aside to remain original. We don’t need more clothes, we don’t need the same-looking garments again and again, but we do need thoughtful, interesting and original garments that can tell a story or bring an idea, with a quality.


References: 1. Documentary ‘Anti-fashion in the 90s’ by Olivier Nicklaus 2. ‘Manifesto on Anti-fashion’ by Li Eldelkoort (#BoFVoice 2017) 3. ‘Fashion and Anti-fashion’ by Ted Polhemus 4. Articles: -https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/01/fashion/rei-kawakubos-commes-de-garcons.html -http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/exhibitions/yohji-yamamoto/about/ -https://theculturetrip.com/europe/belgium/articles/the-style-guideto-martin-margiela/ -http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/fashion/features/martin-margiela-fashions-invisible-superstar-868562.html -http://1granary.com/interviews/masterminding-the-antwerp-six-geert-bruloot/ -https://www.theguardian.com/fashion/costume-and-culture/2014/ jan/28/1 -http://www.studentnewspaper.org/defying-the-mainstream-with-anti-fashion-and-alternative-styles/ -https://i-d.vice.com/en_au/article/wjdayn/eight-triumphant-90s-minimalist-shows -https://www.notjustalabel.com/editorial/anti-fashion



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Profile for Kei V. (Nguyen-Anh Vu)

Thesis + Graduate Collection Fashion Design BA  

A thesis which contains my research on Anti-fashion and progress of graduate collection development.

Thesis + Graduate Collection Fashion Design BA  

A thesis which contains my research on Anti-fashion and progress of graduate collection development.

Profile for kei.vogue