December 17, 2013

Boy Meets Girl

A friend of mine inspired this post when she commented on how she would have preferred a gender neutral pronoun in reference to "designer" in my Am I Materialistic? post. This lead to a brief, but interesting, discussion on how most designers in fashion are actually male. My friend was skeptical of my claim, and I don't blame her. It only makes sense that women should be succeeding in an industry that caters so dominantly to other women.

This is a topic that has been flushed out many times over, but as I did some research, I came across truly fascinating stats on Daily Life:
  • While male designers have taken home the Vogue Fashion Fund/CDFA Awards' Womenswear Award 13 out of 18 times, a woman has never won the Menswear Award.
  • The most fast-rising under-30 designer success stories all belong to men.
  • 70% of fashion graduates are female, yet the majority of them don't make it to the top.  High street, fast fashion is comprised proportionally of more women than the luxury fashion sector.

So why is this?  Obviously history of a male-orientated culture has driven this trend, with a lot of today's biggest, most historical labels having been started by men.  Yet, there were still women who made a name for themselves (Coco Chanel, Madame Grès, Elsa Schiaparelli), and the numerous designer changeovers we've had over the years should have evened out the gender disparity by now. Could it be true that men know what we want better than we do?  That we aspire to fashion ourselves into the image men expect of us? Or, as another argument goes, that because men tend to be more extravagant, whereas women tend to be more practical and functional, we just find ourselves more attracted to male designers?

Men don't live the life of a woman, but they go out of their way to understand what it is we want. Their efforts don't always translate into complete success (Christian Louboutin...your shoes are amazing, but goodness, that heel.  Made for walking 5 steps, at most), but when they do, the results are astonishing.  The way I see it, it's not that male designers know us better than we do, but that they give us what we need and want, along with what we didn't know we wanted.  They give us the functionality and female flair that we require, along with the titillating freshness of an outside perspective.  However, I don't believe this is a result of men being more fantastical than women; that's too much of an over-generalization.  The way I see it, women know exactly what it is other women want, which makes them more accessible to the average consumer, and thus, more successful in the realm of fast fashion.

Then the next obvious question is: why aren't women dominating menswear?  Men and fashion have a rocky relationship.  Fashion is something we realistically deal with everyday as we get dressed, but it just isn't "masculine" to care about the way you look.  No matter how much we try to understand men, the way a girl thinks/wants a man should dress isn't always what a man is willing to wear.  Women effortlessly step into androgyny, but that step is more of a leap for men.  However, with male designers actually making menswear more feminine, creating society's new "metrosexual", it's now quite admirable to see a man who puts a little effort into how he looks (girls, rejoice with me).  So whether it's menswear designed by men, or menswear designed by women, it really shouldn't matter moving forward.

Even as I sit here speculating the reason why men dominate the upper echelons of fashion, I'm already a step behind, because women are quickly rising to the top. There's digital-print queen Mary Katrantzou, wildly successful Miuccia Prada, celebrity favourites Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig of Marchesa, and unconventional talents Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, among many, many others.  It won't be long before female designers even out the gender imbalance, and show the world that both men and women have equal chance of making it to the top.

Image Source: Photo 1, 2, 3, 4. 5

December 14, 2013

Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2014

I never used to pay attention to Pre-Fall collections, but they're really starting to grow on me. Spring/Summer is a great season - it's a study in colour, print, gossamer fabric, and lace as far as the eye can see - but there's something about combining Spring/Summer with Fall/Winter to form a sublime mélange of textures that's undeniably fascinating. Chiffon leads gracefully into thick angora, fur mingles with filmy t-shirts, and winterwear is finally done in colour.  The last time I talked about Pre-Fall was in 2012, but let's pick it up again with Burberry Prorsum Pre-Fall 2014.

For me, it's all about texture.  Texture, texture, texture!  Christopher Bailey mixes them so expertly in this collection, creating looks that are truly multi-dimensional.  Fur, leather, name it. Besides incredible cocoon coats, Bailey gives us jacquard cigarette pants in rich emerald tones.  So rich I can taste it.

The aforementioned duality of Pre-Fall is evident in this collection.  When dresses are long-sleeved, they display a plunging neckline.  When dresses are sleeveless, they hit high on the neck.  Thigh-high slits find their place alongside knee-length coats, and colours finally alleviate the mundanity of all-black winterwear.   A lot of the times, it's juxtaposition that makes fashion so intriguing, and Pre-Fall is the perfect embodiment of this allure.

See the full collection here.

Note: Just wanted to give a shout-out to my Secret Santa for the thoughtful gift - a phone holder in the shape of a high heel...with a red sole!  Perfection.  I've always considered Red-Soled Fashionista as simply the name of my blog, but now I realize in some ways people see me as Red-Soled Fashionista. I am Red-Soled Fashionista.  Truly, I can never say this enough: thank you everyone for your support.  Much love!    

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