“Fashion doesn’t have to be superficial” Interview with Julia Napoleon Ka

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“I think it did have a reputation of a rough place, but I feel like creativity has always lived in Glasgow.” These are the words Flint, one of the Glasgow School of Art students used to describe his school in the 2017 iD Magazine documentary. Known all over the world for incredibly high standards, attention to detail and eco-friendly approach, Glasgow School of Art is definitely a place filled with ideas, inspiration, and creativity. I think most people would definitely agree with Flint’s statement. In Glasgow, you can walk into a bar on Sauchiehall Street and see the upcoming band playing a gig, hear buskers around every corner, or pop into the CCA to see an independent film with your friends, rather than yet another LEGO movie in a mainstream cinema chain. Despite the big appreciation for music and cinema in Glasgow, its captivating fashion scene remains a bit of a niche. I caught up with Julia Knie, the second-year fashion student at the GSA to ask her more about that. After being introduced to her fellow students and the studio in which she spends long hours working on different projects, I was impressed by the hectic atmosphere and the amount of effort they put into their course. Click below to listen to the interview.

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The Glasgow School of Art fashion show

The Glasgow School of Art is without a doubt one of the most renowned and respected university-level institutions for future creatives in the country. It seems to be impossible to even read an article or watch a video about the city that wouldn’t include some information about the school. The students usually describe the place as a free, creative space, that despite being hard to get into, motivates the students to express their ideas and provides them with all the required skills. In the 2017 documentary created by i-D Magazine, one of the Fashion and Textile students said:“I think it did have a reputation of, maybe perhaps, a rough area, but I feel like creativity has always lived in Glasgow”.

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Recently I was provided with a chance to attend their annual fashion show. As a person deeply interested in fashion, not only from the perspective of business and media but also from its often forgotten niche and artistic side, I felt excited to finally see the real outcome of students’ work. I arrived at the venue quite early, had a quick look at the posters and leaflets laying everywhere around me, then had a nice quick chat with two students in the gender-neutral toilets.“My friend worked so hard for this”, one of them told me.

The show, which seemed like it was almost sold-out, started with a quick presentation of the second year students and the theme of White Shirt/Black Silhouette. In total, twelve students presented their work which for me concentrated on deconstruction and playing with shapes. It’s a very popular approach to fashion design in art schools. After a short presentation of second-year students, over thirty designers of third-year Fashion and Textiles presented three outfits each. The work of each of them was categorized as either Embroidery, Fashion, Print, Knit or Weave. It wasn’t hard to notice the source of inspiration in some of the work presented that day. Print students impressed me the most, with some of the designs including a true WOW-factor. Colorful and vibrant outfits, simple in their form, like a set of total-printed shorts and a shirt put together with a pair of plain white trainers reminded me of designers like Jeremy Scott from the brand Moschino or current things we can see at Prada.

After the show, I caught up with one of the students – Kelly Sloan, whose work concentrated on Embroidery at its very best. After Kelly told me she came to Glasgow School of Art straight from college, I finally realised the phenomenon of the famous school. A goal-focused, hard-working environment of people who are being taught how to embrace their creative visions by staying true to themselves.“For me, I definitely think it’s colour and texture that inspires me the most” Kelly told me after the show.“Whether it being on a building or within a random object, I always seem to be drawn to these elements. These elements also help me develop my further as I begin to look closely and focus on these different qualities”.

As I have mentioned before, different influences and designers of inspiration could be noticed within Kelly’s work. It’s important to know your path and direction at the beginning of any creative career. I asked Kelly to tell me a bit about artists and designers that inspired her designs.“I am inspired by different designers for each project I’m presented with. But if we’re talking fashion show, then avant-garde was a huge inspiration as my goal was to showcase large and intense fashion pieces. Viktor & Rolf were also a prominent inspiration for my fashion show garments as I’m a huge fan of the scale and silhouette of their collections.”

In the i-D Magazine documentary about Glasgow which I mentioned above, we can hear about the hard-working environment and the amount of effort students of the school need to put in to finish all the required tasks. I decided to ask Kelly about this as well.“[The Glasgow School of Art is] Extremely hard working!” she told me without hesitation.“As I went straight into the third year at GSA with a direct entry from college, I wasn’t aware of the workload at The School of Art and the thing that’s struck me the most was the work ethic. Most days you’re in from 10 AM until 10 PM and that’s just the complete norm for everyone to be working those hours in order to get stuff done.”

There is no doubt that for many people, fashion is still seen as wearing crazy outfits on a catwalk and selling underdesigned garments for way too much money. I finished my conversation with Kelly by asking her: What would you like the readers to know about creating a collection and putting on a fashion show? Just so they can understand your position better…”.After a short while, Kelly replied: “Fashion industry is so huge that I think it can be difficult for designers to get their name out there and be known [by a larger audience]. I think my biggest goal is for my work to be noticed and recognized for its style, really just to be successful with selling my creations to a large crowd and be able to make a living from something I love to do so much.”

Follow Kelly Sloan on Instagram – @sloankel and her portfolio account @ksloantextiles

Customer profiles of major luxury brands

I have no intention to offend anyone, make fun of certain people or judge other people’s taste in fashion. The post has been written in a humorous way and should be treated as a joke. 

Chanel

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I decided to kick off with a big one. The iconic french womenswear brand is known for its expensive handbags, iconic perfumes, and the legendary double C logo. Chanel is associated with elegance and style, the highest spheres of French chic. Chanel Classic Flap is one of the most wanted bags on Earth and currently costs around five thousand pounds.

We can often see middle-aged women with lip fillers running around shops like Zara, looking for tweedy jackets and tight black dresses to go with their favourite accessory – Chanel brooch (the only one they can truly afford). After a long day in the office, the subject prefers to stay home, put on a silky pajama and search for used Chanel bags on eBay, hoping to find something in good condition and for not more than three grand.  The kids of the subject stay in the living room with their father while the bag hunt is taking place upstairs, on the marketing agency’s MacBook Air.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: heels, jeans or tight trousers, casual top, blazer, brooch (accessory).

Louis Vuitton

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LV is the easiest one. The LV girl knows exactly what she wants. She’s a high-maintenance work of art, like a woman from a Caravaggio painting, but in flip-flops. The LV queen loves a good tan, good nails, shopping with her boyfriend, posting pictures from days spent on shopping with her boyfriend etc. If the day out in the shopping centre happens in the winter, the subject loves to wear furry flip-flops and Canada Goose jacket to go with her Neverfull bag. She would never pay 600 quid for a scarf or 3000 for a jacket, but Neverfull, Speedy Bag, and a zip-around LV wallet are must-haves.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: flip-flops(preferably furry, but Nike is ok), leggings, Canada Goose jacket, a boyfriend(accessory)

Saint Laurent

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The favourite brand of all the skinny, dehydrated, anxious and substance-abusing gay boys. The typical Saint Laurent customer is in his twenties, over 6’0 ft tall, severely underweight, has black spots under his eyes from not sleeping and smokes a lot of cigarettes. His favourite colour is black, he hates big logos and tacky outfits. The subject’s favourite drink is iced coffee and food is cigarette smoke. Often wears Chelsea boots but distressed trainers are also ok.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: Chelsea boots or distressed trainers, black washed out skinny jeans, t-shirt or old flannel shirt, baseball or leather jacket, a pack of cigarettes(accessory), sunglasses(accessory), iced coffee(accessory).

Valentino

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Valentino has tried everything to sell their products. From putting golden studs on heels and bags to tacky VLTN logo on t-shirts/sweatshirts/bumbags/backpacks/fucking everything. It’s a brand for people with no specific taste, who just want to have a big logo written all over their faces. Gym boys in ripped skinny jeans wear Valentino Rockrunners, together with a puffer jacket, preferably Moncler. Valentino customers tend to show off their money in bars, buy everyone drinks hoping to get sex/attention. At the same time, girls wearing Valentino act like some Spanish princesses, in red gowns, red lipstick, with studded bags.

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: Valentino rockrunners, tight ripped jeans, muscle fit jumper, puffer jacket.

Balenciaga

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Let’s be edgy. Let’s wear trainers with three soles that weight five stone, parachute cargo trousers, and old vinyl tops. Let’s shave our heads, start carrying an IKEA bag everywhere and pretend socks are shoes.

Balenciaga is a specific brand. Its intention was to recreate what Maison Martin Margiela had done in the past – an avant-garde but mainstream approach to fashion. Then something went wrong(or right? aren’t sales what really matters?) and all the Louis Vuitton girls got attracted to it. Balenciaga kind of inspires us to experience the underground culture, so here we go: raving, Berghein, Berlin, leather, pills, shaved heads, IKEA…

Subject’s favourite daily outfit: Balenciaga Triple S trainers, Cargo trousers, loose-fit top, vintage jacket, earrings, a lot of Instagram followers(accessory).

 

 

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Gucci or Prada? What are the differences between two Italian fashion giants?

“It’s time for this brand to tell another story.” Said Alessandro Michele, Gucci’s current creative director during his interview for the New York Times. Charismatic man that seems like Gandalf or Dumbledore mixed with an impressionist artist, just like Monet, paints his dreamy, colourful and bohemian visions on the canvas of current fashion world. At the same time, Miuccia Prada, 68-year old granddaughter of back then just a luggage company’s founder Mario Prada, sends legions of serious-looking boys and girls down the runway in their nylon jumpsuits and futuristic sneakers.

“I left home at 18, which is very strange for Italians because we’re very attached to our families(…)” said former Givenchy creative director Riccardo Tisci. This statement really makes sense when looking at big Italian fashion houses that still rule the world today. Prada is one of the brands that kept their business in the family, without any external directors being involved. Founded as a luggage company by Mario Prada in 1913, eventually ended up in his granddaughter’s hands in 1978. Ever since then Prada company kept on changing and evolving, at the same time staying loyal to its unique aesthetic.

That has not always been the case with Gucci though. Since the death of the company’s founder in 1953 the brand has gone through many creative directors, including Tom Ford himself. Despite being one of the most important names in fashion, Gucci changed its vibe many times in the past, most recently transforming from kitschy, stereotypically luxurious designs to dreamy, nature-inspired pop story with a royal vintage finish.

Prada

Unlike most Italian brands, Prada’s style is NOT about obvious sexiness. While Donatella Versace’s team throws another tight, silky red dress with golden hardware at some terrified Eastern European model and yells: wear it!!! Be a strrrrrong woman, Prada keeps doing her thing. Brand’s collections often include blacks, whites and beiges, as well as futuristic shapes and synthetic fabrics. It’s Miuccia Prada that started using military quality grade nylon to produce bags, in order to revolutionise the way we look at luxury.

Mrs Prada admits disliking snobbery. Most of her designs don’t include an obvious reference to the brand’s logo. At the same time though, you can’t walk past a person wearing something Gucci, without thinking: “Oh, wow, isn’t that Gucci that belt over there? I’m such a poor fuck”. Insects, butterflies, red snakes, cartoon ghosts, GG monogram… there are so many symbols that scream Gucci immediately, while at the same time, Prada is more about reversed snobbery, making luxury recognisable for only those who belong to the so-called elite and know the specific aesthetics.

Picture of Miuccia Prada

Because of non-aggressive branding, some interestingly themed designs Prada comes up with every season often get copied by high street brands without the general public noticing the similarities. For example, Zara’s current collection which features comic book pages printed on garments such as shirts and tops is a direct copy of Prada spring/summer 2018 collection.

Prada:

Zara:

I am not saying Gucci doesn’t get copied. It does, at least twice more often. But general, Zara and H&M consuming public is more aware of how Gucci stuff looks like, while more old school luxury stays, well, old school, that actually stands for: unknown.

Unlike the boy who went to the moon and never came back, I mean Alessandro Michele, Miuccia Prada doesn’t consider fashion a form of art. “My job is to sell,” she says. And, well, she does sell a lot. Despite her often impractical or just pure strange pieces, Miuccia’s net worth is currently 6.8 billion dollars, which makes her the richest female designer alive.

Gucci

The man who brought WAG’s favourite brand back to life is Alessandro Michele. At the beginning of his journey with Gucci, Michele was asked to design a replacement ready to wear collection in just five days.

He hasn’t been creating for Gucci for long, but already managed to come up with brand’s most recognisable image so far, and I’m not afraid to say that. And come on, his work helped him with making friends with Jared Leto and Lana Del Rey.

Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele

Despite being amazing at sales and designing wallets every gal and lad want, from Portsmouth to Stirling, Alessandro is responsible of some weird phenomenon, something I call high fashion appropriation.

Current Gucci is like a smoothie made of The Great Gatsby, fantasy stuff like World of Warcraft, 17th century’s aristocratic style, Rae Sremmurd, Supreme and a headache. From already iconic pieces like Ace sneakers or t-shirts with a fake logo to more extravagant outerwear and colourful knitwear. Alessandro Michele’s usage of colours is like a village girl on the prom night – good intentions, diamond heart, trying her best, excited and passionate… but the final effect – not necessarily good.

Gucci’s policy when it comes to brand reception is completely different from Prada’s. For them, the more people talk the better. Even if those people are not real customers. Hip hop kids? Let’s go! Gucci Gang? Whatever that means! Belgian hipsters hungry for some dope specs and green Alice in Wonderland wool coat? Let’s give them that? Rappers wanting to look like they just shot 5 people outside their mansion? Why not!

Don’t get me wrong. Michele is a genius of his kind that makes pretty things and most importantly – does his job very well. One word: revenue.

…And one more thing, guys:

As this post is currently the most popular on here, I would like to take a moment to ask you to check out the other ones as well. I don’t write often, only when I have something interesting to say about music, fashion, writing, etc. You can check out the other posts by going back to the home page.

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Many thanks!

Tom