Sunday, January 11, 2015

BEAUTY: Clothing--KTZ

One of the things I find so fascinating and fulfilling to see during the shows is what designers look to for inspiration. We often see art, artists, historical figures, exotic places, and music as a springboard for a fertile imagination. But the single muse that seems to be more constant than others is the cinema.

For the '15-'16 Fall-Winter show at London Collections: Men, Marjan Pejoski at KTZ looked to the visual vernacular Kubrick employed in his film adaptation of Anthony Burgess' 1962 dystopian novella "A Clockwork Orange" starring Malcolm McDowell as the main character, Alex. Many elements of the film are referenced directly or indirectly. On the models, we see braces hanging down, leather bowler hats reminiscent of the bowlers worn by Alex and his gang, and, generally speaking, a black (and gray) and white color palette. It is easy to see how Kubrick's costume choices influenced this collection especially when one looks at the footwear and sees military, stomping boots or versions of Doc Martens on steroids, all references to "the old ultra-violence," a kind of senseless destruction and torture practiced by many in this dystopian world. Indirectly, we have on coats and jackets pixellated images of Lenin, Mao, and Marx done in what seems to be beadwork, and which refers to an encompassing sense both in the written and filmed versions of the story that the society in which Alex lives is either some form of Communism or perhaps a failed Socialist state that is evolving into Fascism--all set against a Soviet-era style poverty and bleakness (in the film, we see Soviet-era propaganda-style graphics and posters). Even the slang used by Alex and his friends is a kind of rhyming dialect based on Russian words (друг or drook means friend, and Alex considers his fellow gang members his droogs).

These pixellated images and patches with the phrases "Innocence," Generation," "Last Game," and "Violence" take the place of the usual indecipherable verbage on a typical KTZ piece. But the pixellated images get blown up into images that cover jackets and pants, creating a portrait that needs to be seen through squinted eyes to be recognized: an image of Malcolm McDowell from the Kubrick film, and a portrait of Beethoven, the classical composer adored like a rock star by Alex in the story. A raincoat (carried with umbrellas to reference the sequence where the gang beats a homeless man while singing "Singin' In The Rain") and a shaved fur overcoat sport the same words in the same "Clockwork Orange" font seen on the walls at the Milk Bar. (If you've not seen it, make an effort to see "A Clockwork Orange," one of Kubrick's many masterpieces.)

It is a risky choice to base a collection on such a book/film, not because of the source material, but for the fact that the collection ends up feeling extremely aggressive. Maybe the world has had enough aggression, especially considering the events of the last many days in Europe. But then maybe people are feeling mobilized and ready to fight back. Perhaps, for those of an artistic, intellectual bent, these pieces could function as a sort of armour...a mirror. It's a much harder, more brittle world than when the book and film were created...

And for those who have yet to see "A Clockwork Orange," here are some images from Kubrick's film for comparison:

1 comment:

Caroline said...

This collection is fascinating. I love tailored military shapes anyway but especially in context here with a flamboyant and self-aware amount of detailing. Very cool.