Thursday, January 16, 2020

BEAUTY: Clothing--Phipps

Last stop: Paris. All disembark.

And for our first outing of Fashion Week in Paris, let's look at a cute 2020-2021 Fall Winter collection by Spencer Phipps.

I always love it when designers use something unexpected for their inspiration: an artist or author or performer I had not heard of, a place I was unfamiliar with, or maybe a mash-up of people, places, and things resulting in a new vision or way of seeing a topic via a clothing collection (yes, it happens). But I have to say, Phipps' inspiration for his "Treehugger: Tales of the Forest" show really gave me pause...or paws as it were. He looked to vintage images of the American pop culture figure Smokey Bear! It is unique, unexpected, clever, and a bit charmingly naïve. The U.S. Forest Service worked with Phipps and provided him with 75 years worth of graphic images of good ol' Smokey to use as he saw fit. And the results, like I said, are charming.

We see Smokey's kind face looking out at us from sweatshirts, tee shirts, and sweaters (I actually really love the sweater in the sixth image). A genuine and early proponent of sustainability in clothing, Phipps sourced cloth in northern England and used Steiff materials for sweatshirts and embellishment, for example on the lapel of a suit jacket. Phipps said, "It’s biodegradable, very artisanal, and it has a luxury appeal. It’s not faux fur made from plastics. It’s a more traditional way of working." Steiff is of course the toy manufacturer who, since 1880, has been making stuffed animals, particularly Teddy Bears (hee hee, see what he has done here?) from mohair, alpaca, cashmere, 100 percent cotton velvet, and 100 percent wool felt.

Models--many of whom were "bears" in the gay vernacular, but also one authentic lumberjack by trade (!)--were wrapped in camp blankets and carried walking sticks. The show looks fun and the clothes look like fun too. A plush, Steiff pull over sweater? Yes thank you!

Of course the more sobering connection is not light of climate catastrophe, ongoing droughts, increased storm activity, and the fact that a chunk of Australia the size of Texas has burned--and continues to do so--is poignant. Indeed, only WE can prevent forest fires. That is if your government and reckless, empty-headed leaders even believe that anything is on fire.

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