Sunday, 1 May 2016

advanced style

I remember first encountering Iris Apfel when I watched "Bill Cunningham: New York." I found it interesting that a lot of the women featured in the documentary were older. Fashion is so often associated almost exclusively with youth. It definitely seems at times that the fashion industry fetishises youth, with young models shooting to fame before they have even finished going through puberty. This of course has negative effects, as the ideal of beauty is seen as almost childlike, with women regretting the development of their bodies, the fact that they have reached their adult metabolism and rationalising the fear of ageing. Iris Apfel and the other women in "Advanced Style" show that style and age are in no way mutually exclusive. Style is, above all else, about creativity and confidence. It is about going out into the world in an outfit that no one else is wearing; one that expresses who you really are. The fashion scene in New York is one of the most diverse in the world, but in a city that moves so fast and where so many young people flock to chase their dreams, the older women who help to fuel the city's creativity are too often overlooked.
New York tends to be a hub for wealthy elderly women with collectable wardrobes. If the same phenomena exists in other cities around the world, it is not as clear as it is in New York. Iris Apfel is now 94 years-old.
If you are unfamiliar with her achievements, she has worked for Women's Wear Daily, helped with interior design for nine US Presidents, starred in "Bill Cunningham: New York", "Advanced Style" and, more recently, a documentary dedicated solely to her titled "Iris." All three documentaries are on Netflix and I recommend watching them if you haven't already. In 2005 the Metropolitan Museum of Art curated an exhibition about Iris' style and this year, incongruous as it seems for a 94 year-old, she stars in the latest Citroen commercial. Iris studied Art History at New York University and art school at the University of Wisconsin, showing how she has been artistic from a young age. It was not really until the 21st century that she became a public figure; finding fame through the wardrobe she had spent her life collecting from country's all around the world. Iris' style is hard to define or pin down, but it is most similar to designs by innovative London designers, such as Anya Hindmarch. Hindmarch's FW16 colourful fur coats would not look out of place on Iris. However, Iris' style is not limited to one city or country. Her wardrobe is based on kooky and one off finds from thrift stores and traditional artisans from all over the world. To begin to create my Iris inspired capsule wardrobe, I hunted out old jewellery and looked out for coloured fur coats. I have a bright blue fur coat at home, but I bought this forest green one from Topshop in January. It is so warm and just makes a difference from black. I'm always on the look out for more vintage fur coats though.

Wearing a jacket and shoes from Topshop, thrifted top, necklace from Accessorize, belt from New Look and trousers and socks from M&S.

Iris Apfel's style bleeds into every creative collection in some way. It is more of a philosophy or life style than a trend. Looking at London collections such as Anya Hindmarch, Central Saint Martins and Christopher Kane converted Iris' bold style onto the runway, where it appears much more formal than it would do on the street. It will be exciting to see how much bold pieces are styled once they start featuring in street style photographs.

1, 2, 3, 4: Anya Hindmarch FW16. 5, 6, 7, 8: Iris Apfel. 9, 10: Central Saint Martins FW16. 11, 12: Christopher Kane FW16. 

The most inspiring part of "Advanced Style" was that it showed that age does not always mean submission to the end of life. Instead, it can be a time to live without the inhibitions that held you back in your youth. It means experimenting with colours and jewellery; shapes and textures; unconventional tailoring and structures. I love the idea of dressing without boundaries; of collecting the craziest clothes and making them work so that they stand out whilst also looking chic. I think Iris Apfel's collection is the perfect example of how this works; focusing on quality over quantity so that each piece means something- what is the point in meaningless consumerism anyway? Does the wisdom of age remove you from that? What does age really mean? Considering the constant need for attention on social media, I am interested to see how our generation dresses as we age; whether we will stick with following trends or break away from that and forge our own style paths.

I hope you have a good week. I went to Leeds this weekend for a friend's birthday. We went for a meal at Grove Cafe that has a more extensive vegan and vegetarian menu than I've ever seen, then we went to Soul Train at Mint Warehouse. This week I've got a French deadline, as I do for the next few weeks with first year hand-ins and exams approaching. I know I said I'd try and post once a month, but that's not a set rule. I'll just post when I have the time/feel like it and get properly into posting regular, longer posts over the summer. 

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