Sunday, February 28, 2010

Who am I talking to

Thinking about all I have been researching and discovering lately, I am a little confused as to who I am trying to talk to.

Is is Anna Wintour / Vogue / young women / all women / the French / marketing personnel / advertising agencies / visual communication designers?

I feel as though I have identified many issues- or I am at least realizing that there are many- within the world of fashion and the influence it has on our society and the ways in which we define beauty.

What can I do, and who can I talk to? I need to identify all the possible modes of communication and all the possible audiences...

With these lists, I need to figure out what I would like to do and who I would like to talk to?

Looking at all of this I can then determine what I should say and who I should communicate to in order to inspire change within our society.

This is now the challenge.

Although intimidating in some regard, I am looking forward to the possibility to change how we think about, understand and define beauty...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thinking thoughts

What is necessary to shepherd the idea of the "unique"?

I'm interested in changing the ways we think about fashion today.

How can I share the idea of thinking of clothing as costume, not as identity—and ourselves as the costume designer, not as the courtiers/bourgeois who simply mirror the monarchy?

It is a new idea of freedom; freedom from the idea that we have to conform to become beautiful.

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So, fashion is not bad. It has just become distorted through the generated perceptions. Although fashion is ingrained within our society, it is possible to change our perspective. Let's shepherd the 'unique'!

BEAUTY IS NOT LOOKING LIKE EVERYONE ELSE, IT IS LOOKING LIKE YOURSELF.

{Now, the challenge is to bring this perspective into our society... any suggestions, friends?}

Finding identity and remembering individuality

The fashion industry is not bad entirely, yet as I further my research, I am realizing that it is built upon perceptions of power.

Those at the top have effectively created the image that they are in control—they look to one another for direction, validating their positions, and we, the bourgeois individuals of society, also look to them, furthering their influential role within our society by validating their aristocratic power.

Something needs to change, and I believe it is our perception of the Industry.

Let's stop. Just for a moment and look around.

How can we encourage change, or curate a new way of thinking?

I believe we need to:
1. LOOK AT THE SYSTEM
-Fashion is like a current; it's always changing.
-Do we follow it's movement?
-I do, and many of us are easily swept away by it.

2. RECOGNIZE CLOTHING IS A COSTUME
-We are not obligated to look a certain way.
-We are the lead character in our story, so we do have a choice.
-We are also the costume designer, so there are no strict limitations.

3. EXERT OUR OPINIONS—OUR VOICE
-The exerted opinions of those within the high ranks of the Industry dictate what's acceptable
-It is a monarchy, not a dictatorship
-We have the freedom to choose

4. APPRECIATE THE GENUINE
-We have the capability to optimize fashions for humans
-We lost the appreciation for creativity and became consumed with efficiency and productivity
-Images of others filled our society and we began to compare ourselves

5. BREAK THE MIRROR
-Once we gained the ability for mass-production we became obsessed with the ability to copy
-We stopped being individual and began to look to the aristocrats to dictate what we wore
-It is time to change and stop striving to look like the reflections and visions of others

Monday, February 22, 2010

Proposal—hopefully not too abstract

Visual Communication and the Perception Beauty in our Society: A Paradigm of Vogue and the French Court of Louis XIV

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The perception of beauty within our society is influenced by a variety of external sources. A result of advertising, marketing, and the communication of messages through visual imagery, the fashion industry has largely developed the psychological understandings of beauty that we adhere to today. The power that is being exerted by the industry upon our society has direct parallels to the structure and culture of the French Court in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. During his reign, the influence of King Louis XIV was felt, not only within the French Court, but also through reverberations amongst the European nations. This assumption of authority quickly led to King Louis XIV’s recognition as the dominant monarch of the World of Fashion. Looking to the King’s court as a model reveals that fashion has had an explicit role in the development of culture and national identity. By recognizing the influence that one man had on the external identity of Europeans, we can use the French court to develop a diagrammatic framework to understand the system of the fashion industry today and its influence upon our modern society. Through visual exploration and analysis I will reveal the ways in which our culture is largely developed by the opinions of those governing the World of Fashion today. An exploration into the power of exerted influence upon societal perceptions, I will use design to visually explain the system of fashion. Within this framework I will draw parallels between the French Court, led by Louis XIV, and the fashion industry in its current existence.

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This is very exciting. I have just applied for the UW Undergraduate Research Symposium, and this is my official 'Abstract Proposal'. I love the name, truly!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Confession

On Wednesday afternoon, I bought jeans that are not baggy.

I bought jeans that fit.

[...and I like them!]

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Here's what happened.

I went to Buffalo Exchange, and just thought I would search their jean section. Unexpectedly, I happened upon two pairs that actually fit.

I have bought into the societal norm of women's fashion, and am now an individual who wears jeans that are form-fitting.

Was my proclamation of wearing baggy jeans one that was out of frustration for my inability to actually find jeans that fit? Was I wanting to "stick it to the man" of fashion?

This is a mini-case study about the psychology of fashion + individuals in the context of societal trends and it has me analyzing the structure of the French Court from the position of the courtiers, and how they longed to fit-in with the acceptable fashions. Would I have strived to fit-in, or been one who was in revolt?

These are things I am pondering...

It is good to finally be honest with you all though.

Fashion frenzy; confusion, then clarity, now...

All this study of fashion is making me crazy.

I thought my identity was surfacing, but plunging into this world discussing identity, beauty and clothes has me drowning.

I went on a date last night, and tried on at least 5 different assemblages of my latest thrift store finds, and I just ended up in a tangle of material...

My roommate, an innocent bystander in my flurry of confusion, just laughed at me. I was desperate for someone's opinion, and asked her if I looked funny in my patterned skirt, tights and cowboy boots. Her response, simple, yet profound in my opinion, was that what ever I chose to wear, honestly did not make a difference.

"The thing is, it really doesn't matter."

WHAT. Oh, yes. But of course! I had already determined this. I don't care what people think anymore. That's right. I was "free" from that... remember Anna, I had suggested that you let Vogue know.

Ha.

Yes, so apparently, I am still a member of the court— or at least striving to be. I want to look like I belong, or at least look good. I still have yet to determine what that even means for myself.

What is my style? My roommate is right; it sincerely does not matter. But yet, I feel as though it does. I long to be free from this...

Well, let's just pretend for a moment that it does matter. If it did, what would I like my style to be? I would want to be an effortless bohemian beauty, hippie-chic if you will. But simple. There is so much beauty in simplicity I believe.

This completely contradicts the style of Louis XIV, and I'm not sure what Anna Wintour would say about it, but, let's pretend for a moment, that it does not matter. Oh, but it doesn't.

ALL THAT'S REAL IS WHAT YOU FEEL...This is a theory that expresses the power of perception. It impacts us immensely, as can be seen in both the historical context of the French court and our modern context with Vogue, and how individuals conform to gain acceptance of the aristocratic powers that be...

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Brain thought revelation; understanding life's beauty

Design is a way to think.

It is a lifestyle, a process, a way to approach everything.

Life can be lived as a designer, and that actually means something; it is a system for living.

Yet, one has to realize that this system, however beautifully designed, cannot be controlled. Life is freeform, and a designer's systematic approach to the design of life is one that is purely conceptual in all reality.

Life can be "designed" up to a point, but we each have to come to peace with the fact that its beauty exists within the unknown. This beauty is in life's fluidity, and the inability to tame it completely.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Style is

I have just identified that I like my jeans to be baggy, it's apart of my style.

After deliberation, reasoning, a little psychoanalysis, and personal liberation, I decided to buy pair #3!

It may be suggested that style reigns supreme over comfort or personal preference, but really, fashion is not a dictatorship. We do not answer to anyone but ourselves in this "aristocracy" as we wear our own clothes. The aristocracy is merely suggested and aims to impose its laws, doing so successfully through it's publication of fashion magazines and runway shows, but just as the courtiers had a choice to follow King Louis XIV and his fashion trends, so do I, so do we have the choice to follow the Industry's lead, or choose our own pathway of individual style.

The word "style" sounds like something that is pretentious or flashy, but really, style can be simple. For example, I have chosen baggy fitting jeans to be part of my style. Not pretentious, not flashy, just a choice. Style is a collection of choices that we make which create an image, in an assemblage of various materials, colors and shapes, to visually represent who we are. And in this, we have freedom.

Jeans: a tutu story

Today I bought a pair of jeans.

They were $6.50, and they are wonderful.

Not fitting me perfectly though, I can enjoy them in spite of this, as when I wear them, I feel free. By this I mean that I do not feel like I am trying to adhere to any sort of style identity other than that of myself.

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In the dressing room though, I was struggling to decide whether or not to purchase this pair of jeans. I had three pairs with me, and was feeling conflicted. Three pairs, all completely different.

This called for a serious evaluation. Here we go...

Pair #1: Fit me like a glove— a tight glove, but a glove none the less. It had rips in it, which I do like, as they create visual interest on the jeans. They were similar to the jeans I have now and love, but the jean weight was thinner.

Pair #2: Fit me well. I had some freedom to move, which was nice. The back pockets had adorable detail that I appreciated, but the front was very plain. The bottom hem was thick, but the jean weight was also thinner than what I was looking for. No rips, but maybe this was good. I will look more responsible this way, and let's be honest, it is more practical.

Pair #3: Fit me just like my favorites! They were slightly baggy, but this is just how I like them. They had some detail on the knee of slight ripping, but no holes. This is good— it's a halfway point between the wild, care-free rips on #1 and the structured practicality of #2. The jean weight is awesome.

Now a decision must be made. Which do I purchase? I want to get a pair that I will wear, one that I will WANT to wear. So I need to evaluate the options here. What is it that I like, why do I always throw on my favorites?

I feel good in them. I love thick jean material, as it feels more durable and as though it will be more functional than the fashion jeans with lycra. So, I like a solid pair of durable jeans. Will I purchase #3 then? But they look a little baggy. People will think they are baggy. Will people think it is strange that I wear baggy jeans?

Wait a moment here...!

DOES IT MATTER WHAT THEY THINK?

Oh. Good question. No, it actually doesn't! "They" are not wearing my jeans. I am wearing my jeans. I like pair #3, and I will therefore wear pair #3. Pair #3 felt like home. Is that silly? Maybe, but it's true; I like how I felt in those jeans, and although the Industry standard might be to wear tight fitting jeans, it does not mean that I have to.

HA! LIBERATION!

Sorry Louis, it's a different century. There is not an aristocracy anymore. Anna, did you get that? If so, please let Vogue know.

Versatility in essence

Why do we wear what we do? I am so curious.

I have three pairs of jeans, but only tend to wear one of them. Why is this? They do not fit me extraordinarily well, they have two large holes in them, (intended by the designer, but which I have stitched, due to impart to the cold winter air and the simple purpose of functionality), and yet, I wear them as often as possible.

To work, to class, to dinner, to bake cookies, on the weekends, on a date, on vacation— these jeans I find to be incredibly versatile!

I wear these jeans, because I feel good in them. They allow me to move, and I feel like I can be me in these jeans. They are what societal standards might consider to be, "baggy" or ill-fitting, but I'm sorry, I do not like to be restricted by my clothing.

Okay, but wait. I wear high heels. This completely restricts movement. It is challenging to simple walk when wearing these kinds of shoes. So what is the deal here? Why are jeans different? Why do I invite some restriction in my clothing, yet object to others, like my jeans?

Here's my theory. I am a woman. Therefore, I am typically going to be more inclined to be self conscious about my image, (I understand that it depends on the individual, but this is this is based on an extreme generalization). Individually, I am especially self-conscious about my legs, and if they are "restricted", as is commonly experienced with tight jeans that are popular among women's fashion today, I am going to be self conscious that I might be gaining weight. This my friends, is a common fear of a woman, (again, generalization), but this is how I feel.

So, then, am I hiding behind my "baggy" jeans?

I do not believe so. I think I just enjoy being comfortable, much more than I had originally thought, and comfortable jeans, with freedom to move, are important to me. I want to be able to bend and move, without being concerned that my jeans might expose or tear. Comfort— apparently, it IS important to me, and sometimes, it's not all about style.

A compass discovered

Okay Louis. Let's go Anna. I am ready for this.

I have been researching, thinking, reading and watching documentaries about the fashion empires of today, and have identified some major parallels amongst those of the past.

I feel as though I am finally in the right place to diagram, I had to figure out what I was working toward first, which ended up taking longer than I had thought.

Recognizing the many parallels has given me confidence in what I am attempting, and I feel as though my thoughts on the topics of fashion + history + identity are valid. My interest in these areas are finally making sense to me, as before I was feeling scatterbrained, but now I it is becoming clear, as I am recognizing there are valid correlations.

In gaining an understanding of the structure of these systems, the aristocracies of past and present, I feel as though there is really something that can be explained and better understood through visual representation and diagrammatic frameworks.

Before, I was not so sure. I was not sure what I was going to be representing or attempting to explain. But now, it has become more clear.

My diagrams are going to visually explain that there is an existing aristocracy in our world today. I will represent this by showing the correlations between the power structure of 1670 with the French aristocracy of Louis XIV, and the power structure of the fashion Industry of today with the Vogue aristocracy of Anna Wintour.

Finally, a sense of direction...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Changing lanes

It's going to be different than I thought it would.

This is not what I had planned to pursue, but through my research and explorations of the history of fashion, I am unearthing direct correlations between the fashion aristocracy of the past and the Industry of the present.

My research of Louis XIV and Anna Wintour have led me to develop a new analogy that likens the current fashion Industry to a modern-day aristocracy, with Anna Wintour as King Louis.

A comparative diagrammatic framework between Louis XIV and Anna Wintour is how I am going to first attempt to develop a deeper understanding of the Industry. With this developed insight, I am hoping to be led to action and be able to move forward.

Anna Wintour once stated, "There is something about fashion that can make people very nervous."

Yes, Anna, I am beginning to see this.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Oh Louis

What am I trying to do again... I can't seem to figure it out. I was focusing on Louis XIV... he was the original fashionista...

Am I trying to understand, on my own, the world of fashion?

Oh yes, this is what it was.

Okay. This is the first step. I have to understand the Industry as a whole in order to figure out what message needs to be communicated and how to communicate the new message to the right people.

This is step one. One thing at a time.

To understand it, I will make diagrams, and try to help others to see and better understand the Industry as well.

So, who's involved? Let's start here.

Identifying 'The Man' of fashion

Sounds easy, right?

All I have to do, is understand the system of fashion. Just break it down and understand all of its complex bits, to make sense of the madness behind it all. Who is influencing our society and the fashions we wear? Who are these people and want are the factors that develop our fashion choices and influence 'the system'?

Yes, okay, I may have procrastinated on this bit. But honestly, this is a big undertaking, which is why if I was sane, I would have started the moment my professor suggested this task last Thursday for our mid-term presentations tomorrow.

But, apparently, I am not, and have proceeded to think about all this, yet have not a thing to show yet. My great hope is that all of my thinking will make the development of this presentation easier...

...Oh I hope, I hope.

Tonight has the potential to be a very long evening that may extend until morning. I pray for divine inspiration and mental clarity to be able to process through 'the system' and distill it into a comprehensible diagrammatic framework for tomorrow...

I wonder why I somehow always end up thinking too much! I keep realizing this, so when will I change? As wonderful as thinking is, being a crucial part of the process, taking action is often more profitable, as then, you at least have something tangible to show for your efforts!

Well, the hour is now— here am I, about to take action and explore the vast world of fashion!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Beautiful change

A change in perspective.

This is what needed to happen within myself, and is, surprisingly, exactly what I would like to research for my capstone project.

I am interested in exploring how design, through visual communication, can develop, influence and change perspectives.

I want to understand how the societal definition of beauty was developed. I believe it was influenced by the messages communicated from the fashion industry to the public, and I want to show the power that visual communication has on the development of our society.

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I thought it was Italy, but I think it is France.

Louis XIV was the epitome of fashionista— he captured the true essence of the word. During the 18th century, his social standing and resulting prominent power single-handedly influenced a nation into a fashion obsession.

This widespread national influence demonstrates that if the right people communicate a message, it can influence a society. There is power in message, and as discussed today in class, there is power in story.

In order to create change We just need to get the "right people" to communicate the "right message" in the context of the right story to our society about true beauty.

My challenge: discovering the right people to communicate the right message.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Tangled

I have become lost in the thoughts of my own mind.

The direction in which I am heading has become less clear to me as I am further discovering the vast topics that are related to my project.

I feel like a bulldozer. Plowing ahead, not stopping, collecting and carrying anything in its path. Time is passing, and I have got to find some sort of direction within this.

I am not desperate, not scrambling, not scared, not yet. I have hope that as I pursue, like a bulldozer, in this broad direction, that something will surface, that something will become clear.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Epiphany

Design to Change Perspectives.

This is what I want to focus on!

I want to use design to help women, to help people, to see in a new way. I hope to inspire a new way of thinking, that will free us from the confines we feel to be real.

I hope to use design to communicate a message of freedom— freedom that comes when we find peace with who we are, in an acceptance of self.

Now how do I use design to do this...

Monday, February 1, 2010

Analogy in question

What am I doing. What is the problem I have identified?

What is my analogy for it?

I had thought it was about fashion, but I think it is something more.

It is based on fashion, or is it the loss of our sense of self as we each have become diluted by the current of our society and the influence it has upon our choices and how we then see ourselves.

It is this loss of self identity that has us turning to fashion to define our style and create an identity when we don't know who we are.

It is beautiful, and what I would say is true style, when someone can use fashion to make a statement about who they are rather than to define who they are.

I want to change the way society believes we can find our identity, and help us to break free from feeling the need to conform; to stand strong against the current's pull and choose how to express ourselves and how we find our true inner-beauty.

Not being defined by the exterior, but, if one chooses, the exterior can represent the interior on some level. Just as art is a bold representation of its creator at times, in other circumstances, it is simply a means for communication. Similarly, clothing can be used as an external expression of inner-self, and at other times is simply intended to clothe.

I want to redefine society's definition of clothing in order to create a shift in our understanding of it conceptually. I believe that this will improve the existing relationship we have with clothes if we can break through the restrictions we feel forcing us to conform. We need to recognize the freedom we have in this society to dress in the costumes of ourselves.

It is not about blending in with the rest of the cast, but living into and expressing the role your true self plays.