The Importance of Originality in Fashion

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THE IMPORTANCE OF ORIGINALITY IN FASHION

BY FIRUZÉ FRENCH
The Importance of Originality in Fashion

By originality in fashion, I'm not talking about the originality of everyday people and their fashion style, what they wear and how they wear it. I'm talking about the difficulty top fashion designers face every 6 months when they make a great effort to create a contemporary and original collection for the fashion catwalk to please brutally honest fashion critics, of magazines and of the public. The struggle of designers to create collections that must be appeal to a wide range of evaluators, and what are considered to be the toughest judges in any industry, can sometimes be enough to put principal designers such as Viktor & Rolf on strike from creating a collection every six months in Paris, 1996. However, fashion seems to have a way of repeating itself, usually, I think, every five years, yet still manage to be able to be original but with the essence of fashion already accomplished. Is it true to say that fashion is successful in this era because designers are original? Or is originality not as important as other factors in fashion, such as functionality and aesthetics? Many designers who are said to be innovative have a way of regenerating fashion from styles created in say the 1800s or as early as 1980s fashion, but is it simply inspiration for designers, or unoriginality? Originality entails fashion designers to have the quality of being new and original, and not have ideas derived from something else, however most designers generally have inspiration for their ideas, but does this mean their idea's are not original? Inspiration initiates creativity, but originality means having the creativity in the first place. They both have different meanings, but can coincide together to create a collection never seen before. The British Fashion Award is awarded to those designers who have been considered to make the most outstanding contributions to British Fashion. The most common winners of this award are Vivienne Westwood (1990, 1991), John Galliano (1987, 1994, 1995), Alexander McQueen (1996, 1997, 2001, 2003) and Hussein Chalayan (1999, 2000). However there is evidence of some of these designers finding inspiration from clothing that has already been designed, made and worn. Does this mean that in order to be the most outstanding contributor to British Fashion you don't need to be original? Or are they claiming their collections are inspired by a theme, rather than a previous collection? Christian Dior's Paris Fashion Week collection in 2007 presented us with designs inspired by ancient Japanese clothing. However John Galliano himself stood at the end of the show wearing this military uniform, supposedly playing the role of Lieutenant Pinkerton (see left photograph), of Madame Butterfly the inspiration for the collection, but with a Dior fashion label, yet still resembling a uniform already designed almost a century ago for military officers and designed again for the stage. This shows how Galliano was inspired by costume design, rather than a theme or another collection. Designers such as Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Vivienne Westwood have often recreated the military style, but have each sewn in their twist of style and tailoring, creating askew necklines and using a new wave of colour. Even Dolce & Gabbana's Autumn Winter 06-07 collection (see right photograph), used the theme of a Military uniform, however the collection is for women's and so in that way is different to the original clothing from the 1700s. Though this shows a certain theme of a period of time used as inspiration, however it's the clothing of the era that has inspired the collection, rather than something like architecture or fabrics. However the Military theme is not the only reoccurring material from an age in fashion on the catwalks. Often designers are found with collections inspired by a recent fashion trend, for example Versace's...
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