Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Ruff in Modern Couture.

The amazing Viona Ielelegems - photographer and costumier. Features a range of historical influence in her work, including ruffs.

Modern Haute Couture Ruff. Gaultier, Westwood and pearls by Mikimoto. From Russian Vogue, 2010. Photographer: Sharif Hamza.

Ruff from Russian Vogue shoot. Pearls by Mikimoto, couture by Maidon Martin and Margiola Artisani. Photographer: Sharif Hamza.

Gareth Pugh's Ruff, for his Spring 2009 show.

Lady Ga Ga wearing a ruff on a flying Piano (...of course). Ruff and latex outfit by Atsuko Kudo.

Close up of ruff by Atsuko Kudo

What is a ruff? You may have seen portraits or portrayals of Queen Elizabeth wearing large cloth collars, generally white. Ahhh..those things! That's what a ruff is.

Ruffs were originally a decorative piece of material at the edge of a shirt, a small collar. Like a lot of fashion, they took on a life of their own, evolving to a larger size, and becoming a separate garment to be worn around the neck.

At their extreme they grew to be about a foot wide. They lasted about 100 years, roughly from 1550 to 1650....and lingered as clerical clothing and some cermonial dress.

More recently, Ruffs have made a reappearance with Lady Ga Ga, in some haute couture fashion, and the odd photoshoot. Design house Atsuko Kudo, who specialise in Latex wear, make Lady GaGa's ruffs. Each one uses a couple of metres of latex, because of the concertina nature of the ruff.

Gareth Pugh, like his fellow Brits Galliano and the late Alexander McQueen, takes influence from historical fashion. His spring 2009 show featured some black and white ruffs, as part of a number of ensembles.

Russian Vogue featured some Ruffs in a photoshoot of theirs - I have been trying to work out who the creator was, but my Russian isn't too good! :-). If someone can work it out, please tell me.
Ruffs are highly unlikely to be seen in the officeplace, or down the local nightclub, but can still make a fashionable presence on the catwalk and in high fashion the ruff would still be alive and kicking to some degree 500 years later.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Raver Fashion

"What goes up, must come down" - Human Traffic

Old skool ravers in boiler suits

Cyber goth/ cyber ravers

Cyber ravers

I was talking to a rave wear designer friend of mine - the interesting conundrum, with ravers in Melbourne at least, is that there are thousands of people that attend raves, but not that many of them wear raver fashion - a lot of them wear normal clothes. In contrast, you may get 200 people at a goth club, or 300 people at a heavy metal gig....but everyone (bar the odd girlfriend who hasn't been converted yet) will be wearing the subcultural attire.

In Melbourne, this has led to the situation where there are far more goth shops for clothing, and a lot more goth designers, than there are for ravers...even though rave attendees outnumber goths 50 to 1. Largely, people going to raves don't get dressed up - they wear their mainstream clothing.

My immediate answer to this is, that raves and dance music are too successful - the club environment and music has left the distinct confines of its subculture and attracted attention from a lot of mainstream people. You see a similiar phenomenon with gay clubs...they get successful, straights start turning up, and then the gays have to move on. Raves get huge and successful, then the mainstream people move in. Goth clubs generally have pretty strict dress codes...and never seem to draw the mainstream crowd in large numbers anyway.

I did the rave thing, when I was young enough too......, mixing it with goth a bit. Rave clothing is pretty cool...and it always struck me that out of all the subcultures, rave clothing (and may be hip hop threads) connect to the music. Other subcultural clothing could often exist on it own, without music. Rave clothing only sort of makes sense in the context of dance music, that ravers listen to. Rave clothing, is also, really fun, and to a degree, pretty practical for dancing. Considering that some people will dance for hours at a time, and then off to another club for more dancing, it has to be.

Anyways, on to Rave Fashion. Like a lot of subcultural fashion, rave fashion has gone through changes, and has its subtypes.

The orginal ravers, from the Summer of Love 1992, bright colours, dummies, and whistles, boiler suits and chemical/dust masks.

Feral ravers, basically ferals that are at bush doofs, with a bit of augmented rave clothing. Modern day hippies.

Cyber ravers - a lot like cyber goths, with the falls, and may be big boots, but with lots of neon. And possibly bright makeup.

Individual items include phat pants, big glasses, fluffy furry leggings, runners good for dancing...and of course, glo sticks!

If you want to have a look at some interesting raver fashion, have a look at my buddy Fi's label, Vicious Klothing...I love her dino hoodies with the spikes.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Contact! Contact Lenses in Rock Music and Subcultures

Amazingly, contact lenses go back to 1888, when they were made of glass. Plastic ones were invented in the 1930's.

Contact lenses have actually been employed in movies since the 50's and 60's, generally for use in science fiction or horror themed movies or programs. Children of the Dammned, made in 1963 featured an array of unearthly creepy kids with identical contact lenses - "beware the eyes that paralyse".

Pete Burns from Dead or Alive, ever willing to experiment with fashion and to take a chance, was quite possibly the first musician to wear contact lenses as part of his rock persona...this shot of him wearing them is from 1981.

Of course.... the man who made the contact lens one of his signature effects is Mr Manson. Manson started wearing contacts regularly as part of his rock persona, from the "Smells like Children" era, 1994 onwards. In particular, he was known for wearing a light coloured lens in one eye, and his other eye normal. For many years after 1994, publicly it was pretty rare he was seen without Contacts.

Wes Borland from Limp Biscuit was always seen wearing contact lenses, from his early days in the band. He adopted a fantastic element to his on stage persona, wearing not only contacts, but often elborate costume and makeup. It was quite at odds with the rest of the band who wore relatively everyday hip hop/metal clothes.

Recently Lady Gaga, in her continued search for something to give her an edgier element, has started wearing contacts. Generally, she wears larger black ones.

Contact lenses are worn by many elements of subculture. Contact lenses are common amongst goths, though possibly more so industrial than traditional goths, and certainly Mansonites.