Discussing Contexts

Contexts: broad research investigations, depth and breadth. This stage of the creative process requires openness to what it reveals and provides the opportunity to narrow down to allow identifications and insights to evolve.

Undertaking my two projects on contexts has allowed me to develop a much for global perspective on the broader fashion landscape via my choice of secondary information. To start with, I found it difficult to prioritise the most relevant information but it encouraged me to understand the consumer and cultural trends and helped me to articulate their role, especially through primary research. When I first started on the course, Fashion Communication and Promotion, I did not make the link between the four main learning outcomes and potential future professions. For the contexts stage, the skills learnt could be applied to endless possibilities, such as a trend forecaster, analyst, reporter/journalist, blogger and even a futurologist.

Understanding storytelling is a large part of the contexts stage. I was set a brief revolving around this storytelling idea, looking closely at a womenswear trend story for Autumn/Winter 2017/18. My group’s trend story was REBEL/REBELLION.

The first thing I did when I received the brief was clarify the meaning of ‘rebel’. I came up with the definition – a person who resists authority, control, or convention. Therefore, anything or anyone going against the flow and doing something unpredictable and controversial; rebelling against that which is considered the norm. This could also be turning against stereotypes and misconceptions; making a strong point.

The two-week task was to research and analyse this trend story, create three A2 mood-boards and prepare a presentation summarising what we found. The three areas that we were required to focus on were: shops, people and history.

I was apprehensive to start with as I have never had to complete a task in such a large group before; there was 7 of us in total. I thought it may be difficult to collect, categorise and analyse all of our information as I thought we were going to be overwhelmed our initial individual brainstorms and ideas. I have inserted below my initial mind map of the words and phrases that came to mind before I undertook any research:

When we came together for the first time to discuss thoughts and our direction, I was surprised that most of us interpreted the theme ‘rebel’ completely differently so this is how we narrowed down the categories we were going to include. I initially looked at the symbolism, where the theme has been seen on the catwalk, art pieces, current reinterpretations of the theme, as well as looking at celebrities and in magazines.

After I had recorded my initial thoughts, I realised how many layers this one theme/story has! The Rebellious look could be closely regarded as having Huntress/provocateur Archetypes, as well as The Queen, The Ruler and the Diva story. On the other hand it also could have traits of The Heroine, The Amazonian and The Adventurer story. The theme was definitely diverse!

When I first thought of brands that show this rebellious vibe, I instantly thought of Diesel’s advertising campaigns and especially their promotion of their Love, Not Walls in Spring Ads. Diesel has a strong position against hate and in the campaign they wanted the world to know that. The idea was that love and togetherness are crucial in creating a society we all want to live in and this was not a new story for the brand as they have been commenting on society and culture since the early Nineties. In the video, flowers are thrown from one side to the other of a wall lined with barbed wire, until it’s torn down, allowing the models and dancers to embrace and kiss through a heart-shaped hole. This example is probably quite predictable of the theme, however more complex examples that I initially thought of were either Sonia Rykiel or Alexander McQueen’s campaigns. They both show a more subtle, simpler injection of the rebel compared to Diesel. It is almost like they are rebelling against glamour, and in McQueen’s case they may be rebelling against the use of colour as their campaigns are often very dark and mysterious.

Yes, studs, leather, swearing/cursing, ripped jeans, black and deep tonal colours and gangs are all obviously connotations of the term ‘rebel’, however we found it was important to consider a much deeper meaning to develop a greater understanding of the trend story. When I initially thought about the origin of the ‘rebel’ more culturally, I thought of Karlheinz Weinberger and ‘rebel youth’ between in the 1950 and 1960’ and also the history of the rocker. The Swiss photographer Karlheinz Weinberger is known as the pioneer of male erotic imagery and left a mark on the fashion world with his documentation of his vibrant rebel youth culture. The working-class teenagers were photographed in iconic American Pop culture imagery of biker jackets, denim jackets and bouffant hairdos. These photographs may have inspired the leather jackets and ripped denim jeans currently seen in the majority of clothing retail stores in fact wherever I look in the street!


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