Is ‘practicality’ a dirty word in fashion?
The throng of people fanning out into the decommissioned rail tracks of Carriageworks indicated yet another runway show at Australian fashion week had ended, and that, the show for photographers waiting outside was just beginning. But despite the confetti throw of outfits that had been meticulously styled, perhaps months in advance, all lenses pivoted instantly as a plainly dressed model traversed the crowd, her elaborate hair and makeup from the previous show completely out of place in the context of her no-brand bomber jacket and canvas sneakers.
Is our obsession with the style of models-off-duty, the more unremarkably dressed they are, simply due to the fact that anything looks good when you have ‘legs like those’, or is it that this just-woke-up-like-this look represents precisely our collective instincts about what style should be? Practical.
I myself had never wanted to buy myself a daggy old fleece duffle coat so badly, until I saw one on a model I shot at a casting. I had asked her to remove it for the shot, but she was reluctant – she loved this coat she has had for years and thought she looked great in it. When you are the embodiment of our modern beauty ideals, and could wear anything you wanted, perhaps you too would choose to wear something that simply keeps you warm.
There has been a trend towards practicality in fashion that, depending on its many manifestations, may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Always controversial, we’ve seen the evolution of the full body swimsuit to the string bikini; the movement away from toe-binding stilettos to the comfortable-ugly shoe.
But which ever team you’re batting for, when given the option of t shirt and jeans or the corset, I have no doubt which you would choose. The former, is the answer I’m hoping to hear, though, the latter has its occasions also. In hindsight, Soviet constructivism early last century, so vehemently rejected by the west as a communist concept, may have had a point. Or, at the very least, our modern tastes seem to have become aligned with this once anti-fashion sentiment that values function over style.
The common view seems to be that, somehow, ‘practicality’ is a dirty word in fashion; that anything created purely to protect one from the elements, cannot be considered within the ambit of ‘style’. However, I am, for one, glad to be given cause to appreciate a utilitarian expression of fashion and design, whether it is on-trend or otherwise. Something of pure practical purpose cannot help but be aesthetically pleasing in its unique way. For example, an engineered coat that, with its light weight and water repelling qualities, gives rise to new possibilities of an gravity defying silhouette and a curious matte-glossy surface, so different from ‘clothing’ as we know it that it enters the ambit of ‘futuristic’.
Created in collaboration with Uniqlo. Shop the Blocktech collection here.
Location: Sydney, Australia | Photography: Bloggers Boyfriend