#025- Afrofuturism Meets Fashion

afro f 5

 

we thought it’d help us connect

but

mobile penetration has left us raped.

 

afro f 4

 

can we really see the future

or does our future obscure

us?

 

afro f 3

 

struggling africa, unplugged by technology

 

afrof1

 

if someone wants to pay $3,000 for your authentic vision, are you going to ask questions?

 

afro f 2

 

more radical futuristic style tips from the sensationally fabulous Kui Ngirachu here. she’s the sassy next big thing bridging the despairing gap between technology, art, and fashion in africa!

 

 

#024- Fashion Statements

 

Go to hell.

 

gotohell

 

Less is more.

 

lessismore

 

Trust me, I’m a liar.

 

trustmeimaliar

 

I want a better world.

 

iwantabetterworld

 

Sorry, I’m late, I didn’t wanna come.

 

sorryimlate

 

Go fuck yourself.

 

gofuckyourself

 

No photos please!

 

nophotosplease

 

Affect is just a word intellectuals use instead of feeling emotions in their bodies.

 

whatever

 

Whatever.

 

 

 

#023- Yup! ‘Smart’ Clothing to Data-ify Your Life and Monetise It for Tech/Fashion Corporate Giants even more ‘Smartly’ Than your Phone Does;)

“However smart clothing can do more than just biometric tracking. Levi’s Commuter Trucker Jacket co-launched with Google’s Project Jacquard platform can read gesture and help users will be able to interact with a variety of music and map apps. Smart socks developed by companies like Sensoria are designed to track movement and give feedback to users about their running styles. Siren’s smart sock is aimed at preventing diabetics’ foot injuries. Owlet Smart Socks 2 is designed for babies and track their heart rate and blood oxygen saturation, which inturn helps parents to be proactive about their baby’s health.”

So all this basically bringing surveillance capitalism and exploitation and reduction of your life to data to your clothes…And *YOU* get to pay for it! YAY! 😉

“The smart garment industry is currently targeted at early adopters like gadget enthusiasts and professional athletes. To capture the market at large the smart clothing brands and OEMs should collaborate with fashion design houses towards improving design features such look, the comfort of wear (breathability and lightness), ease of recharging the device, and durability. This will encourage more late-stage adopters to buy smart apparel. The smart clothing brands and OEMs should also focus on developing programmes to train family doctors and sports coaches to meaningfully extract insights from the biometric and motion data and use it in practice to better diagnose chronic diseases. This will ensure that the smart-clothing becomes the pill of the future that the doctor can already prescribe today.” (More on Forbes)

fucking tired of these stupid articles that float in mainstream media and understand neither the beauty nor problems of either fashion or tech today. it’s appalling that our lives and aesthetics, our loves, joys and ways of living keep getting reduced over and over to profit margins and we keep buying this story over and over as an acceptable, heck! even “good” life. How much and how long will we keep humiliating ourselves? We need the revolution NOW! We love both fashion and technology way too much to reduce both of them to ‘instruments’ of our ‘well-being’ and the other way ’round! FUCK CAPITALISM!

#022- Bending Time: Rimzim Dadu

As the technology giant Apple begins showing interest in investing in the future…(futures?) of fashion, one is once again reminded that what people wear- howsoever frivolous its coverage has been made to sound in our outrage media- is in fact, a pretty serious  business of envisioning. A few weeks ago, Apple funded the Met Art gala, ManusxMachina which saw celebs flaunting various kinds of imaginations of what dressing in future- a future which increasingly lies in an age of technology- might look like, and it ranged from the wow to the weird to the plain boring. But notably, much of it involved metallic visuals, which makes sense if you consider that the 21st century is a lot about information flowing through metallic or semi-metallic circuitry.

It is in this context when I ask Rimzim Dadu about what she thought of the presentation of the future at the Met Art gala that she defiantly poses, “What is so futuristic about metallic?” Dadu, one of India’s top young fashion designers, is full of interesting counter questions like this one. And even while she is questioning metallic, Rimzim is designing clothes like this gorgeously sculpted metallic-looking black and blue sari, which constituted Bollywood celeb, Sonam Kapoor’s red carpet look for the 69th Cannes Film Festival recently.

rimzim dadu sculpted sari
Image Source: Rimzim Dadu on Facebook

Now, to me, this look certainly has a futuristic flavor to it. Composed of fabric reconstituted from a kind of plastic yarn, which has been treated to achieve metallic look, this ensemble, unlike the softer drape of a more traditional sari, is like a water slide going around the body which you know is going to emit an electric shock. It is the electricity, the spark, the metallic-ness of it which makes it futuristic for me. And it would seem that I’m not alone in that thought- across media, this sari has been hailed as a futuristic design.

That’s why I am intrigued by Dadu’s question and her reluctance to see her own aesthetic as the so-called “future of fashion.” “I am often baffled by this term- futuristic design,” she explains. “What does it even mean? Does it mean clothes which will only be wearable 10…20 years down the line? Because if that’s what it is about, I wouldn’t say my clothes are the future. I design very much for the present…for what is relevant today.”

Plus, as she rightly reminds, Indians have worn bling forever. Intricate metallic work like zari, gota-patti work, and fine brocades evoke a sense of tradition and of the past in India. Not of the future. Then how does one begin to define the future of fashion for the Indian customer and for the Indian imagination?

 

Deconstruction and Reconstruction

Weaving Dadu’s work and talk together offers a milieu which is as convoluted as the history of textiles in India itself. The contrast between the visuals she presents and the explanations she offers for them opens up a universe of what at first sight might seem like paradoxes. But on closer examination, this universe offers mind-bending new ways to think about the future of what India wears. “I deconstruct,” Dadu says when I ask her what her inspiration for her last collection (which Kapoor’s sari was also a part of) was. “And then,” she continues, “I reconstruct.”

Dadu has always loved playing with textures. This is apparent in the eight years of her work which has included evolution of her signature elements like the 3D applique and the faux leather tie-and-dye. The 3D applique technique involves breaking down fabric into smaller pieces and then bringing these pieces together in various elaborate three-dimensional handcrafted designs.

3D Applique
3D Applique (Image Source: Rimzim Dadu on Instagram)

Such destruction and recreation of fabric seems to be a running theme in Dadu’s work. Her faux leather tie-and-dye technique also involves cutting up the leather into thin strips (thus, “destroying”) and then rearranging and sewing these strips (thus, “recreating”) to form a new textural surface, which she uses to spin different silhouettes.

rimzim dadu faux leather rust dress
Image Source: Rimzim Dadu on Instagram

Unlike occidental fashion which has tended to focus on the creating diversity in silhouettes, it is innovation in fabric textures has been historically pivotal to the progress of Indian fashion. Consider the sari – most commonly, different saris are identified on the basis of their fabric and the kinds of weaves they employ (think banarsi, kanjeevaram, sambalpuri), and less on the basis of the way they are draped (front pleated, butterfly, mermaid etc.) The style of draping, in other words, the silhouette, has been left up to the discretion of the wearer in India- historically, the job of the designer has been to work on the textile, less on the silhouette.

In this sense, Dadu’s work easily lends itself to providing the 21st century link in this chain of Indian fashion historicity- the thrust of her work really lies in the creation of new textures and surfaces, and less on the silhouette. And this creation of new textures is offered through the postmodernist route of deconstruction and reconstruction.

 

The Future of Fashion: But What Is The Nature of Such Future?

Coming back to Dadu’s own question then: What does futuristic design really mean? What do we mean when we talk about the future of fashion? For that matter, what do we mean when we talk about the future of anything?

Talking of future only makes sense when one has a reference point. A future from where? It is like tracing curves on a number line. You can only add 5 (present) to 4 (past) and reach 9 (future) when you have 4 and 5 already mapped out – you need to have a sense of the past, a map of the past, some story of the past if you want to determine the future of that story. In this kind of model, the future of fashion, as the future of everything, has roots, and in fact, needs references, from its past. So if the past story of Indian fashion is can be traced to textures, Dadu’s work certainly is the future block of that trajectory. It is futuristic design if our story of Indian fashion lies on the straight line story of evolving textures.

But there is more to Dadu’s universe of seeming paradoxes which makes us rethink what a future of fashion might mean. The clue to it lies in the narrative of deconstruction and reconstruction which she offers in her work. It’s a deconstruction of what has been…of textures of the past, and their reconstruction into what will be…textures of the future. And the present is where this process of deconstruction and reconstruction is happening. This vinash and recreation narrative almost has Puranic creationist feel to it- where Shiva destroys, Brahma creates, and Vishnu lies in the present, bridging these processes. And in fashion, this phenomenon does have other parallels as well!: Much like designer Mariano Fortuny’s celebrated Delphos gown of the 1910s (which deconstructed sanitized notions of Grecian antiquity and reconstructed it as a rebel statement by offering women of the time a gown without undergarments- the novelist Marcel Proust called it “faithfully antique but markedly original”), Dadu’s work deconstructs the past – the metallic, the bling of traditional Indian wear – and reconstructs it in the present to offer a peephole into what the future might look like – sleek and electric like Sonam Kapoor’s sari.

Ms. Conde Nast
Ms. Conde Nast wearing Fortuny’s Delphos gown, circa 1917 (Image Source: Public Domain)

In that sense, Dadu’s futurism is not derived from a straight number line, but rather, engages itself with a circular notion of time, where the “past”, “present”, and “future” (as they would be referred to upon a straight line) merge together to create the moment of the now. Of present-ness. Given this, can one blame Dadu when her work and her talk seem paradoxical as far as the notion of an Indian fashion future is concerned? Hardly! Because what she is offering us is not just a future, but a new way to think about futures themselves. And that’s what keeps her work so exciting!

 

 

 

 

 

(essay penned c. 2016, pitched around, but never published. realised high time to finally publish. many thanks to Rimzim Dadu for her time and kindness to explain a fashion novice the detailed intricacies of her work.:) Her eponymous fashion label can be found here.)

#021- Farfetch: Data Surveillance Capitalism in Luxury Shopping Expands

“Farfetch, which went public on the New York Stock Exchange in September 2018, has aspirations to be the “Amazon for luxury,” adopting the e-commerce giant’s marketplace model. Third-party sellers, from tiny boutiques to global brands and retailers, list products on the site, with Farfetch processing sales and sometimes handling the logistics, but not taking inventory.” (More on BoF)

Earlier…

“In a brick-walled basement in Hackney, amidst rails hung with Balenciaga and clusters of technology developers, “The Store of the Future” was almost ready. Here, billion-dollar fashion “unicorn” Farfetch has been staging a test run of the tech-powered retail experience the company is set to unveil later today at the debut FarfetchOS conference at London’s new Design Museum in a move that further extends the platform into physical stores. […] From fitting rooms equipped with photo booths to mannequins with screens on their foreheads, most in-store technology has been gimmicky stuff that’s more likely to drive short-term PR than actual sales. By contrast, Farfetch’s Store of the Future aims to dramatically improve retail productivity by capturing invaluable customer data and enhancing human interactions between shoppers and sales associates.” (More on BoF)

FML.

#020- The “Personal Touch” of Fashion in the 21st Century

After 19 posts, if there is one thing I’ve realised about this blog, it is this: This blog is certainly not a purveyor of “breaking news.” So if you’re looking for the “latest” in fashion, landing up on this link is probably NOT your best bet. The reason is simple: I just cannot keep up with that tsunami of information which flows in about everything these days. And here, it gets a little more philosophical as well: I do not even see the point in keeping up with that tsunami of information which flows in about everything these days (and neither would you, if you had any sense to appreciate the mindlessness of this :p)

Call me lazy, but if luxury is about leisure, then I would rather take a luxurious stroll than a mad dash across the park with the duck pond in which the aesthetics of good style float. With that tidbit in mind, today I wanna talk about something which happened quite a while ago (but like I’ve emphasised before, hey, who cares about time!), and which has been on my mind ever since- the Met Art Gala earlier this year.

So as you probably know, it’s a great fundraising part for the Met Museum Costume Institute in NYC and they open up an exhibit on the history of clothes usually and lots of celebs appear flaunting nutty and cool. And this year, the event saw organisational support from Apple, and the theme was Manus x Machina. Well, that’s what they called it, but you get the drift…fashion and technology. And different hot stars wore lots of different stuff to it and there was a lot of talk for some reason (on at least my internet feeds) about what Beyoncé was wearing (maybe ‘cus of the Lemonade release which had kinda coincided with it), and also, what the hell is up with Taylor Swift (there was both applause and eye-rolling), but what EYE want to talk about in this post is what Lady Gaga was wearing. And well, if you must know (or if like me, you’re a luxury-seeker; let’s just drop “lazy”- it is such an ugly word!) it was this Atelier Versace number…

Lady-Gaga-Met-Gala-2016-Red-Carpet-Atelier-Versace-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-2

So now, the thing about Lady G is, everyone expects her to show up whacky. And since she fulfills that expectation so consistently, you’re not even surprised enough to exclaim, “dude! what happened to her pants?!” (this pantlessness proposition, my friend, Chloe, by the way, always 100% supports). But that’s the least of my problems. There are a number of things I wonder, like, how the heck does she combine those platform and heely heels and then walk in them? That, to me, seems the most precarious part of this whole operation.

But coming to that jacket. Which is really what I wanted to talk about when I started writing this. Funny thing is, I really like the boxiness of it. But then I’m a somewhat ’80s like that (and you’re wondering why this punk look caught my eye? :p) and I like strong shoulder lines. What’s most intriguing and ties well with the ManusxMachina-essness of it, however, is the visual circuit board painstakingly cut out off it. That’s also where the Atelier-ness of it also comes from.

Now this casual mix of old ad new is kind of intriguing. A hand-cut jacket to illustrate motherboards? What the hell is going on? What kind of paradox is brewing here now? But I think that’s what lets us rampage on the very interesting line of thought about how technology is being used in fashion, and isn’t that precisely what the Met Art gala theme this year was designed to push one to ask? That’s why, as far as I’m concerned, full marks to Atelier Versace for brewing this concoction, and full marks to Lady G, who saw the simple deft strokes with which an ensemble like this could echo this question.

Lady-Gaga-Met-Gala-2016-Red-Carpet-Atelier-Versace-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-3

Now, the question, itself, that is the more complicated bit, and there are few easy answers to it. One obvious one, of course, is that in a world of increasing standardization and box-moulding, we yearn for the personal touch of the hand-woven. It is almost like that tactile moment which the rapper dude and the singer girl share on Season 1, episode 2 of Black Mirror, when they first, hesitatingly, but then, more surely, hold hands – the longing for something tangible, something human. Because in a strange way, standardised technological productions seem less tangible, and more mechanical…

Hmm. So now, there you have the beginning of a thought about how fashion and technology influence each other. Chew on it, dear reader, and let me know what YOU feel about this whacko wonder woman outfit kind of inspiring it?…

#019- Prada Is Poetry

 

What do I say about the latest Prada collection? What does one say about poetry?

 

1p

 

Any saying destroys it, so one just listens.

 

5p

 

There are critics of course, and then those who critique…

 

3p

 

They wrap themselves in hard exteriors, protection from the world

A dying rose already for a funeral

 

6p

 

And the poetry disappears as they speak of it

 

2p

 

In between the folds of a light pinafore, a bed of flowers

Between that and the harsh winter creeping upon it, slowly, from the bottom…

 

8p

 

Chasing it back. To earth.

 

#018- Chill With Canvas

Summer is here, yes baby and I couldn’t be happier, because hey! New wardrobe!!

zummer

Pro tip: Get canvas shoes, like I especially drew for YOU in this picture. They are comfy, you can wear them in different ways and they go with almost anything and will make you look chill hip and dip for the hot hot months ahead. Promise!

xoxo,

Girl from the tropics

#017- A Moment of Silence

The terrorist attacks in Paris and in Baghdad and Beirut before that, suddenly puts a stop to our fast-moving, rapid-paced world of the present. A moment of peace, a moment of silence, they call for. Silence for memory, silence for remembrance, but most of all silence for reflection. Reflection upon the world we are living in. Reflection on how we got here, and what this means…

And in that reflection there are some voices which will have us believe that it is Islam’s fault. The fault of a religion, the fault of a people, the fault of refugees. Look, they say, look what happened when we opened our hearts! Look, how we were massacred, look what came off trusting strangers…Look at how they hurt us when we tried to love them…

It seems to me not very different from a bad relationship–where each one has hurt the other so much, so much for years and years and decades and decades that when one moves to even caress, the other shudders. Where when one tries to mend, the other lashes out. When one tries to love, one is met only with anger and mistrust.

And how much ever one tries, how much ever one wants to love and mend, ultimately, it seems that it is hurt which drives the relationship- the memories of past hurt, and the fears of more hurt in future. Love shies away, and then seems to fade, when faced with such lack of reception, when the only response it ever seems to get is more hurt…we feel stupid for ever trying…

We close ourselves…our doors, our minds, our hearts…

There is no future here, is there?

I just know how difficult it is to live through that. We all do. In all our lives, however big or small, we have lived and loved. And we have lost.

Then can we ever get past our hurts to give our love, the whatever little sliver we have left of it, another chance? Can we heal and help each other heal within this relationship? Can we focus on how hard they tried when they did, because how hard they loved, more than how hard we were hurt?

I don’t know. It is perhaps the hardest thing in the world to do. To face our own fears. To face the possibility of more hurt. To rush in nevertheless when all evidence advises the contrary.

But the burden of hurt is also hard to bear. My mother once sent me a story on Whatsapp. It goes like this: A man moves around with a bundle of logs tied to his back. He walks slowly because the bundle is heavy, he is trudging. He hates it, but he cannot throw the logs away. He feels they are his to bear. He slows. Then one of the logs falls. He can move faster. Another falls, and he feels lighter. Till all of them fall, and he can move much faster and his back does not hurt anymore. Hurt is like that bundle of logs. We can carry it around all we want, but once we choose not to, it is easier to walk. That’s what the story said.

Most often though, it is the passage of time and time apart which allows for the logs to fall. Very few times, is it a deliberate choice in the eye of the hurt storm.

Paris has been to the world, a city of art, fashion and joy. A city of good living. And I just think, what a good life it is where one is able to choose, so deliberately, one’s love to govern oneself, over one’s hurt. Maybe it is not a life of easy-come. But it is a life of integrity, of finely picked craftsmanship. A life of aspirations, big aspirations, executed so decidedly, with so much determination. And isn’t that striving for aspirations what makes us human? Isn’t that the aspirational luxury all art and fashion we make as humans stands for? The aspiration to live better, to rise way above the hurts, the bad memories, the terrible experiences, we are wallowing in right now?

Should we then let our hurts govern our decisions…the decisions to rage pitiless wars? Is that where our moment of silence should lead?

*un moment du silence pour les morts.
we are injured. we are hurt. let us acknowledge that. let us not deny.
but let us not let our hurts consume our little worlds

#016- Bohemia Comes to the City

Let’s be honest: I am not a fan of the flower-power-love-binds-the-universe-pot-smoking utopiana of 40 years ago, and neither would you be if you are any bit sane (also can you believe it is 40 years ago?!) There are many reasons, the strongest of them being that if only the world’s problems had such easy (and obvious) solutions as free love and making peace not war, everyone would have attained nirvana before Jesus was born and fashion would not exist.

So when a collection which employs all of the cliches of the era becomes something I cannot take my eyes off of, it has to be something brilliant. And that’s exactly what Hemant and Nandita have managed to achieve in their newest spring/summer release. So much that I just had to draw this one…

IMG_20151025_123046

I think the clinching point for me was giving some streamlining all the hippy dippy stuff: Take for example, the very structured coat here, which was just the right proportion for those white shorts. You would be right in place walking in these any urbania, away from the campfires. Which is why you got to love the collection.