Quirky Fashion - Luxury goes Cuckoo!

Rule makers and rule breakers, the standard and the extraordinary. Something comes in between each of these to draw that bold line of distinction. That's Quirkiness. Luxury brands have many mad-hatters, we discover

By: Salman Z. Bukhari

Posted on: November 10, 2011

Rule makers and rule breakers, the standard and the extraordinary. Something comes in between each of these to draw that bold line of distinction. That’s Quirkiness. Luxury brands have many mad-hatters, we discover.

There are quirky things which drive us nuts…admit it! There are times you wonder what in ‘Chanel’s Camellia’ are they trying to prove! But quirk and us share a love-hate relationship. Some quirkies make us go all nuts again, but this time in a good way. Wobbly-kneed, we wish to barge in, and partake in its delectable charms and be different. Everyone can do a blue pair of classic jeans and that done-to-death white shirt, or a little black dress for the night out complete with something in pearl, but that’s the point…everyone can do it! What is individuality, and besides who except those darn 16 year old models in fawn-like bodies can pull these numbers off effortlessly? Fashion without quirks is a non-event, we at LuxuryFacts think. Run-of-the mill is as stale as yesterday’s breaking news. After all, fashion is about standing out, having fun and making your own unique statement – proclaiming to yourself most importantly that you are “not another jam bottle on the production line!” Repeat this statement as we showcase a non-exhaustive list of stellar quirky luxury pioneers over the years, who made us go nuts…in a good way of course!

We totally heart John Galliano, as politically incorrect it may sound, we absolutely heart the man! He is what creative geniuses are made of. Take a brand which had its share of good fortunes under the patronage of its revolutionary founder, and with his demise goes through countless change of guards including Yves Saint Laurent, to finally find eccentric, flamboyant and outrageous Galliano. Season after season he showcased what Dior could be and he made it just that - a revolutionary yet feminine, bold yet elegant brand. The fashionistas and the media alike lapped up his Dior aesthetics with a mad Galliano edge. Fuddy duddy Dior changed overnight. He embraced colours like no one dared to with bright reds and hues of orange and electric blues in winter when black and dull greys were the right thing. Did he care? Not one bit. Galliano took the house of Dior right were it belonged. Remember the 1958 Paul Gallico’s story of Mrs. Harris, the London Char Lady, who saved up money just so she could get herself a Dior gown? If the book were to be re-written, she’d rob a bank and go after Galliano’s Dior and throw in an African Fertility Goddess pair of heels to match. LVMH can find someone to fill up Galliano’s position, but they have some big quirky shoes to fill-up we say!

There are designers and then there is THE Alexander McQueen. This little large boy from Britain did whatever his fanciful mind could conjure up to stand out as an anti-establishment. His creations dared to move fashion forward from vanilla silhouettes which dictated runways for years. He was not the one to stand in the wings. He entered with a flourish, armed with his high-theatrical styling sense, loud and clear. The brief he gave himself was simple: Let’s make it dramatic and perhaps people a bit uncomfortable. Now how many designers would make their models play a game of human chess during a showing of collection? Or display a live orgy of fantasy between a paint spewing robotic machine and a model in a plain white dress rotating on a turntable while the machine creates what turned into one of ‘THE MOMENTS’ in runway history – a sprayed on yellow and black dress.

His quirky sensibilities earned him the love of the queen of Quirk – Lady Gaga – and hordes of style icons of our times. Quirk reflected in the ethos of his brand, the collections he created, the runway shows and the publicity material he generated. Even in death he went out with serious attention. A great loss to fashion and a bigger loss of a man who put spunk back into it.

You’d expect a global mega brand to be predictably boring and safe in its approach. After all, they have a huge clientele from Nevada to Noida to appease. This would hold true for any and every other brand unless you are Muccia and run a fashion powerhouse brand Prada. When everyone goes for canvases and leather with metallic hardware on their accessories, Prada moves towards PVC, plastic and nylon. When everyone goes to buckles and buttons as fastening devices, Prada goes and attached Velcro to their shoes and bags. Things otherwise considered obscene and cheap suddenly become luxury – Prada says so! Do we need to explain anything?

This Italian brand has led true fashion innovation and challenged every rule in the book. Today the world sports liquorice legs in skinny jeans, while Muccia thinks otherwise. She is turning the tide with a mission to re-introduce voluminous flares with the signature quirky Prada touch comprising of lavish fabrication, strong structuring and intricate prints. The new Prada footwear collection look like they have slipped out of a Salvador Dali’s painting sans any design rules, resembling not a pair of pumps, but grand, hand crafted furniture. Not for the faint hearted, but that’s Prada for you.

Louis Vuitton plays it straight and uncontroversial. Why rock the boat of perhaps the biggest luxury brand in the world, both in terms of actual and perceived value? Once in a while they lose it, thanks to Marc Jacobs, who despite being kept under a tight creative leash gets his way around once in a while. Millennium bag by Vuitton is a by-product of his creative outbursts. We can imagine him sitting on his design table tearing up each and every of the 15 ‘It-Bags’ over the years and stitching them together to make a new bag and giving birth to the $42,000 priced ‘Tribute Patchwork’ bag. Beyoncé got one and others just vanished into thin air like everything LV.

Jacobs also plays smart occasionally. When he cannot do it alone, he pulls in the biggest artists into his ‘projects’, in order to legitimately disfigure and vandalize the sacred Monogram pattern of the brand. Japanese Manga King Takashi Murakami added lively hues and characters making the multi-coloured logo bag collection a bestseller in a matter of minutes. Stephen Sprouse was paid a tribute to with fluorescent underground graffiti art splashed on the Speedy, Alama and the likes. We admit, this was some quirky in-your face design, and darn those savages who took away every Neverfull from the global shelves before we could even decide to head in the direction of the stores.

Thank the fashion universe for revealing to us Sabyasachi Mukherjee. This list wouldn’t be complete without him, now would it? While his peers and seniors grapple with silks, zaris and chiffons, he did the unthinkable taking pieces of unrelated, un-coordinated patches of cloth in various materials, textures and patched them together to create what women would sell their souls for. The methodology is a lot like that of someone who is doing some mundane quilt work, but Sabya creates art. His work is magical, making each embracer look good all the time. If that is not a feat, what is?

While fashion lives, and believe us it would as long as people breathe, there will be those who toe the line and remain neutral, vanilla and unadventurous and they will do good business. But then stand out those who step right up in the face of ordinary, give it one tight slap and shake us out of our stationary delirium, making us take notice of what we have been missing. Quirky, unashamed and loud, we hear them, loathe them, then love them…we always did.

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