Interlude - Inspiration and an Essay

I lazed about all day in a pair of ripped up bell bottoms and a crop top. However, I was just far too busy with work to photograph the ensemble. That being true, you instead have to suffer through a diatribe about the ways in which fashion reflects our culture and resonates within us personally.

Amongst people who do not love fashion, it is popularly thought that people who do love fashion feel the need to purchase accessories and garments in an effort to make themselves feel more attractive. I have always thought that my garment-lust stemmed from something much more pure: an aesthetic appreciation for said item, typically stemming from a sub-concious socio-cultural understanding of how that particular aesthetic relates to society at whole. Really, it is impossible to gauge fashion, either by individual preference or by the larger notion of what is fashionable or "in fashion", without considering context.

When we deconstruct our affinities, we see that there is a clear reason why we are drawn to certain things above others, and that there is something rather profound behind those reasons. For example, let's deconstruct my appreciation for the Rodarte for Opening Ceremony photoshoot.

Why do I so love this photo? If you were to catch me off guard, I would probably just reply that it "looks rad", or something equally banal. However, when I truly stop to consider why I love this photo, a few of key concepts spring to mind. 

The first thing that appeals to me about this photo is the obvious poignance of the color white. The trend in apparel lately has all been very dark, black, and edgy. There is a strength to black, which I love. Wearing black and hardware, it's hard not to feel like a total badass. In a time that has been particularly troubling for a number of people, who wouldn't want to feel like they could take on the world? Studs and spikes and doom and gloom seemed to be an acknowledgement of hardship, as well as an ownership of the strength caused by enduring financial and emotional stress. When everything around us was weak, particularly economically, we needed to feel strong. In addition, there was a huge callback to the punk movement, which in itself was a blue-collar homage. During the American economic crisis, the middle class became a touch more working class, and when we were lied to and stolen from by wealthy CEOs and powerful corporations, we became proud of our lack of privilege. Dwelling in the "black period" for so long, it is a bit surprising to see so much white, shining very nearly as a beacon of hope. There is something uplifting here, in this image, as though we can afford to be lighthearted once again. Also, there is a lot of negative space here, the impact of which is exacerbated by the absence of color. The girl feels very small, alone in an empty room. While some people might interpret this as isolation, I associate this with a cool confidence. She is calm. She is collected. She is comfortable in her skin. She is not self-concious, she is not co-dependent. I suppose after making it through great political, social, and economic strife over the past five years, this photo is uplifting because it represents a turn in the tide.

Another thing that I greatly appreciate is the juxtaposition of the floral motifs with the athletic-feeling sweater. Athletics are, obviously, traditionally thought of as a masculine enterprise. Seeing this sweater, which could easily be a high school letterman sweater, paired with very feminine details, seems to acknowledge that women are complex and multifaceted, uniquely difficult to decipher.

The California imagery also hits near and dear to my heart. I tend to think of California as a safe-haven, where the weather is always better and the people a little more empathetic. California is forever tied in my mind to San Francisco and the peace movements in the 1960s, and to young bohemians lazing about at the beach. The notion seems to be that superficial things like money and power are not essential, but that the ideas of community and justice are. The California reference, then, appeals to me on a political level, while simultaneously relating to my personal values. 

There, we have deconstructed what one image means to just one person. There are countless other contexts in which this one photograph could be viewed, not counting the ways in which each individual article of clothing presented in this photograph could be viewed. Each individual item is its own little world, complete with its own context and its own ability to inspire and relate to individuals. Owning the sweater in the photograph, for example, does not make us feel prettier or smarter or more successful. Perhaps, though, it makes us feel a little bit more like ourselves, as though we are able to project our values and ideals with a bit more ease, all while obtaining a little piece of history, a piece that fits into the grand puzzle of our current and ever-evolving zeitgeist. 

This all brings me to our last point, which is extremely important indeed: please buy me the entire Rodarte for Opening Ceremony collection. 


  1. This was a great read! Thanks!

    And Rodarte is genius.

  2. I really loved reading this. Rodarte definitely has an element of fantasy about their clothing that a lot of designers don't have. I hadn't seen that bag before, but it's so genius. This shoot is really inspiring and beautiful, and the clothes are just as beautiful in person. I saw them in Barney's last week and I really want to buy the tye dye marbled pink/white shirt in #1 but will wait for when it goes on sale.

  3. WOW! Great post, I always enjoy reading what you have to say! :) Human brain is so weird and I totally admire it! For example, I felt in a different way than you about this picture and it's so so weird... Thanks for posting this! And indeed this collection rocks! :D

  4. Lovely essay- the interplay between fashion and the economy/political climate is always
    Sadly, I tried on a lot of that collection at Co-op, and nothing fit me right. Which was beyond upsetting. But they didn't have the California sweater, which I WILL OWN.
    Although I'm pretty sure this will mean some hilarious/idiotic questions regarding "how my trip to California went".

  5. it's so nice to happen upon a blog where the blogger actually writes something. love these photos, very summery and fresh x

  6. I don't know why I happened to miss this post but it is PERFECT.