The art of fashion

3 04 2008

By Leila Dougan

Attending fashion shows is extremely daunting. You worry about what to wear and rarely feel comfortable with what you choose as local designers eye the colours and textures that you finally decide on. The world of fashion is unnecessarily pretentious. Surely there are more important matters to worry about than whether my shoes match my handbag?

Having said this, I envy those who immerse themselves in the fashion world. I look up to the religious readers of Elle, Style, Marie Claire and the like. I secretly appreciate fashion, it’s the intimidating designers and followers I prefer to stay away from. Carry the wrong label on your pink handbag and you are immediately excluded from a snooty group who make it very clear that you are not pretty enough, thin enough or wealthy enough to be conversing with them.

As materialistic as they are, attending the Sanlam Fashion Week, held in Johannesburg, gave me a new perspective on the fashion world. Watching Clive Rundle’s show in particular.

Bright fluorescent lights hung low from the ceiling and heaps of baking flour covered the fashion runway at Rundle’s show. The models made their way confidently down the runway strategically avoiding the dangling lights. But soon, the flour was spilling over the runway and onto the shoes and clothes of those sitting close enough to the action.

“You would think it was heaps of coke with the crazy outfits those models were wearing,” said art student Janice McGowan, once the show was over. I agree.

There was nothing commercially fashionable about Rundle’s show. The only people who could get away with wearing his designs are those belonging to some warped circus group. Models strode in wearing silver padded helmets, chunky jewellery made from cheap, plastic children’s toys and shoes resembling shocking-pink, paper cupcake holders.

Despite the awkward clothing I found the show inspirational. Most people say these events are about fashion, I no longer think that’s true. Fashion is not about everyday wear, it’s about possibilities. You have to shock people because it defines the passion of the designer that surpasses viewer experience. It showcases the art we are yet to receive as consumers. It may be within a materialistic industry, but it is still art and that I can appreciate.