As we wave goodbye to yet another instalment of London Fashion Week, my thoughts turn to the division between personal style and fashion. In my younger years (admittedly, I'm still pretty young now), I leapt at the chance to attend fashion shows, revelling in the glamour and splendour of the whole affair. However, now that my actual job involves me attending fashion shows/parties/launches almost every night of the week, the sparkle has somewhat dimmed slightly.
I have long been a fan of personal style, ever since I pointed out a particularly attractive dress-pant combo sporting a large cartoon fish, aged three. It wasn't conventionally stylish of course, but it practically jumped off the rail at me, and I have never forgotten the moment to this day. Further questionable fashion choices were to follow, most notably a pair of blue suede boots emblazoned with colourful letters and numbers, purchased in Majorca for my seventh birthday. From their first outing the boots received some harsh criticism from my peers, but undeterred I continued to 'rock the look' until my feet outgrew them.
However, the point of this piece is not to give you a play by play of my poor fashion choices over the years, it is rather to encourage people to take more pride in their personal style. Fashion in general has developed a steely exterior which keeps those who are in, in, and those who aren't in, out. The hierarchy created by our culture of celebrity has literally knocked yet another nail into the cultural iron curtain, ensuring that only a select few can enter into this exclusive world. This is also ironic in itself, as the likes of Harry Styles and Cara Delevingne attempting to gain guest list to London Fashion Week only two years ago would surely have been denied access themselves.
The front row of London Fashion Week somewhat resembles a judging panel of caricatures of 'fashion people'. Sixty people either side of the runway sporting oversized sunglasses and a tight jaw is an odd thing to look upon from the cheap seats. The front row has recently been made more interesting by the inclusion of Pandemonia, Jodie Harsh and Daniel Lismore et al, clad in the most ridiculously OTT clothing they could get their hands on. However, some would argue that they take attention away from the designers' clothes on the actual catwalk.
Recently the papers and glossies have harked on about 'Street Style' or 'Blogger Style' including a mishmash of colours and prints worn in a completely over the top way. This is a look which London has particularly embraced; part-Harajuku, part-car boot sale in Blackpool, but it can very often seem contrived. One does have to wonder whether people are actually aware of what they are wearing, or whether they are literally attempting to attract the attention of street photographers, in the hope that they'll be featured in iD or Dazed and Confused.
Of course, the Club Kid look is also no new thing. Pioneers such as Boy George have been championing the look since the 80s, and Vivienne Westwood is still creating stand-out pieces reminiscent of those which she designed in the 70s. However it's the individuals that wear their clothes with no real flair that gets to me. Personal style is something that everyone should be able to enjoy regardless of budget or shape, by discovering cuts, colours and looks that they like and mixing them to create something completely new.
Without an encouraged interest in personal style, we are at risk of becoming permanent hipsters who have little awareness of where our clothes came from. There was a programme on Channel 4 this week called Fabulous Fashionistas, following a selection of stylish 70, 80 and 90 somethings still making an effort with their clothing. They weren't particularly interested in trends, but they were interested in personal style. I, for one, found the programme extremely inspirational. If I'm still walking around in pink DMs and a fur coat aged 75 then I'll be one very happy lady. And who knows, perhaps Doc Martin will have brought out a range of alphabet printed boots by then, here's hoping.
My plea is for everyone to embrace their inner creative and get a kick out of what they wear. Doing the research on what worked in the past is a good way to start, and rather than buying fad wear from this season's 'hot-list', why not invest in something which will spark conversation rather than intimidate.
There are certainly no guest-lists to personal style, and the possibilities are not simply limited to the season's colours and hues.
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