Monday, March 16, 2009

Mood: Are we plastic?

The question of true originality has been making its way as the "intellectual" theme through several seasons now --- take, Hussein Chalayan's Spring '09 show, McQueen's recent controversial Fall '09. Heck, seems like Gareth Purgh has been at it since the beginning with his avant-garde solar-panel silhouettes. The House of Chanel, one of the most commercialized brands in fashion, makes a cheeky commentary on its own label by having models carry what looks like those make-believe purses packaged in plastic that I used to buy in the toy aisles for my dolls. Otherwise, they look like frozen Chanel ice sculptures, but I'm going to go ahead and lean towards the first one. Karl has this ability to take our current cynicisms of materialism, and have us turn us against ourselves when it comes to our seemingly certain opinions on the necessity-beauty juxtaposition, because Chanel's reinvention of its handbag this season is undeniably enviable, hatable, and covetable all at once. Truthfully, the design seems perfect for Chanel when you consider its clientele.

It all seems to be crashing into each other at the right time, with Barbie's 50th Anniversary, her new look even...more artificial, blown-up, exaggerated than ever, as seen in ShopIntuition's new Tooktaka Barbie Line. MAC makeup did the Barbie thing long ago, but have tried to cash in on other plastic-like pop culture icons by collaborating with Hello Kitty --- which to me, is so last year. Nonetheless, they're doing seemingly well in profits, especially since they're marketing a cartoon animal that doesn't even wear makeup.

And if you think about it, we really do live in the era of the unnatural now don't we? In a previous post of mine, I've praised Zaha Hadid's polyurthane furniture for exhibiting true aesthetic shock that matches my own taste. The look of iPod's, Mac's all look like white plastic, essentially. Chanel has long had themes of plastic-like materials threaded into its fashion accessories, like those popular interlocking C earrings that have been counterfeited numerous times and sold in Richmond street markets. The bag this season is just a blatantly upfront example of this artificial luxury we desire, yet it still maintains a high degree of what I would consider, a quite brilliant design. Of course, it's not that this is a novel idea I'm writing about, per se, but it's the fact that we keep buying into it (no pun intended), so it doesn't feel like a new thematic discourse questioning the artificial, the real, the ugly or the beautiful anymore. We have loved cold, hard, shiny plastic since the beginning.

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