HOW DOES THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COLOUR BLACK CHANGE, DEPENDING ON THE STYLE AND ERA IN WHICH IT’S USED?

 

 

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INTRODUCTION
The colour black is often referred to the colour of the unknown. So therefore it is difficult to define the simple significance of the colour black. Starting with how black makes us feel physically and emotionally, it can be said that mostly, we connote the colour black with either a depressive state of mind, or death. Although these connotations would certainly be apparent, in our general thoughts, we may sometimes forget the other connotations that the colour black derives. As well as the implications of sadness, blackalso exudes a mysterious and secretive quality that cannot be defined in the same way by any other colour. This links to the theme of seduction, which I will later explore. The colour black also gives a rebellious quality, often in the hands of teenagers, on the cusp of adulthood. In contrast to this, black is also a colour of tradition, linking to religious symbolism and specific mourning traditions. Again in contrast, black can also be seen as a particularly glamorous colour, as a classic complement to the idea of money, elegance and power.

BLACK AS SEDUCTION          
Black often has the connotation of being mysterious and perhaps sexual. The classic black Christian Louboutin shoe represents this. With his trademark red sole, Louboutin provides an intriguing basis for which the consumer will be captivated. The contrast of the red–on-black production is that the red acts as an instant dominant power in the sea of black. This is a physical metaphor for the heightened sense in a sado-masochistic sexual act.  Added to this sense of intrigue is the ideal heal height for the shoe in black as seduction. The idea of
“pain as pleasure” denotes from the suggestion on dominance in a sexual relationship. Taking authority is also something that the colour black represents, particularly to suggest power. There are many links to the idea of “pain as pleasure” within the fashion industry. Often, trends which could be linked to a more sexual-side of fashion such as corsetry, killer heels, PVC and leather are all featured on the main catwalk shows, therefore bringing the idea of sexual clothing to the high streets.

 BLACK AS GLAMOUR
Coco Chanel famously created the first stylish “LBD” or Little Black Dress in the 1920’s which, at the time, was her most notable contribution to the fashion world. The colour black depicts the height of elegance and sophistication, with the links to black-tie events, which is typically a power and money-based event in which the men will wear a black tuxedo with bow-tie and women will adorn themselves in their finery, including diamonds and ball gowns. Black worn in this way suggests that the wearer is of a high status and therefore has the sufficient power and wealth to warrant the ability to wear the colour black. Hollywood icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Audrey Hepburn help make the LBD famous during their time in the ever-evolving spotlight. Hepburn’s infamous Givenchy LBD has become perhaps more iconic and recognisable than her film-work. The phrase “… is the new black” is a commonly used phrase to show the popularity of something, this proves how the colour black will never fade out of style and will always be used in one way or another, in the fashion industry to provide a basis for new and evolving designs. Black can be used as a method of providing a slim line effect to one’s body shape, adding to the sophistication that wearing the colour allows. It could be psychologically seen that someone that wears the colour black gives off a sense of success and confidence within their demeanour. This is something that provides those in authority with their authoritive power in the way they dress.

BLACK AS HISTORY
Historically, culturally and socially, it has been of an age-old tradition that close family members of the deceased would only wear the colour black during the period of mourning. In some areas of South America and Africa, widows would wear black for the rest of their lives as a self-sacrifice in a submission to their late husband and God. In these areas of the world, it would be a form of self-inflicted pain, an almost self-harm as these are the hottest parts of the world, the women feel they have to suffer for their loss, it is a submission until the end. Close family members to those deceased will wear black for a prolonged period of time (1 year) out of respect for the widow or widower, however women in the Victorian era would be in mourning dress for 2 and a half years, (In contrast to this, men in the Victorian era that had lost their wives only wore mourning dress for a period of 3 months after.) Traditionally, especially in the Victorian era, Mourning dress would consist of extremely conservative, plain clothes that covered up almost every part of the body, except the face and hands (However, a widow would use a veil to cover her face when leaving the house). The colour black represents a feeling of darkness, both physical and mental, a sense of doubt and uncertainty, it can be used as a cover of fear, loneliness and insecurities to the outside world. Women’s mourning dress were often corseted to allow for an even harsher shape to the body, and to add to an even more “torturous” time for their period in mourning.

However, although in history, the colour black may be seen as a link to death, there are also other connotations with the colour black that are perhaps not so negative. In those times, it was usually only the very wealthy and aristocracy that wore black during mourning. However, many other people started to wear black so as to imitate those that were wealthy. Because mourning dress was expensive to produce and own, it therefore became a fashion statement, and more of a tool for presenting your inevitable high social status. In Elizabethan times, people who could wear black was dictated by English law called Sumptuary Laws. This was because good black fabric that didn’t have the tendency to fade was extremely expensive to produce. Because of this, one that wore the colour black usually was of a high class, which reflected where they were in the social hierarchy. King Philip II of Spain (1527-1598) is often shown in paintings wearing expensive black clothing.
In another way however, black used to represent plainness and humility when used in con junction with cheaply made fabrics that were uncomfortable to wear such as coarse, rough, undyed dark wool that would be used for those in monasteries, this again links in with the theme of black in religion symbolising submission to God.

CONCLUSION
The colour black in fashion and tradition can take on many symbolic meanings. Tradition says that black is the colour of mourning and death. However today, black has a much broader and less meaningful purpose. Nowadays, it is more common for people to wear black as more of a fashion statement than as a means to symbolise something. However, there are a few exceptions such as for religious purpose that still carry the traditions such as priests wearing black in submission to God. However, in contrast, black in fashion can mean taking authority rather than as an act of submission. Stemming from the old tradition of black meaning power and authority, it has filtered its way down into today’s society with the common thought that one is taken more seriously, perhaps in a job, when wearing black. With its sense of mystery, black can be used, in conjunction with fabrics such as lace and satin, as a toll for seduction in the way in which a perhaps different persona could be created when wearing black. This may also be linked to why black is also seen as a glamorous colour also. As traditions are broken, the idea of a more provocative look is one that has become more and more popular. Perhaps Old Hollywood actresses making the trend of wearing black on the red carpet helped them to create a persona, which then filtered into the mainstream of wearing black. With the many varied ways in which black can be used and worn, it is no wonder why the colour possesses such intrigue. Many personal messages can be sent and statements can be made from wearing the colour black and it seems as if the colour is timeless, no matter what the current symbolism is. It is down to personal decision and preference what the colour black symbolises as it can represent different things to different people at different times of the day, year of in their lives. It is true to say that black is the colour of the unknown, it is open to personal representation in terms of the significance.

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PHOTOGRAPHY PHILOSOPHY – NICK KNIGHT’S PLASTIC CUP.

Okay, so this feature I’ve named “Photography Philosophy” was supposed to be a feature that I would post every Friday. However I was extremely busy yesterday and didn’t get round to posting. Just as well really as the decision for which photograph to post proved a difficult one. For me personally, photography is a key part (if not THE most important aspect) of the fashion industry. Without famed photographers such as Nick Knight (Which I will later talk about) Patrick Demarchelier, Mario Testino and Annie Leibovitz, we would see fashion in the same way as we do today.
Although my interest in photography lies mainly in the area of fashion, the photo I will “philosophically” analyse is one of Nick Knight’s phenominally minimalistic frames which he took for the Natural History Museum in London, 1993. The photo in question is simply of a plastic cup, which for many is simply “just a plastic cup”. But from a photography/philosophical perspective, the object in question is more than just a white, sort-of-cylindrical object which enables us to (cheaply, I might add) drink out of. It is a symbol.
For me personally, the cup personifies us as a greedy-western-world-humanity that takes the simple things in life for granted. It signifies the way in which we brush off the more meaningful aspects of people and materialistic objects. A plastic cup is something that we all recognise as a cheap, easily-disposable, doesn’t-matter-if-it-breaks object that can be replaced with a “drop of a hat”, “click of the fingers” etc etc. However, the lonesome cup represents the fact that we are ironically alone in our materialistic ways. You may think that I’m just going on about “just a plastic cup”, but in all honesty, think about all the disposable things we have in our everyday lives, all the things that can be replaced. If you took all of those things out of your home, room, wherever they may be kept, what would you have left? I’m not just talking about shoes and handbags. I’m talking about cars, houses, photographs. We take such things for granted. If we’d never had plastic cups in the first place, there would be something else in its place that would be just as disposable.
Sadly, we live in a disposable world. This we cannot deny. Taking things for granted has become a habit. Something that we are not conscious of, but everyone does, whether we feel guilty or not after we realise the fact is down to personal conscience.
Am I saying that everyone should get rid of everything they own and live a life in poverty? No. Am I saying that I don’t take anything for granted? No. Am I saying that we should live our lives happier, thinking about how lucky we are? Yes.

Some people say that fashion is a frivolous topic. It’s not frivolous, it’s fabulous.

EJM FASHION: 3rd ANNIVERSARY.

With connections at Vogue, Harrods and Harvey Nichols; Rave reviews from Stella McCartney and Chanel; and been mentioned in Vogue after interviewing Roland Mouret, Enya Morrisroe is a sure-fire up-and-coming powerhouse. Morrisroe’s brand EJMfashion comprises of many aspects of the fashion industry, from designing innovative collections each season, to enlisting her very own photographer, Charles Davis to accompany the brand image; Morrisroe states that she had a “love affair between photography and fashion” and that she loves “turning a garment into one beautiful picture which speaks a thousand words”. Also acting as PR manager to rapidly growing new young designer Daniel Bird (DB Boutique), she has proven herself to be a true hard-worker when it comes to her career and the boosting of others’.
You’d think that all these achievements (and many more) would come from the CV of a well-established fashion-business guru. However you’d be wrong. Guru-in-the-making Morrisroe is just a girl from Yorkshire on an exciting adventure to become the powerhouse that she and her company deserve. Having written articles for Harrods, interviewed the Harrods spokesperson, attended Both London and New York Fashion Weeks, gained contacts at John Lewis PR AND running a successful fashion blog, it’s hard to believe Morrisroe’s brand has only been running for 3 years. However, with the likes of Vogue on her CV, the brand will no doubt become one of the greats in years to come. But what an already amazingly successful 3 years it has been!
In celebration, I asked Enya herself where she sees the brand in 10 years’ time and what she hopes the brand will evolve into in the future…

”That’s an interesting question really. I see myself working within the industry, either as a PR girl or Journalist. The blog will still be going, travelling and experiencing the events of the fashion calendar. I’d love to own an apartment in NYC.
As for the brand, I’d love to see EJMfashion as a fully launched brand; the collection on the LFW Newgen Catwalk at Somerset house and see the collection on the rails of the respectable department stores.
I also would like to be a part of helping the new talent in the industry, helping to create their own brand and career.”

LEGEND IN THE MAKING – TEX SAVERIO

The day the US edition of Harper’s Bazaar’s May 2011 issue came out, I went straight to the shop to buy it. The usual routine of excitement of knowing my ultimate idol is on the cover of yet another magazine, panic over whether there will be any copies left and a sense of relief and almost geeky euphoria when I have the photos and interview in my hand. This routine was slightly different. I still got the pre-excitement/panic before owning the magazine, but this time, when I turned to the article featuring my idol Lady Gaga, the dress she was wearing almost outshone the star herself. I was immediately taken with the design and had to find out more about the designer that had created such a divine specimen of a dress. One quick glance at the bottom of the page informed me that the designer in question was Indonesian-based Tex Saverio. It took me all of three seconds to Google his name and what I found was utterly mesmerising. His first collection for Jakarta Fashion Week was for spring/summer 2011, named “My Courtesan” and I find it very difficult to sum up the collection using words. It is undeniable that his workmanship is truly incredible, and what I find most amazing is how he is virtually unknown to the western fashion world. His creations are so outlandishly fantastic and exquisite that it’s a wonder why he’s not already known as a legend in the making. Personally, I cannot comprehend how amazingly talented this young designer is. His latest collection “The Revelation” was an exploration of the duality of good and evil in The Revelation. The dresses were showcased as an almost performance art piece on the runway at Jakarta Fashion Week. If I could create my own race of people, this is how we would all look. His designs are perfection itself.
After discovering Tex’s work over the internet, I felt that I really needed to get into contact with him just to express my admiration for his work. After contacting Tex’s manager via email, I felt I had to pass on a message to Tex expressing my adoration towards his creations, and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the man himself…

Is there any one person you have in your mind as a muse that you look to when designing?
Maybe it’s not particularly one person, but at one time it could be one person. Gaga is definitely my muse. In general I’m always inspired by a woman with a strong character. Very strong one, perhaps.

What is your favourite part of designing a garment? Is it the process or seeing the end product?
The part when I could turn my imagination into reality, when I get the “looks” that I imagined it to be.

What inspires you most?
A woman. I learn a lot from a woman, and I get a lot of ideas… It is always a mix of the character of a woman and my fantasy.

I am also a huge Lady Gaga fan, what was it like to have her wear one of your exquisite dresses in Harper’s Bazaar?
I was surprised. I was in the middle of a meeting when I got the news from the internet.

You are known as “Indonesia’s Alexander McQueen”, how does it feel to be compared to such a legend in the fashion industry?
Nahh… That’s simply too much! I am nothing compared to him, I think he is incomparable. He’s a legend, while I’m just a new kid. But however this will motivate me to go higher…

Where do you hope the brand to progress to in the future?
I hope to reach international market. Wish me luck!

 

After my interview with Tex, I began scouring the internet for yet more images of the designer’s work, and after analysing almost all of his creations, I now feel that his pieces provide both a physical and emotional journey and connection with both himself and the wearer. I feel this is a huge achievement with a collection and I really, honestly wish Tex all the luck in the world (Although, he won’t need my luck with the talent that he has!) and I hope that one day, Tex will be showing his designs globally!

CHECK OUT TEX SAVERIO’S WORK HERE.

AWKWARD HELLO’S AND SAD GOODBYE’S…

Hello to my fellow bloggers, friends, fashionistas and magpie’s!

As my first blog post, I’m going to introduce myself by telling you a little bit about me, letting you seep into my brain for a twinkling instant!

As it stands, I’m a 17 year old girl, one day hopefully a successful fashion writer and journalist! My fashion-life began when I was 9 years old, seeing Vivienne Westwood walking down Kensington High Street one evening… Intrigue is only a small fraction of what I felt. Since then my fashion obsession has reached a particular high as I’ve recently created a fashion journalism portfolio to show at university interviews (pieces of which I will later post here on this blog.) I thoroughly enjoyed the process of creating it and it is basically what inspired me to create this blog.

Let’s talk about my blog name: HNNH NYC or HNNH_NYC as it is on Twitter… My name is Hannah (hence HNNH) and the NYC part is just a reference to where I am determined to make it in my career. I feel like an NYC girl at heart.

I’ve titled this post “Awkward Hello’s and Sad Goodbye’s”. Now that I guess the “Awkward Hello’s” is over with, I’ll move onto the “Sad Goodbye’s”. Three days ago I had to put my beloved Greyhound to sleep, literally broke my heart. Moving on from that and feeling energized, I feel starting a fashion blog in the way I want to do it will help me concentrate my thoughts into something else, something useful that could help me with my career.

Well after that introduction, I think it’s time to sign off and start blogging for real! I hope you enjoy my blog, feedback is greatly appreciated! My email is HNNH_NYC@live.co.uk if you wish to ask me questions or give me inspiration for future blog posts!

xoxo
Hannah