2014-07-17

spring 2015 menswear in fashion illustrations*



"Astrid Andersen Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Kenzo Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Alexander McQueen Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Dior Homme Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Givenchy Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014





"Versace Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014





"Dolce & Gabbana Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"MAN Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Prada Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Louis Vuitton Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014




"Calvin Klein Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014



"Burberry Prorsum Spring 2015 Menswear" by Zakirah Rabaney | Watercolour pencil crayons and pen on paper | 2014


2014-07-05

fashion's current orientalism fetish*




Western artists and designers have been obsessed with Orientalism for centuries. The exoticism of gold ornamental jewellery styled with punjabis and abayas, dramatically increased the popularity of tunics, kaftans, kimonos and harem pants early in the 20th century; think Paul Poiret and his Arabian-obsessed Parisian posse. Their ensembles were usually topped off with Turkish-style fezzes or Bedouin turbans, worn like clich├ęd props to complete superficial outfitting, influenced by stereotypical imagery of olden time North African, Middle Eastern and Asian cultures. And despite Western fashion's ongoing and open appropriation of these cultures, we've come a long way since the beginning of the 20th century and the depiction of Eastern fashion in the West today, is a far cry from the inauthentic stereotyping it used to represent. 
I'd like to think that I'm what you'd call a liberal thinker, so when people take offence to fashion's appropriation of their personal cultural heritage, I like to encourage some don't-be-so-sensitive retrospection. Though there truly are some grotesquly gimmicky and colonial imperialistic interpretations of Eastern and Asian cultural fashion, I believe poorly executed pastiches shouldn't be mistaken for appropriation. There are differences between a designer/ wearer being inspired by a culture versus crudely stereotyping it. When fashion needs to be politically correct, the designer or wearer's intention is of utmost importance. In 2014, who are we to stop anyone from exercising their God-given right to artistic license? I only touch on this because I think negative questions regarding cultural appropriation will increase as this fashion trend gains momentum. Especially given the ode designers and fashion media are tributing to Eastern fashion and the Arab muslim culture.  


Fashion inspired by Eastern and Asian cultures has been around for a while. During my analysis of the Fall 2012 ready-to-wear shows, I noticed a styling trend where designers would layer skirts and dresses over trousers. A look that's akin to the traditional Indian punjabi outfit. Another fashion trend native to India, which has been popular amongst subculture fashion enthusiasts, is the wearing of Indian facial jewellery, saris and bindis. Technically this has been present in popular culture since the 1990s, and luckily is not as offensive as that Native American headdress Karlie Kloss wore during the 2012 Victoria's Secret fashion show. Even elements of traditional Chinese and Japanese fashion, became popular trends during the Fall 2012 ready-to-wear collections. Ironically, this Asian wave hit runways around the same time luxury brands calculated that Chinese consumption of luxury fashion goods, amounted to 46 billion U.S. dollars in 2012. Could it be that the economic, social and political interest in Eastern and Asian cultures are representative of the West's acceptance of the globe's multiculturalism and its aesthetic needs?
Ashish Gupta's Spring 2014 collection mirrored urbanisation and the growing cosmopolitan characteristic of major cities. Gupta said he was inspired by the African, Arabic and Indian heritage of grocery shop owners in London, selling "everyday products like beans stocked next to exotic products like figs." For Chanel's recent resort 2015 collection, Karl Lagerfeld presented his rendition of One Thousand and One Nights. His guests sat in a harem-like hall and enjoyed an 84 piece collection, laden with diamond encrusted crescent moons, floaty-belly-dancer-like chiffons and Aladdin-style pointy toe shoes. In true Lagerfeld irony, there was even a gold quilted bag shaped like a petrol can... did I mention the show took place in Dubai? But in a true display of his connection with the current zeitgeist, Yohji Yamamoto confessed that his Spring 2015 menswear collection's signature layering, was born from his current interest in nomads. A theme that has been reoccurring throughout many of the Spring 2014 and Spring 2015 menswear collections. Lately, the nomad has been a romanticised character. Its resurgence in 2014 is born from the fast-paced lifestyles of international travellers and the typical layered styling, associated with on-the-go travelling. 


Personally, I'm thoroughly enjoying the rise of Arabian fashion. This particular branch of the Orientalism fashion trend is scandalously juicy because of Western media's cultural, political and social portrayal of the Middle East and the dress code of muslim women. I think the adoption of hijab/ nijab as a fashion trend by non-muslim women, could actually do well to alleviate some of the ridiculous concerns some European governments have about it. The hijab/ nijab, which is a compulsory component of a Shari'ah compliant dress  code for muslim women, was banned in France, Belgium, Barcelona, certain towns in Italy, Switzerland and in Russia. Even Lady Gaga had to change the name of her song originally entitled "Burqa" to "Aura," because it sparked such a massive debate about appropriating religious symbols for the sake of fashion and controversy. I'm however choosing to see the superficial appreciation of a religion or culture's aesthetics, as a constructive tool. Make something less foreign to people and you'll take away its power to be used as a propagandist. That's essentially what Eastern fashion (especially the hijab/ nijab) is to Westerners - foreign, oppressive and frightfully unfamiliar - but perhaps the same sentiment could be applied to some Middle Eastern laws regarding public displays of affection? Either way, it's about give and take, right?
Fashion entertains us the same way music, magazines, storybooks and Hollywood does. It continuously aspires to inspire us through a visual narrative of clothing, shoes and accessories. It's a conundrum with and without meaning, although sometimes it would do us well to just enjoy it at face value, and to revel in the superficial beauty of even the most serious of subjects. 


On a lighter note: Have a look at this video of Debra Paget as an Indian dancer in the 1959 German-French-Italian film, Das indische Grabmal, (better know as The Indian Tomb or Journey to the Lost City), directed by Fritz Lang. Paget's acting can't be likened to Lupita Nyong'o, and her dance moves are a far cry from Shakira's, but the costume design is glorious, and watching European film mimic Eastern exoticism is charming, vintage entertainment at its best.