The feeling this fall and beyond emphasizes independent, personal dressing — striking a balance between high couture frivolity and low “white T-shirt” styling of seasons past.
Now at the beginning the millennium, style speaks with a do-it-yourself attitude at both ends of the spectrum. High-low dressing characterizes the fluidity and smoothness found in a personal design mix. While high dressing can be considered all things luxurious, low dressing consists of the basics.
On her own terms, Donatella Versace created her traditionally sexy fall product by emphasizing Sicilian youth (the low in this case), while maintaining the tactile sensuality of rare haute fabrics (the traditional high dressing of old Italy).
Combined, these mold perfectly to emphasize the accessible schema that is the black, white, and gray shades of everyday life. One’s closet collection need not be a palate of exacting matches or one trend, but rather a portrait of eclectic tastes.
Dressing was full of either-ors. There were too many choices to be made: masculinity/femininity, black/flamboyance, vintage/modern. If that wasn’t enough to confuse, the fading in and out of the role of supermodel/actress iconography in fashion delegated fashion decisions to the stylists, not the designers (placing the important decisions seemingly out of the pro’s hands).
Now by gleaning influence from the streets, designers are looking high and low to provide combinational creativity in their lines. The street exudes real-world relevance not found in recent prêt-a-porter lines. It is the trends adapted from the concrete that have become most wearable.
Perhaps this is most evident in the downfall of the outfit. There should be no “outfit” per se, but a balance of highs and lows. High dressing is the ying while low dressing could be the yang. For example, high-low dressing in accessorizing would mixed elements: a deco piece with viney nouveau, metals with beads, or masculine collar with a flirty hair band.
In the arena of high-low dressing there is both room for the expensive purse and the pair of old, faded in, early ’90s Diesel pants. For example, a close friend of mine, who will be helping with styling for the Versace spring show in Milan, suggested a few classic examples.
“From the top, you could start with a peasant blouse that has a sexy shoulder cut or embroidered trim. Then you could pair it with a distressed denim skirt; perhaps it would be frayed. This could be knee-length or mini, whatever is good for you. With the mini you would wear something spiky or tough on your feet and with the longer skirt you might want to try some Gucci logo flats. With any shoes, just make sure you can walk comfortably and confidently. Lastly, you could put some sparkly earrings or a pin on followed by a sash or belt around your hips.”
The reinvention of dressing lends itself to mixing decades with deconstructed and reconstructed vintage. The word deconstructed speaks to deconstruct new or worn clothes. For instance, a destructed pair of jeans may be frayed, bleached, stoned.
Reconstruction has hit the fashion forefront in the past year, most notably in the area of retro T-shirts that are re-sewn with beading or an added shoulder sash or a bit of denim lining the collar. Also, color is elemental in any wardrobe and old clothes can be made new with cheap Rit dye or bleach. A cheap way to add a twist to your closet is to do a clothing swap with friends or hunt around on Ebay.
Kate Moss, the born-again princess of fashion and face for Louis Vuitton, cites her inspiration: “I want to stay close to the energy in the street and not to be too reliant on high fashion ? that’s when fashion becomes boring and suffocating. People criticize fashion for being artificial or superficial, but in fact it’s not. Everyone has to get dressed in the morning. Whether it’s the work of Dior in the ’50s or Imitation of Christ now, fashion is an eternal movement.”