This week I have been inspired by Rei Kawakubo. Not so much her clothes or the Met Gala but more her philosophy and approach to fashion. In the two posts I shared about her in last weekend’s bibliography, there were some points that jumped off the page for me and made me feel understood. Perhaps this is why I have been a long-time admirer.
The first is her approach to the “next collection”, which I will loosely call “relentless experimentation”. She forces herself, sometimes painfully, to always come up with something that is different, that “refuses”, that moves us beyond the status quo. This is exactly how I feel about personal style. It is never static for me, it is always evolving, it involves refusing and it moves me forward in some important way. It involves both influencing and being influenced. It involves risk and experimentation. I find it odd when I try something new and someone will say, “that does not look like your style.” In my mind I do not have “a” style. Personal style for me is an adjunct to the process of becoming. Fashion offers me the way to construct the many selves I am and I can be. It conveys the many moods I must express and are sometimes inexpressible with words. Everywhere I go, everything I see, everything I read and everyone I meet offers me new possibilities for what garments I choose to wear.
Recently I have been experimenting with color and I think it is because the semester is done. As of today my grades are in and a summer looms ahead full of travel, vacation and a slower pace. Life feels bright, colorful and full of movement just like the coat I am wearing above. It exactly expressed my experience of moving through the world in greatly expanded ways. All the strands of newness and possibility are radiating around me. They are shimmering. What I wear and who I am in this moment is the same.
Another story about Rei, relayed by Alexander Fury, that resonated with my version of personal style is the fact that in the 1980’s she had the mirrors removed from the dressing rooms in her stores. She wanted to shift the focus from how one looked to how one felt when wearing the clothes. She wanted the wearer to become aware of the sensations evoked from the piece and the effect it has on your body. I think Rei was onto something although from a retail point of view it was deemed a failed experiment. I have written about this before, the interaction that occurs in the spaces between bodies and clothes. I did not look in a mirror when I was moving in this coat, I entered into the feeling of wearing and moving in it. What makes me love this designer, Angel, and Rei, is that they think about how their clothes will feel, not just look. Although I am a wordsmith and love them, sometimes there are just no words and that is when my style becomes my spokesperson.
What is your definition of personal style?