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Old 6th October 2005   #3
Join Date: July 2005
Posts: 1,784
Default Crystal Renn: Persephone on the runway

In fact, the entire show exhibited the palpable influence of "The Old World." And although in some cases the outfits consisted of an uncomfortable pastiche of the modern and the timeless, the overall effect was nevertheless as pronounced an expression of the Aesthetic Restoration as we have yet seen in a runway show from a high-fashion designer.

The collection was strongly pervaded by folkloric elements, and exhibited a distinctly organic quality. The fact that the catwalk itself was covered with straw was no mere "gimmick." Rather, like Galliano's Neo-Gothic runway set from earlier this year, it testified to the ongoing attempt by high fashion to return to first principles, and to find fresh, new sources of inspiration in the cultural legacy of the West, rather than in merely rehashing 20th-century modernism ad nauseam.

Here is one lovely ensemble from the show: a young couple in romantic attire. The peasant blouse has now been a staple of fashion for several seasons--so much so, that we can all safely eschew that 20th-century label "trend" when speaking of this ultrafeminine article of clothing, and acknowledge that it is here to stay, and that its continued popularity testifies to a fundamental change in the very essence of women's fashion.

Note also this strikingly folkloric ensemble exhibited on a clear representation of a mother/daughter pair. When was the last time that motherhood was implicitly celebrated on a high-fashion runway? This, too, testifies to a reorientation of the fashion world's values (aesthetic, and otherwise).

Or, in all seriousness, when was the last time that unselfconscious cuteness (and we use that term advisedly) was allowed to be connected to a creation of the fashion elites, without a trace of crippling irony?

In fact, the show even included a complete family group (father, mother, and two children), although the attire in that set was not as harmoniously timeless as in the above images.

The models' headpieces also testified to the show's celebration of the natural world:

Flowers and berries--the very items that, a hundred years ago (and still to this day, in some vibrant and rural part of Europe, unspoiled by a century of ideological warfare) young maidens would bedeck themselves with, to celebrate nature's cycle, and confirm their part in it, and to symbolize the people's connectedness to the land.

* * *

Looking at these outfits, one might inevitably rue the fact that Crystal and other plus-size models were not showcasing all of them (especially as so many of them were unmodern, and therefore, ideally suited for a womanly figure).

However, there is another way to interpret her presence in this show--i.e., to regard it as a deliberate, thematic culmination of this Old World runway experience.

If we extend our oft-invoked "goddess" analogy past the aesthetic, we can consider Crystal the designer's (or let us say rather, the Creator's) presentation of a goddess of nature.

In the Classical world, this would be mark Crystal as Persephone, goddess of flowers, fruit, and springtime--but she has kin in every traditional European culture, from the Slavonic to the Germanic. (Think of Freia and her "golden Apples," from Wagner.)

The blessing of a goddess was invoked in many of the traditional folk festivals that marked the spring and the fall--and this tradition lived on in Christian Europe, in religious pageants such as the Crowning of Mary with blossoms, as the "Queen of the May."

Therefore, if we interpret this runway event as a kind of folk festival, Crystal's presence here (dressed in a couture-like gown, distinguishing her all the more, in a ready-to-wear event) is like appearance of a goddess amidst mortals--i.e., the regular models who otherwise peopled the show, representing ordinary humanity.

And is this runway event not, indeed, a kind of folk festival for the contemporary age, a way of helping modern mankind reconnect to its cultural roots?

The fact that these shows are seasonal now takes on a deeper meaning . . .

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