Fashion Forward: The Subject of Fashion
Published: Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 03:05
Having ambition has always been important to me. I grew up around incredible inspirations—a brother in the film industry and another brother in music—and though I was pretty much the last hope for the medical degree my parents prayed for, it turned out I couldn’t help but fall in love with creativity either. I’m lucky to have found a strong passion so early on—fashion has always been what I’ve wanted to do, but my specific goal doesn’t necessarily require a cookie-cutter plan. That being said, I can’t blame people for that assuming I’m a fashion major. “Oh, so you want to be in fashion, what are you studying?” they say. “I’m a European history major,” I reply, preparing my explanation. There’s no surprise that the response has raised many confused eyebrows; and with jobs being so limited, it’s the worst answer to tell a parent.
Yes, learning the fundamentals of textiles and merchandising is great, and, if you want to be the next Coco Chanel, knowing how to sew is helpful too. But believe it or not, these skills aren’t completely necessary. The fashion program is tough and I think fashion students are extremely underestimated. I have a great respect for all the fashion students out there who know what they love and are mastering their craft. But for the sake of my dilettante mindset, history is my approach to fashion.
When I was in the fourth grade, my grandmother made me a gown out of maroon, gold and deep green silk taffeta for a history autobiography project. As the only little 9-year-old Asian in the class, Queen Elizabeth was a little tough to portray, but I managed to pull it off with the stunning gown and my nerdy fascination with Tudor England. Now that I think of it, my fashion taste probably developed from being such a huge historical film junkie. Costume designs in epic period dramas are the epitome of fashion. Whether it’s Joe Wright’s “Pride & Prejudice” or Cate Blanchett’s fierce performance in “Elizabeth,” nothing compares to great period film.
I could watch Sofia Coppola’s adaptation of “Marie Antoinette” on mute and it would still have the same amazing effect. I find timeless inspiration in everything: the pastel color palette, gorgeous cinematography and the charming cakes and pastries. The Louis Vuitton Spring/Summer 2012 collection embodies a similar sweet aesthetic with a modern taste. I recommend wearing soft hues and ladylike silhouettes with edgy accents, like a moto jacket, to mimic the Vuitton 2012 look. Incorporate pretty collars—a trend that seemed to start in London last year and has spread everywhere today—into your wardrobe as well.
The British television period series “Downton Abbey” follows the lives of an aristocratic family upstairs and their servants who work below the estate. Though the plots and writing are captivating on their own, I can’t help but be distracted by the amazing costume designs. Intricate detail, stylish construction and impeccable taste drive the visual artistry of the show. The show’s wardrobe is outstanding both upstairs and down—that’s right, the servants’ pilgrim-chic housemaid uniforms are just as inspiring as those outfits worn by the family. High white collars, black dresses and the prim and proper aesthetic definitely had an effect on my personal wardrobe. Incorporate silk button-downs, ’20s inspired shift dresses and structured elegant coats to achieve a “Downton Abbey” look.
The stereotype that a fashion degree is the only route to working in the industry is fashion’s major misconception—pun intended. The masterminds behind the fashion house Rodarte, Laura and Kate Mulleavy, found 19th century art history and English literature more attractive than a degree from Parsons The New School for Design. America’s famous celeb stylist Rachel Zoe received a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts, while bridal guru Vera Wang studied art history at Sarah Lawrence College.
Inspiration comes from your own personal interests and whether they’re in business or psychology, that’s for you to decide. I encourage you to explore your interests this summer and draw fashion inspiration in everything from the exciting to the mundane. I’ll be collecting adventures in London to bring back with me for my last year—if I can bring myself to return.