Grotesque Engorged Obfuscation

Celebrity Fat Club

This is a big one.  I believe in value.

We’re coming to the end of the year which also usually means the end of the (fashion) winter, soon, stores will be stocked with bikinis mocking the cold and the obese.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I love the very cold weather, everybody walks around in big puffy clothes, everybody looks fat, usually people wear oddly drab colors, I try to be a little different.  I have to say though, the year I wore an orange puffer jacket and looked like a giant pumpkin with legs 3 months after Halloween was probably not my finest moment.  Let’s put that down to sartorial risk taking.

I like this idea of of people being so incredibly padded out, engorged, if you will so that the rest of the world can’t quite make out what they look like underneath it all.  In particular I’ve been thinking a lot lately about this amazing spread in the Nov 2010 issue of Dazed and Confused.  Titled “Inflate” it took this idea of engorgement and obfuscation to it logical gorgeous extreme.

SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!  So so much and so so gorgeous!

It made me think of this:

Tim Hawkinson’s Balloon Self Portrait, 1993, latex and air.

I started by talking about the AW 2010 season.  Let’s see how this grossly enlarged aesthetic was proposed by 2 designers.  First up, Victor and Rolf – Style Factory AW10.  In 2 videos.  Starring Victor and Rolf and Kristen McMenamy.

And then the ever amazing Comme Des Garcon AW 10 Inside Decoration.  I don’t know what the soundtrack to that video is, I don’t think it’s actually from the show.  Or at least I hope not.

Was that too high end?  Try these on for size:

Can you tell how many toes the wearer has?  How big his foot is?  What shape his foot actually is?  Is Middle America more fashion forward than your ass?  These are hard questions that Crocs just don’t help to answer.

Speaking of shoes that completely obscure the foot.  Alexander McQueen gagged the world live with these amazing armadillo shoes from SS10.  Never made for sale.  Sad.  Here worn by Lady Gaga in the video for Bad Roamnce.

I first saw those shoes online at work.  My co-workers remember me screaming and running around the office.  sigh.

Less extreme, but still obscuring by blowing up the shape of a foot, was these cutesy, but potentially trippy shoes by Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton SS10.

Those shoes were worn with this hair:

Apparently each model had 4 wigs on her head.  The racial reference was challenging for some though to be perfectly honest, it made me think much more of this:

So cute!  They say that a poodle is groomed that way to keep various bodyparts (like joints) warm.  It’s like a soft protection, so to speak. A soft protection like that offered (at least emotionally) by the 1997 Spring collection of Comme Des Garcons which was controversial, but a revelation.  Many have since called it the Lumps and Bumps collection for the tumorous prosthetic pillows that were inserted into the pieces.  So beautiful.  So protective.  Versions of the garments were then made for the Merce Cunningham dance company as costumes.  Behold:

This sort of soft protection was recently exemplified by the Hovdig Helmet.  Worn as a collar, the helmet deploys on impact as an airbag that wraps the head.

It makes me think of this video:

Since Norma Kamali made her sleeping bag coat, designers have worked with the puffer coat and made some really beautiful collections, playing with the volumes that the material provides access to.  See for instance Junya Watanabe’s AW 09 collection.

Or this exceedingly pretty piece by Giambattista Valli for Moncler Gamme Rouge AW08

Of course it’s not as if designers have only created non-body conforming silhouettes in recent time.  Balenciaga made a lot of money (and happy women) with the sac coat.  This example show how the coat was gorgeous, and comfortable and while not as extreme as some of the pieces in this post show a very definite shift away from being ruled by the contours of the body.  Thinking about this coat which dates to sometime between the late 50’s and early 60’s in opposition to Dior’s new look which too used a large amount of volume in a the skirt and hip to accentuate a very narrow waist, this coat goes the other way entirely.  No waist for you!

photo: FIDM Museum

This historical reference brings to mind the Kenzo SS11 show which ended with a 40 year retrospective of garments from their archive, but displayed stacked on models so as to almost completely obfuscate the shapes, contours and heights of their bodies.  Video by Bryanboy.

Sometimes obscuring the body with volumes isn’t about a roundness.  Sometimes it’s just flat planes and sheer size.  I leave you with looks from Maison Martin Margiela’s Spring 11 show.

Featured image at top of post collaged from photos generated by NY Daily News using the Fatbooth ap for iPhone.

All runway images from


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