From standing up to standing out ....
In my last style post - I discussed the "black" experience and today I'm back discussing all things black again. But before I become known as the "biracial blogger" , you should note that today's post will only be dealing with black the colour and its prevalence amongst the fashion set.
A few years ago I wrote my graduate thesis paper on "Why we wear Black: Protection and Projection", it was a real winner covering everything from when Black first came into fashion as mourning clothes, the Japanese avant grade and Coco Chanel's LBD. That paper was several pages long and is buried away in my alma mater's reference library. Today's post will be relatively short in comparison - those of you stealing a few minutes of company time can rest easy.
“Black is the absorption of all colour and the absence of light. Black hides, while white brings to light. What black covers, white uncovers. We all use black at various times to hide from the world around us in one way or another. Some of us use it to hide our weight; others among us use it to hide our feelings, our fears or our insecurities.”
-Judy Scott-Kemmis (author / colour psychologist)
But what does it all mean?
Suffice to say, I have long been plagued by mysteries of the colour black and recently these thoughts were brought to a head.
Halfway through a lecture, the professor asked students to pair up and explain to the remaining 12 of us why we had worn what we wore today. After a few noncommittal responses (I wanted to be comfy, I didn't want to try too hard) the pair directly beside me stood up, and my classmate said something to the effect of, "we're both wearing all black because it's what all real artists do. Wearing all black is the only way to make the focus on the work you produce..."
He rambled on. I zoned out.
A quick glance around the room revealed that everyone was wearing all black. a white shirt poked out from underneath a black cardigan here and there, but overall it was noir en masse!
Here I was in a foreign country, in a sea of black. (Quite the irony)
was I less of an artist because I'd chosen to wear a printed scarf that day?
would my black jean jacket fool the others into thinking I was one of them?
Was my light denim screaming "I'm not the real deal!" ?
In this sea of all black, I was the rainbow fish. Patterns clashing.Their textures and colours causing me to promulgate from the background.
It was my turn to speak and I rose slowly. A proud peacock with my prints on display.
" Hi I'm Tyler Kenny and I love all things patterned; this scarf is a print I made and this denim jacket is probably the most black you'll ever see me wear..."
And that was it - I'd established myself as an outsider.
But how is it that in an industry where creativity thrives, where we constantly push colour trends and hawk guides to combining prints* that the majority of us choose to wear all black?
I've read the articles about Steve Jobs and Michael Kors who choose to wear a monotonous uniform of black turtlenecks and tees. And I have friends in other industries whose closets resemble a cartoon characters (you know when they open their closets and its racks on racks of the same thing?). I understand the concept of decision fatigue -the less you have to think about in the morning - the more energy you can expend on other issues - but I feel that for us fashion folk, choosing to forego colour or print is a choice that forfeits all the ways in which we can communicate visually with the world. Fashion and clothes may seem trivial to some (probably not you - if you've gotten this far) but they communicate a great deal on a sociological and psychological level.
I just can't get behind all black everything all the time.
With advancements in digital printing (see my Krane jacket pictured here) and centuries old embellishment techniques, our current fashion climate is that anything goes and almost anything is possible. Thanks to designers like Dries Van Noten and Prada you can step out in a coat whose print would rival those in museums. You can also go the natural albeit supersaturated route in vegetable dyed looks (and bags to match) from Bottega Veneta.
You can mix 70s wallpaper prints, Python and florals thanks to Gucci's new creative director, Alessandro Michelle.
If brands like Dries and Bottega have you opening your online banking apps in fear,Then fear no more. These trends have been both trickling down from luxury houses and migrating up to the catwalks from street style and second-hand shops.
The global style village fostered by instagram, Increased availability in shops and wide array of influences have all been key factors in this seismic shift toward individuality.
and yet my timeline is still flooded with bloggers in all black....
“Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy - but mysterious. But above all black says this: "I don’t bother you - don’t bother me".”
― Yohji Yamamoto