For the query “Pussy Pussy“, Google returns scenes from the “Pornhub”. But in Fashion World Pissy Pussy “is a Brooklyn based, self-taught, wearable art designer, creating outrageous couture pieces for themself and other performance artists around the world”. The designer explains brand naming: “I definitely know my brand name plays a big role in the success of my brand because it’s vulgar“. Their work revolves around covering the human body and transforming it into an artistic creation made of shapes, patterns, colors, and textures.
Johannes Warnke was raised in Germany and studied at Central Saint Martins in London. Since his graduation in the summer of 2020, his creations have garnered attention from the spheres of high fashion and performance: he designed the dress for Lady Gaga’s “911” video or the several gowns that outfitted Post Malone’s choir during the 2021 Grammys.
“I don’t see much of a difference between a painting or a sculpture and a couture piece,” says Johannes Warnke. “We might usually say that painting is art and that fashion isn’t necessarily. But I think art comes more with the message and the intention behind it, as well, perhaps, as with the skill set that’s involved in creating it.”
“Couture isn’t about making historical dresses, but rather about what the artistic message is, what the artistic process is, and how much love and time was invested in it.”
“Couture, to me, has the same reasoning as a painting, sculpture, or installation, and I think that, if it’s done well, it’s a socio-political reflection of our time. Fashion should mainly be about exciting people and being part of a purposeful, positive, artistic expression, just like a theatre play is…”
For “Innovation Design Story” H&M has teamed up with stylist Ib Kamara and photographer Rafael Pavarotti. They developed the collection, which sets out to challenge the visual stereotypes associated with fashion. The collection promotes “love, use, re-use and recycle”.
The garments crafted for the Innovation Design Story have been created with sustainable fabrics, combining sustainably-sourced materials and scraps of discarded fabrics used in previous collections.
Mela Koehler (1885-1960) was a conspicuous member of the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), an artistic collaboration for artists, artisans, designers, and architects.
Mela Koehler created about 150 postcards for the Wiener Werkstätte: typically fantasy fashion images, which served not as advertisements for actual clothes but as inspiration for women to experiment with their own attire. The cards celebrated popular fashion, and many were designed to celebrate holidays. Mela Koehler created for the Wiener Werkstätte some cards, celebrating Christmas and the winter season.
Maristella Okpala, Miss Universe Nigeria, was awarded the Best National Costume at Miss Universe 2021. The 20-year-old Filipino student designer Kennedy Jhon Gasper is behind this costume. Last year Kennedy Jhon made the costume for miss Cameroon. It was only his second time designing a costume for Miss Universe. Despite that, he has created costumes for Miss Grand International Haiti 2021, Miss Utah Teen USA 2021, and Miss Supranational Kenya 2021. Recently, he also won the Best in State costume for Miss Utah Teen USA 2021.
The traditional masquerade of the southeastern tribe of Nigeria called ‘Mmanwa’ inspired the costume. Moreover, the costume is made of African beads, stones, crafts. Additionally, the three feet tribal mask with the colorful ancient back cape featuring Mmanwa’s face ties everything perfectly.
What’s more, Miss Universe Nigeria explained that it represents how the beautiful figure fought tirelessly to stop child mutilation and slavery. On the other hand, the patterns and embellishments portray the African dashiki which is meant to invoke the ancestral spirits.
Furthermore, she believes that the attire reflects her advocacy to protect children and women against abuse. Other than representing the rich cultural heritage, it also pays homage to the strong will of women.
The winners are not judged, but there were still many beautiful national costumes at the Miss Universe 2021 contest.
American Carl Erickson “Eric” (1891-1958) studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Chicago for two years. In 1914 he move to New York, and continued to illustrate for advertising. He debuted at Vogue in 1916, becoming a regular artist on the magazine. He fell in love and married a fellow Vogue illustrator, Lee Creelman.
They moved to Paris in 1920, where Erickson began illustrating for the French edition of Vogue and drawing society portraits. He developed a working relationship with French fashion designers Pierre Balmain and Cristóbal Balenciaga.
Carl Erickson used many different types of media included charcoal, pencil, Chinese ink, watercolor, and gouache. His illustrations and society portraits were characterized by loose brush strokes and color washes, though his preferred medium was charcoal.
In 2019 Comme des Garcons designer Rei Kawakubo has created the costumes for the Vienna State Opera production of Virginia Woolf’s Orlando. The complete list of outfits included 72 for the main chorus; yet more for three completely different choruses; and 62 principal costumes, taking the Orlando story even further than its original sweep from the Elizabethan age to the early 20th century.
In her interviews, Kawakubo likes to tell that Comme des Garcons is “nothing about the clothes”: “I have always started from zero, trying to make something that didn’t exist before,” she told Dezeen at the time. “The process of creation is done mostly by words and imagination.” The effect on stage was exceptional, from the rich colors and fabrics to the sense of theatricality melded with reality. It was a visual Mad Hatter’s tea party, but every garment, hair-do, and hat was imbued with historic references, often illusive but always striking.
“I was intrigued to find out that the very conservative, traditional and primarily repertory opera house had commissioned an avant-garde de woman composer to write an opera to celebrate their 150 year anniversary,” explained Kawakubo.
“Hair Creation” was provided by Rei’s long-term collaborator, Julien d’Ys, who produced wondrous hair-dos in all their curly craziness. Stephen Jones, milliner extraordinaire, was another element.
Miriam Martínez Abellán ia visual artist and teacher based in Murcia (Spain). She holds a degree in Art History from the University of Murcia and a Diploma in Piano from the Conservatory of Music. She found her true artistic expression in analogue collage (handmade).
Far from digital, she prefers a direct and emotional experience with the materials. She collects vintage aesthetic images from photographs, postcards, old books or magazines, objects with history and various elements. Her work can be found in galleries such as Modus Operandi (Madrid), Artevistas Gallery and Miscelánea (Barcelona) or on the international art platform queartetienes.com. Her studio located in Murcia.
Since Sots Art was built on irony over the values and symbols of the USSR, it would be logical that after the collapse of the empire this art direction lost its relevance. But after 1991 the ideas and aesthetics of Sots Art came into fashion several times: costume exhibitions have been held in art museums, fashion collections have appeared on catwalks and in media. A new generation of designers and recipients of their creativity has updated in a new way USSR signs and symbols. From the 1920s to the 1980s these symbols were an ideological weapon, an instrument of social and aesthetic pressure, designed to further strengthen the Soviet system, and since the late 1980s have turned into kitsch – ridiculing outdated ideological myth, irony over false reality, history, and culture of lies.
The first wave of Sots Art came into fashion during the “Perestroika” period (1985 – 1991). Then, in the wake of the debunking of dogmas and cults, Sots Art expressed a desire to change the country for the better, freeing it from the ubiquitous false ideology, debunking the “sanctity” of its symbols. The desecration of everything Soviet – something that should have been treated with piety – was a sign of dismissal, a demonstration of long-awaited freedom. Avant-garde artists laughed, sewing clothes from the red flags and banners, drawing and embroidering hackneyed slogans and quotes, using the iconic attributes of Soviet life as accessories. Since already in 1988 laws gave the right to engage in entrepreneurship, numerous new cooperatives carried these ideas to the masses: T-shirts with inscriptions and images in the Sots Art stylistic were replicated.
With the collapse of the USSR and the declaration of independence by its former republics, everything “Soviet” had negative connotations. The fashion of the 1990s celebrated crises and the fashion of the 2000s – glamour.
The first designer who, working in line with Sots Art, become popular in Russia, and achieved international success was Denis Simachev. The designer decorated his creations with Soviet coats of arms, folk ornaments, matryoshka dolls, and prints made of Soviet money. He mixed the former Soviet and modern Russian, ridiculed symbols and stereotypes that Russians are not proud of, made fun of the recent past, which was hated, and thanks to irony, made it “cool”. It is interesting that such creativity based on stereotypes resonated with Russian and foreign mass consumers, and Simachev’s works were forged and replicated actively.
In the 2010s, public sentiment in post-Soviet countries changed and, against the background of disappointments from instability and economic problems of the first years of independence, nostalgia for the USSR emerged. This nostalgia was strongly stimulated by Russian propaganda with its numerous retranslations of iconic Soviet films, products “from the childhood” advertisements, TV series about former heroes, etc. The older generation was nostalgic for the times “when we were young”, young people romantically perceived the culture, the negative aspects of which they did not feel on themselves.
In the 2010s, thanks to a new look at the aesthetics of Sots Art, Gosha Rubchinskiy, Demna Gvasalia, Yulia Efimchuk, and other designers from the post-Soviet space received worldwide recognition. With their works, they reinterpreted the codes, as nostalgic and at the same time warning against the return of utopian ideas, pointing to current socio-cultural problems.
In 2008, Gosha Rubchinsky made his debut with the collection “Empire of evil”, which included T-shirts with two-headed eagles, as well as bears with weapons and other symbols associated with aggressive Russian international politics. The next designer’s shows also played with the aesthetics of late Soviet fashion and the symbols of the USSR. Oddly enough, this approach has been very successful at the international level. Rubchinsky launched the trend and other young designers wanted to repeat his success story.
Yulia Efimchuk started her career with competitions for young designers, and since 2012, the shows of the brand “Yulia Yefimtchuk+” have been held at the famous Kyiv Fashion Days. Yefimchuk’s collections have always been dominated by pure shapes and unambiguous colors like white, black, and a rich shade of red. Sots Art in her collections is added with the inscriptions on the clothes that resemble posters about labor exploits: “Labor”, “Peace to the world” and “Every day it becomes more joyful to live”. Despite the decommunization policy in Ukraine, in her spring-summer 2017 collection designer even used the words “Communism” and “Socialism”. That, as well as the cut and colors (white, scarlet, dark blue), refer to the images of Soviet posters, to which the designer appealed.
Demna Gvasalia created the Parisian brand Vetements in 2014. Elements of Sots Art in his work indicated his origin from the Georgian Soviet republic, which added a certain exoticism in the eyes of European consumers. Thanks to Gvasalia’s worldwide success, international fashion columnists have drawn attention to the phenomenon of “Georgian fashion”.
The listed designers are called “the new generation in the New East”, and their fashion collections are considered as the most earnest and most relevant way to speak about the past.
But fashion is only part of a larger cultural trend. 2019 was the peak year for the actualization of the Sots Art in the Post-Soviet space. The exhibition “Komar & Melamid”, dedicated to the founders of Sots Art, was held at the Moscow Museum of Modern Art. The project was their first retrospective in Russia and included works created by the artists after their association in a creative duo. The exhibition in its genre resembled a collection of quotations-works and documents extracted from the key and most famous projects of artists. The character of Komar & Melamid appeared in the art to destroy the monopoly of socialist realism in the USSR, to discredit modernism in the Western world, and to outline the contours of a new international style, the distinctive feature of which would be aesthetic and philosophical eclecticism, on the ruins of both branches of the art of the twentieth century. The demonstration of this program became the core of the exhibition concept.
The Estonian Museum of Modern Art KUMU hosted the exhibition “Sots Art and Fashion” in 2019. Yulia Efimchuk from Ukraine, Marit Ilison from Estonia, Sonja Litichevskaya from Germany, Nina Neretina, and Donis Pouppis from Russia have presented fashion collections in which the socialist past of their countries has been turned into a source of inspiration and demonstrates the coping of the Eastern European culture with its Soviet past.
In the Odessa museum of modern art, the avant-garde fashion of the 1990s “Perekroika” exhibition was held in 2019. The exhibition included samples of clothes and accessories from 1988 – 1998, created by designers from Odessa. There were dresses made from Soviet tapestries, flags, and other artifacts in the style of Sots Art.
Studying and understanding of Sots Art objects, stunning of its specifics and its perception, defining its new connotations is particularly relevant and interesting in the light of decommunization, understanding the “undesirable past” and searching for options of positioning Ukrainian culture in the global world.
Viktor&Rolf is the avant-garde luxury fashion house founded in 1993 by fashion artists Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren after their graduation from the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design. The duo designed their fall 2021 couture collection with a lot of humor.
The collection pays homage, in its own way, to members of royal families through a bittersweet regressive style exercise. The completely oversized looks – both in the radical proportions adorned with Swarovski crystals and the multicolored pearl crowns – are accompanied by large scarves on which we can read slogans such as “Always wear your invisible crown”, “Princess ? no bitch, queen!” but also “Don’t be a drag, just be a queen”, a nod to the lyrics of the song Born this way by Lady Gaga. A desire also to express through these theatrical couture pieces an ambiguity, between the desire “to make a spectacle of oneself and “to save appearances” according to the note accompanying the presentation of the show.
This collection explored the main question of our digital age: What is real? Image can align with the true person or not, as when a person, like a royal, has a public persona. With deep fakes entering the picture, concepts of truth are more complicated. Viktor&Rolf aren’t offering solutions…