Photography by Sybille Walter, courtesy of Weekday. To learn more about Matthew Ames’s newest project click here.
Tag Archives: Matthew Ames
“This show was about what the word ‘utopia’ means. It was an imaginary world where everybody lives in harmony. And all the cultures melt together. It was really about trying to create this perfect world. Also in clothing, the tailoring, the precision, the purity of everything. But I always kind of try to go with the reality of what I see. Thirty-six hours later were the attacks of September 11th.”
-Miguel Adrover, Encens Magazine
Video courtesy of Matthew Ames
“I was feeling the need to create a clean slate.”
– MATTHEW AMES
all clothes by Matthew Ames, photography by Sybille Walter, styling by Samuel Drira
Matthew Ames’s Fall/Winter 2010-2011 campaign, photographed by Sybille Walter and styled by Samuel Drira.
Featuring Matthew Ames, Carmen Munoz, Patrik Ervell, Bonnie Cashin, Isaia, and Charles Kleibacker
And contributors Lori Goldstein, Zoe Ghertner, Cynthia Leung, Paul Kopkau, Alex John Beck, and Maria Chavez
If there is any worthwhile American tradition then it is the one that has been continued by designer Matthew Ames. If you must define American fashion by its masters: Halston, Geoffrey Beene, Pauline Trigere, Elizabeth Hawes, Isabel Toledo, Valentina, Perry Ellis, Norman Norrell, Bonnie Cashin, Claire McCarrdell, and Calvin Klein, surely it is Ames who speaks to both their ingenuity and their focus. It’s a strange circumstance that the driving discourse among young American designers eschews this tradition; obliging itself with something much more immediate and far less considered. Ames is alone in his task, his vantage is a rarity. This is the nature of the avant-garde, a particularly lonely territory in New York, and yet, it is also in its nature that even the most esoteric and obscure will eventually, in due time, become apparent.
The illustrations for two designs by Charles Kleibacker highlight his strict application of geometry to female anatomy, suggesting that such a direct design concept is, in and of itself, all that is really necessary.
An iconic Valentina image: perhaps no other couturier built such an elitist reputation by subscribing to the sparest sensibility – allowing the idea of exclusion in its purest form to dictate the aesthetic and the etiquette.
While many collections took their cue from YSL’s romance and the exihibit of the designer’s work that was held at the Petite Palais – a perfectly reactionary move against overhyped “minimalism” – there were several designers who seemed to be genuinely interested in pursuing a calmer course. Maybe the term “minimalism” is a misnomer, it isn’t really about the “least possible”, is it? In the 90′s, designers stripped their clothes down to their most abstract forms, removing centuries of convention of what clothes are supposed to be and becoming a gateway for the rest of the industry (like most modernist aesthetics) into lazy design. But the collections from New York and Paris are very designed, with the rich fabrics and the luxurious details, there is nothing minimal about them. Maybe there is no noble philosophy behind them, they are not an ascetic grasp for purity, and maybe they are actually bit common at surface, but they are certainly easy to wear.
Historically it’s been an American tenet that clothes are to be designed with ease and practicality. No, Americans didn’t invent ready-to-wear or sportswear, but their predilection for them has pointed towards an unfettered design vocabulary and clothes that have no use for any excess concept. Beyond ruffles or eccentric prints, embroideries or gems, there are means for aesthetics inherent in clothes themselves, in their seams, the fabric, and in their application to everyday life. Minimal? Not exactly. Pragmatic? Absolutely. Maybe it is enough, more than enough, to dress a woman well.
Definition of PRAGMATISM
: a practical approach to problems and affairs
: an American movement in philosophy founded by C. S. Peirce and William James and marked by the doctrines that the meaning of conceptions is to be sought in their practical bearings, that the function of thought is to guide action, and that that truth is preeminently to be tested by the practical consequences of belief
– Merriam Webster dictionary
Oliviero Toscani’s talents for Esprit simulated a Utopia within the brand’s own visual culture, suggesting a better world, a fresher one at least, for their customers to consider.
Spring 11 looks by Jil Sander, Missoni, Prada, and Matthew Ames
The Spring 2011 collections have revealed a similar outlook, not surprising that it was prevalent mostly in the Milan collections. Clear color, bold graphics and prints, an abstracted silhouette, and a heavy dose of humor are new ways to move on from the incorrectly labeled “minimalism” that has defined fashion in the past season. Of course the look is clean and pared down, but it finds enrichment with an entirely different vocabulary, an entirely modern one, actually.
There’s been several takes on optimism and humor, Schiaparelli, Capucci, Kenzo Takada, Issey Miyake, Jean Charles de Castelbajac, Moschino, and Isaac Mizrahi have all given their celebratory spin on life, adding to an evolving discourse. But its most pertinent iteration is perhaps in the Haute Couture of the very early 90’s, just as the recession challenged its relevance and provoked it to come up with something to say, that despite its excess it still had a message worth taking note of. As much as fashion needs its palate cleansed it cannot deny the wonders that a cheerful perspective and certain amount of richness can grant, even if it is only laughing so that it won’t cry.
Visions of Tom Brigance, Bonnie Cashin, Clarepotter, and Claire McCarrdell, Matthew Ames continues for Spring 2011 in the very best tradition of the American avant-garde.