Saturday, January 12, 2008

Ask The Fashion Professor

Dear Professor,
Could you please explain "wearability"? It seems to have nothing to do with actually being able to wear an item - for example, in the last episode Jillian's dress, which was made of Twizzlers and looked very stiff and uncomfortable, was deemed wearable but Victorya's fabric dress was not.

Thank you!

Dear Jill,

Wearability - an odd term. It seems to pop up during the more unusual challenges when the materials the designers are using is non-traditional - candy, plant matter, odds and ends from a drug store...

I think you are originally correct - it means can it really be worn? Or is it torture to wear - but still looks great? That the judges are calling out the designers on the issue is interesting - a purely creative challenge but not creative to the point that you can avoid fit and some degree of function. I think it is an important consideration - did the designer have respect for the materials selected, use them well, and consider the body that they would ultimately hang from?

Note that when the models are walking out onto the runway in the finished product they may have had pained expressions, unusual posture or walk - something in the dress or the way it is constructed is rubbing them the wrong way - so to speak. I seem to remember judges in previous and similar challenges asking the model about the comfort of the dress while making an icky face...

I love these purely creative challenges. If you know some recent fashion history there are some really memorable - and important - totally unwearable dresses - Gaultier, McQueen, Issey Miyake, Hussein Chalayan... plastic, metal, wood, molded leather. I think of them more as sculpture. If you aren't familiar with the names look them up - very worthwhile.

Thanks for the question!


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