Deconstructed clothing is a way for women over 40 to make a real fashion statement.
Those of us over 40 can sometimes feel slightly desperate about the current state of fashion. Skimpy tops, voluminous cuts, tiny skirts – fashion clothes are often aimed at teenage girls rather than grown-up ones. That’s where fashion alternatives come in. I’ve written before about vintage fashion, but deconstructed clothing is a different string to your bow.
We probably all got our first taste of deconstructed clothing when it made its initial appearance on western catwalks in the early 90s, courtesy of the matt-black ragged, holey, end-of-the-world clothes designed by Comme des Garcons. It almost caused outrage. These were very intellectual garments and their severe beauty wasn’t broadly understood in the west at the time.
We’re now more savvy, however, and can appreciate the usefulness of clothing that is beautiful in an absolute way rather than a sexual way. Often asymmetric, wrapped, and influenced by Japanese ideas, this kind of clothing forms a useful adjunct to a more conventional western wardrobe, and furthermore it’s very modern – many of the designers are at the forefront of fabric technology, producing strange mixes of polyesters and metals, fabric with encapsulated layers and materials with deliberate distortions.
This is clothing outside of fashion – pieces you buy and you keep for the rest of your life and that you can wear no matter what your age. You do require a certain amount of confidence but once you get used to this way of dressing, it’s very liberating. The easiest way to wear deconstructed is one item at a time over your normal clothing, rather than numerous pieces at once – that way it looks less like fancy dress.
Here are three leading deconstructed designers
Issey Miyake (left)
Miyake’s clothes are simply Miyake’s clothes. Of course they change over the years and vintage Miyake pieces such as windcoats are much sought after, but Miyake goes his own way, creating clothing that is ‘fuku’ – a word that in Japanese means not only ‘clothing’, but also ‘happiness’. Certain lines continue year in, year out, decade in, decade out. They include the Pleats Please range – super-stretch pleated polyester clothing that never needs ironing, can be screwed up and placed in a suitcase, then unwrapped and simply worn. Buying one Pleats Please item per year is a sure-fire way to fill your wardrobe with clothing that is ALWAYS wearable.
Iranian-born Shirin Guild favours the look of wrapped trousers or skirts-over-trousers (see right) that is common in her native country – a trick that also prevents that nasty thigh-cling that plagues many women who are curvy. Guild’s big shirts are are really beautiful (photography doesn’t do them justice) – made from unique, sometimes tissue-thin linens and wools, and generally designed with wide, square bodies and short sleeves. This clothing is loose, comfortable and unrestricting – the shirts are particularly good to wear over jeans or black trousers and a t-shirt or vest, while her knitwear is featherweight and floaty. Guild became a designer for among the best of reasons – because she couldn’t find what she wanted in the shops – but now her designs find such favour that she is in museum collections the world over.
Comme des Garcons
Still holding the torch for others to follow, designer Rei Kawakubo goes her own sweet way, producing clothing that is frankly barking mad but also terribly wearable. If it’s not new she’s not interested, she never does anything twice, and she believes that ugly can be beautiful (a very Zen concept). Not for everyone, but at their best, these are really wonderful clothes that just free you up to get on with your life. These pictures show her Round skirt and pleated skirt from Pollyanna, which also stocks clothing by Issey Miyake and Shirin Guild.
More deconstructed designers another time.