I've always been fascinated by the word ugly.
“U.G.L.Y you ain't got no alibi you ugly eh! Hey! You ugly!” chant Daphne and Celeste in the subconscious of my mind -If you're as ancient as me (yes 27 is ancient in the fashion world) then you may remember these two from the early 2000's, prancing around and shouting derogatory terms at an imaginary ugliness.
I hear these words and yet I cannot relate, because I'm unsold on what constitutes as 'ugly' and what/who exactly is and isn't?
They say that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.
They say that it is the imperfections that make us perfect.
They say that 'attractiveness' is personal, learned and developed by specific preferences as an infant.
I am a strong believer in associated beauty due to my innate love of freckles (an affection that grows stronger with each passing day) rationalised by the fact my mother is camouflaged head to toe in them.
Freckles for me are the pinnacle of beauty and I simply can't relate when they are referred to as unattractive.
For that reason I have always been skeptical when I am told something is in or out by the fashion Gurus.
That being said there is and always has been an unwritten rule of beauty within the fashion world and this holds particularly true in the intimates section. There's only so far you can go with the outlandish, garish and just plain wrong when it comes to lingerie because fundamentally lingerie is not there to make a statement or to deliver an opinion but more so exists primarily to compliment a figure or to deliver an added sense of allure to an outfit.
Lingerie is rarely created to attract attention or as a stand alone garment and so when we are flooded with pieces that are catwalk friendly and in all respects traditionally 'ugly' perhaps we cannot be blamed for a little wariness or assuming it has little concern for functionality or fit.
So I tread carefully this time, accepting that the fashion industry is without question the most temperamental of all design industries and await dutifully as the pendulum swings.
As a trend detective I have become accustomed to this feeling and although I came prepared sometimes nothing can quite ready me for coming face to face with the 'UGLY.'
To make sense of it all I'll start with the statement that Lingerie is comparatively 'Melbourne' in that there always needs to be a degree of simplicity and elegance in it's aesthetic. It's either modern, fresh and clean cut or old with a deliberate moth eaten look acquired from a vintage rummage sale.
'Melbourne' is a city yes, but a city that has acquired it's own associated, unique stye. It follows simple rules; a clean cut modern architectural look where anything oversized is basically a winner and a modern black vs greyscale palette that oozes elegance – basically if you look like a modern day kitchen then you can officially count yourself within the hipster crowd...
...Then all of a sudden Melbourne's hipsters are shaking hands with the 'Gormans' who appear to have suddenly invaded...
(Because pictures speak a thousand words... the 'Gormans' basically is a style that kind of looks like this...)
So as I make my way to this years MODA in Paris (after using a marker pen to draw two large lines across my face in an effort to obtain my Cara Delevingne eyebrows of course) I am not quite ready for what is about to hit me when the 'Gormans' invade the lingerie scene too.
Extravagant like a drag queen and as grotesque as a circus show, this new season is all about the shock tactic; a tactic that has already achieved it's goal I conclude, as I hear gasps echo throughout the room.
I'm incredibly intrigued initially as I see many notable brands steering away from conventional paths and attempting incredibly daring looks. Designers unleash their inner beast and artistic flare whilst key retailers who have traditionally played it safe over the years contend in an equally fierce fight.
I note unflattering shapes with maximal finishes, displayed in colour palettes that are grotesque and as garish as you get. Lavish Greens, trashy Blues and burnt Yellows flood the market and sit against popping candy Pinks and devilish Reds that tarnish them.
Embroidery is a solid choice and is shown via placements, an unusual choice due to cost but a strong alternative to simple flocking which also makes an appearance, I may add, and appears in an attempt to over complicate designs.
It is a royalist outlook that springs to mind here and through the efforts of heavy decoration on top of heavy fabrics such as Satin and Jacquards we feel a rich and sensual vibe. Ancient royalty meets a flamboyant and nostalgic ambience weaving itself within the fibers of design.
Chanel famously spoke the words “when accessorising always take the last thing off”. Well not here.
When prints appear they come strong and full of fruitfulness. Bright and brash they clash with stripes and polka dots and throw in a lobster or two for good measure.
It's all very eclectic. All over the top. And all styled in a garish manner.
So by this point I've worked it and realise that the aim is to simply Attract attention.
Attention through any way, shape or form, through any means necessary.
We do however need to read between the lines as although this trend boasts an eccentric attitude it also breathes a care free intention (It's not all drag queens with whistles and bells on) that is elegant and relaxed, proving that the royals really can mix with the bohos.
I take an awkward step and then I'm back to basics.
I see black again and I feel safe.
Lingerie sales rely highly on aesthetics and black is always going to be a golden ticket. Melbourne too is always going be black, whatever the Gorman's say.
I ponder to myself if this is in effort to gain exposure or whether I'm missing something.
Ugly garments may attract attention yes but then if it's all about 'attraction' and little about traditional aesthetics, then what?
Shock, risk and chance are what is driving the industry forward nowadays and if creating deliberately ugly garments is suddenly a thing (with the predetermination of the uglier the better) then we better accept that ugly is the new beautiful.
And any exposure is as good as it is bad...
... I do of course kind of like it, because it means that customers are no longer satisfied by the ordinary. They are willing to try new things, be a little more daring and request a higher standard within their wardrobe.
Which is great news for us designers and risk takers out there.
So let's bask in the glow of all this extravagance and enjoy it whilst it last.
Let's paint the town red and then splash some green on there too.
Because whoever said less is more?
Need more help? Let these pictures speak a thousand words...
Amidst heavy embroidery, decoration and fruitful, eye catching prints we play the gawker as we watch the ugly and it's attempt to attract attention. By any means necessary; they beg for attention through the good, bad and the ugly... because there's no such thing as bad publicity.
Inspiration An Eccentric baseline with a Bohemian finish. A Rich and Sensual outlook with a strong sense of Maximalism and Nostalgia to suit.
Colours Ugly colours unite/ Green is prominent against Ochre shades/ ‘Pop’ yellows make an entrance amongst hints of deep blue & devil red.
Fabrics Heaviness is key and exaggerated by a royalist outlook. Satin, EMB, Jacquards and flocking, play on soft and flexible.yet heavy designs.
Brands Retailers choose green to reinvent key collections & Start-ups express dramatic uniqueness. All brands risk attempts to draw attention.