Friday, March 7, 2008

031. God's work, or so they say: Imitating the Imitation.

I remember the high-waisted jeans that Scarlett Johansson wore in an Imitation of Christ fashion show perhaps a year ago; I am also familiar with the infamous garment that proclaimed "Bring me the head of Tom Ford." But I wasn't paying much attention when IOC made its debut, and I was equally preoccupied with other things when it made its exit. And having now done some research on the label, I still don't find the salvaged and reworked clothing that constitutes Imitation of Christ's collection particularly appealing, although I am intrigued by the intellectual component of the subversive enigma that was Tara Subkoff's fashion brainchild. (Of course, how much the label was genuinely contraculture/contratrend is open to speculation. Any capitallist byproduct has its marketing strategy; and every revolution derives from a larger fabric, no pun intended.)

In any event, it was only when Refinery21 announced the premiere of IOC's diffusion label, Imitation by Imitation of Christ, that my curiosity was piqued. Aesthetically, the line resembles and yet is quite different from its extinct predecessor. In fact, Subkoff surrendered the reins to another designer, Kasia Bilinski, and has since gone off to work on other projects.

Imitation does not use vintage materials, nor does it have quite the same degree of high-end pricing as its predecessor, although it is also trying very hard to become a niche label and is available at only a few select locations (I haven't been able to find it online anywhere). To me, the simplicity of the pieces resemble IOC's (and are alleged to be produced meticulously with much attention to detail) and garments are in muted tones and solid colors. Imitation's innovation lies, in my opinion, in the sheer fluidity (the organic-ness) of the clothing. When examining the spring collection, I noted the hanging strips of cloth adorning the tops, the looseness of the garments, the freedom implied in the design. But there is also the eerie sense of being watched, of being followed, both in this and the fall-winter collection. The models are mostly alone in open spaces, unaware of the camera's presence, yet, they are dogged by the lens of the camera. This sends a very enigmatic message.

It's difficult to pinpoint the purpose of Imitation. The films used to publicize the label are produced by a studio called Dissent Films, and the artwork and design are clearly engineered to cultivate an "outsider" vibe, yet the brand is clearly also "luxury" - no matter how you look at it, Imitation is exclusionary - not that that's necessarily a bad thing. I wonder how long Imitation will stay around, whether its mission and design aesthetic will change dramatically, and who the real client base are for this label.

Imitation by Imitation of Christ, as selling at select stores worldwide.


Dryad Girl said...

Why, yes, I am posting all over your blog today. :)

I wanted those 'Scarlett' jeans (they named them after her) but I couldn't bring myself to buy them. IoC embroidered tiny crosses all over their items instead of using a regular label.

I'm not being a zealot. I have always disapproved of anyone wearing clothing/jewellery/bags/etc with a diety they did not worship or believe in or a language that they could not read. I remember, in high school, shirts that said 'Mary was an unwed teenaged mother' and 'Jesus is my homeboy' were banned, but all the girls were wearing Jane Doe (I miss that brand!) shirts with Kali and Ganesh and Buddha on them. Still, people wear Sanskrit necklaces with Buddhist prayers that they can't even read. It disgusts me.

So, whilst the crosses were tiny, I couldn't wear them because I would no more expect some other person who wasn't Jewish to wear my clothing if I emblazoned Magen Davids all over them.

jealoushe said...

Yay for comments. :)

I understand where you're coming from. In fact, I think we had a similar conversation earlier and we agreed that, to wear iconography like a cross when one is not Christian can be tasteless and flippant. Just like I don't like to say "Bless you" to people because I'm not really blessing them, and it feels false.

When I was living in London, I really liked this store called All Saints. The clothes were fantastic, but although I did end up buying one shirt, it did distress me because the brand seemed to have some Christian leanings. I didn't want to misrepresent myself so I didn't buy anything with overt Christian symbols.

However, IoC is/was a very subversive brand, and the meaning of the cross on the tag is open to speculation. I don't know the creators' religious background, but I do think the name is a play on religion, and I don't know that I would have a problem wearing IoC since the brand is using the symbol for a satiric purpose.

But imagery is in the eye of the beholder...perhaps in a few centuries after the major religions have died down, we can respect their good points without having to "choose sides." And just like with the ankh, which I occasionally wear because of what it symbolizes, we will be able to wear a cross or another religious symbol to symbolize rebirth or some other meaning.