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Wacky & Wonderful!
Awesome Spring Runway Garb

Story & Photography by ©Raeanne Rubenstein, 2013 Cover Model: Ayssa Tankersly at MACS/AMAX Nashville,
Mother Agency: Eye Management 

As we all well know, fashion swings easily between the ridiculous and the sublime. And in the best of scenarios, it can even be both- at once. For some designers, style means wearable, stylish and loaded with attitude, which is, and always has been, impressive. But just so you know, we’re not really interested in just impressive at the moment. We’re interested in the truly awesome! And as you will see, there certainly is a lot of that around this season.

For the true visionary these days, there’s nothing better than showing off just for its own sake. For them, anything that comes to mind can come to life, and does. So in honor of today’s most inspiring designers, we’ve gathered some examples of the world’s most daring couture, right here, right now. Prepare yourself for shock and awe, of the very fashionable kind.

Here’s a preview of the inventive, outrageous and sometimes completely over the top- Spring’s Wackiest Fashion! Enjoy!!!!

There is nothing in the entire world that compares to the energy, vigor and inventive spirit always displayed at New York Fashion Week, home city to so many famous brands and designers. And that’s without even mentioning the many glorious fashionistas that brighten the city’s gritty streets. Coming on strong this year are whimsical wardrobe and bold accessories, some of which enhance a look, and others just bring a smile to your face.
Alexander Wang and Ralph Rucci designs
Taiwanese-native Alexander Wang came to New York at age 18 to study fashion design at Parsons: The New School for Design. After dropping out in his sophomore year, he launched his first women's ready-to-wear collection in 2007. The label embodies casually cool downtown style executed mostly in black and white, drawing inspiration from the nineties, French chic, and rock grunge—always finished off with a slouchy, rolled-out-of-bed edge. Hockey Jersey Tee Top, $995.

In 2002, Ralph Rucci became the first American designer, since Mainbocher in the 1930s, to be invited to show in Paris by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (in English, the trade union of high fashion). Rucci has long made a virtue of the technical feats performed by his New York atelier—he's been in business for 31 years—and this collection wasn't short on them. It captured two things: Rucci's refined sense of proportion and cut, and his exquisite taste in fabrics. Rucci also happens to be an accomplished painter and has exhibited globally over the past five years. His love of art can be seen in his designs; for his Chado Ralph Rucci Fall 2013 RTW line, he featured one dress that, when the slit in the skirt is opened, it revealed a hand-painted version of Francis Bacon's iconic "screaming pope" image.
Betsy Johnson and Kate Spade
Betsey Johnson
, another American designer, is known for her feminine and whimsical designs. The now 70-year-young designer is also known to cartwheel down the catwalk at the end of her own fashion shows. She was a part of Andy Warhol’s underground scene in the 1960s and designed the clothing for Edie Sedgwick to wear in her last film, Ciao! Manhattan. In the 70s she took over the label Alley Cat which was popular amongst rock-n-roll musicians of the time. In 1978 she started her own line and last year celebrated 40 years of her brand with a retrospective fashion show and performance by Cyndi Lauper.

Thom BrowneKatherine Noel Brosnahan”, now known as Kate Spade (married to Andy Spade, brother of actor David Spade), was once a journalism student/sorority girl employed at a motorcycle bar. After working her way up the ladder at various New York City department stores, she decided to branch out on her own, founding “Kate Spade Handbags” in 1993 along with pal Joel Franklin. Kate Spade New York, as her company is now called, is known for pretty, preppy handbags, accessories and clothing. The line  includes stationery, personal organizers, address books, shoes (check out the cute "taxi" pumps above), beauty products and much more.

Thom Browne, a Pennsylvania Native, is known for his menswear line that he created as a response to many companies accepting  business casual instead of formal attire in the workplace. He debuted his womenswear collection in the early 2000s and has since attracted an impressive list of female fans including Leighton Meester of Gossip Girl and Lady Gaga. Michelle Obama wore a Thom Browne silk jacquard coat and dress in a navy checked pattern at Barack Obama’s 2nd swearing as U.S. President. Though Browne is known for his conservative designs, that doesn’t stop him from having fun with fashion, as he did at his Spring 2013 RTW Collection in New York. His dresses turned models into upside down spinning tops with topsy-turvy silhouettes.

AnrealageNew York was fun, but I’m in the mood for moving on... to Tokyo, in my opinion the world’s most fashionable city. In Tokyo, everyone is a fashion buff, with bicycle delivery boys in their Hipster-style black costumes competing with stylishly forward-thinking, whimsically clad shop girls for attention. That’s why Tokyo Fashion Week, which I have attended several times, stands in a category all its own. It seems many Japanese people are born artists, with many of them displaying their talent at an early age. Of course, some of them grow up and become fashion designers, and that is very, very good for the rest of us!

That’s why it came as no surprise to find the 2013 ANREALAGE offerings to be both beautiful, whimsical, and stylish, all at once. The brand gets its name from the combination of "A REAL" (ordinary), "UN REAL" (extraordinary) and "AGE" (era). Kunihiko Morinaga, the brand’s designer, graduated from Vantan Career School and won the "GEN ART Styles 2005, Avant-garde Grand Prix" prize. He explained, “I created the clothing with the philosophy that God dwells within the details, and is characterized by vivid and detailed patchwork designs with creative shapes that are not constrained by the shape of the human body.”
Keita Maruyama
Keita Maruyama
is known for its exceptional details, floral motifs, oriental designs, and painting-like colors. The brand offers a quality wardrobe for adults, never losing its sense of fantasy, and creates clothing that lets wearers experience the joy of wearing the comfortable clothes and being dressed up at the same time.

Ahhhhh, Paris, the city of Light...........and of course, home to the most fashionable men and women in the world! Just think, where would we be without that special French “Je ne sais quoi” in the mix? And when you think of Paris, what else comes to mind than those legendary fashion houses Balenciaga, until recently led by Nicolas Ghesquière and now under the leadership of Alexander Wang, Chanel with Karl Lagerfeld at the helm, and Yves Saint Laurent, soon to be renamed Saint Laurent Paris, under the guidance of new, tempestuous and controversial Creative Director Hedi Slimane.
Balenciaga and Saint Laurent Paris
The Balenciaga Spring 2013 Ready-To-Wear collection marked the last by Nicolas Ghesquière. He was a surprise choice in 1997, when he was originally brought on board as head designer of the highly respected brand, at the young age of 25. He soon turned the house into one of the most sought after fashion labels, while remaining devoted to the brand and maintaining respect for Cristóbal Balenciaga’s original design concepts.
And don’t forget the ingenious Karl Lagerfeld, who in 2010 brought a 275-ton iceberg from Sweden to Paris as the backdrop for his Winter fashion show. Now, Lagerfeld might have renewable energy on the brain. For his Spring/Summer 2013 show, the Chanel chief was all about “le spectacle” as he called it,  filling the cavernous hall of the Grand Palais in Paris with towering wind turbines and a tiled catwalk that evoked the appearance of solar panels. But was it intended to make a political statement? he was asked. “I started to sketch in St. Tropez over the summer and it was so hot I wanted some fresh air,” Lagerfeld told reporters. Translation: cryptic.

Hedi SlimaneHedi Slimane has taken a lot of heat lately for what he’s doing with one of the most admired fashion houses in Paris, Yves Saint Laurent, after taking over as creative director over a year ago. Much to the delight of his fans, and disdain of his many detractors, including important fashion writers and critics, he’s been turning the venerable house into Pop Culture Central, by photographing the YSL advertising campaign himself,  featuring some of the most unwholesome rock stars in music history, like Courtney Love, and Marilyn Manson. He certainly has an attraction to the unusual, having also photographed the album cover of Lady Gaga’s EP for The Fame Monster in 2009. Now, to much uproar, he has taken it upon himself to change the name of the house to Saint Laurent Paris, a decision that has not been embraced by the French fashion industry or the press corps. All this being said though, it seems the customers don’t really care about any of this, with Slimane's designs walking out the doors of the world’s best stores at a brisk pace!

Dries Von NoterOne of grunge's most indelible images is Kurt Cobain in a floral dress thrashing paroxysmally at his guitar, and where better to find it than among the Spring/Summer offerings from Dries Van Noten. He has become a designer from whom you can expect the unexpected, a past master of “nothing ever being quite what it seems.” Underpinning the runway show was a soundtrack that transformed well-known girl songs (Amy Weinhouse’ "Back to Black," Kylie Minogue’s "Can't Get You Out of My Head") into guitar-driven male groan, underscoring the idea that if nothing is what it seems, it's equally true that nothing need be what it seems. Van Noten's seductive investigation of the masculine/feminine dynamic is at the heart of his aesthetic.




Treacy and MoritzIf you’ve ever lived in London, or spent any time there, you would know that during the daytime, or when at work, the British people really do appear to be quite conservative and buttoned up, just as most visitors expect. But check them out at night and it’s a whole other story. Somewhat raunchy and extremely mod, the British are as style-crazy as ever, beginning in the 60’s when Twiggy ruled both the runway and the celebrity scene, and continuing right to this day. Rightfully celebrated around the globe for their sophisticated sense of design, British artists are leaders in all form of practical design- from architecture, to interior design to fashion. You've got to see it to believe it, so we dare you to check this out!
Treacy and Moritz
When Lady Gaga materializes in a neon-pink veil to announce the arrival of the "greatest milliner of all time," you know you're in for a spectacle. Such was the case with Philip Treacy's Spring/Summer 2013 show, his first staged appearance at London Fashion Week in 12 years. Described by the London newspaper The Guardian as a "glamorous Halloween party," the runway performance featured original costumes from Michael Jackson's tours and music videos, as well as the designer's signature over-the-top headgear, each one more outrageous than the last. Among the standouts? Treacy's collaboration with German-born technologist Moritz Waldemeyer, the mastermind behind Bono's laser jacket from the U2's 360° Tour. The pair created two pieces for the collection. The first, inspired by the concept of weightlessness, involved whirring LED propellers that created a continuous halo of light around its wearer’s head. The second, an illuminated bell-shaped shroud composed of 6,000 LED lights, was less straightforward. Consider this millinery for the 21st century.
Another not-to-be-missed treat was Imogen Heap's Twitter-equipped "Twitdress." At the 2010 Grammy Awards, musician Imogen Heap wanted a dress that would display the tweets and photos coming from her fans in real time, so she could take her fans with her onto the red carpet. Moritz Waldemeyer designed a flexible LED ribbon for her to wear. Memo Akten of The Mega Super Awesome Visuals Company developed the controlling software, consisting of an iPod Touch application that Heap could carry in her transparent purse, that collected all the tweets and photos from the net, and then transmitted the info to the custom LED ribbon.

Mary KatrantzouCristobal Balenciaga would create one single black dress each season to highlight his latest innovations in cut. He felt monochrome honed the eye to understand and appreciate his technique. A similar thought process motivated Mary Katrantzou with her new Fall 2013 Collection, featuring designs that move far away from her colorful norm. Drawing inspiration from early twentieth-century photographers Edward Steichen and Alfred Stieglitz, whose body of work included dark, emotive photographs, Katrantzou’s line features “mood setting” photographic images. Moonlit trees, a streetlamp casting a glow over a lone silhouette, bridges and waterfalls are all printed on dark, flowing and transparent fabric, which takes a cue from Japan with bold, asymmetrical shapes.




In a season filled with stylish offerings from all around the world, Traver Rains ruled the runway for a second time at the impressive Nashville Fashion Week, showing off his T. Rains runway show. His fresh and unique couture line, which he calls “Ride ‘em in Style” was enhanced by daring make-up styling, wild accessories,and tons of attitude, causing the crowd to go wild for every look. The show ended with the entire audience on their feet for an enthusiastic standing ovation. Rains’ growing fan base includes celebrities like Adam Lambert, Kaya Jones, Ashley Hinshaw, Alan Cumming, Garrett Neff, Johnny Weir, Lance Bass, Perez Hilton, and more.  
T. Rains
Next, TUFT by Jessica Jones enchanted the audience, sending models down the runway in whimsical yet comfortable get ups including tights and t-shirts patterned with holes, trimmed with perky, white feathers, fabric patterns full of whimsy and fun, plus gigantic face-concealing sunglasses to complete the look. And get this! Women can walk away with one of these original shirts from $35 to $72, a dress for $45, and a jacket for $58.
Tuft and Red Doll
When’s the last time you saw pasties on a runway? How about never, right? Prepare to be charmed, when you see this dreamy, floor-length, ruffled lavender-skirted gown with matching, extremely thin transparent straps attached to the skirt at the waist. Modesty is preserved by two paper-thin, white pasties covering the model’s nipples. Red Doll by TM is a clothing line designed by Ukraine-born, Tatyana Merenyuk.


You’ve got to admire anybody with enough imagination to create a dress that’s utterly unwearable. I think that’s quite an achievement, in all honesty! I’m certain there have been quite a few designed through the years (a feature we did on toilet paper wedding gowns comes to mind), and a lot of people got a lot of pleasure out of them, just not by wearing them. I thought we could end this wacky fashion feature with a few of these, and sincerely hope you enjoyed it.
Rebel Wilson
Beige dress with facesAussie actress and funny woman Rebel Wilson took top honors to host this year's MTV Movie Awards. Of course the “Bridesmaids” actress was going to bring a raft of truly wacky material, including a wild arrival skit with her in a space suit concoction, plus  her own hysterical Janet Jackson 'wardrobe malfunction' moment to reveal -- not one, but two nipples, on the one boob. That's definitely one way to kick off a show!

Our final offering defies discussion and/or explanation. If you know who created it, let us know. Enjoy!

If you've seen any wacky couture lately, we'd LOVE to see it!  To share with us, send the designer’s name and a photo of the garment to us at Who knows, you might find his/her masterpieces  on the virtual runway, coming soon in Dish Magazine! Be sure to include your name, so we can acknowledge you in the credits! 


 / Issue 191 - March 2018
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