When Coco Chanel decided to make pajamas fashionable for women by day, and design them as luxurious couture pieces, only courtesans and artists would have been seen dead in them. Now, you’ll see people running out to the deli in them.
The boundaries of “weird fashion” move with the times. Consider a recent email that caught my eye from a Los Angeles-based DJ called Chris Holmes (who opens for Paul McCartney on tour), who has launched a line of paparazzi-repellent clothing, designed to diffuse the flash of a camera. The collection is on sale at the San Francisco-based clothing company, Betabrand.com, and comprises hoodies, suits, and scarves.
In photographs of Holmes' clothing, one sees a luminous outline of, say, a suit and a dark blur where the body is that looks like an X-ray of the human form.
Feet can be dressed just as bizarrely. On Masaya Kushino’s shoes, horse manes trail down from the heel of objects that were designed as an interpretation of Japanese myths and fairy tales with mythical figures embellishing the designs. The young Kyoto designer’s other weird and wonderful designs include shoes covered in greenery that look like a walking Bonsai garden. He uses live plants, and his creations have been donned by none other than Lady Gaga.
“I love to have the freedom to experiment and although Kyoto has so much tradition, there is so much creativity here,” he said.
Meanwhile, Maison Kolchagov Barba—a Bulgarian luxury design house—has turned corsets and handmade lace into sexy dresses that look like sultry nightwear to wear outside the bedroom.
The idea is to dress a woman’s body like jewelry, and the company was launched in 2013 by the Bulgarian Svetoslav Kolchagov and the Italian Emilio Barba. Before striking out with this venture, Kolchagov worked for a number of design houses including Vivienne Westwood, Burberry and Alexander McQueen.
Born in the unfashionably sounding Plovdiv to an engineer father, Kolchagov got ahead however thanks to his dressmaking grandmother, who taught him the ropes. Communism had its own fashion highs to share along the way.
“I grew up in what I can call a ‘fashion family,’” said the designer. “Despite communism I learned so much from my grandma on how to make the most out of those rigid uniforms and color. Have you seen those communist hats? It is real fur. When you unpick one of those hats, the most beautiful collar comes off as an accessory. The outlook might have been rigid but on the other hand it was extremely inspiring, hence the urge to create something which could represent freedom of expression, that’s how I started.”
He added: “My grandma was not just a teacher but my coach, and despite the fact that Bulgaria is not even on the fashion map, the craftsmanship behind dress making there is second to none. The Bulgarian national costumes, although we can all debate about the beauty and sexiness, represent a masterpiece in terms of embroideries.”
For the haute French coiffeur, Charlie Le Mindu, the first thing that comes to mind when asked about weirdness and fashion is Ugg boots. “They are so ugly,” he said.
Instead, the designer, who is a Paris Fashion Week regular, has built a career creating shocking and bizarre hairstyles, but doesn’t consider his creations weird at all. Some have names like “hairy cock ring,” “hairy lip,” and “monk wig.” One time, a model walked in one of his designs which balanced a giant cross on top of her fuzz of hair. Another looked like an old lady had knitted a teddy bear’s cardigan in ugly yellow and displayed it on top of her hairdo, like a walking advertisement for strange knitwear.
“For me, nothing is weird,” he said. “But you would have to ask the uptights. I really think being deliberately weird is bad for business. If you think of creating a business by being weird and saying, ‘I’m going to make money with it,’ lots of luck. I just experiment with hair.”