Everyone who has come even in moderate contact with the fashion world, knows about “kitsch”. Variations exist in the interpretation of the same and rightfully so, because kitsch fashion itself is not clearly defined. It is eccentric, eclectic, whimsical, colorful and beautiful at the same time!
Loosely kitsch fashion means tasteless fashion by conservatives, it is a term used to describe pieces of art that are generally of low quality but has a mass appeal. However, kitsch is turning out to be massy as well as classy, quite like its crazy self. Not just high fashion, it is slowly finding its way to street chic and regular clothing. Of late, kitsch has even become more prominent in the fashion circle with pop arts ruling the fashion scene these days even though there is a fine line between kitsch and pop art.
Plunging into the evolution of kitsch, the word “kitsch” first appeared in “Partisan Review” in the year of 1939 which the writer himself later disposed of as ill thought of. “Kitsch” was termed synonymous with faked sensations and vicarious experience.
Now with the change of the spirit of times, “kitsch” is pleasingly distasteful art and way more than just cute collectibles and what you adore as a piece of art on the ramp.
Dali’s paintings are one of the best examples of rebranded kitsch. Masterpieces but conventionally unappealing in that era. People called it wacky, tasteless and not in sync with the idea of art prevalent that day but his un-meditated paintings made it where most ideology-conforming art couldn’t.
The idea behind kitsch is the perfect marriage of messy and fancy. Look at “kitsch”, like you look at an unfinished painting. An artist has just tried to capture the vibe on canvas. May be it does not conform to standards but it’s pretty. After all, when has art adhered to conventional sensibilities and standards?
Coming to fashion, kitschy looks capture that spirit of an unfinished painting which in the opinion of today’s fashion designers, aren’t vicarious at all. We aren’t running behind trends but patching up and creating looks that are spontaneous. It’s a canvas with the work unfinished. Unfinished yet beautiful, unfinished as something to be continued.
The conventional definitions are being challenged in the most colorful and artistic way possible, be it fashion or painting or literature.
Fashion has been the fore runner due to its ability to metamorphose and re-emerge with newer and recycled concepts. Think of Galliano or Madonna or even Rita Ora. John Galliano’s radical kitsch signifies the rise of romanticism in fashion in 2009 which included fun accessories like crochets or fun-fur. Madonna and Rita Ora are examples of kitsch. Madonna made a lasting impact on 90s fashion. The concept of “catch-eye” was the pivotal concept behind such looks, rather than just being in vogue.
The 1940s actually saw the first fashion revolution which touched on the kitschy side of sensibilities. It progressed through the next half a decade, more like a runway rebellion than contemporary art. The spring 2012 collection by Prada took on a crazy kitschy vigor on the runway and was sincerely adopted into street fashion that year. The 2013 collection by Dolce and Gabbana also had similar vibes but probably fell flat because of their predictable nature. The Spring 2017 collection for menswear by Moschino are on similar lines but promises to be different and more on the psychedelic glam side, as is evident from the June 11 fashion show which was a heady mixture of hues and the “more is more” attribute of the 60s. As of 2016, “decadent kitsch” in Gucci’s collections in both women’s and men’s wear is presently turning heads in trendy Italy. Fashion evolution, the right way!
There is a very thick line existent between avant-garde fashion and street fashion but the entire evolution of fashion has been a brainchild of fashion visionaries. The designers dared step out of laid down and fashion norms, thus helping the sartorial rules evolve.
Let’s sum up “kitsch” by stating that it lies on the fringes of garishness, thanks to its colors and concepts but is differently pleasing in all its eccentricity. Here’s to everything kitschy that is helping fashion evolve.
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Written byAnwita Mukherjee
Anwita Mukherjee is a lawyer by education and has just finished her LLM from Jindal Global Law School. She has worked as a lawyer for a couple of corporate houses and is presently trying to metamorphose into a successful legal journalist.