The Two Reasons I Really Don’t Like Isabel Marant’s Designs

By: Emily Y.

IsabelMarant_Spring2016Above: Isabel Marant Spring 2016

I feel like I need to come forward with a dark confession (relatively speaking) with regards to style and fashion: I really don’t like Isabel Marant’s designs.

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Above: Isabel Marant Fall 2015

Hailed as the ultimate cool girl of Parisian fashion, it feels like blasphemy to say this about Marant’s work. But what can I say–I wasn’t clamouring to see see her H&M collaboration back in the day, nor do I ever look forward to seeing her offerings season after season.

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Above: Isabel Marant Fall 2014

My issue with her designs is two-fold:

1. There is nary a collection (as you can see from the four different collections sampled here) that doesn’t teeter towards cultural appropriation in some way

2. While her collections aren’t outright racist, there are subtle elements of various cultures in her collections–a furry mukluk-inspired bootie here, a bit of fringe there. That being said, most institutional racism is very, very subtle.

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Above: Isabel Marant Spring 2015

I’ll leave you with some of these snippets from Vogue Runway reviews of her shows, so you can see the rhetoric of cultural appropriation seeping in for yourselves:

Isabel Marant pulled together a thumping ’80s hip-hop soundtrack for her show today, even though the influences on her new collection skewed more North India than South Bronx. The Parisian designer has made a name for herself by filtering that elusive French girl cool through a distinctly global lens: She was a seasoned traveler from an early age, thanks to her bohemian upbringing, and has a knack for cherry-picking, and then deftly reconfiguring, dress codes and traditions from all four corners of the planet. For Spring, Marant’s divining stick led her to the rich, colorful textiles of Rajasthan.

– from the Spring 2016 Vogue Runway review of Isabel Marant’s show by Chioma Nnadi

 

 

No matter what Isabel Marant is looking at—American cowboys, Elvis Presley, the Navajo tribe—what it all boils down to is what she and her cool-girl clients want to wear […] whose graphic work led her in the direction of Africa—”tribal without being too literal” is how the designer described what she was going for.

– from the Spring 2015 Vogue Runway review of Isabel Marant’s show by Nicole Phelps

 

 

And then she didn’t wax lyrical about the Peruvian knit and blanket influences in her collection, the curly-shearling gilets, the fact that a padded canvas jacket looked as if it had something to do with judo, and that blanket-check shirts came into it. All she talked about was her own way of thinking about dressing during winter. “I always want to do something comfortable and cozy. When the weather is like that, you never feel like being too pretty or fancy,” she explained.

– from the Fall 2014 Vogue Runway review of Isabel Marant’s show by Sarah Mower

 

 

“This lean silhouette was that starting point of the entire collection,” shared Marant backstage, wearing a pair herself already. The jeans came in winter white with admiral buttons and also in her default print—ikat.

– from the Fall 2015 Vogue Runway review of Isabel Marant’s show by Emma Elwick-Bates

Bibliostyle: Leo Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina”

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Above: Monique Lhullier Spring 2015

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Above: Alberta Ferretti Spring 2015

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Above:  Luisa Beccaria Spring 2015

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Above: Atelier Versace Spring 2014 Couture

“Kitty had been seeing Anna every day and was in love with her, and had always imagined her in lilac, but now, seeing her in black, she felt that she had never realized her full charm. She saw her now in quite a new and unexpected light. Now she realized that Anna could not possibly have worn lilac, and that her charm lay precisely in the fact that she stood out from her toilette and that her dress was never conspicuous on her. Her black dress with its rich lace was not conspicuous on her, either; it merely served as a frame, and what one saw was Anna alone, simple, natural, elegant, and at the same time gay and animated.”

-from Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

UlyanaSergeenko_Spring2015_Black3Above: Ulyana Segeenko Spring 2014 Couture

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Above: Tracy Reese Spring 2015

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Above: Donna Karan Spring 2015

Vika_Gazinskaya_Spring2015_Black5Above: Vika Gazinskaya Spring 2015

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Above: Sophie Theallet Spring 2015

 

5 ‘Plus’ Floral Frocks

Here in Vancouver we are more than familiar with the old saying “April showers bring forth May flowers,” living in a rain forest on the West Coast….here are a few beautiful floral dresses perfect for those of you who wear ‘plus’ sizes to look sunny and bright even when it’s pouring outside.

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Above: Kimmy Floral Illusion Midi Dress, found here.

This dress is SO perfect as the long sleeves will keep you wearing it into cooler seasons, and for now is perfect for warmer days and cooler nights–you can go out and not have to worry about quite so many layers. The dress is great with a nude heel as shown, and the many different colours give you so many options of which colour to bring out when you wear it.

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Above: Joe Browns ‘Days Gone By’ Dress. Found here

Love the painterly quality of this floral print. It looks like a watercolour masterpiece that should be on display in a museum!

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One thing about florals is that more often than not they err on the side of sweet, dainty, and slightly more on the youthful side. The Shania Painterly Print Dress above dashes all those common floral pitfalls–you’re ready for a night out of fun with this bright, curve-hugging number.

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Above: Joe Browns “Vintage Flower” dress, found here

The muted colours on the black background is so polished, and so versatile! With a wicker hand bag and flats it’s good enough for a weekend brunch, with patent pumps and bright accessories you could be ready for a wedding. We also  love the nod to vintage with this neckline-very Sophia Loren.

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Above: Floral scuba knit dress by Forever 21, found here.

For those of you who loathe vintage, this pick is for you. The scuba fabric, the subtle overlay of the geometric shapes, and zipper keep this flowery dress in modern territory.

3 Canadian Style Finds for Spring

You’ve read our Editor’s Wish Lists for Spring 2014, here are a few more finds we think are worthy for spring. As a bonus, all of these items are Canadian!

1. Strathcona stockings

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Image above found here.

Cult favourite, lady-run label, and  Vancouver-based designer Strathcona Stockings (the stockings are named after a Vancouver neighbourhood for readers who aren’t local)–what’s not to love?

2. The WORN Archive: A Fashion Journal about the Art, Ideas, and History of What We Wear

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Get thee to a bookstore, ’cause the WORN Archive will be out in May. We’re huge fans of WORN–it’s Canadian, feminist, and all about why fashion and clothing very much matter. Details here.

3. Mod Style Blossom Voile Infinity Scarf by Veespoke 

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Above: Image found here.

Another Vancouver line, Veespoke, makes beautiful infinity scarves for folks who aren’t sure how to wear scarves! We love the bright selection (like the one above) and the very West Coast feel of this stylish local label.

Editor’s Spring Wish List: Emily Y.

Last up in our Editor’s Spring Wish List series is founder and Editor-in-Chief of this site, Emily Y. Did you mist Part 1 or Part 2? Check out Lydia O.’s picks here, and Katie D.’s picks here

1. Highwaisted Jeans

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I’m looking to steamline my wardrobe. I don’t wear jeans/pants often, but when I do I like them to be highwaisted. I love me some Cheap Mondays–the ones above are not like my typical style at all, but there’s something about them I just like. PS–Vancouver, you can get Cheap Monday Jeans at vintage store Mintage on the Drive!

2. A Classy Purse

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There are two things that I really don’t care much for when it comes to fashion: nice bags and nice shoes. I like practical bags and shoes, sans labels s.v.p. I think labels are tacky–the luxury aspect comes from not the logo but a bag that looks timeless and well-made, and Aldo is where its at. I like the purse above cuz its chic and orange–a colour I can’t wear near my face (I don’t look good in orange but desperately wish I did), but holding an orange bag would be fine.

3. Miu Miu forever!

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My wardrobe colour inspiration for Spring this year is definitely the Miu Miu Spring/Summer 2014 collection. I normally don’t care much for runway collections however, this show caught my eye for inventive colour combinations that are so fresh and inspired in my opinion. The weights of the fabrics are good for cooler spring days, while the colours speak to warmer days.

4. Something Canadian

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The Sarah Stevenson for Target collection is the perfect balance of “professional” and “creative” that I need for my young “creative professional” job. I support lady designers, especially those who are Canadian, and Stevenson’s collection is the one for me! I want this shirt, I’d wear it with tons of gold jewelry for sure.

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