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Photo: Farrukh (Flickr); Licence: CC BY-NC 2.0  

With the September fashion weeks fast approaching, the world awaits the autumn/winter trends about to be unveiled by some of the most influential contemporary designers. E&M author Katarina Poensgen investigates the origins of fashion week and what it means for us today.

It’s an opportunity for showing new trends, artistic talents and edgy clothing. Fashion week – whether it takes place in London, Paris or Berlin – is more than a time for fashion fanatics to show off; it’s a historical culturally important show of creative and luxurious items of clothing displayed on a catwalk for the world to see. This is where designers and models battle it out to prove why they deserve to be a part of the glossy world of fashion. As exciting fashion week is for many today, its intriguing history is also worth investigating. 

Published in Sixth Sense

With individual selections from our editors, Good Reads provides a regular run-down of best and most thought-provoking European journalism available online. This week, Diána Vonnák shares some intriguing thoughts on illegal immigration to the EU, fashion and the public role of intellectuals.

Diána, Managing editor

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Fortress Europe

Lampedusa did not change EU policies regarding asylum seekers and refugees and neither have similar subsequent, almost daily tragedies. Foreign policy has been a consistently hot topic for months, yet Syria, IS and the troubles in West Africa have clouded our public awareness of the unquestionable need of thousands to get out of miseries beyond imagination.

We had a Lampedusa-related pick from Veronica in the last edition of Good Reads, but I could not resist starting my list with another take on Fortress Europe. There are two aspects of this recent Spiegel Online article that make it stand out from the majority of similar advocacy pieces: its insights into the work of Frontex (the organisation that patrols EU borders) and the geographical scope, including the Hungarian-Serbian frontier and the border between Greece and Turkey.

Published in Good Reads
Thursday, 14 June 2012 06:20

Coco Chanel - the story of a revolution

Even before they had a practical purpose, clothes were meant to have a message. They mark, differentiate, ennoble, humiliate, include and cast out; in other words, they talk about the person wearing them. If there is one statement that definitely applies to fashion, or clothing in general, it is that it has always functioned as a language. Before fashion became fashionable, clothes represented stability: changes appeared slowly and the meanings of clothes where obvious. In the first decades of the century, Coco Chanel violated this familiar language. After throwing away corsets, dressing women like men and making clothes from unusual fabrics it was hard to say who was who.

Her experiments with couture were called a revolution and ranked her on Time magazine's list of the most influential people of the 20th century. A century after her debut in Parisian salons, she remains an icon in the ephemeral world of fashion and beyond it. Only in the last years the legend of the French couturière was revisited several times in cinema ("Coco before Chanel", "Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky", "Coco Chanel") - a feast for fashionistas and fashion victims and a rare occasion for fashion historians. The contemporary look at the European legend of fashion presented in these films might be a good opportunity to ask questions about contemporary fashion itself.

Coco wasn't the only provocative designer at that time, she wasn't even the only woman designer. But she was the one to opt for a democratic turn in fashion.

Today, the two C's stand as much for the label as they do for the image of Coco Chanel herself; a self-confident, determined and scandalous personality – an ideal character for cinema. What may seem surprising now is that Coco wasn't the only provocative designer at that time, she wasn't even the only woman designer. But she was the one to opt for a democratic turn in fashion. In times when functionality and comfort did not go along with elegance and the elitist idea of fashion, Chanel tried to create clothes that would be suitable and affordable for all women. Coco turned fashion into a popular entertainment and laid foundations for what was to become the dynamic modern fashion industry.

Published in Cafe Cinema
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