Week 1: Utopia // Fashion Pathway

This opening brief for the next 2 weeks of my fashion pathway taster is on the topic of "Utopia." Check out my hand crafted book I made for putting all my research above (I prefer my main sketchbooks to be mostly visual.) At the point of making the first couple pages, I didn't know you had to put your analysis/log on a blog so I wrote it in the yellow book (thats what imma call the research book.) But now I know I can just type all that shiz here,so I won't do it again. Nevertheless i'm not going to re-write everything that I rambled on about in that initial log so you'll have to enjoy the poorly lit images above for all the juicy goss, however I will recap all my concepts and findings about this brief below:

1. The strip down of "Utopia.

As this brief is pretty much really open to interpretation -all you have to do is literally come up with any final outcome on the theme of utopia- it leaves space for various different routes to look at for this brief...so the first thing I did was really become acquainted with the basic concept/origin of "utopia." This inevitably led me to Sir Thomas More who apparently was the first ever bloke to coin the word Utopia in his book "Utopia (1516)" which is about the political system of an imaginary ideal island nation. sounds familiar doesn't it?

The actual etymology of the word is in fact the biggest irony of all though, because it genuinely means "nowhere." Props to you More! Most interestingly he was beheaded by

Mr King Henry VIII -whom he served as a councillor to - for refusing to accept the Protestant Reformation (basically Henry's decision to create a whole new division of christianity aka "church of England" so that he could make more P than the pope by being the head of it, and give himself the green card to re-marry.) More's last words was famously "I die the King's good servant, but God's first" leaving him -a good couple centuries later- deemed a catholic martyr aka "heavenly Patron of Statesmen and Politicians" but more interestingly a communist idol to the Soviet Union, who honoured his book "Utopia" as brill read for low-key communistic attitudes towards property rights. This intrigued me to go down this communist/capitalist ideals on Utopia, and again the idea of wether is could ever truly exist.

2. You Say You Want To Start A Revolution? - At the V&A

As Lyman Tower Sargent had quoted so well in Utopianism: A Very Short Introduction:

"[t]here are socialist, capitalist, monarchical, democratic, anarchist, ecological, feminist, patriarchal, egalitarian, hierarchical, racist, left-wing, right-wing, reformist, free love, nuclear family, extended family, gay, lesbian, and many more utopias"

I was very much ready to venture forth my local galleries, exhibitions and search the dark abysses of google for different ideals and stances on utopia - as no doubt, although coined in 1516, the actual concept of utopia has been the fixation of man since the first ever dreamer dreamed. But honestly I already knew I didn't want to go down an in-depth ancient/historical route of greek mythology/oogle at religious tapestries with Biblic references to Eden / The promised land...milk n honey blah blah. I wanted a contemporary route. "You Say You Want To Start A Revolution" currently on at the V&A was the one to really catch my eye. Free Love ! Fuck yeah! Swinging Sixties n strawberry fields lets all sit in the mud tripping out our minds, grow our beards and spread peace n love. Utopia.

So I went to that.

It was actually really well put together, I must say. It basically explored the impact of the late 1960s/early 70s, through looking at some of the greatest music and performances of the 20th century alongside fashion, film, design and political activism. But what really resided with me was this overall unison of ideals within youngsters at a time where America and Russia were basically bitching about who had the biggest balls. It was seemingly the trend among the white middle class youth to be like "we just wanna live in harmony, man." Which is actually really important, cause despite the working class / minorities for years saying "we no longer want to be discriminated against" it arguably does take the people with more privilege -the sons and daughters of those in power- to say "stop. this is wrong." So what started that? What gained the attention of the white middle class western to swap their white collars for even bigger floral collars and walk hand in hand with all those they were told was beneath them?

Art! Music! Film/Media! And there we have this ideal of Utopia i've taken interest in, this late 60's perfect society referenced in the era's films, songs and images that all correlate to each other.

(see left, Poster by Hapshash and the Coloured Coat, 1967, London (Michael English & Nigel Waymouth). Photograph © Victoria and Albert Museum, London)

This idea of an "Ecological" utopia, of course has been the kind of Utopia one initially thinks of from way way back before the bible - green trees and fruitful lands, any mans dream, right? So i'll pursue it. But the way the era's visuals was absolutely soaked in the psychedelic floral design is something one cannot miss. I mean just look at this poster...its for a bloody "Love Festival" and here we have flowers upon flowers and lemons growing their own heads which also form human heads. Although overwhelming, I like looking at this kind of art. I like the simulation of psychedelic hallucinations, but more importantly the themes that sit within the swirling colour patterns - whether that be a field of daisy's morphing into a naked young woman to represent some graphic designers fantasy of free love or an ideal of fertility...or maybe a big plant eating a little plant to show oppression from the elite.

A great example of this is a really trippy animation that came later in the era called "Fantastic Planet" (1973). Otherwise known as its French/Czech translations La Planète sauvage / Divoká planeta, the film is a Franco-Czech allegorical cutout stop-motionscience fiction film directed by René Laloux about humans living on a strange planet dominated by giant humanoid aliens who consider them animals. I could go on endlessly about what this plot sociologically represents but I'm here to talk about the trippy art and what they do in this film is really impressive (do check out the trailer, linked.)

But leading back to the topic of Utopia, what René Laloux went on to direct just over a decade after,.I recon i'll be using as a main reference for this brief in regards to their constant psychedelic representation of utopia... Gandahar

On that note i'll refresh my memory on this amazing animation and blog all about my notes/analysis tomorrow morning.


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