I was in a pub in New Cross last night, The Hobgoblin, with a group of Goldsmith grads celebrating their convocation. At the bar was a woman, fairly cool I concluded. She was wearing this chubby wool sweater, crew-neck, really fuzzy, with a quaint farm motif that wrapped around the front and back. I loved it, instantly. This corny image consisting of trees, cows, a little red barn and it’s equally charming white-picket fence doesn’t really come across as stylish. It is, however, completely unique. I mean, how often do you see something like this? It’s a genuine treasure to find something so tacky.
Aside from its warmth and cozy physical properties, these images of a simplistic life – a rural setting, novelty farm animals – conjure up ideas of a fun, joyous time. It’s a juxtaposition to our modern, urban living.
I’ll give you some more examples. Think back to 2001, when Stella McCartney was the creative director to Chloe. She put horses on everything! Not to mention a pineapple here and there (see below).
But what’s so interesting about these designs? Is it because we normally don’t encounter adults wearing clothing with barn-yard animals on their chest and pineapples on their a**?
What I loved about McCartney’s tackiness was that it was unexpected. And really, that’s what makes these examples so awkward and geeky yet tres chic all at once. It’s the confidence you must have to wear something like this that truly makes the piece worthy of our attention. These little idiosyncratic details that reveal personality, jovial humour, appreciation of difference, etc. Furthermore, it shows that you can have fun with fashion.
I also wish to note that this idea had been brewing in my mind (and on my desk top under the folder “corny sweater”) for quite sometime. And usually I have a good twenty or so ideas for a blog post floating in my mind until a clear theme emerges in time.
Looking at the pre-fall collections (dear designers, please just sync your pre-fall collections), I noticed my much-loved tacky sweater phenomenon come to life. First, in the Burberry collection. Not a horse, a cow or a pig, but a nice cut-out tree. Kind of like the Lebanese flag (which was always my favourite flag as a child – so much better than a maple leaf). Then, Balenciaga released a canine-inspired version. So cool. And yet so unexpected from the Parisian designer Nicolas Ghesquiere.
Of course my favourite geeky, tacky, tasteless, barn-yard sweater is my own. Found in my neighbourhood Goodwill, this sweater is probably the most unique thing I own, and apparently really “in” at the moment. So sad I left it at home. Luckily I have a photo of it, courtesy of the very talented photographer and visual artist Tina Lalonde (who I left at home too, unfortunately).
Photos: Tina Lalonde and Style.com