An unorthodox and radical current, Avant-Garde is synonymous with pushing the boundaries of culture for well over a century. Since its first inception, this movement generated major progress in fields like art, music, architecture, literature, theatre and film and most importantly, fashion.
In fashion terms, avant-garde spanned generations of notable designers who reshaped the way people perceive and wear clothes. Characterized as progressive and forward thinking, the once eyebrow-raising style is now a worldwide phenomenon. One of these avant garde designers is Barbara í Gongini, an active participant in the Nordic art discourse, in close collaboration with film, music and photography artists, which all added to her creative process.
Keep reading and take a journey through her views on what is avant garde fashion today and how it all started!
WHAT IS AVANT-GARDE: A MODERN DEFINITION
Avant-garde (pronounced a’vant-garde) is an intellectual, artistic and cultural movement characterized by the experimental, the radical and the unorthodox approaches. Derived from french and meaning vanguard or advance guard, the term describes the few who dare to go in front and defy conventions. The current also defines an attitude of freedom from the conventionals of society. This is why avant-garde is not the same as modernism. Modernism, as a term, defines a period that integrates all aspects of society while avant-garde rejects the mainstream in favor of the unique.
BARBARA I GONGINI Autumn Winter 2011 Collection.
WHY IS AVANT-GARDE IMPORTANT ?
Avant-garde is important because it’s based on constant innovation, taking risks and thinking forward. Real progress can only be made through failure and who wishes to advance must be prepared to fail. Some of the most important artistic and cultural achievements have been made through avant-garde. Rejecting the common mentality and nurturing originality has allowed those who are free in mind to shape the future. Innovation is the key to success.
IN WHAT WAY IS AVANT-GARDE EXPERIMENTAL & INNOVATING?
To fully grasp the concept and its importance, Barbara Í Gongini, our avant-garde fashion designer explains: “Avant-garde can be viewed as experimental because it has something to do with constantly being on the edge, thinking forward and exploring new possibilities. Mirroring the times in which we are living provides a relevance to the form of expression of the artist.” By relying on social context, the artists explores and creates blindly, in an experimental approach to discovering where the artistic inspiration will take him. With trying different ways of doing something comes innovation and thus, progress.
Avant-Garde in Fashion
In fashion, avant-garde manifested in a similar way to other fields. It presumed forward thinking, artistry, unconventional designs, new forms, structures and an extraordinary touch that separates the ideas from the mainstream.
Avant garde fashions distinguishes itself through the fact that it embodies a way of living. To explain how avant garde influenced fashion, Barbara Í Gongini explains: “Avant-garde fashion emanates deeply in some sort of holistic sense of being. The whole Japanese aesthetic philosophies emanate very much with what I am. What I stand for.“
The continuous experimental approach has defined a fashion style that has a very specific tone of voice. Those who are familiar avant-garde fashion have developed a unique way of understanding it. Thus, a connection is made through very personal way of expressing yourself – “It tells stories which go deep under the skin and perception of the wearer.”
AVANT-GARDE CONTRIBUTIONS TO FASHION
The movement has impacted the way designers think and create their work. Certain tendencies caught on and are now widespread. Barbara Í Gongini explains: “The lack of color is one of the biggest fashion contributions of the avant-garde movement. Our brand mainly works with monochrome shades. Keeping only a single tone gives the opportunity to work on clothing like on a canvas”.
The form, shape, and volume of outfits have also been changed by the avant-garde influence. Details now consist of unexpected cuts and oversized tailoring which offer a different perspective to what the wearer is presenting.