Saturday, October 11, 2008

John Richmond: The Icon of Fashion Rebellion

The world of fashion has its own standards and strictures, despite being seen as a world where creativity is a premium. The pillars of the fashion industry do not take lightly to designers who challenge its norms and traditions, but it is not surprising to find designers who go against the tide and simply follow their instincts. Those who fail are forgotten, while those who succeed shine and shine through. John Richmond is one of those designers who rebelled against the norm and made it through.

Who is John Richmond?

To put it simply, John Richmond is the iconic designer who fused elements of biker chic, street smarts and rock music with the classic elements of haute couture to create his own unique style. Through his keen eye, his masterful tailoring, and his impeccable attention to detail, he has made himself a breed apart from the other fashion designers who are trying to make a name for themselves by being edgy.

John Richmond is an Englishman born in Manchester in 1960. In the 1980s, he moved to London to pursue his studies and later graduated from Kingston University in 1982. Straight out of school, he went to work as a freelance designer for Lano Lano, Fiorucci, Joseph Tricot, Ursula Hudson, among others.

In 1984, John Richmond struck a partnership with the designer Maria Cornejo. It was during this time that he began to bring out his own signature style. The partnership lasted until 1987, after which he released for the first time his own men’s and women’s collection.

The slogan “Destroy, Disorientate, Disorder” was an invention created for John Richmond’s Destroy collection, which was introduced in 1990. It was soon followed by Destroy Denim in 1991. His first boutique in London opened in 1992.

Aside from his irreverent style, John Richmond was also known as a designer with a business sense. In 1995, he formed another partnership with Severio Moschillo to use Moschillo’s global network in an effort to expand his visibility overseas. He used Moschillo’s Falber Confezioni’s staff and facilities in order to create his collections. John Richmond’s clothes and accessories, including ready-to-wear apparel, were then distributed by Moschillo.

The designer also inked a consultancy contract with Valextra in 2000; the deal lasted until 2003. Under the deal, Richmond was to make women’s wear and matching accessories, such as shoes and bags, for Valextra.

John Richmond is married to Angie Hill. They have two children: Harley and Phoenix.

The Style of John Richmond

In his official website, the fashion philosophy of John Richmond has been described as a “celebration of the energy, creativity and unpredictability of youth and street culture.” His designs are marked with irreverence and subversion to the proclaimed standards in the fashion industry, and yet it cannot be denied that his creations are just as stylish and desirable.

The slogan “Destroy, Disorientate, Disorder” was meant to challenge expectations in the industry, including on John Richmond himself. He draws heavily on rock-‘n-roll and punk music for inspiration in his designs. As a result, his clothes are unabashedly sexy, distinctly flaunting and instantly recognizable.

This is the reason why many up-and-coming pop stars choose to dress themselves in John Richmond’s clothes: to borrow from his distinction and to stand out among the crowd. But John Richmond’s celebrity clientele is naturally not limited to the starlets and the wannabes. He has also dressed superstar icons such as Annie Lennox, Mick Jagger and Madonna, to name a few.

But what makes John Richmond a cut above the rest of the edgy designer pack? In a nutshell, his clothes are striking in their difference but definitely wearable. A person donning a John Richmond outfit will definitely appear radically stylish but not look out of place while walking down the street.

His clothes certainly standout. Tailored jackets in fruity hues, with chains and fetishes as adornments; feathery boas trimming collars and cuffs of coats cut from shiny fabric; tight bondage pants paired with elegant checks, sheer, feminine nets against hard leather – these are all typical elements of a John Richmond design. Subversive, irreverent, twisting the accepted norms are incorporations of his style.

John Richmond’s Fall/Winter 2008/2009 Menswear Fashion Show

The subversion, bending of norms, attention to detail and sheer luxury that John Richmond is known for is very much evident in his Fall/Winter 2008/2009 menswear fashion show during Milan’s Fashion Week. Because it is a fall/winter collection, the monochromatic theme and the layering expected for the season were seen in the clothes.

But even though the clothes are overtly masculine, with tapered silhouettes on the coats, jackets and pants, there are feminine overtones to be found in each outfit. The scarves worn by the models had floral patterns, the necklaces had floral pendants, and there was one model who wore a hoodie with a floral lining.

A model also sported a white leather tote that looked like something a well-dressed woman would have on a casual weekend but certainly did not seem out of place hanging from a man’s shoulder. Also, most of the outfits are in velvet, a fabric that is so rich and soft and luxuriously feminine.

The fall/winter collection of 2008/2009 is true John Richmond in style: challenging norms, subverting standards, unique in its difference.

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