Carolyne Van Den Hoogen's Summer 2017 Posts

Clothing is Alive – by Carolyne Van Den Hoogen

This wardrobe capsule that Joseph created for a client demonstrated to me how clothing is alive. The more I studied the clothes, and saw the connection they have to the client, I could feel the aliveness.

As a kid I heard the phrase, “Plants have feelings too.” I thought it was interesting that plants could express feelings without a mouth or eyes. Feelings pertain to human life. Emotions are a characteristic of living objects. So, how can art be living? This was a concept that I just couldn’t wrap my mind around; I simply didn’t understand. Could I explain that clothing is alive?

Let me go way back in my relationship with a particular wardrobe capsule that Joseph created. At our first meeting, Joseph shared a photo on his iPhone of a wardrobe capsule for a client. I learned that she is going on a 3-week luxurious trip to India. My first reaction: “Wow, that’s a really great kimono inspired dress coat.” Then, on our second meeting, I see the capsule hanging in formation on Joseph’s studio walls. I begin to become more familiar with the clothes. Finally, our third meeting. The client arrived on Saturday to try on the capsule and give feedback on Joseph’s selection.

Popping in and out of Joseph’s studio, catching glances at the capsule on display, I became comfortable with the clothing. I spent many hours in the same room with the clothing hanging on the clean, white wall. As I did, I became more acquainted with the teal blouse, the gorgeous Etro dress, and that cinnamon trench coat. I knew that my first meeting with the client would not be a blind date.

I spent many hours with the client. While revealing more details about her lifestyle, I felt like the clothes were made for her. Then, she explained her involvement with numerous art museums, and it was clear that the client is artistic. Pieces in the capsule connected with the client beautifully, from one artist to another.

If Joseph and the client had left the room, I would still feel a presence. I felt a connection with the clothes – a bond – as if there was a friendship between me and the clothes. It was the feeling you get after a good first date. The one where you get to know each other over a cup of coffee. Only, before you know it, 5 hours have passed. It was clear that Joseph knew the client very well, as if they had been on 40 dates. When the client left, I wanted a second date.

I had admired the selection of clothing and spent hours gazing upon the artistic creation. The clothes were works of art. Simply, fashion is art. An artist has a vision and a purpose in which the artist feels inclined to create a piece of artwork.  And, then I got it! Fashion designers create an art form where the clothing is alive.

So many different aspects of clothing communicate to us. Certain colors, cuts, and patterns communicate differently. How does your favorite color make you feel? What does a cream linen suit tell you compared to a jet black, crisp, slim suit? The cream linen suit may tell a different story. For me, it says “I’m in Marrakesh on a tour of a spice market on a hot day.” Whereas the black suit tells me, “I am a successful young person who is on my way to give a presentation in the business district of London.” In my mind, I associate the black suit with drizzly weather. For the white linen suit, I imagine a hot day in the desert. So, the point is that every garment paints a picture and tells a story.

Critics are able to translate the emotion of a painting by the length of a brush stroke. Similarly, once I spent time with the clothes, I could do the same thing as an art critic. I allowed myself to translate every cut, color and material, and felt the presence of the clothing. From the moment I first saw the capsule on the iPhone screen, I felt the story being told. The emotion poured out of each piece. When you dress with clothing that speaks to you and that you have a relationship with, something magical happens. It will feel like you’re going on the most anticipated second date. The clothing has emotion. The clothing is alive.

My role, as a personal brand and style strategist, is that of a storyteller. I learn about a person’s personality and strengths, translate that into an appropriate personal style aesthetic, and help each client to visually and non-verbally tell her or his story with ease and authenticity.

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