TOME's pre-fall 2015 collection, which they presented at MBFWA 2015 this morning, is an impressive marriage between thematic strength – it's inspired by Sylvia Plath, no less – and commercial incentive.
When we interviewed Ryan Lobo and Ramon Martin, TOME's co-designers, ahead of the Virgin Australia Melbourne Fashion Festival which they also participated in recently, they explained that the pre-fall season is increasingly important to them because it allows them to present the heart of their label to their cusTOMErs (sorry not sorry) in a timely (the product is available immediately, as is the case with this MBFWA collection) and practical (the items are usually distilled, basic and versatile) way. Rosie Dalton, Catalogue's fashion features writer, then unpacked the pre-fall phenomenon – which is being adopted by pretty much all brands everywhere – by arguing that social media technology has created this confusing scenario where we see clothes on the runway during fashion weeks and wonder why we can't go out and buy them for another six months (even though clothing production is a labour-intensive process that takes time). The ability for Fast Fashion companies to create versions of these runway looks before the designer labels themselves can make them available for purchase, complicates things further. Pre-fall collections remove all of these obstacles, allowing customers to buy the clothes they want when they want them, and allowing fashion labels to use media attention to actually sell things, which is kind of the point.
Enter TOME's pre-fall 2015 collection. The collection is inspired by Sylvia Plath and her, yes, tome, The Bell Jar, because, as the show notes explain, Lobo and Martin "have always been touched by both its sadness and beauty". The Bell Jar as a Tome pre-fall fashion collection, then, comprises the contradictory nature of Plath's personal characteristics, simultaneously vulnerable and empowered, and Plath's place in history as an icon of feminine empowerment and, through that, feminism.
The show opened with the pieces from TOME's White Shirt Project, launched in collaboration with Katie Ford, the former CEO of Ford Models, in 2014, and the profits from which go towards fighting human trafficking and modern day slavery. Utilitarian by nature, these simple white garments evoked the oppressive undertones of the theme, made all the more specific by the '50s silhouettes these pieces are underpinned by. As the soundtrack shifted from classic music into some incarnation of modern pop (all the while underpinned by this crazed, show tunes vibe), the clothing represented a shift towards liberation, too. Plum and sky blue were introduced to the palette, and, while shirting remained the staple throughout the collection, it became progressively less strict; top buttons were left undone while backs are cut loose and cropped, exposing an androgynous, powerful part of the female form, the lower back. The final story of the show took the theme of liberation to its natural conclusion: the little black dress, and the effortless power it represents. TOME's seasonal incarnation of this staple item is a simple slip, emblazoned with jewels. Because it's pre-fall 2015, and we'll be badass and bedazzled if we want to.
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