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Jolie Laide & Unconventionally Beautiful Fashion

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Jolie Laide & Unconventionally Beautiful Fashion

Danielle Greene

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Edith Piaf, known as the "Little Sparrow", would be 100 years old if she were alive. She captivated audiences worldwide with her voice and her presence, despite being petite at 4' 10". On stage, she wore a simple black dress, saying " I don't want my appearance to distract from the performance." She is one of France's enduring icons of beauty and fortitude, and she fascinates me.

There are designers who embrace the unconventional and who reject the "beautiful" in its traditional sense. Comme des Garcons, Junya Watanabe, and Walter van Beirendonck are three of my favorite designers that I think represent the "Jolie Laide" or in English, the beautiful ugly. A 2005 New York Times article explains that "behind the visceral image lies an internal life. In that sense it is a triumph of personality over physiognomy, the imposition of substance over surface." 

So how, you ask, can clothes-the very epitome of surface-take on the depth of this oh so French nuanced concept? By pushing boundaries, leaving comfort zones, and evoking questions and ideas through style, fabric, and texture. Here are some of my favorite examples. Let me know what you think of them by commenting.

CommedesGarcons
junyawatanabe