Friday, April 8, 2011

Asymmetry, Balance, and Flow



I finally got this dress dry cleaned so that I could wear it; this is the Helmut Lang dress I alluded to earlier, and now that I've worn it I love it even more than I did when I brought it home. Behold how the asymmetrical neckline dips down to perfectly frame my snake tattoo -- did I tell you this company designs clothes just for me, or what?

I didn't feel like this dress needed much additional embellishment, and in keeping with the Helmut Lang minimalist aesthetic I kept my makeup fairly light and even went without lipstick. The jacket added plenty of interesting detail though, and the cropped length worked beautifully with the dress without hiding any of that gorgeous draping at the waist.

Dress: Helmut Lang
Leather jacket: Skin Graft
Shoes: Tsubo



I want to talk for a moment about asymmetry in clothing, because a comment from my Fashion Week post the other day got me thinking about why I love asymmetry in certain garments and abhor it in others. What it comes down to is balance and flow. If you look carefully at the dress I have on here, you'll see that on the top half the visual "weight" of the dress is skewed to the side with the sleeve; however on the bottom half that weight shifts to the other side, where draping gathers into the long sash.  Now consider these two one-shoulder dresses:

 Sorry Giuliana Rancic, but I think your dress sucks. Also, I have no fucking idea who you are. 
What are you doing at the Oscars if I have no fucking idea who you are?

What works for me in the Oscar de la Renta dress on the left is the fact that the visual weight shifts smoothly from one side to the other as your eye travels down the length of the garment; the shoulder side of the dress swoops across and flows naturally into the cascade of ruffles on the other side. This type of asymmetry gives a garment movement -- can't you just see the model's wiggle, even though this is a still photo? With the dress on the right however, the shoulder strap just looks weird and out of place. There's nothing to transition it to the bottom half of the dress, so it feels like an afterthought. And sure, there's that long train sticking out, but that's the back of the dress; if you looked at it straight on, it would be a big stupid tube with an awkward strap stuck on one side. Thus, I hate it. Giuliana, call me; I'll get you hooked up with a better dress for the next Oscars, and maybe by then I'll know what in the hell you're doing there.

15 comments:

Marie @ Lemondrop Vintage said...

HAAHHAA, you are so funny. What is ironic is that Rancic does a style police bit on E I think? With Joan Rivers. And you totally called her out. I am still smiling.
Marie @ Lemondrop ViNtAge

Audi said...

Marie Lemondrop: HA! That is awesome; I couldn't have picked a better target to call out if I'd specifically searched for one. All I was an image search on Google for one-shoulder dresses, and hers was the ugliest. :-P

Kitty said...

Love this look on you.

And thanks for putting your finger on what I somehow have never been able to as to why I have usually loathed asymetric outfits yet loved others.

Hexotica said...

I really love this outfit.It's very edgy, sexy, and goth-friendly, especially the jacket!
I agree with you about the two dresses! I never thought about the balance/transition composition of a design like that before. It makes so much sense.

Scary Closet said...

There's the jacket I love! That has to be my favorite jacket your collection. It is so rock-star!

mei said...

Oh wow, what a perfect outfit! That dress, and that jacket, I'm literally making grabby hands at the screen. Amazing, I can't remember the last time I coveted something so much. And the tattoos complement the outfit perfectly.

Stephanie said...

The dress is *so* amazing. Would you consider doing a post on how you know when to splurge on a high-end piece? This one is perfect.

Rad in BK said...

That dress is perfect. I love how it compliments your tatoo and your absolutely right about weight and flow. One of the professors on a panel last weekend had a great flowy/assymetrical outfit on and I couldn't quite describe why I enjoyed it.
He's out of my price range, but I have some serious Helmut Lang lust.

Audi said...

Stephanie: Actually this dress wasn't a splurge at all; it was deeply discounted and then there was an additional discount taken at the register (although it's true I didn't realize how affordable it was going to end up being and would in fact have paid considerably more for it). However, I do have a true 'splurge' purchase coming up in a few days, and before that post goes live I'll see if I can add some more thoughts on this topic. Thanks for the suggestion!

Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

Your dress is so, so wonderful I will have to bookmark this post just so I can look at it. I love the balance and you've kept things so perfect with the jacket (which is tough - love it).

And that explanation is brilliant. I can see the lack of balance very clearly but I'm not sure I could have explained it so well. You definitely have a great eye.

Ravina Sniper said...

That dress is knockout on you! Holy smokes. I also appreciate your explanation on asymmetry - maybe now I'll be able to utilize it to my advantage! =)

Sartorial Nerd said...

How had I not known about this blog before? It's right up my alley (The Sartorial Nerd, Fashion for Nerds, a match made in heaven)!

I love your style - the way you mix textures to create variation in a monochromatic outfit is pretty fab. I absolutely adore this dress.

Becky said...

Oh, lovely. That dress is amazing and I tend to agree about symmetry/asymmetry. Things added on a garment in general after the fact always tends to look strange, like fake bows. Go quality!

Cel said...

I love the details on the back of the jacket! So unexpected, really great.

Nubby Tongue said...

That jacket is made of pure awesome. As is the entire last paragraph of this post. XD