Extreme Couture: Fashion Heavyweights Draw On Combat Sports Themes

(Props to New York Magazine.)

MMA apparel has become de rigeur at malls and sports bars across America for several years but the nascent industry has had little impact on haute couture until recently, when two prominent designers infused their new collections with the imagery of combat sports.

On Jan. 21, 2010, Jean-Paul Gaultier, who is known for making street wear upscale, sent male models down the runway in boxing gloves and bloody scrapes in his Paris show. Other highlights from his show included velvet and leather man leggings, sweatpants, and a sweat dress suit.

“His recent men’s collection shown in Paris takes classic masculine garments and juxtaposes them with feminine-tinged fashion elements, resulting in a fragmented, yet mystifyingly collection of ephemeral looks,” said David A. McKnight, a global fashion stylist and Couture Fashion Week creative director.

McKnight adds, “The fight theme for Gaultier’s most recent runway exhibition can be decoded as being symbolic for his continuous fight for a shift in fashion from being a fixed mode of tradition and safety, instead to becoming a fluid exploration of reinvention and revision.”

Then you have Vivienne Westwood, a British fashion designer largely responsible for bringing modern punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream, who drew inspiration from muay Thai fighters for her men’s Spring 2010 collection. That collection debuted on Nov. 25, 2009 in a boxing stadium in Tokyo and was one of the few times that a designer created a literal translation for her designs.

(Props to Sydney Morning Herald.)

Muay Thai fighters sported Westwood’s boxing shorts and tanks in the ring during the prelude to her show. Several models wore traditional muay Thai head bands as well.

Other highlights included men strutting down the runway wearing soft cotton leotards, while others wore plaid suits with fringed edges. Probably the most evident nod to the fight world is when and a female model walked in a ripped and torn bathing suit while holding a sign with the number eight.

“Gaultier and Westwood are highlighting the plight of the fashion industry in recent years. Fallen models. Depressing retail figures,” said Mengly Taing, a freelance fashion advisor and consultant. “The blood and cuts will heal, and fashion is alive and it’s fighting back in their own ring.”

Though we probably won’t ever see Gualtier’s or Westwood’s designs in the Octagon anytime soon, it’s clear that the fight game’s renewed cultural relevance has a far-reaching ripple effect.

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