How not to be sexy – an editorial for Anna Quan shot in Paris
A a wise friend surmised quite poignantly, that fashion is simply a form of communication, with its own discrete language – our choice of clothes and brand alignments (read: personal style), and the ideas created and advanced, are part of a perpetual dialogue. There’s no doubt that, most things in the world being about sex, even the language of fashion is intended for the conveyance of sexual attraction. However, the mistake that a younger me made of expressing style through baring skin and flaunting the figure, turned out to be an error, not in the theme, but the syntax.
In the 12 months since its iconic ‘Anne’ shirt, with its French cuffs and navy silk trim, gained cult status, Anna Quan’s narrative has become more eloquent and refined still. Rather than conforming to the trend driven Australian fashion industry (which would have required abandoning some of the label’s core values), it chose to refocus its attentions to where its offerings had already garnered a captive audience. Any concerns over the risks and costs of showing all the way in Paris were soon laid to rest. Overwhelmed by interest from high profile buyers and media, Anna Quan’s modest one rack showing in a small La Marais showroom was preaching to the converted.
Why do Parisians love Anna Quan? The answer is perhaps obvious: it’s sexy. Not sexy in a bubble-lip and perfectly-formed-buttock-Kardashians sort of way, but a matter entirely to do with attitude. So much can be learned about ‘being sexy’ by simply wearing an Anna Quan ensemble.
It’s throwing on a men’s (inspired) shirt, the buttons insouciantly undone, and a swishy palazzo pant that accentuates the waist but reveals nothing; the choice of certain surreptitious details – a hand cast gold button, an exaggerated bishop sleeve, or a meticulously selected fabric with the pinstripes spaced just so; the allusion to a well-read intelligence (which is always sexy), guileless confidence (even sexier), and a sure-footedness in one’s identity that juxtaposes the appearance of naiveté. These are the alliterations, ellipses, intertextualities and other literary techniques in the repertoire of a learned fashion linguist.
All that said, while experience may teach us more flowery adjectives to add to our vocabulary, we may also come to the realisation that a message is more potently expressed with fewer words, not more. Being sexy, too, as it turns out, is as much a product of precisely appointed wording, as what is left unsaid – ‘how not to be sexy?’ may be the more pertinent question here.
Location: Paris, France | Photography: Self-portrait