Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-garde


Late wednesday afternoon. Rain is pouring. We gaze ominously out of the office window in to the murky sea of cloud. Contemplating the visualisation of our latest new addition, Barbara I Gongini and what it means to dress "Avant-Garde".

Many people choose to wear avant-garde clothes because they want to break free from daily restrictions to define themselves outside of their social norms, that dictate how we should decorate and clothe our bodies. This post breaks down the fundamentals of "avant-garde" fashion.

Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-Garde



One of the most fruitful artistic movements, the avant-garde permeates all fields of expression, from art to music, to fashion, in a way that challenges established norms through continuous experimentation and reinvention. A good definition for avant-garde fashion is “a forward-looking movement animated by innovative designers and artists who dare to go against the mainstream and propose ideas that stand out from the conventional”. Avant-garde clothes reshape the human body and suggest new ways of relating it to its environment, through constant deconstruction and reinterpretation.


Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-Garde



Sporting avant-garde clothes takes courage and boldness, but that doesn’t mean you have to go all in at once. Take your time to discover which aspects of progressive fashion interest you most and best fit your personal style.


The beauty of forward thinking fashion is that there are no set rules. This means that you can mix and match a variety of fabrics, cuts, textures and accessories to achieve that coveted avant-garde form. Experimentation is one of the essential values of the avant-garde movement and it is the only way to create innovative designs and achieve bold, inventive style combinations. When trying on new clothes, remember that avant-garde fashion looks are not so much about flaunting the body through the clothes, but rather adorning it in new ways and creating a dialogue between the body and the environment, through more sculptural and often androgynous designs.


Creating drama in your outfits is important because you want to be telling a story through the garments that you wear. For the story to be coherent, the different items must be in dialogue with one another, whether you choose to play on contrasting cuts, complementing accessories, or contiguous lines of tailoring. The body is your canvas, so create your composition artfully and make sure every element is part of the story, all the way down to your attitude.


Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-Garde



If you want to become a true avant-garde connoisseur, you have to pay attention to details. Whether it’s a particular hemline, the thickness of a weave or the stitching of a garment, it’s these details that make a difference when assembling your outfit. As the avant-garde approach to fashion is opposed to fast fashion, designers create multiways, which are versatile designs with innovative stitching, zipping and other details, such as buttons and belts, to allow the wearer to interact with and personalise their clothes. You will find many multiways in Barbara I Gongini’s collection. These garments are designed to give you a versatile piece of fashion with details that you can adjust, so that it seems you’re wearing a different piece every time. This makes it possible for you to always reinvent your style and wear an item in a multitude of ways, restricted only by your imagination.


Before spending all your money on expensive runway looks, it’s useful to start a mood board that will help you figure out the kind of attitude and feeling you want to convey through your avant-garde outfits. This will help you keep your search focused and develop your personal taste.


If you’re not sure where to start, have a look at who wears avant-garde clothes with gusto and pick out the elements that you would like to recreate in your look. From trendsetters like Michèle Lamy or Roisin Murphy, to icons like Björk and David Bowie, each of them has their own personal style that they’ve built over the years.


One of the biggest contributions that avant-garde has brought to fashion is the use of monochromatic shades. Designer Barbara I Gongini explains that “Keeping only a single tone gives the opportunity to work on clothing like on a canvas”. If you opt for a monochromatic outfit - in black, white, or grey - this will give you room to combine more textures and cuts and to focus on highlighting the details of the garments and the overall composition. However, this doesn’t mean that all avant-garde looks are in black and white. You can opt for bold, contrasting or complementing colours to showcase your colour mixing skills and even use metallics to underline your style.


Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-Garde



How can you wear voluminous, elaborate clothes without getting lost in them or feeling like you’re pitching a tent?. Choose modern cuts, with voluminous geometric structures, asymmetric hemlines, or even exaggerated ruffles and pleats. As already mentioned, the point of avant-garde fashion is not to show off the body, in the way that mainstream fashion does, but rather to make an object of art out of it, through the sculptural elements of the garments. This principle applies to high-concept runway looks as much as to ready-to-wear avant-garde pieces. Avant-garde street style takes this concept and neatly integrates it in casual wear through draped materials and a variety of oversized coats and jackets.


Mixing fabrics is very easy to do, yet you need a trained eye to pick out textures that mix to great effect. The best way to achieve this is to experiment a lot and to try out different weaves and materials. Thanks to the minimalistic approach of the avant-garde aesthetic, you can leave out most prints when planning your look and instead focus on the weight and weave of the material. Look for cotton, linen and leather clothes, as well as sheer or lace pieces that can add value to your composition.


Perhaps the best tool you can use to create a remarkable avant-garde outfit is layering. Start out simple, with a figure-hugging garment or another key piece that will be the pillar of your sculpture, and then add further elements to create a collage. Play with different textures and find contrasting combinations, but avoid mixing materials that are too different (for example, tweed and satin). If you’re wearing a long, loosely cut design, you can play with draping the material across the body for a dramatic effect.


As you develop your avant-garde lookbook, you will discover new and unconventional ways of styling your favourite pieces of clothing. Shirts don’t always have to be worn as shirts. Dresses can turn into skirts and cardigans into tops, depending on how you tie them. We like calling different items by different names, but in the end, fashion is about expressing yourself through your clothing.


To set up your avant-garde wardrobe, you will need to start with some essential pieces that you can then easily integrate into your day-to-day attire.

1. Layering cardigans: One of the avant-garde basics that we recommend having in your wardrobe is a fluid top or a cardigan, which you can drape and style in a number of ways.

2. Shirts and jackets: Some other pieces that are easy to utilise and would make ideal first buys for your avant-garde capsule collection include monochromatic shirts with asymmetric detailing and an avant-garde leather jacket. A simple and very effective way to transform your wardrobe and revolutionise your style is to start with one item that you can wear with any outfit, such as a jacket or trench coat. You can then use it as a starting point in building your outfit and work your way from the outside in when arranging your layers.


Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-Garde



If you’re wondering how to make an avant-garde outfit stand out, or if you just want a statement piece to spice up your combinations, you can opt for a remarkable accessory, such as a black multifunctional bag or a voluminous necklace. These unique pieces will add an unconventional element to your casual outfits and speak volumes about your personality and fashion sense. Shoes are usually the most important part of your outfit because they tie it all together, so make sure you choose them well. For an avant-garde street style, look for dark shoes, preferably in a masculine style or with a distressed leather effect. They can be chunky or fitted, with a zip or with shoelaces, but they must be comfortable. Everyone needs a pair of good quality dark shoes and these ones will end up being a key avant-garde piece in many of your outfits.


Avant-garde fashion principles go beyond mere aesthetics to challenge ideas of mainstream fast-fashion. This includes the ways in which clothes are produced and consumed. Cutting-edge designers are embracing the up-cycling ethos, in order to minimise the waste produced by the clothes that are discarded every new season.


Barbara I Gongini - Nordic Avant-Garde


content source: Barbara I Gongini