Friday, November 12, 2010

Hot Vs. Cool

40 years of heat, Roberto Cavalli by Mert & Marcus for V Magazine

Several years ago, I wrote about "what's hot," as an overused description of what's fashionable en masse. "Hot" is something that temporarily fascinates, it's untouchable for a moment, until it cools off and fades. By contrast there is also the praise of "cool," which is unassuming, chic and enduring. This is a socially constructed dialectic maintained by media. "Hot" is sexually appealing, assertive and desirable with "cool" as unaffected, relaxed and effortless. "Hot" is colorful and vibrant, "cool" is sedate and almost invisible. In both fashion and art, "hot" is what's showing and selling. "Cool" is something designers and artists don't ever openly claim. Cool is slower, and much less obvious in showing and selling.

The invisible cool, Martin Margiela, entrance to his exhibition at Antwerp's Mode Museum, 2009

Both hot and cool make the news and the type of photo is often an indicator. Hot is typically in saturated color, cool is often in muted shades or black and white. Looking at examples, Nowness and The Moment emphasize colorful hotness with occasional black and white cool, while The Imagist stays mostly black and white with some faded color.

"Hot" = sexy, well packaged luxury

"Cool" = looser, unaffected
The Imagist explains relevant fashion - "in sync with contemporary art values."

The Impossible Cool as another example uses largely black and white photos of the roster of cool. Yet what is so interesting is the notion of "impossible," as if cool is unattainable. Cool can never be something one actively seeks or aims for. Cool is never discussed or supported, making it seem impossible to attain until we can glimpse it in full glory and are reminded of its ease.

Seek, and you will find. I searched Fashion / Art, Hot / Cool and this is what I found at Net-A-Porter and Artforum. Apparently "Hot" is colors and celebrities, "Cool" is black and Norweigen.

Above the result for "hot" is found in their Diary section on the latest openings and below the finding for "cool," Torbjorn Rodland.

Ideally, the boundaries of hot and cool intersect. The ultimate triumph is a balance of contemporary appeal with lasting ease.

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