Typically when speaking on the subject of fashion, the conversation is geared toward fashion icons, trends that are happening now, and the where’s and how’s of purchasing beloved garments for styling—each one of these being important components for dialogue about fashion, of course. But 20-year-old fashion student Brianne Agnizle takes the conversation a step further, viewing fashion in a more pragmatic manner and understanding it relative to human nature, as well as the science behind creating more artful and innovative outfits.
What did you start off going to university for?
I was going to be a biology major and go to the undergraduate medical school here. I wanted to work in cytogenetics, researching and working with people who have genetic diseases. Originally I wanted to be a pathologist.
What was it that made you get into fashion and change your major?
At home I worked right across the street from the Salvation Army, and when I had time before work, I would go in there and pick out things I liked. Eventually, it got to the point where I was picking out these pieces of clothing based on their styles and colors. That’s how I got into fashion. I started putting together things that I liked, and then that got me into art. Half-way through my sophomore year of college, I realized I liked fashion so much more than what I was already studying so that’s what made me make the switch. I even have an art minor now. I feel like once you get into a part of art— fashion is art; you put the clothing together and you make it look pretty— it just propels you into the other parts of it too. So now I paint, I write a lot, and I draw. That’s how I got into it, and I like it so much more.
How did your family feel about you changing your major to fashion?
My dad didn’t want me to be a fashion major. He goes, ‘Why don’t you do something that will get you a job?’ At first I was hesitant but then I started taking classes and learning how big the industry is; it’s huge. There’s so many different parts of it that you can go into. I want to be a trend forecaster: someone who watches the way that people interact with each other and watches the way the social trends move with fashion trends to predict popular, upcoming styles. Trend forecasting is kind of a tiny and obscure job field though. I don’t want be a straight up fashion buyer or designer, although those are jobs I’d like to think I could do on the side. It could be fun.
Is there anything in particular that you draw inspiration from when making garments or styling outfits?
I would say I take inspiration from sub-cultures. When I was growing up in Grand Rapids, all the people around me in the more artsy sub-cultures were very innovative with their outfits. I would think to myself, ‘That’s really cool. Maybe I should try that.’ So I started trying out different styles and I really liked it, although it did take me a while to put together consistently nice outfits. You should see some of my outfits during junior and senior year of high school. I had the right idea, but for some outfits I had to ask myself what I was trying to accomplish.
You kind of touched on this, but for you, what do you think fashion embodies in regards to art? How would you describe that particular art form?
When you look at someone walking down the street you can view their outfit in a few of different ways: are they comfortable enough? How are their aesthetics doing? Did they think about the things they were putting on their body before they left? Did they take into consideration all the colors, the style? Is there light reflecting from what they’re wearing? Does it match with their shoes? Did they put patterns together that wouldn’t look good together, but they make them look good together? Are they wearing shoes that are a completely different color scheme than everything else they’re wearing on purpose? Just taking an innovative step in a diagonal direction when you do it. Styling is a lot of fun. Do the colors of your makeup match with your outfit? How’s your hairdo? A lot of people feel like they can dress really nice. They can put on really nice things they bought at the mall or thrifted and look really nice. Although you could be wearing a cute dress, you may not be wearing it in a way that’s innovative. For example, if you have a strapless plaid dress and it’s super cute by itself, you could do something like put it over a turtleneck and make it cuter. And you can stay warm. So I really appreciate it when people do things like that. My thoughts are, ‘Hey, that’s smart; you thought about that. That’s cool. That’s artful.’
Then there are people whose complete appearance doesn’t go for a standard of beauty that you would find anywhere else. They go for something completely alternative. Do you know the star Grimes? I feel like if she didn’t dress the way she did, you would find her a very average looking girl, you know what I mean? But she takes that to the next level and she cuts her hair weird, she does her eyebrows weird; she just doesn’t care. She throws on anything and it looks good, and I think that is so cool. I think that’s awesome. I wish I had the guts to just completely go out of my comfort zone and do that kind of thing, but I don’t yet.
What are some recent trends coming and going that you’ve noticed?
Here’s a trend I think that’s going to be really big: In America, we’re working more hours, so we want to stay home more. Also at home, we have Netflix, we have our computer, we have online shopping; we have pretty much everything in our house. We can literally go on an app on our phone and make a grocery list for Walmart to pick up for us. We’re spending so much more time at home, so there’s this trend of clothing that is more comfortable. People are going to wear baggier things. I think the clothing silhouette is going to change, and especially for women in the work place. Over the past 10 years, employment of women has gone up. Women can’t work in a place wearing things with tight waistlines and just overall in restricting clothing, whereas men have always had the privilege to do so. Women always feel like they have to uphold to a standard, you know what I mean? So I feel like there’s definitely going to be a change in the silhouette. People are going to start wearing more comfortable clothing. Sportswear has been big in the last year, especially with Adidas; that trend is right in the subcultures. They found a new target audience aside from their sportswear people— and it looks good, I’m not complaining; I love it—but I think it’s going to die down soon. It was really big last year and I thought it was really cool. I was really into it and I even got myself an Adidas coat. Although I think it’s definitely going to start to slow down a little bit. Androgyny is really big right now, and I feel like it’ll get way bigger this year. I feel like women are going to start adorning more masculine styles and feel more comfortable about it. For boys, it’ll take a little longer to be feminine, but I definitely think it’ll happen.
What are some trends you would like to see coming back?
As far as specific styles, I really want to see shiny holographic fabrics come around again, like from the 80’s. I would really like to see that come out of nowhere. I feel like it could hit hard too. When you do trend boards and trend research, it’s mostly a direction. You don’t look at specific styles; it’s more like fashion is trending in a certain direction—like the trend for androgyny or the trend for lethargy.
Are you saying fashion styles never go away, and that they just correlate more with what’s popular during that time?
Fashion changes are predictable, and it changes really gradually. So you could have people high in status who are demonstrating lifestyles that people want to imitate or people think they like or styles they think they like, and perhaps this style doesn’t really fit with the norm, but people like what the celebrities wear so they want to imitate it. And eventually, if you have enough people for this trend, and this trend happens to be androgyny, then society will start turning over and start becoming more accepting to it: eventually we’ll change clothing. I love trend researching. I think it’s so interesting because I’m big into sociology too. It combines my two favorite things.
What does the concept of art mean to you?
Art is telling people how you feel without saying it.