Endless Blue – Week 42 – Garment Couture: The Fashion Aesthetic   1 comment

Sociology

Garment Couture: The Fashion Aesthetic

Elquan fashions favor the simple over the complex.  While craftsmen are more than capable of (and do) producing the most intricate of work, the tendency of water to obscure light and detail means such astounding detail is lost.  Clothing and jewelery with fine detailing can only be appreciated in the Shore areas, where light can most easily penetrate the water’s natural absorption.  As a result, many refer to those that wear detailed clothing and finery as “wanting to be deep fish in the shallows”, referring to the vain desire to appear imposing in one’s small area of influence.

Textiles

Fabric is a well known technology beneath the waters of Elqua, with records of woven fabrics dating back to the Bronze Epoch.  While cloth of that time originally had only the natural coloration of the plant or animal material from which it was derived, eventually dyeing became possible with mated containers.

All cloth is made on machines called looms, a moving interleave of thread that meshes together to form a continuous plain of fabric.  Thread itself is an extension of the creation of rope, refined and reduced to a more manipulative state.  Thread is comprised of the fibers of plant matter and/or the hairs of hairy aquatic mammals*, spun around each other to form a contiguous length of string.  The thread is then loaded into the loom which forms a criss-crossing lattice of interwoven threads.  The product is cloth.

A variety of cloth (and supple leathers) are used in Elquan fashion.  Indeed, cloth weaving is not limited to just organic materials.  Lamé — a fabric made with a metallic weft —  uses a thin metallic yarn that is wrapped in a metallic wire or ribbon.  So fine and skillfully spun is this mineral thread that is becomes nearly as ductile as cloth without loosing the luster of precious metal.

Hides and skins of sea fauna are also used in the fabrication of clothing as it is in the creation of nautiluses, but where the latter uses tanning methodology that produces stiffer material, the former concentrates on softening the skins.  Fish skin comes in a wide variety of natural coloration and scale composition, and these gradations are used by seamstresses to produce incredible works.

Articles of Clothing

Clothing is the shaping of fabric into objects that can be worn on the piscean body.  Not every species in the oceans is equipped to survive in varying temperatures, and as such sometimes need extra protection to shield them from the elements.  Over successive generations clothing has evolved from just being “shelter that is worn” into an expression of art, tradition, culture, and personality.

Cap— This is a generic catch-all term for anything worn essentially on the top of the head.  They can be kept in place by any manner of means, be it a tight headband, pinning in the hair, or strapped under the chin, jaw, or ears.

Choker — A choker is like a necklace, but instead of hanging loosely down from the neck and shoulders, it is more snugly around the throat (but not too tight as to constrict breathing or swallowing.  It can serve the same role as a belt and can be what keeps the chemise (below) in place, but is differentiated by the need to keep the weight demands low as to prevent choking.

Chemise— A chemise is an article of clothing that covers the torso of a piscean.  They may be as form fitting or formless as desired, and they need not include sleeves — but may have them at various lengths, also either tight against the arms or more loosely draped as taste dictates.  The creation of chemises always needs to keep in mind the location of the picean gills along the lower ribs, and must keep that area free of obstruction lest they endanger the wearer with strangulation.

Glove — The piscean glove is a bit more complicated than the gloves of our world.  Most pisceans have varying lengths of webbing between their digits, and natural ungues at their tips.  While this stretch of skin aids in swimming, it makes tailoring gloves more difficult.  A slit is cut in the fabric of the gloves where each finger connects to the hand and is extended outward to the second or third knuckle.  A piece of cloth is then folded over and sewn into the hem of the slit, and the seem is reinforced with stiffer materials to keep the glove form fitting.

Belt —  A loop around the major axis of the piscean body, belts are perhaps the most varied of all the articles of clothing.  They can vary in ever conceivable way — thickness, width, tightness, color, even the method of wear is exceedingly flexible.  While traditionally worn perpendicular to the central anteroposterior axis, belts can be jauntily skewed over the hip, across the chest like a bandoleer, or even interlocked like a harness.  They are the most functional part of Elquan dress and the most universally utilized in every way of life.

Ephod — The ephod is the article of clothing that covers the main trunk of the tail.  Like the shirt, it can be as basic as a cloth hanging from the waist to as complicated a network of interwoven fibers enshrouding the tail.

Caudalet — Much like the choker, a caudalet is worn around the end of the tail right before the tail fins spread out from the piscean form.  Also like a choker, a caudalet can be used as the connective part of the lower end of an ephod or to anchor tail flippers (see below).

Flipper — The lower counterpart of the glove, flippers are pieces of clothing worn over the pelvic and/or tail fins.  They are usually made of sterner stuff than gloves, as they must endure the constant wear of continual swimming.

Accessories

Accessories are differentiated from clothing in that they are usually comprised of harder materials than fabric, usually metal.  This material would be uncomfortable, even detrimental to the wearer is used like cloth.  They are instead used to accentuate and supplement the garments worn by a piscean.  Common forms of accessories take the form of jewelery such as earrings, torcs, bracelets, and rings.  Elquan tailors have taken to incorporating jewelery into their garment designs, making buttons, clasps, and buckles decorative as well as functional.  Other materials used in Elquan jewelery is abalone, crystal, gemstone, sea shell, and perhaps the most pervasive accoutrement of all, pearl.

Fashion by Historical Culture

Culture enforces as much influence on fashion as whimsy does.  Areas of high ethnic concentration will contain greater numbers of  traditionalists, whom bring the “old ways” of dress with them.  Part of being accepted into a society is the adoption of their customs, and adopting the apparel of the local populace is the primary visual means of integration.

The Yaun-Teel maintain a practice among their orthodox members of keeping their bodies fully clothed as much as possible.  This sets them apart from their slaves, whom are usually divested of all clothing early on in a method meant to humiliate and break the will of their “indentured servants”.

With their culture very much entrenched in the martial tradition, it is unsurprising to find that the Orcans in a martial fashion, incorporating nautiluses into a style of dress that expects the struggle for life and death to erupt at any moment.

In many ways, the amount and intricacy of clothing worn by the Chelon is an indication of their social standing, with the more powerful and affulent affording complex outfits that fly in the face of function.

The Ceph both eschew clothing and are rebuked by it.  Their non-piscean forms make many of the articles of clothing useless to them, which is just as well as it would interfere with their natural camouflage abilities.  Ceph clothing must be specially made for them, usually consisting of a huge glove with eight fingers on it, caps, and belts.

Locanth and Sahaguin, cultures diametrically opposite oceanographically as well as philosophically, strangely share a common aesthetic when it comes to clothing.  They will dress pragmatically, opting for clothing that is functional for an intended purpose.

The strange Lumulus connect their clothing directly to their chitinous exoskeletons, anchoring them with piercings in the hardened plates.  Their quizzical clothing incorporates the unique metals that their culture is renown for into a way of dress that is both clothing and jewelery simultaneously.

The Mer are the most mercurial when it comes to clothing, as they are a species fascinated by fashion.  Fads come and go across all of the Mer currents quicker than a Kouton hides a secret, and they take their inspiration from whatever aspect of the mode of dress from other cultures strikes their fancy.  What is chic one day is dull the next, and whatever little feature of culture that captured their attention at one moment could cause social expulsion by the time you learned of it.

Speaking of the Kouton, they prefer to wear loose fitting robes and cowls that cover most of the body, obliterating any distinguishing features that may betray knowledge to others.

“Clothes make the Mer, so long as other make the clothes…”
– a snide comment on the way Mer reputation for dress.

* — Despite being referred to as “mammals”, these animals do not require air to breathe.  Like the cetaceans and dolphinidae of the setting, aquatic mammals have gills and never developed the blow hole, nostrils, or any other form of in taking the atmosphere into their bodies.

One response to “Endless Blue – Week 42 – Garment Couture: The Fashion Aesthetic

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  1. Pingback: Endless Blue – Week 96.2 – Mer: Illustrated | Endless Blue

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