Off Kilter: An Asymmetry Inspiration Album

This is a bit of a personal story. I initially told the story through the inspiration album, but I reproduced it here in plain text as well.

Symmetry has always been something people appreciate, whether consciously or not. This is true not only in clothing, but everything, from nature, to fine art, to facial expressions. A lot of studies show that facial symmetry is a huge factor in attractiveness, and that people treat attractive people better everywhere, not just in romance, so... It seems like it might be important.

If symmetry is so important, I want to talk about the reasons a fashion designer might avoid it, and what we can get out of that. I hope it's as interesting to all of you as it is to me.

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Asymmetry is largely about weirdness, to me. It's about going off-balance on purpose, on throwing away classic silhouettes and predictable patterns for something that clashes with itself, and demands a new perspective. You're going to see a lot more weird shit in this album. Enjoy.

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Facial symmetry is supposed to be important... but no face is 100% symmetrical. There's always some imperfection, some... wabi-sabi to a person's face. Cindy Crawford is famous for the mole that got her teased as a kid. How much imperfection is the right amount? How much is too much?

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I mentioned the importance of facial symmetry for a reason. Back in 2012, I came down with a case of Bell's Palsy. Bell's Palsy is a weird little disease; basically, one nerve in your face gets paralyzed, and half of your face stops working right. It usually occurs once, at random, and usually only lasts a couple of weeks.

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Bell's Palsy fucks with both your conscious and subconscious control of your face. It fucks with your smile. You know, worse things have happened -- it's not going to kill me, it's not going to stop me from doing much, so I have to count my blessings... But not being able to smile properly, it has all sorts of weird psychological effects They say smiling actually makes you happier -- well, when you get self-conscious about your smile, you smile less. And if you know facial symmetry is important to how you're perceived... Friends will say they don't notice, but others will say that they love your smirk. Strangers on the internet will say they hate your smirk, and they'd prefer if you just smiled. So yeah, people notice, they just don't understand what it is they're looking at. You don't necessarily understand, yourself, when you look in the mirror. Not being able to smile, man... It fucks with you.

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My case of Bell's Palsy was not so simple as others. I had it briefly a couple of times when I was a kid, but it came and went. It happened again in 2012. My neurologist told me not to worry, until a short while later, when we realized it was permanent. She said the closest thing we had to a solution was a nerve graft, and... I don't know if you've heard the words "nerve graft" before, but they're two scary fucking words. At this point, even if my seventh facial nerve started working again, the muscles it controls probably couldn't do what I'd need them to do. It's a part of me now.

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At the end of the day, we can fight the wabi-sabi, ignore it, or embrace it.

For further reading, I'd recommend Erika Houle's piece at ssense.