Monday, November 11, 2013

Review: FIE 100 Fencing Fashion for the Future

To celebrate its centennial, the Federation International d'Escrime (International Fencing Federation) invited fencing equipment manufacturers from around the world to design "original and modern" outfits that might shape the future "look" of fencing. They have our total love and support for doing this!

All the entries are featured in an album on the FIE Facebook page and through November 26, you are invited to cast your vote by "liking" one or more of the outfits featured in the pics. (As an added incentive, every day FIE is selecting three winners from among the voters to receive an FIE fencing pin.)

Heck with the pin, these Fashionistas think the opportunity to review this fencing fashion show is reward enough in itself. Here, without further ado, are Badger and Allison's takes on the entries. (Large images from the FIE page follow.)


B: This looks like it is meant to be a functional uniform--because the model is en guard (more or less) and carrying a weapon.

A: My first impulse is "cool!" Then I start thinking about the practicalities. How do I wash this thing? Does it have a self contained power source? 

B: We both agree it would be cool if the spot that gets hit is the part that lights up. On the other hand, with the whole uniform illuminated, you could fence in the dark. :) 

A: Overall, I'd give it a 4 stars, just for the crazy. One star off because of the whole sanitation issue.

B: I'm gonna give it 3 stars. The overall look is very "disco nights," and I wasn't that big on the 70's.


Allison: from a fashion AND a fencing perspective, my question is "why?" Why the fluted cuffs and bellbottoms? Could be personal preference, but I'm not feeling it.

B: And why would you have a floofy cuff on the weapon hand? This is another one that looks like it is trying to be functional. Since I already said I'm not big on the '70's, you can predict how I am going to react to the bellbottoms. 

A: I gotta say I like the piping on the men's jacket--I do love good tailoring! 

B: I love the fact that she is posing in high heels. If she actually fences in them, I'll give it 5 stars. Pending that, I will give it a 2.

A: But not epee--those toes are exposed! I agree with you on the 2.


B: These are awesome Podium Possibilities! I interpret them as warm-up and post-competition additions to a uniform. The ruff is very dressy.

A: And Edna Mode may hate capes, but I like the cape. It has a certain amount of flash. And the one on the left, other than the epaulets, looks like it would provide a good deal of protection. 

B: Maybe the epaulets are removable: you can put them back on after DEs. As for the cape--much easier to get on and off quickly than a warm up jacket. I'm all for capes becoming the norm in the venue

A: I'm gonna give it 5 stars for sheer flash.

B: I guess I'm a tough grader. I give it a 4 1/2. I like it a lot, but in terms of fashion, it is a too historically derivative to get the whole 5 stars in a "future fashion" competition. 

Nathalie D’Anvers & Vassiliki for Cartel

A: Hmmm. It's an interesting fancy. It doesn't actually cover what, um, needs to be covered. Also, last I checked, short sword wasn't an option in international competition. Arguably, however, the shiniest helmet here.

B: First, Xena would be thrilled. But second, I'm not sure this adheres to the challenge. Is this the fencing look of the future, or the Roman past? Definitely non-functional for the strip, and I have a feeling that USFA won't count this as appropriate warm-up gear on the podium. 

A: I'll give it 3 stars because it is kinda cool, I'm just not sure it fits the challenge.

B: I want to give it a 5 because they were so unconstrained in their thinking, but I'm going to agree with your "3" for all the reasons above.

 Shanghai Jianli

A: Looks pretty functional, and I do love minimalism. But the straight cut to the bottom of the jacket makes me wonder if this isn't more for coaches.

B: I wish the scarf didn't obscure the details on the left. I interpret that as fashion wear, not functional. But love the subtle nod to a uniform in the cut of the jacket, and way it is tarted up with brocade at the cuffs. The right looks like a comfy coaching jacket.

A: I'm going to give it 5 stars, because it is so elegant. Pracalities of wearing a lame over it aside.

B: mmm. 4 stars. Not quite wearable enough for a uniform, not dramatically fencing enough to earn the final touch if it is meant to be worn off the strip.
Leon Paul

A: It lights up! And points for a bandolier to hold the weapon!

B: I am in loooooove. The look is totally "Tron," which is appropriate for a future fashion challenge. (If that reference doesn't ring a bell, watch this YouTube clip.) I'm not sure exactly how, but the lighting looks like it could synch to the scoring mechanism. And the skirt looks removable! Off to fence with, on again for the podium. Very elegant. I'm giving this a 5 star rating.

A: 5 stars too!

Hélène Chassaing & Idriss Moujan for Negrini

A: I like the shaping on the left, however padding out your forward arm--it's easy to go overboard from protection to impeding movement.

B: I interpreted that as the forward arm, too--looks like the jacket closure is on the other side. Which is too bad, because gussying up the off arm seems like a great idea (one of the few areas we have scope for non-functional embellishment!) 

A: 3 with reservations because we don't see the completed garment.

B: Agree, or abstain pending more details. The FIE Facebook page said they might feature updates with more details as the week goes on.


A: At first I thought "meh," but then when I looked closer I saw the corded trim. I like it! Very clear it is still a fencing uniform. Possible to update in pieces, instead of all at once like most of the others.

B: Love the trim--immediate, practical idea. (Watch me run out for some cording.) The back shoulder "wing" on the guy is interesting. I suspect an epeeist or sabreur would not appreciate the extra target area, but for foil it is a nice visual touch. Likewise the quarter skirt on the back hip of the woman's uniform. 

A: 5 as a transitional uniform, from this to something even more modern.

B: 4 for immediate practicality. Would love to see what they come up with if pushed to be a little more "out there."


A: Another concept drawing, and I want to see the execution. How many women are going to want to wear something that tight? (I know, French women don't get fat.) Or men, for that matter?

B: Clearly it is designed for Seven of Nine. I have to abstain--it is too hard for me to translate this into the finished piece.

A: Me too. I'm still trying to figure out what is specifically fencing about it, aside from the masks. 


OK! Your turn to comment (below) and vote (on the FIE Facebook page). 

And FIE? Next time you hold a fencing fashion show, send us some VIP passes and we would be happy to cover it in person :). 


  1. Hello! thank you for your review, if you would be so kind and add the address as well to the "Nathalie D’Anvers & Vassiliki for Cartel" participation

  2. Link added Thyreos, thank you very much! Please let us know if you would be interested in writing a guest post for the blog about the experience of designing for the FIE contest, or about designing fencing fashion in general.

  3. Awesome informative post and I would like to refer it, Smart fencing hoping to see such posta again from you.