Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...
by Darryl S. Warren in Vancouver
Between 2016 Pre-fall collections and 2016/17 Women's Fall Winter collections we have the Spring Summer 2016 Haute Couture season. With it brings anticipation and expectation of unbridled creativity coupled with the finest materials, and it is here we have traditionally looked to this as the trend trailblazer, akin to a creativity polaris that shows us where fashion should go to. This isn't always the case and those who know history and have read past articles know that the pendulum swings back and forth. Sometimes it is the public that dictates the direction and sometimes it is haute couture that inspires other designers.
At the moment, it is our technology that has taken center stage as a cultural influence, and it's reach has created a more democratic platform in which to connect and involve. We have found ourselves on more level playing fields of opportunity to be seen and heard...and as a result to influence others.
This technology has also allowed more to have better standards of creativity regarding precision of execution. Whereas levels of detail could be found more exclusively at the couture level, we are finding ourselves fortunate to have quality workmanship with great detail not only in our pret-a-porter but even at times in our fast fashion. We have become spoiled by evolution. That's good for us...not so good for haute couture. For as we have evolved, we have come to question the need of something that is increasingly and seemingly less distinctive compared to what the industry is now offering, something currently debated in the media (such as what was recently covered in the Business of Fashion).That doesn't mean, however, that it doesn't have its place. We only need remember that we are in flux in all areas of our life during a technological shift that compares in societal impact to the Industrial Revolution, and we are witnessing the "old" versus the "new" playing out before us.
The old" way values the hours of work, specialness of materials and unbridled creativity that, connected with timing of release, ensured its place as a leader. The last factor has been its undoing regarding influence in an age of Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest in the face of shorter production and release times; thanks to social media the leadership of influence belongs to whoever gets the idea out first and couture can't compete as handmade is not ready-made. But it can lead in innovation in one area that other labels cannot that ensures its survival: unlimited expense in craft. Labels that produce pret-a-porter must consider lower price points and cannot always innovate as new technology and materials can be prohibitively expensive. But haute couture has deeper pockets at their disposal thanks to the clients who demand distinction in design, and amidst the collections recently released some designers showed innovation that leads beyond the obvious that are worth noting.
It is true that much that is before us is in our pret-a-porter world, but to be fair much of what is in fashion reflects a bigger issue regarding designs response to global thrift and as fashion is a business these items need to sell so pronounced change may not always make economic sense. As all stages of fashion are closely tied, retro influences are present regardless of station. But haute couture is about the details and social media cannot always translate that at a glance. It is the finest in technological processes and equipment that allows precision in execution of dimensional weaving that we see at Atelier Versace or in the dimensional sculpting at Viktor & Rolf. It is the sophisticated execution of materials out of seemingly common roots via technological processing that are made distinct enough for haute couture by Chanel.
Keep in mind that this blog mentioned a while ago that the next stage would involve taking technology to new heights ("Recombinant Construction Is It's Name-O", Sept. 19, 2015). While not quite as described in the blog, at Maison Margiela this approach seems to be showing itself in the manner of how textiles are combined with what Vogue Runway referred to as madness synonymous with the world to be surrendered to in appreciation of its creativity. This seemingly haphazard mixture is the stepping stone to new forms and combinations showing the direction we are headed to as our technology gets more sophisticated in matching what our minds can imagine. The textiles morph and blend, and all that's missing is the seamless transition this blog spoke of, but what Maison Margiela shows gives us a glimpse as to what that direction might look like. It explodes in new ways, new forms...and Vogue's reaction to it was just as titillating.
All these came out of an area of fashion being written off perhaps too prematurely. Haute couture will always have its place, for there will always be those who can afford its demand. And it will always have, at its disposal, the finest of whatever our society regards. In our age, it is technology, ecology and uniqueness coupled with creativity that are our valued commodities in this arena. And fashion has always had a mix of designers in the midst of trends with a few taking turns leading them; Haute Couture is no different. It, like every other area of our world, is in the midst of evolution and, just as before, some will fall behind while others will forge ahead with the times. It represents our changing world as anywhere else as we accept that we are truly coming in to our own in a new century. It is madness come alive and cathartic once we surrender to it, just as Vogue Runway says.
Surrender to the future, for it's coming anyways. And it's strange and amazing.
Slowly the 2016 Pre-fall collections stop coming while fashion keeps itself busy reporting the Fall Winter 2016/17 men's wear collections. As it does, the slowing pace allows for closer examination of lesser points that float amidst the grand messages that will become the essential take-aways fashion publications will amass to make it easier for consumers to digest.
These main trends are the guidelines that arm the consumer with the knowledge so they can be confident in remaining current, and that aspect will never change because we are a species where hierarchy is too deeply embedded in our psyche.This is the fuel for competition at its most Darwinian best, pushing us in wherever we feel we have abilities. The elevation of our appearance and translation of our selves as readable messages is a skill our first world deems necessary as a component of fit and a tool for social elevation.
Sometimes the messages are too oblique for the average consumer to fully enjoy. The high-minded intellectualization of concept can work against the creator when the message requires one to think too much, alienating the very audience member it seeks to impress. Our society has been participating in more introspection of clarity of message. Part of this is in examining the performance of institutions such as our political landscapes and how these affect policies versus our expectations in the face of rational thought. We see messages well-spun and grow tired of having intellectual obscurity prevent getting to the point.
it's not that we don't appreciate being challenged but sometimes, with all the complications that life has to offer, we need a little directness in the messages we're asked to digest. Should we make consumers work that hard to get what is being said?
So the themes and inspirations in some collections are rendered obvious; the messages are spelled out in pattern and print so you can get what the designer feels and is communicating to you. In collections from Akris, Dennis Basso, Each x Other, Moschino, Mugler, Tsumori Chisato, Valentino and Veronique Branquinho the clarity of message is rendered direct. it seeks to include, to let you in easily.
The inclusion is strategic; while there is good economic statistics in parts of the world, the overall public sentiment is one of distrust and this causes purse strings to pull tight. Fashion is pulling out all stops to entice while politicians meeting in Davos recently have been proclaiming a rather retro approach reminded of the 80s: the Reaganomics spirit of spending our way out of our economic slumps. We could talk more about that, but we'll save this for next week when this blog explores more about that decade's presence in current trends and what else has been causing us to look there again.
As 2016 Pre-fall collections run against Fall Winter 2016/17 men's wear, this blog focuses on what is traditionally the leader of the trend curve. Menswear has been aiming to push boundaries in the face of increasing gender blurring that is fashions repeat experiment that we last saw in the 80s and, as the Financial Times recently reported, women are buying menswear so it should command more attention. However, in the end it is the women's market that has allowed for more experimental room regarding shapes and cuts that, in the end, menswear cannot yet support. The experimentation has a way to go before it gets approval in the rural areas where cultural limits are set. It is because this sector provides the most room for creativity that trends more often than not initiate and that is what this blog looks towards. Should, in the coming years, the genderless direction truly become the new norm then the scope of Fashion Observed will broaden. But what has consistently been observed is that ideas find root in the women's collections first so let us continue with observations from 2016 Pre-fall.
The quest to keep fashion exciting is not an easy task, especially as we struggle with invention versus familiarity. The stability factor is crucial in the face of an ever-changing world where our tech has evolved in leaps and bounds in a pace stressing our environment as much as our climate has done for the natural world. So we find familiar components that draw on our past designed by those who have lived it before. yet a designer is equally drawn to look forward and our dominating integration of tech as the new aspect of existence is a curt reminder that we are in a new century; our fashion seeks to reflect that.
The old and the new, the mashing of all we have come to know all at once just a click away, this is what our world is now. It is for everyone everywhere and personally our own, so it has our individual sentiments and meanings. that is one hard story to tailor, but fashion gets it right.
Gone are the days of standard easy-to-peg or easy-to-categorize trends. We can no longer compartmentalize in the manner of our past. Our trends are now more sophisticated as are we. The eclectic mixing of elements seek new forms and combinations as part of the energizing of fashion to continue interest that is relevant to our lives. So while fashion before was a uniform to take us to different roles, now we have mixtures to encapsulate the paragraph of how we feel and who we want others to see. Collections from Acne Studios, Delpozo, J. W. Anderson, MSGM, Opening Ceremony and Thom Browne toy with this experimentation that reflects the style exploration we find on the streets as people play to find their own style outside of what is tried and true without abandoning existing elements that, alone, are reliable foundations; we play yet play safely.
The experimentation also goes towards form, such as from Delpozo, J. W. Anderson, Issey Miyake, Mary Katrantzou and Zero + Maria Cornejo, tweaking the traditions of familiar silhouettes as we now embrace latitudes for the new, looking to belong to what is coming.
These incremental steps to ownership of our place in our future are measured ones. They retain what we have as we ease as into our new world, a place too deep to turn back from. Our future, accompanied by smart technology and textile innovation, collectively tells us that the border is now being crossed. Not fully, and not without continued glances, but we are slowly starting to let go as we go forward.
Here we are, covering 2016 Pre-fall collections and already Fall Winter 2016/17 (albeit men's wear) is rolling in. Feel for editors and design teams; the pace is relentless now. It's wild and untamed as is the lawlessness and senseless violence that permeates news broadcasts all over. We aim to control while knowing we can't control everything. And for each answer we get more questions, or so the saying goes. In our information age, the revelation of unknowns is exponential as are the discoveries that propel mankind further into the future. But despite the vast amounts of information at our fingertips, we find we know little and cannot control what we do know.
We may understand how the global economy is where it is today and where it is heading yet are certain of how to tame its pace or path. We are aware of the psychology behind the behaviours that have shaped political and social landscapes yet debate on the best course to take. our "knowns" are fraught with "unknowns", theories into uncharted waters as far as experience is concerned. It is, for all of us, a sophisticated frontier awaiting clarification and definition.
Years ago, this sense of wildness coupled with the forays into uncharted territories meshed well with Victorian sensibilities to show the more homespun prairie Victorian elements that found its way into collections (dig deep for the article "Frontier Living", Oct 28, 2011) and this uncertain navigation through our evolving wildness continues in some collections again in similar expressions as well as some Western influence in shirt detail, such as from Antonio Marras, BCBG Max Azria, Cedric Charlier, Coach, Giamba, Lanvin and Rebecca Minkoff. And, as the last article alluded to, our entertainment (and let's add The Revenant" to that list) is reflecting an affinity with this wildness we feel, no matter what landscape we are in.
We are forever pioneers. We seek to explore, to know to progress as we venture forth. The tools are as new as the future we have yet to live through, armed with a sense of history and a faith in...and awareness of...our humanity. Let's see how the next wave of collections reflects if this is still how we feel as those come out soon.
Happy new year to you!
We continue to interrupt the normal flow of covering 2016 Pre-fall collections to talk more about the future. But don't worry...there is more 2016 pre-fall to talk about next week.
As mentioned in last week's post, cinema is anticipated to be a continued influence in the upcoming collections. Those who have read this blog since its inception will note that this is nothing new. Designers are as moved by entertainment as is the public. They create collections that can resonate with its audience on many levels. When popular entertainment reaches far and wide, it is expected that it will play a role in the creative process.
Fashion and film are far more linked than in that regard. Successful filmmakers know that relevance is important when proposing a multimillion dollar investment to be created. The story, its setting and everything that upholds the visual aspects are carefully planned and designed. Like any creative attempt, it cannot always get the timing right but when it does and when the elements are well-chosen the connection and its impact is powerful.
Creating costumes often means utilizing similar insights that a design team would have. Knowing the project's projected time of release, the creatives anticipate aspects that would need to line up with what is current so the audience can feel more emotionally invested via familiarity. A glance at any past successful films will show this, especially with the lead characters where clothes, hair and makeup are concerned. You can always tell when the film was made by looking at the stars as they are groomed to connect with what is now, even if its a period piece where trend inspirations line up ( e.g. Merchant Ivory vs. the 90s); its symbiotic and profitable when both areas get it.
It helps when a franchise that brings in well-known creative talent is involved to bring concepts that are in line with cultural trends. The spiritual awareness of energy connecting us all has been a mainstay since the 90s got more New Age-y; the "force" becomes something relatable in our vernacular as we seek something deeper beyond the tech-lined human condition. The ample discussions that merge metaphysics and spirituality resonate in a world where uncertainty begs for something to help us make sense of it all. This plus the embrace of tech is what helps make Star Wars more relevant.
The costume designers certainly have put to use their connected information resources, bringing elements such as vests and capris, arm cuffs (this time layered), more technical approaches to curvature stitching and raised texture leatherwork that we saw in the early 2000s...and most likely what we will see again in the Mad Max earth tones that denote a search for detached stability that we take as an exercise in emotional poise.
The other point to note is that we are moving from influences resulting from cultural impacts like these and finding the reverse, where anticipated interest and hype make the trends before and not after the event. Our real-time supply chains and reach of social media have created environments where real time demand exhausts influences by the moment of their arrival versus in the past when we had to wait until the release to make an impact; the excitement generated in fashion does not seem to be as much after a film's release as it is in the years leading up to its arrival in theaters. This happened with Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby"; clothing lines that came after its release did not do as well an anticipated versus anything 20s related that came beforehand to ride in tandem with club music releases that built momentum (insider fashion anticipation of 2020 nonwihtstanding). The delayed release did not help regarding timing and momentum, but in this case while the sustained excitement over a few years might speak about the endurance and power of this franchise, the interest seems to have dropped off as it released once news of the films breaking records passed and that's not good for those who design merchandise to catch the waves of a trend.
Of course, that doesn't mean the film won't have made its impact when looking at the future-forward insight of the costumers, and this film will be but one of many influences because that is how our world is now. The influences come from everywhere in a world where past models no longer hold true. So we'll see what has the force to awaken our senses...here of course and not elsewhere far, far away.
We interrupt the normal flow of covering 2016 Pre-fall collections to (ironically) talk about the future.
As the year draws to a close it is natural to muse over the past year as well as to ponder what is coming in the next. Everywhere one looks are "best of" lists as we rank what has made the most impact or found the most favor or becomes prominent as an influence to consider in creating hallmarks of that passing year.
Fashion does the same, although it is awkward that it is happening while the holidays are creating a break during the release of 2016 Pre-fall itself. The speculation that pre-fall provides joins the broader observations that result from current events, almost signalling the change in attention span that our society has as our technology morphs our habits and, in effect, our lives.
Recently, the New York Times took to writing about the Star Wars phenomenon that has been underway and steadily building and how its impact would translate to future collections. There is no doubt to the wisdom or thought behind the observations nor the predictions of how the costumes in such a popular movie would impact upcoming Fall Winter 2016/2017 collections. Those will occur...or rather, continue to occur as the article duly noted.
Most people don't know that there are those in the fashion industry who tend to have the kind of information connections that bring forth knowledge of aspects of culture most do not have. This includes other creative endeavors such as costuming concepts from large or small screen productions. And in our age of linked PR and buzz, most creatives leak stills to generate advance interest and, thanks to our technology, is more readily available.
Also, one needs to look at some of the applied psychology in costuming for films. Design teams painstakingly create for more than translating the vision of the crew that puts the stories to life. They have an added responsibility to do so with an eye on adding to emotional connections to the audience. This often means creating looks that are relatable to the viewers so the choices are culturally relevant. look at any successful films and you'll see how the hairstyles and clothing choices have some semblance to what is occurring at the time of release. It's so the audience member, losing themselves in the story, can see themselves in the picture.
Stories find success when they connect to cultural sentiments and when costumes inspire while connecting to what we have or anticipate they hold more power. So the ongoing Japanese kimono influences that have been perpetual in fashion, the earthy palettes that connect to our desire for material prosperity, the spacesuit jumpsuits being a meld of our future tech obsession and retro fascination (jumpsuits were, after all, a 70s/90s thing)...all of it...are reasonably anticipated in the predictions because these are perpetual mainstays as we flounder in the safety of everything we have done before as a foundation of security as we reluctantly venture forth into a future yet uncertain.
The 2000s were known for a step back towards embracing retro as a mashup. It was a reaction to 9/11. Prior to that incident, we felt we conquered the Y2K fears and saw a rosy future filed with the wonders of technology unfolding. But 9/11 brought ugliness in. A darker aspect of all that we anticipated, such as cyber security threats, malware invading our tech, global warming, bug-resistant viruses, terrorism utilizing the very network we do to empower its efforts all proved too much too soon. So we stepped back in what comforted us. And as the population had different points of reference, the result was a "best of" to bring broad appeal. It was also casual and rag-tag; the pressure to glam it up in the face of negative economic impact that 9/11 brought was brought down a bit to reflect inclusiveness (even though there was still luxe abounding to reflect the growing economic divide).
Now we are facing ISIS/ISIL, crazy public shootouts almost daily in the USA and terrorism threats spreading beyond the Middle East, Paris being the most recent target.Despite all this technology it's like the Wild West. We want to function yet we want to hide.
In the midst of this madness, we need somethig to speak for us to put into words all of this that we feel that can't easily express. Our art does that well. And as we look for this form what we know, the past gets tapped. So films reflecting a loss of control such as the anticipated film "The Witch" (a film written & directed by Robert Eggers that cause a lot of buzz at the recent Sundance Film Festival) connects with the feeling of helplessness in the face of unknown entities beyond our understanding in a period where structure to protect is absent. Here the prim and structured natural materials and historic connections cin details find kinship as designers meld old and new in looking for new ways to create and keep fashion appealingly fresh.
Also, the lawlessness of the senseless violence that is growing is relatable in the gritty, period-accurate western, and the volumous glamour in those costumes romances this in Quentin Tarantino's "Hateful Eight" frames these out-of-control scenarios involving weaponry that we can connect to.
That battle over good and evil with forces large, fearful and nebulous is part of the draw with Star Wars. It is the unification of the underdogs to triumph over the powerful that audiences related to in the 70s when "the Man" was viewed a threat and finds similar kinship today.
The intellectual awareness of our social ills was found in our entertainment in the 70s, and given our perpetual incorporation of that period that fashion now has, it's doubtful those vestiges of influence will leave anytime soon.
How much of each will be a factor in the collage of influences is anyone's guess. Popularity may be the reason for a designer to embrace as much as reject an influence. We are in a world where attention spans have changed and the past is our security blanket. And keep in mind that most designers, be it film or real life, have access to trending journals that dictate what is to come, and these along with the rebelliousness of a new point of view hold as much sway as any film.
But it is nice to think about; it beats the grim reality of the evening news.
The holidays are upon us as the 2016 Pre-fall collections continue to arrive online amidst the debate of what to present, how and to whom. The vehicle of dissemination that has unified the world has given birth to changes we must adapt to. It has presented shifts in the manner in which we approach each other and the way we conduct our lives. In all of this, clarity of meaning is among the qualities we now face.
As logarithms continue to get more sophisticated, we can better communicate with each other and yet our world finds the strength in the easiest to digest, which is the visual component.
Instagram is the social media of choice for fashion, for it provides the essential component that satisfies the saying "a picture is worth a thousand words". Images transcend language barriers and unifies where words cannot.
Like any medium, if you make it too sophisticated, it loses translation. Clarity is necessary to succeed; fashion can alienate in obscure references or hard-to-identify cues. Sometimes this is intentional, a part of the mystique or quantifier to maintain the exclusivity factor of fashion. But we now are living in a time of inclusion, even despite the economic aspects underlining the divide.
Here is where the power of print can thrive. It can provide the message it wants the audience ton understand. Sometimes, this is in in direct association, such as florals for spring collections denoting celebration of one's femininity or even just the direct association of spring itself. What is interesting is when prints and images are more direct, reflecting our current need for ther same. Collection such as those by Akris, Diesel Black Gold and Dennis Basso held direct imagery related to what they wanted to convey in respect to their source of inspiration.
This is what we want to do, to be direct. Perhaps the complex intellectualization in vague reference that muddies understanding needs a back seat in favor of just telling it like it is. Our world is complex enough and there is a need for simplicity to navigate it. Fashion has both happening right now, a perfect reflection of the dichotomy we live through as we migrate to our future.
So close to Christmas. But commerce doesn't stop in our age for anything short of international tragedies, fashion included. The continued release of the 2016 Pre-fall collections are underway, and already Vogue Runway has made the acute observation that the early 2000s are creeping into the repertoire as another retro influence due to recognizable elements from that decade appearing in a few Spring/Summer 2016 collections. This collection will hold no surprises on that pronouncement, for aspects as becoming present here too.
That decade had a promising start of innovation that was quickly set back by the horror of 9/11. The event shook up our psyche to such a degree that fashion found itself on a temporary reset for a number of years, reflecting our 180 degree turnaround from excitedly embracing the future to avoiding it. Colour combinations and cuts that we left in the past and outgrew were recycled as we replayed the years when things were calmer, safer and more familiar. We had to take comfort in what was familiar as the prospect of facing a future marred by evil intent was too much to handle. As is, we weathered the hype of Y2K; the ramifications of that scenario was hypothetical. The 9/11 event soon after, though, hammered home some dark realities that coloured visions of what the future could hold and unlike past horrors that could be viewed with a psychological barrier of distance, we all got it in real time and watched as the world shut down for a day in response. this was too much, too real and too soon.
Now, we have distance. Time has afforded up the ability to heal initial wounds, to process the events and fit them into the world we see and live in. Along with that, the decade ushered mass elevation of our technology at a pace that was, at the time, incredible. Now, of course, it's routine as we expect exponential innovation (and are rewarded with incredible items daily to marvel at; check the @FashionObserved Twitter feed to see what we see). When it comes to fashion...well...this is a bit trickier.
Fashion always embraces the newest materials but has had to balance the push for newness with economic realities, such as balancing that newness with familiarity. Make the changes too great and the public tunes out, feeling they cannot keep up. Make it too stagnant and the public loses interest because there is nothing new to stimulate attention. Make it too innovative and too fresh and it loses relevance, but fail to provide some creative vision and...well...you can see how hard this can be for any designer. Add to this a punishing schedule now that fashion has four major collection seasons, pressures for on-demand sales to compete with fast fashion imitators, market supersaturation...the pressure is such that it has taken its toll on some creatives as the news will attest. The show must go on because business is business.
Most collections are following a safer route, primarily taking modern clean aspects of retro fashion. The 70s had its share of different aspects of evolution, and the later part of the decade saw a cleaner incarnation ushered in by Halston. It took the geometry and sparseness that somehow become key hallmarks of modernity and united it with the silhouettes of the times, shaped by the stiffness of the textiles that were considered cutting edge back then.
Similar sociological influences found its way into the 90s and into today, which support the return of these silhouettes and aesthetic choices. the innocence of those periods and similar coping mechanisms in our entertainment and outlook harmonize with nostalgic views of these eras which feed our connectivity, so the trends stick. The merging of other elements of past decades show the intricacy of awareness of world events we now have as opposed to then. Our technology has given us the capacity to be more aware of the largess of the world, and our collections reflect this in kind.
Our evolution of healing allows us to now go through what we created post 9/11 as a way to revisit the path of healing as face new threats that have been rising since ISIL has expanded its grip beyond the Middle East. It's another new ingredient in the fashion mix, chopped and layered with others as we inch closer to the inevitable newness that will be our 21st century costume. So, as we continue to find comfort in the tried and true from previous decades that have been part of our upbringing, we seek to push us closer to now.
What is ours is the combinations and the layering to drive us to whatever we hope that newness will be. Quirky tweaks of unexpected detail combinations and layering aim for that delicate balance were in different degrees in many collections. But while many stood with the retro modernity spoken above, some collections, such as from Adam Lippes, Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein and Opening Ceremony showed more prominence in this experimentation that we have grown accustomed to in recent seasons.
With only a few years left until we face the real entrance into the 21st century's creative expression (and the expressions from those with no previous ties to the last millennium who will lead the way), we should hope for more hints as to where we are going as opposed to where we are repeating. It is to our betterment that we embrace growth and progress, and as fashion reflects interpretation of what's internal, we want that.
Now the 2016 Pre-fall collections are coming. Notably, some of the heavy hitters of fashion are bursting out of the gates. Some, like Chanel are providing extensive collections that reflect their reach while others are providing more modest sized collections.
Fashion, money and size is a more recent topic as economics continue to be a focus. Fashion will always exist, but the survival of labels hinges on more robust economic activity that provides the population with the means to enjoy consumption. While designers such as Vivienne Westwood are pushing for less consumption (quality over quantity, albeit the environment is the shared subtext) many rely on our habit of fashion turnover to thrive. Whether we like it or not, consumption is part of how we grow.
But those darn economics...frightening images when you turn back the clock and look at the legendary status of the greatest economic shock that is known as the Great Depression. The feverish consumption fueled by credit and investment naivety in the 20s practically vanished after the great stock market crash of 1929 known as Black Tuesday. Not a great way to start the next decade where unemployment dipped to 25% at its height.
Fashion changed. The hypercreativity and experimentation, along with the excess and luxury that many had a taste of gave way to simpler prints and silhouettes that were more natural. Funny enough, many women were not such big fans of the androgynous waistless looks even though it was all the rage, and felt these did not bring out their femininity. Silhouettes in the 30s followed the body's curves more as people became more grounded.
We, being in a more complex world, see that fashion is catering to many lifestyles and situations. There is still creativity and expression at play with shape and structure, such as those collection from Fendi, See by Chloe and Zac Posen. But some others so far are letting the public know it's feeling the fear that's filling the news pages. And with doomsday banners filling headlines it conjurs images of the dirty 30s. Collections from Karen Walker and Cinq a Sept contain some of those simpler and more languid forms.
There was luxury in the 30s. it catered to those at the extremes of the economic spectrum that survived the crash and kept their distance. But now as it was then, the divide made for envy over participation, and there wasn't as much of wealth going around to sustain volumes. Fashion, recognizing it may need to let go of some of the glam to survive, is showing some natural selection in the creative process. The glam will never die, but it may be pruned to thrive just as it did in the 70s and 90s...two other decades enjoying continued presence in the fashion dialogue known as pre-fall.
It is a slow trickle so far for what is being released for 2016 Pre-fall. That is, other design houses have yet to release their collections. Given the economic news and indicators, it may prove interesting to see who is choosing...or has the wherewithal...to continue the volume of output that four collections per year now demands.
So far this year we have seen a few major exits from those at the helms of prominent labels. Be it by choice (Raf Simons of Dior, Alexander Wang of Balenciaga) or by request (Alber Elbaz of Lanvin, Tom Mora of J. Crew) the fact is that the demands of the business are central as is the pressure that each house has to continue being profitable in the face of less than encouraging news; unfortunately, employment shakeups tend to precede fiscal ones.
During the early 90s, some houses started to fold as the economic picture worsened. The glut of houses that appeared produced high priced garments, all competing for a segment of the population in a higher tax bracket. These houses fed off the feverish and hedonistic greed that was celebrated at the time, and were looking to capitalize on the wave of conspicuous consumption that was, unbeknownsed to many, increasingly propped up with credit. The new entrants supersaturated the already crowded market that could not sustain the kind of consumption it grew under.
Profits dipped, houses fell and labels that expanded had to claw back to survive. While this was happening, the general public also halted this frenzy of spending. The party was over, and many were left stuck with the bill for keeping up with an image that was unsustainable. It was vulgar to be as flashy and formal, and the artificial gloss had outworn its appeal. Instead, a casual and sporty looks took over, and grunge became the statement that proclaimed our change in mindset regarding what mattered and about being real. It was rebellious in challenging what had been established in the prior decade.
We are in a different place to a degree. We are somewhere living the dichotomy between the celebration of excess and consumption and the acceptance that there is a time and a place for that excess. Right now the bulk of the population isn't feeling as prosperous and our connected world lets us know in real time. Closing mines, reductions in manufacturing, the negative effects of OPEC 's influence on the price of oil, and key indexes as indicators for areas such as housing and retail showing drops in profit margins mix with excitement over crowdfunding, budding entrepreneurships and emerging developments creating new consumption classes in the international sphere. Are we doing well or heading to a huge crash? How much is hype for either point of view? Who do we believe and where are we headed? And do we sit back and relinquish control or do we stand defiant and own what we stand to inherit?
We have pride that is our polish and stoic humility that is our dressing down. The mix of gloss and casual and the cleverness in high design with the grit in street and sport elements become the lexicon for this blended conflict that is found in the collection shown by MM6 Maison Margiela. It is also that spirit that is found in the other collections so far. There is polish yet it's laid back without being invisible. There is deliberate laissez-faire in that newness as we straddle the day wondering just what our future will be and our appropriateness, if only because too many have been there before while accepting that we still have a place and purpose.
Perhaps pre-fall will be the cusp that tells us not so much the future as much as the dividing line that either betrays our optimism or sustains it. But regardless of where we go, we are taking ownership as we get there; we are present and still step forward. It will be interesting to see how many other collections share this view and to what degree as they bring their added thoughts to the pre-fall dialogue.