Last night was about virtually following the fashion caravane from London to Milan for the ready-to-wear shows. Before that there was New York. And after the big 4 fashion cities there will be a Fashion Week happening almost every single day somewhere in the world… But paradoxically fashion seems to have lost a lot of its meaning over the past 20 years, for what or who is now trendy will be out of the spotlight in a few minutes/likes. So last night was about taking a break from this frenzy, and trying to find out what could currently bring back some sense into this crazy spinning fashion bitch.
Since the inception of the digital age in the 00s, in addition to a fast globalization going on since the 90s, many people are now aware of fashion and its big names : empire brands (Giorgio Armani), petite icons (Kate Moss), feared editors (Anna Wintour). And yet, when the world seems to know it all by heart or by Iphone, the true meaning of fashion seems to have lost its way.
Because there was a time when fashion was an actual revolution tool. In the 18th century, the renowned fashion influencer that was Marie-Antoinette decreed to quit the heavy dresses for a more natural and « countryside-shepherdess » look, thus freeing many women from their stuffy corsets. And therefore allowing them to love or flee whoever they wanted (Sofia Coppola beautifully painted this switch of fashion and sexuality in her Marie-Antoinette biopic).
Later the French Revolution (yeah, the French used to be very fashion-forward (:-) ) allowed women to wear pants in order to be in combat without being raped every other minute. There were all feminists back then too…
More recently, there were successive waves of young designers who made their little revolution : notably the French in the 80s (agnès b., Jean Paul Gaultier…) the English in the 90s (John Galliano, Alexander McQueen…) , the Belgian in the 00’s (Martin Margiela, Dries van Noten)… All of them had a deep knowledge of fashion history, a sharp eye combined to a sense of humor and craftsmanship, plus they always loved to put on a good show, equally glittery and meaningful. Sometimes it had an artistic meaning, sometimes a political one (think Hussein Chalayan and his naked models in 1998) but all in all it had a purpose above fashion.
The clothes were not always easy to capture or to understand, but they were meaningful : about the people, the world around or the dreams the designer had… And wearing them was kind of a statement.
Now it seems that it is all about selling, out and fast : « see now, buy now… » Efficient, but empty.
It seems that it is all about putting on a paced show that will not move too fast in order to be photographed and Instagramed well. Make sure to make the video of the finale, where the models now all walk at the same speed and on the same straight line from show to show (they really ARE an army !!). If you have a blur at the end of the day (or a couple of drinks) and look back at the videos, mostly you won’t be able to tell which is which…
It seems it is all about praising the advertisers instead of speaking one’s mind aloud, in fear of losing the brand’s money into your magazine’s advertising (and the 3 granted Bs : champaign Bubbles, Bags, Business class)… Now when a show is crap it is « well-done », and when it is great, well it is « to die for » (having told the truth this time ?… )
Of course I am painting the dark side of the picture here. And of course there are some exceptions to the global marketing rule. But it is fair to say that despite the efforts of a few white knights, fashion is in serious danger of a snap creative death. The fast-forward way the industry has taken is certainly not going to slow the process down…
Unless we manage to inject some meaning into fashion again.
The worldwide context is urging us to take a stand, not a seat. On the contrary to what some brands keep on pretending, the ecologic Utopia has already sailed away : who can be sustainable while still pursuing mass production ? Fashion can be drawn to be responsible, but will NEVER be sustainable. Hard but real.
So let’s make the ideas pop as strongly as the champaign bottles. Let’s make statements ring as loud as the show’s soundtrack, in a way that people will actually LOOK at the clothes and LISTEN to what they actually have to say. So that after the show people REMEMBER it for more than a second, because it stood out for someting else than just clothes and pictures.
Fortunately, there has been some moves in the industry lately. Business of Fashion’s editor-in-chief Imran Amed has urged fashion to react against the excluding measures taken all over the world, and lately in the U.S, pointing out that the fashion industry had kept quiet while other influential creative fields (namely the tech industry) were the first to openly protest against these measures.
That is how the #TiedTogether movement was born. It’s not about but above politics, sales or money (if you wish to donate, then, your choice). It is only about fashion, inclusiveness and solidarity. How we are all tied together. Especially in our modern world where an information or a bomb can reach anyone at any time… Each of us depends on the many others to keep our futures open.
And of course this also works on the tiny fashion scale, for fashion has always welcomed people who did not fit into the usual standards (gender, social, others, many others…), and often gave them the opportunity to sit on the first row, if they had the strength to make their way to it. That is also how fashion has managed to stand out over the years, so let’s keep it that way.
#Tiedtogether is a simple and powerful fashion gesture : tie a white bandana somewhere, photograph it and share it on Instagram with the proper tag. This way you will have given 5$ to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) or to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR). As easy as that… Many powerful fashion figures have already gone « white », including Tommy Hilfiger, Raf Simons for Calvin Klein, Jonathan Saunders for Diane von Furstenberg, Donatella Versace… And the digital models have embraced it with grace, such as Gigi and Bella Hadid, who put their millions of followers into the balance.
Actually, #TiedTogether kind of took the industry out of its sleep. Now videos #iamamigrant are spread, and brands take some minor stands here and there in order not to look selfish… And of course to be a part of the trend (:-)But we all know who started it and where the statement came from… So let’s follow the source and go #tiedtogether, in all fashion week spots and beyond, and make it last more than a post.
The conclusion of this meaningful shock to fashion?
Imagine the combination of meaningful fashion images with the speed and reach of digital…Instead of generating likes, it could create miracles. And maybe change the world? Or at least people’s minds… And that’s already something big.So let’s turn off the calculator for a minute and open our fashion (or other) minds. Together we can both act and shine at the same time. How revolutionary/trendy/great is that?
#TiedTogether – Business of Fashion @bof – https://tiedtogether.businessoffashion.com