Even though I have been writing about fashion, I have never really asked what is happening to fashion now? Or, how do people react to fashion today?
Unfortunately, to me, fashion seems to be developing into something which is far more corporate and is tipping the balance to counter the importance of creativity and individual style. The media is constantly projecting ideals through vessels like 'trends' or 'buy this and look like her' and these implicit meanings leave me feeling disheartened about how the tight fist of the media can prevent more abstract and interesting ideas from penetrating it's barriers. ‘Trends’ are a very powerful communicator to women, the idea that everything it stylistically judged in order for women to become credible, relevant and contemporary delivers a great deal of insecurity. Granted, trend reports and shopping guides are key to unlock the information needed to stay ahead in fashion and remain recognized as a 'style icon'. Understandably the dictatorship of the media allows lost individuals to find a respectable path to follow in order to prevail in any constant changes in fashion.
Fashion as a concept is forever changing and pushes the limits in every season which means you are left in a time where everything reacts in a domino effect. Every new collection, new designer, new model, new publication all aid to fight off the opposing past which soon disintegrates. As fashion is always changing, new ideas are allowed to flourish which is incredibly important, there is more choice than ever before but this does leave little longevity for original designs in fashion to stand against time. Withstanding time and remaining classic yet relevant seems to be a designer’s ultimate goal, it seems a shame that amazing, original pieces are soon glossed over. I would love to go into flagship stores and see so many different items from that one designer over many seasons, but there we would have to change the whole idea of fashion and its foundations.
This strict uniformity is applicable to the modeling industry (a detailed topic I won’t go into too much), the opinions of beauty have changed considerably. I know I don’t want to see a ‘larger lady’ on a magazine, but having said that a size zero is also unrealistic. Fashion has an influential view upon the way beauty should be presented; models are portrayed as subtle canvases, with only the iconic women being able to express their individuality. Again, this uniformity in beauty heightens the insecurities in women in which scrutiny prevails. However, it seems that recently fashion could be turning a corner with Crystal Renn. Perhaps the most important ‘plus-size’ model around, her influence upon designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier could suggest a faint movement in fashion. However, for Gaultier’s latest campaign, she appeared to have slimmed down but this scrutiny of weight loss/gain grates on me so I won't divulge into more arguments on that.
In an extreme way, so many magazines attract the mass market, all delivering the same trends etc, high street brands do the same, so in a way many people end up looking the same. Yet I thought fashion was about being individual, not following the crowd, doing something new, something original. Accepting the fact that there is so much choice, personal style seems to be plummeting down beneath the arguably, 'common' aesthetic. Fashion as it stands today seems to be contradictory, it wants individuals to blossom, yet it dictates to those who are passive and incapable of finding their own way without giving them the time to decide for themselves.
Looking back at the broad scope of fashion and freedom in the 80s, there was always the intense need to be individual, mixing high glamour with the introduction to the supermodel clan with the gritty grunge style of punks. Not to mention of course, Vivienne Westwood. Issues of i-D showing Boy George in elaborate make-up and more than eccentric clothing, the eighties was a time when anyone could look like anything!-(yet still taking into account the probability of getting abuse from those who disapproved...sigh). Today, however, there is no way I would ever consider applying amateur attempts at Pat McGrath's techniques and get on any form of public transport. It just doesn't happen. Perhaps, the worst part is is that I would be utterly ridiculed if I did. Fashion was all about creating something, building something and giving people the freedom to look however they wished. But why isn't it the same today? Perhaps it's the development of the industry, the growth of brands. I was told by my mother that there never was so many designers or brands as there are today, or an 'it bag' (excluding Chanel) or 'the latest...’ you simply found what you liked and bought it regardless. The grand-scale of leading labels which were once seen as out-dated such as Dior, Lanvin or Burberry have now flourished in fashion. Such choice and variety can be daunting, there seems to be a simmering hysteria of paranoia with the average buyer. Something which I hope will change.
Fashion is a complex notion which is exciting, always changing and experimental but has become more restrictive over eras. The development of brands and the celebrity mind-set has allowed for greater choice, but can govern a stagnant hold upon the passive who act like sheep. All I know is, making an original, independent contribution in any form is something one should recognize as having invaluable qualities which should not be changed. In spite of what the September issue may say.