Tuesday, 14 September 2010

On the Future and Fashion

Since it is fashion week and all, I have spent some time watching fashion-related tv-shows. IFC has been showing documents like The Day Before (fashion houses like Versace and Alexander Wang getting prepared for major runway shows) and Seamless, which follows Proenza Schouler, Doori-Ri and Cloak in the hopes of winning the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award back in 2004. Add the occasional episode of Bravo's The Rachel Zoe Project, and pretty much one thing leaps to mind when I think about what fashion is and where it is going: it is always about tomorrow.

There are moments when I think that fashion is just business, and other times I'd be willing to argue that fashion is an art form of some kind. Whatever the essence of fashion is, it is simultaneously fascinating and sad that fashion clearly has no place for today. Today is the moment when time stands still. When Nina Garcia says on Project Runway that something is very "now", you are never quite sure if that is a good thing: "now" gets old fast. Somehow even yesterday is better than today: at least you can draw references and create meaning to a particular set of clothes if they are rooted in a clearly-refined era. But of course, at the core of fashion is the future: what will women want to wear tomorrow? The weird thing is that almost as soon as that is figured out, those oh-so-modern choices already look fashion-victim-y and old. As soon as the quickly produced hip clothes hit the stores, there is already a new idea out there, and the trends start looking awfully trendy, and therefore a little consumerist. Tomorrow becomes today, and now becomes old.

Maybe it comes down to the crazy cycle of fashion, which shows spring and summer collections in September, and autumn and winter clothes in February. Add the odd concept of resort and cruise wear, and you get an oddly lopsided system that doesn't really make much sense. Collections, production and fashion magazines always lag behind the ideas, and if one wants to be fashionable, what we are supposed to wear at a given time is just a jumbled up mess.

Perhaps the insane speed of fashion references the way people's life spans have changed. Children are obsessed about being teenagers, teenagers feel anxious about their future careers, college-graduates worry about balancing out families and jobs before they even have them, people who work hard live for their retirement, and the retired, well, they worry about the things they never got to do and hope that they have enough time to experience them. It is not enough to live in the moment, because our lives are tilted toward preparing for the future. It's madness, I tell you, madness!

V-neck sweater: Primark, 2005ish
Tank top: H&M, old as mold
Silk shorts: Selected Femme, 2009
Fake-suede leggins: Zara, 2008
Shoes: Pura Lopez, 2008-or-9
Necklace: vintage JBL, now available at RubyLane.com!


FashionTheorist said...

Even before the off-kilter machine that is the modern fashion system came into being, fashion was predictive of social change. Marie Antoinette's chemise dresses, ironically enough, predicted the democratizing spirit of the French Revolution; Paul Poiret's corsetless looks anticipated the necessities of the 20th century - getting into and out of automobiles, watching movies, and looking good in photographs.

Modern life has accelerated the pace, made it even jerkier and more disjointed, like a record played at the wrong speed (and how dated is that reference? Old enough to be chicly retro? But there is no of-the-moment, digital equivalent, is there?), but I don't think it has changed the essential dynamic.

Sal said...

Such an astute observation! I'm more than willing to look like I'm late to a trend, like a "fashion victim" I suppose, but definitely fall prey to the tomorrow-centric mentality. Never satisfied with what I've got, I can't wait to be told what I will "need" next. I'm working on breaking that mental cycle ...

Charlotte said...

That's an unusual outfit, Waves. I like it--the gentle tones, the lines.

tigerteacher said...

Well said! I can't say that I exactly follow the trends in what I wear but I do enjoy following them almost as a story line to see happening around me. Skinny jeans are one example that I enjoy seeing on others but just don't want to wear myself. Funny also is that, when something I really love comes into style, I'm so happy that I'll finally be able to find it readily (let's take longer length t-shirts as an example - man oh man was I tired of too short shirts that I had to yank down to keep my back covered every time I sat down) that I'm tempted to hoard while I can, knowing that tomorrow it may be gone.

Aury said...

Wow, really weird cos i was just a really similar discussion with an friend a little while ago. Love your view on it though/