Am I missing something? Don’t get me wrong, I am largely content that designers seem to be tiring of the wholesale plundering of what often looks like my own private archive of Sixties and Seventies boutique design. But I am really starting to wonder if the relentless copying has resulted in a fashion world which no longer knows how to make clothes.
It even reminds me of those dark days in the late Eighties/early Nineties when most established designers rested on their boomtime laurels and gave us tedium in the name of ‘minimalism’. The only interesting design from that period, in my mind, is the work by a very few rebellious types such as Pam Hogg, Gaultier, Moschino and Westwood (and countless other Hyper Hyper-based London stars without the requisite funding for big shows and publicity).
I repeat. Am I missing something? Why are they designing this? Why are people wetting themselves over it in the fashion press and blogland? Who is buying this? Who is roused from slumber for long enough to order these collections for their boutiques and department stores? Why is Stella McCartney still in business?
I could produce this in my sleep with cheap remnants of fabric ‘sourced’ in the bins of Fabricland. There is no skill in the tailoring, no sense of a knowledge of colour usage and the overall silhouette is struggling bag lady. Actually, no, that is offensive to struggling bag ladies. They know how to throw pieces together for effect.
Now I know I am so far away from the target audience that I might as well be blogging from the moon but, from my vintage bunker, it does makes me wonder about what the target audience could possibly be?
As someone who occasionally works as a dresser for shows at London Fashion Week, I am not coming from a position of total ignorance. I have seen them up close, in all their ill-fitting, bizarrely-made non-glory. The models and designers are always a delight to work with, but many of the hangers-on are vile. And I wonder if the hangers-on are the problem. Including the audiences and press. People are so overawed by their proximity to ‘glamour’ and publicity, they simply don’t care what is on the menu. If a designer asked my opinion (which of course they wouldn’t bother with since – to them – I am only a dresser, not an individual with a firm knowledge of fashion history and my own collection of museum-worthy frocks) I would tell them the truth. Constructive criticism. And constructive criticism seems to have disappeared somewhere along the way.
A poor collection is reviewed as “good”, with a few duds and a few shining lights. To me, the shining lights are only moderately preferable to the total duds. It’s rather like looking at a selection of party food from Iceland and finding the one morsel you might actually want to risk eating.
If our clothes tell a story, or are a reflection of our personality, then I think the majority of fashion-led people have lost their sparkle and flair. Economics? Ennui? Or increasing homogenisation thanks to social media? When icons are easily picked up, duplicated and then dropped within a few weeks, where is there left to go? Fashion innovation is starting to look like bad upcycling.
I don’t hate everything I have seen, but criticism should go where criticism is due. The entire catwalk phenomenon needs shaking up and clothes need to be better. There is nothing wrong with a signature style; a new season does not have to mean an entirely new vision. The true visionaries are the idiosyncratic outcasts with flair and a strong sense of self, and it is about time people started to realise this.