Welcome to the Post-Fashion World
Observing the changes in the art scene in the early 1970s, the great art critic Harold Rosenberg wrote, “The artist today is primarily a maker not of objects but of a public image of himself.” The model for this new attitude was Andy Warhol, who spent more time cultivating his persona than making art, which quickly stagnated after his overwhelming success in the ‘60s.
Fast-forward fifty years and we are witnessing the same state of affairs in fashion. For plenty of creative directors of major houses their own image trumps their creative output. At the same time, there exists a tug of war between the primacy of the brand and that of its creative director.
This is, obviously, not to say that there is no fashion being produced — there is more of it than ever. It’s just that by and large it has become rather unmemorable – familiar garment archetypes with logos on them – eclipsed either by the personas of its creators or by the brand image. The winning formula for today’s successful creative director of a major brand is something like persona + merch = fashion; designer as celebrity pushing unremarkable product. Fashion design, as such, has taken a back seat to public image as a marketing device.