Five years ago, a colleague of mine told me about a young Belgian designer in New York who worked at RLX, the Ralph Lauren’s technical sportswear collection, and who was showing his first collection under his name at his apartment. I made an appointment, which got derailed by a blizzard. The designer’s name was Tim Coppens, and though we didn’t meet then, I have closely followed evolution of his work.
This past summer a pretty girl in her twenties I know cut her shoulder-length dark hair to military grade shortness, which made her look decidedly less attractive. When I remarked on this to another friend, also in his twenties, he said without hesitation that unattractiveness has become a trend among his peers. You can also see it quite clearly in fashion, especially in the rise of brands as seemingly disparate as Hood by Air, Vetements, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and Gucci, and their calculated ugliness and awkwardness.
Vestoj and StyleZeitgeist have teamed up in a dialogue and series of critiques of recent events in fashion media to raise more wide-reaching questions about the state of contemporary fashion media – and what that says about our industry at large. In our second installment of this collaboration, we examine the recent political faux pas of the Chanel and Louis Vuitton resort collections, and the fashion media’s sycophancy.
Each season the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (CSHC) meets to decide which guest designers get to show during the haute couture calendar in Paris. These designers, while not being formally accepted into the rarefied couture club, are considered as worthy of showing alongside the likes of Chanel and Dior. Its selection process is supposed to be rigorous and extremely selective, in order to reflect that haute couture is the pinnacle of fashion design and craftsmanship.
Buying and selling designer clothing by collectors and fashion enthusiasts on the Internet is a longstanding practice. Fashion forums like Supefuture, Styleforum, and StyleZeitgeist, where these enthusiasts tend to congregate are invaluable assets for hunting down that long-coveted piece, called “the holy grail” in the forum parlance. The forums, however, are, first and foremost, places…
This past Paris fashion week the young label Vetements headed by Demna Gvasalia was the talk of the town, and their instantly recognizable logoed raincoats and sweatshirts were seemingly everywhere. They were mostly worn by the young, self-conscious, well-informed fashion insiders and were instant fodder for the street-style photographers, who themselves tend to be young, self-conscious, and well-informed.
It’s no longer news that Instagram has become fashion’s most embraced Internet tool. It has created a myriad of self-made, self-promoting starlets, turbo-boosted the rise of street style photography, and has fashion executives biting their elbows trying to come up with ways to market and sell products on the app. But, perhaps most importantly, it has influenced fashion design itself.
These days the fashion press that still bothers writing about fashion is filled with two types of articles. It’s either opinion pieces decrying the broken fashion system, or news about individual designers taking change into their own hands.
Some of the woes befalling the fashion systems, according to the “broken fashion system” articles, is that the stores demand deliveries too soon and put them on sale too soon, and that the fast fashion system produces knockoffs at far cheaper prices and put them in stores before the real stuff hits the racks. Supposedly, the latter necessitates the former, but designers don’t like to be rushed, and the additional stress put on them is the other reason for the fashion system being broken. We have fall clothes filling the racks in the summer, and summer clothes in the winter. Everyone shops on sale.
This year is drawing to a close and a lot has happened in fashion, most of it not so good. I am not talking about the departed: Raf Simons from Dior (good for him), Alexander Wang from Balenciaga (good riddance), and Alber Elbaz from Lanvin (good lord!). I am talking about the arrivistes: namely, Gucci under Alessandro Michele and Vetements under Demna Gvasalia. And not just about them, but about the reaction on the part of the fashion media to their work.
Last week Raf Simons left Dior after only three and a half year tenure. Some weeks before that, Alexander Wang exited Balenciaga. Both designers cited the desire to concentrate on their own brands as the main reason for leaving and made the obligatory public statements of gratitude to their corporate employers. But some in the fashion press took the opportunity to voice the old refrain – the fashion system is broken and it needs to be fixed.