3 October 2008

Fatalism in fashion

Thank God for Paris! We have been saved from a season of eternal - buzzword alert - 'optimism' by the city of eternal light.

Two designers brought us what can only be called fatalistic futurism. Firstly, the collections of Nicholas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga and Gareth Pugh were aesthetically 'futuristic', conjuring the traditional thoughts of what futuristic-fashion is/will be: sharp angles, metallic materials, severity, pragmatism, efficiency, structure, and serenity. This is comforting in that it indulges in-built cliches of what the 'future' will be like (read: Star Wars, The Jetsons, Stargate etc.), but it is simultaneously confusing as we are not at all comforted by such harsh, unusual lines (Balenciaga), stark, domineering colours (Pugh), and certainly not by the combination of the two (Balenciaga, Pugh). Inevitably, with this paradox comes a sense of the unknown, we are inevitably forced to ask ourselves, "What does the future bring?" And these are not cushy futures. Ours will not be a cushy future.

Secondly, these collections showed a new sensibility, a swaying from the traditional bounds of dress and season, a new reference point: the idea of fatalism, as it were, opposed to optimism. A new thought-process must be attained when it comes to fashion. We must explore garments' boundaries and think of clothes in a new way; what can and cannot be done with a 'jacket'? What colours can go together? Which cannot? Why expose certain parts of our bodies and not others? Why protect one part and not another? And, if I continued, eventually, why do we s'habillez?

There is nothing wrong with optimism - it is perhaps the most valuable tool we have - but when it is presented time and time again as bright colour, lurid print, opulence, excess fabric and token gestures one can't help but yearn for something with a little more depth, a little more direction and, ironically (if one considers the 'wearability' of some of the below pieces), a little more realism.

These designs bring with them the realisation (slightly tongue-in-cheek, I assume) that the future may not be bright but that this doesn't mean we have to make the present as bright and frilly as possible. In fact, the creation of these futuristic pieces screams fatalism to me: the inevitability of the future. What more can we do? These collections have proved to me that the best ideas come from a reaction to something. A reaction to a failing model, a reaction to a tired concept, a reaction to a policy of blind hope that everything will continue as it is, nothing will really change, and therefore why bother changing it. The result of this reaction is necessarily a 'future view', a combination of thinking beyond the problem and facing it head-on. Everything will change. Take note, 'trend-forecasters'.

Balenciaga PE09
Iris Stephanie Anna Ali Liu Shannan Kinga Amanda
Gareth Pugh PE09
Kasia Karlie Alyona Taryn Naty
(Pics courtesy of Vogue.fr)

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