F ashion Observed has long enjoyed sharing how events inspire creatives, translating our emotional response into forms and colours we somehow connect with. Designers who resonate spark the kind of connection that stirs us, and those that line up elements most closely to our emotional being become the leaders we celebrate. The interpretations themselves are translations, and some can be anticipated or previously-felt based on historical repetitious context. When we lean to retro influences or previously explored shapes, silhouettes, or even repetitions of entire concepts, it's often due to triggers regarding reliving similar sentiments. An astute artist or designer (who is really an artist working under the confines of commerce and limited time constraints as creative challenges) will notice both current events and public reactions replaying what we have been through before, and will take their knowledge of history, match current recurring patterns to it and draw from this as inspiration into their next design.
In previous decades, and especially before the advent of the internet, this access of knowledge was more limited to the more connected and well-traveled, and as the world wasn't as privy to the volume of detail regarding world events and public sentiment in kind and that influences tended to be a bit more straight-forward. We'd see a key theme and a few nuances at best, and the focus was on the most established houses who could afford the PR to be recognized and heard as they reinforced emphasis on those themes. As pointed out in this blog many times before, the internet has opened a massive door of information that is accessible to a wider global audience, which means that we all have way more information...and in real time...that informs us about what is happening as well as showing how we are reacting in greater detail. Not only that, we have created platforms for sharing our points of view and sentiments in real time in easily accessible forms such as blogs and, of course, social media. With exponentially-increasing technological advancements affording us the ability to better track and quantify these responses on a global yet localized scale, we now have far more detail to draw on that helps us to better connect and personalize whatever it is we want to connect with. In the case of fashion, this means we have way more influences that translate into many nuances; a typical collection no longer has a simple theme, but is a sophisticated collage of reactions.
Sometimes there is a lot happening on the world stage and we find it easy to reflect these in relatable context, while at other times the conversation is drawn out. One of the thorns in our side is the conditioned expectation of fashion always bringing something new to keep the public interest. It is a product of our capitalism, to nurture steady consumption habits, and is how our world has taught itself to survive, It is a huge issue we are reconciling with as we come to terms with the grim results being played out in a global catastrophe of our own making. True enough, we have been increasingly aware of our role in all of this, and now more than ever are we paying attention to our impact on the environment. So, getting back to the conversation being played out...at times, our attention drifts after becoming saturated on a theme or topic. Sometimes it is pop culture, sometimes it's historical references, sometimes it's a favoured culture, sometimes it's our entertainment...you get the picture. And when we exhaust these as topics, we still have to find something to keep ourselves engaged. Sometimes, it's just by taking in what's around us. Sometimes, it's in nature and at other times it's merely what's in our neighborhoods.
One of the topics in the media has been the commoditization of urban real estate and its impact on the standard of living in the face of stagnating wages versus increasing living costs. In major cities this has been especially the case, with real estate becoming a source of speculation in the name of profit and the negative impact on the public very strongly felt. And when thinking about real estate, it's hard not to notice the inspiring new buildings that are cropping up all over that have been built, in part, because of the drive to capitalize on the growth of the real estate markets. Our social media reflects this fascination of awe-inspiring architecture, so it's easy to see how this newness becomes a design influence. There have been two particular aspects noted in recent collections that seem to find connection to architecture and our economy. One involves fixed designs demonstrating modern technological craft. Much like what contemporary architects do, designers take on newest materials and techniques to create new shapes and forms, often mirroring existing architectural fixations that are just as subject to the same reflective design influences as any other creative, such as the increase of parametric architecture and how more curves are incorporated into cut and form of design. Inspirations that involve the exploration of form and surface that amazing new buildings have are chosen in part as they resonate with a connection to our surroundings. This is especially so when our emotions are tied to something as concrete (no pun intended) as what is around us. Architectural designs from A Cold Wall (here), Anrealage (here), Antonio Grimaldi (here), Biotico (here), Chanel (here), Craig Green (here), Dzhus (here and here), EZ by Elena Zemtova (here) Feng Chen Wang (here), Offical Bareskin (here) Oriane Tonnerre (here, here and here), Roland Mouret (here) and Three as Four (here and here) certainly inspire in a similar manner. The other aspect is in response to our ecological and fiscal concerns. When discussions of fiscal prudence are brought forward, such as when there's talk of coming austerity, there seems to be a rise in modular design, and this finds itself architecturally expressed in collections from again Dzhus (here and here), Each x Other (here), Issey Miyake (here) and Pigalle (here).
Now, it's important to remind you that our world is complex and that these themes are not the only one today. Fashion will be showing variety. In the past, we might have kept an eye out for key words to sum up themes. Now we are looking for virtual paragraphs, with each word an indicator of the contribution each region makes towards the climate that fashion has has at each traditional seasonal milestone. And as the Resort 2020 collections start to appear, we will see the next incarnation reveal what is the evolved topics on our mind. Certainly the themes of sustainability, globalism, cultural understanding and personalization amidst the sped and power of technology are going to find itself further on our minds, along with the push and pull as we love and fear our progress amidst a world that offers huge changes thanks in part to technical innovation. And then we have the shift away from throwaway fashion as we look further to investment pieces meant to last, the way a monument is conceived; this is in part to provide longer life to garments as we seek to decrease consumption and provide more financially viable items as we produce more fashion for the growing rental market. We will only be able to say more the next time after the Resort 2020 collections have finished and have been looked over (and this blog will then return in kind with responses and observations to answer these questions). The thing is...will all of it continue to be a cacophony of stimulation? Or will the future become supersaturated with detail and rebel as a reaction to fearing letting go of the luxury of the old ways regarding virgin cloth? Or will the reactive turn towards more minimalism be as a result of the anticipated downturn that will be like no other and thus be more brutal...ist?