It’s hard to know exactly what the turning point was. Probably because it’s so baffling that it took this long in the first place. But the Grande Dame that is the world of fashion is finally acknowledging the possibility of prowess outside of her prescribed borders.
It’s been a strange, disjointed thing to watch, honestly. This continued perpetuation of the idea that one isn’t worth recognition unless they rise through the old system. Like we were all waiting for Miss Bunting to finally sass Lord Grantham (here probably played by Valentino) at the table, lecturing sharply on the validity of the drop crotch.
Fashion Week used to consist of four stops. Milan, London, New York, Paris. Twice a year. These days, everywhere from Toronto to Taipei, from Singapore to Stockholm, boasts their own. An Editor blessed with an acute packing acumen, an inherent faith in hotel dry cleaning services, and, let’s be honest, a Le Creuset full of Vyvanse, could, conceivably, travel from [x]FW to [x]FW in perpetuity. Take that, condo payments. Social life. Sanity.
Make no mistake, fashion is a ruthless business. Almost all of this output (the big four too, don’t get it twisted) is dross. And most of these houses will fail. Still, the world of fashion, in and of itself, is just so God-damned glamorous that would-be after would-be will sacrifice all manners of sanity and security to chase her perfectly starved golden gams.
Realistically, playing the game from inside the system is, without question, the fastest way to townhouses, threesomes, and trio selfies with Kendall, Kylie, and Kanye (that new new KKK tho). Demna set the world on fire with Vetements, but it’s only when he took over the venerable house of Balenciaga that people finally ran off to Wikipedia in droves to figure out that Georgia was, in fact, a country.
There will always be new blood in the atelier system, and there’s been a lot more turnover of late than at any time in recent history. Still, a closed system breeds familiarity, and stolidity, in droves. It calls to mind William Gibson writing about the necessary existence of a fashion event horizon, where it becomes impossible to become any more derivative. And, in a world where a pair of ‘lounge pants’ (read: sweatpants with biker knee details) costs $800, it would be nice if they didn’t all look exactly the same.
Necessarily, we need to look outside the system. René Ricard posited that certain art movements have ‘had a dyslexic development, in that the 2nd generation is capitalizing on territory pioneered by its lost innovators’. Fashion, God love her, takes that to a whole new level. An ADHD development, whereby the output of forebears are consumed raw, perhaps with a little duck egg and Malden salt. Fashion acknowledges, but not with ‘homage’. Designers strip the carcasses of your best-laid intentions, mining for potential recontextualizations.
The aforementioned Demna’s premiere collection for Balenciaga was a tour-de-force, but the breathless journalists who cited pious devotion to the tenets of Cristobal himself have honestly lost the fucking plot. Gvasalia isn’t Mr. Smithers in this equation. There’s no sycophantic incrementalism. He’s Kendrick circa “Control“. Absorbing everything in his path, in the interest of tearing it apart. Of showing what it could be. Of rewriting history. Hell, of erasing history.
There’s plenty of nods to the shape, structure, and volume that Balenciaga become justifiably iconic for, but Gvasalia did something more akin to embodying his spirit, channeling him through the lens of a trust-fund gallerina who lives in the 18th and can be found on a Tuesday night at Le Syndicat with a plethora of Pigalle fuccbois in NASASEASONS.
We need more of that punk rock nfg mentality in fashion. It keeps us young, even if it’s just in that fake, Dorian Grey style. The same way that in the ‘70s Kawakubo Rei had to bum rush the stage, à la KRS. The same way that the Antwerp 6 (of whom there were like 12) had to. It’s now time for the ROW to get in our face.
We’re close. That twinkle is in the air, though there’s still some resistance. A little old world bric-a-bitch slap. But, make no mistake, it’s in the post. Hermès has a Chinese little sister (Shang Xia). Haider Ackermann would have ignited a South American fashion revolution if only he hadn’t risen right at the crux of geo-agnosticism. And we should be thrilled to have Gosha Rubchinskiy, even though his business is entirely owned/operated by Comme des Garçons, so it’s tough to parse whether he’s necessarily the best progenitor of neü-Russian chic (regardless, his Yeltsin rent boy aesthetic gives me all the goosebumps).
End of the line, this world is waaaaay too big and waaaaay too small to let Anna decide what’s important all by herself. I want to hear what she has to say, and so should you. But I’m not taking it on blind faith.
I don’t have answers (and beware people who say they have answers – they don’t). But, honestly, answers be damned, let’s hear all the questions.