Much has been made of the ‘honesty’ and ‘integrity’ of the Instagram account @Diet_Prada over the course of the last week or so. Which makes sense; then fashion world being as notorious for chasing new young things as that ‘president’.
Mainstream fashion editors have been gleefully extolling the virtues (virtues, after all, being essentially vices wearing Halloween costumes; ‘sexy insufferability’ being this year’s fave) of an account that calls out ‘homage’ in fashion design with the laser precision of a T2000 line-judging Wimbledon.
It’s fun, to be sure, and sounds a bit like what Tavi Gevinson might say about a SmartCar full of White Girl Rosé. One might be prone to suspecting that old-world media/heritage/empire/whatever editors at WWD might be fete-ing this particular contribution to the world of fashion in a ‘there-but-for-the-grace-of-God’ modus, as they could surely envision a situation whereby one more fucking floral embroidered billowy->skinny->plaza pant causes them themselves to shatter into a million pieces, and go on a Don Quixote-esque ‘mission to civilize’. Which would obviously end in a ‘tribe-check-a-hoe’ level Lexapro addiction and a ‘voluntary leave’ in the direction of some place probably designed by Kelly Wearstler.
There’s a slight problem here. And it’s not the fact that @Diet_Prada would probably call itself out for biting, it being essentially a combination of 2000-era Hintmag and a far less interesting, albeit more highbrow, version of FuckYeahMensWear.
No, the problem is that there’s a fine line between copying and homage, and Diet_Prada doesn’t seem to necessarily quite get it. Yeah, Riri’s beauty line’s wholesale ripoff of that decade-old Numero cover was straight robbery (everyone knows it was some minion’s fuckup; BadGyal definitely had (has?) no clue). But Giamba’s ‘thievery’ of that Ghesquiere Vuitton dress is just as likely to be coincidental as intentional, and lacks as much shared DNA as it possesses (and actually looks much more like a men’s embroidered tank from Lanvin circa 2014, if we’re playing this game).
If every artwork is judged in broad-scale relation to every artwork that came before it, then only Cubist Picasso, Pollock (who was probably so drunk he forgot to ‘appropriate’ something else), and Duchamp (because usually pissing on an artwork was considered a bad thing) would qualify as truly original.
Of course FKA Twigs borrowed some tings/learned some lessons from Björk, but she’s far from the only one. And that elfin pixie came straight outta narnia, so everything she did was OG (tho, not for nothing, but she’s returned the favour with a few borrowings of her own (Arca beats, for example)).
Everyone knows that Picasso quote. Good artist borrows; great artist steals. Right? Know that it’s a deadass ripoff of Oscar Wilde tho? Nah, didn’t think so. But that’s kind of my point. Aside from the fact that Picasso was a meta muhfucka-par-excellence, he’s also one of the 20th century’s great artists, despite the fact that he stole (errr….homaged?) constantly.
All this by way of saying that I adore reading @Diet_Prada, but it concerns me the way that Demna concerns me. The way that Warhol would have concerned me had I been even a little alive at the time. Funny and clever can also de-temps-en-temps be asphixiatingly detrimental to the culture in toto. And I’m worried that this could be one of those times. Like the Anti Social Social Club of artistic originality.
We’ll see. But, remember, it doesn’t take much for 15 minutes of fame to lead to 15 years of mediocrity.
There is one positive aspect too interesting to ignore here, however. I assumed intrinsically that Demna was the only member of the new fashion generation adroit enough to manipulate the complicated interlay of old and new-world media, social media, bloggers (ugh), and all the rest.
But Alessandro Michelle has proven masterful at this of late. Sure, Gucci Ghost and Coco Capitán, but that all went without saying.
But inviting @Diet_Prada to do a daylong IG takeover of @Gucci official was kinda brilliant. Machiavellian, even. The man steals more ideas from more antecedents than Jasper Johns did while Rauschenberg was sleeping. But actively inviting that criticism only means that he’s ‘in on the joke’. Instead of being the joke. #vivaironia