Much as I love clothes, there are times when I really, really hate Fashion. I hate it for failing to amaze me. I hate it for making me grind my teeth while I click through acres of editorial looking for something I haven’t seen before. I hate it for wearing its lineage on its unnecessarily complicated sleeve and for being so thoroughly predictable. Most of all, I hate it for turning itself into a caricature.
Bear with me. My original plan was to work through Angie’s handy spring style cheat sheet (I scored 9 out of 10) but as usual I’ve got something else to say about what’s happening in Fashion right now. I see it on the cool kids in my town, at the art school where I work, and on the catwalks of New York, Paris and London. It’s not pretty.
Ground Zero for these disturbing developments is Paris based streetwear brand Vetements. Here, helmsman Demna Gvasalia is busy grinding out velour tracksuits and windbreakers so the 1% can spend a fortune on goods they could have bought at Walmart. That’s Fashion’s democratisation apparently, but the press remains politely silent about a certain historical precedent.
There’s more. The Georgian superstar has a second gig at Balenciaga which, classic boots notwithstanding, is all but unrecognisable as the brand that Nicolas Ghesquière reinvigorated to such great effect in the late 1990’s. Their inflatable vest is not suitable for life preservation, as Net-a-Porter helpfully remind us, should you be tempted to wear one on your yacht this summer. To my shame, I find myself actually wanting it, but my budget has its limits so I’m settling for a quilted jacket in YLF citron from Marks & Spencer. Call it this year’s wild card.
Down the road at Gucci, Alessandro Michele presents a meticulously crafted retro chic confection which, minus the sumptuous embellishment, could be replicated at any medium-sized flea market. Utterly gorgeous, entirely derivative. I remember a pair of no logo Italian-made jeans I packed away in 2005 because I couldn’t bear to part with them. It’s always sobering when something you bought as a grown woman finally achieves vintage provenance, but it’s not the first time and they’re a nice pair of pants that fit as well as they ever did. Those are Swarovski crystals, I’ll have you know. But don’t worry, if dressing like a thrift-store urchin makes you queasy, there’s always the branded tees that look like they came from a street stall in Marseilles.
Can you see where this is going? The Emperor has no clothes, or no new ones at least. The snake devours its own tail. These designers, two of the most influential players in the business, are plundering a backlog of urban style so unoriginal it can make a white tube sock look inexplicably desirable to the global elite. This is what had to happen for Fashion to Keep It Real and I’m sorry to say I saw it coming a mile off. Granted, that article is a year old almost to the day, but so little has changed that I can do nothing but shrug my shoulders, climb on board and say I told myself so.