THE FRENCH post-modernist philosopher Baudrillard once wrote, “Fashion has the fabulous character of the more beautiful than beautiful; fascinating. The seduction it exerts is independent of all value judgment. It surpasses the esthetic from in the ecstatic form of unconditional metamorphosis.” Coming through the lens of postmodernism, fashion is the ultimate art form because it comes already deconstructed. Its meaning is already fading and changeable; its form is variable. But what fashion lacks in definitive form it makes up for in purpose and aesthetic impact. Fashion, in many ways, is the sheer embodiment of beauty – it is all emotion, imaginative impulse and expression. It is concomitantly objective and generalisable as it is personal and specific.
But what is it that makes fashion speak? It is up to the creative direction of an individual designer? Or is there something more substantial, universal, and transnational to the character of fashion? The answer lies both within and without the history of fashion. Coco Chanel notoriously created a fabric of stories about her own life and anecdotes in order to achieve a level of fame. But, she left her clothing to represent itself in its characteristic elegance, nonchalance, and perhaps, ridiculously, indefinable chic.
Master the balance
The power of brands lies in the degree to which they embrace their own value status. This is somewhere in the space between a company’s history and heritage and their ability to master the balance between their unique point of view and trends to stay ahead of the game with consumers. It is one of the key struggles of marketing strategy that it is a precarious balance to engage with consumers in an authentic manner, to encourage them to purchase, and not distill your brand in the process.
The poetics of fashion comes in its quasi-linguistic ability to communicate with everyone at a certain level, even those who claim to have little or no interest in it. Fashion is an art form – but, it is also a complicated business, as Imran Amed has shown us on many levels. In the same way, that a two year old can discern he prefers one pair of shoes over another, the average person participates in and interacts with fashion on a daily basis without even knowing it, both through the sheer act of getting dressed as well as emotionally engaging with how those around them choose to attire themselves.
In this way, fashion is a tricky game. Whether you’re a brand, a publication, a writer, or other related (or unrelated) industry professional, getting ahead in fashion is a matter of perseverance as well as brand value – knowing what sets you apart and finding ingenious ways to leverage upon it. This, of course, is never an easy equation, particularly in this saturated digital age where people have an access to everything and, in turn, more opinions on everything.
And here is where the emerging designers come in. Free of the pressures of investors and other financial strictures, young designers are the lifeblood and the future of the fashion industry. They fully execute the poetics of fashion in the sheer individualism of their work and the artistic vision of what they create. The very movement and energy of fashion today – through all of the hype fashion weeks generate internationally – lies in the arena of these up-and-coming creative talents, known and unknown.
For all the breathlessness a Vera Wang gown or Christian Louboutin heels inspire, there is hundred-fold that for the works of these younger designers, some straight out of school, who will be designing what you will be wearing for the rest of your life, even neither of you realise it yet.
So, pay heed to those headlining young designers with the CFDA or NEWGEN in London, or that local talent in your city, because one day they may be essential to future of culture and how we understand ourselves.
by Jessica Quillin