In these extremely sad and uncertain times, the fashion industry is taking a huge hit on every level. So, I decided to write about what the next wave might be like in a perfect world. I offer a sort of wish list as well as a cautionary tale…. after every tragic era in the history of civilization came an upheaval in the status quo or what one might look at it as a rebirthing…. Fashion is severely in need of a recalibration.
Why can’t we go back showing fall, spring and couture ... all the adjunct collections like pre this and early that were for buyers only and not for the entertainment of the masses (thank you Style.com) who have no clue why these pre seasonal collections exist. If I had to point a finger, I’d point it at Ms. Wintour, aka the assassin of fashion, who turned it into a 3-ring circus by trying to pander to a generation of that she doesn’t understand nor relate to while decimating Condé Nast as a fashion media empire.
The aspirational customer of the 60s 70s and 80s has disappeared as fashion has now become visually available to everyone from Abu Dhabi to Zanzibar. Now the latest generation isn’t so interested in just having a key chain with a logo as they once were but now they want to own the look which is sadly nothing more than tired retreads of what once was minus the luster, chic, status and style of that brand.
The glorification of no talent designers who have ad dollars behind them is insulting and tragic. We need a media that is honest to a fault and is not influenced by the almighty ad dollar. The great fashion arbiters of times gone by… think Vreeland, Fairchild, Sheppard, Morris and many more who actually reviewed clothes and not venues or first rows in hopes of pandering to those who haven’t the vaguest clue about the business of fashion.
The glorification of the freakish attributed to the likes of that so called designer at Gucci, the Rooskies who got rich by turning fashion into a side show, the faux intellectuals ( Miuccia & the meatball) who think clothes come with cliff notes attached to justify what they look like and lastly those who just create fugly clothes to hang on a rack at astronomical prices that so few can really afford or even want.
Where are the design whisperers ... the ones who can turn a Brandon Maxwell or a Christian Siriano into a 21st century Bill Blass or Galanos? Where are the brands that once ruled the roost of Seventh Avenue? The times when true top shelf fashion was king and shock and awe were at the bottom of the list instead of at the top.
Where is the prestige and reverence that was once afforded to some of the most prestigious names in fashion such as YSL, Ungaro, Mainbocher, Montana, Ferré, Lanvin, Mugler, Courrèges and scads of others… the only thing that remains is the name which is unidentifiable except by name... what happened to the brand signatures… where are the whisperers at LVMH and Kering?
Fashion is more than selling a tube of lipstick or a handbag or a pair of shoes... it is about selling clothes… clothes that women and men covet and want to wear as well as own. What happened to that aspect of fashion? If the latest looks are available at the local second hand store then who needs the pomp and circumstance of runway shows that are attended by an audience of those who have no relation to the business of fashion other than that they wear clothes or rather as a means of self-promotion by being present.
There are so many untapped talents as well as extraordinarily talented designers who go unnoticed either because they don’t have that almighty ad dollar or they aren’t being worn by some D list wannabe celebrity or some trailer trash family with more silicone and Botox in them than any plastics factory. Where are the once great editors and stylists who traveled every back street and walked up and down rickety staircases to find the hidden treasures behind those doors that are never opened today.
The retail business has changed dramatically over the past 5 decades when big stores only carried big brands and the small specialty stores were at the vanguard of what was about to happen. The mom and pop retailers of that era truly were the directional retailers and then the big boys decided they wanted some of that action and fucked it up royally. Well… take a look at what happened ... it’s not a pretty picture …store cloning. I long for the days when there was such a thing as co-op advertising and hitherto unknown designers made the front pages of WWD and found their way to editorial pages of Vogue, Bazaar and Fashion of the Times. Now we have carbon copy retailing and media while almost every store and magazine look the same and feature the same brands…. The poor consumer has lost the ability to stand out in a crowd by wearing clothes that aren’t seen in every store in America.
I pray and hope that in this next iteration of fashion, après the pandemic, that true talent is recognized and that the fashion media becomes an unbiased and utilitarian vehicle that promotes the best of the best and does not pander to only the ad driven brands. Mrs. Vreeland had it right she said words to the effect of give them what they never know they wanted. She wasn’t a businesswoman she was a fashion enthusiast/aficionado and consequently brought fashion and fantasy to the printed pages as well as aspiration. Fashion was far less democratic and far more restrictive in terms of appeal and affordability. What we didn’t have then and have now is fast fashion (H&M or Forever21) and it is they who should be pandering to the masses not the top shelf media and prestige brands borne of fashion’s glory days.
Imagine reading a review that omits the venue, omits the front row celebrities and wannabes and only discusses and solely critiques what came down the run way ... you immediately thin the herd of who is actually interested in the business of fashion.