Fashion Weeks every season, major Collection debuts that reach cultural event status, visionary creatives and influencers blazing trails with their unique manifestations – the fashion world is one of the most diverse yet critical forms of artistic expressions that man has had the brazenness to tackle. Various style derivations from the past icons of style, present pioneers and urban legends, and sometimes a vision of the future from innovative fashion genii expertly drive this distinct arte form forward from this day to the next. And quite frankly, it’s The People – more than any other aspect of the culture, the people of the fashion sphere are undoubtedly its most vital commodity, from Les Maisons and their head designers & Creative Directors, to the independent or otherwise seamstresses, the human capital is immense, and equally gifted. The consumers, just as much; the coffers who wouldn’t give a second thought to spending top dollar on adornments of the highest luxury for their temples, no matter the parameters that ‘luxury’ defines. Mind-blowing “eureka” moments are commonplace in these circles. After all, a refined palate for fashion develops from indulging in the highest quality & immense quantities of the culture through whatever medium. Fashion grants itself the peculiar quality of self-actualization in that distinct identities and tastes form with every other thread or hem or stitch.
From Charles Frederick Worth’s first dress in 1858, to Gianni Versace’s in 1978 and the most recently established Maison FENTY dreamt up by renowned Barbadian businesswoman Robyn Rihanna Fenty, leaps and bounds is an understatement of how the fashion industry has proliferated & transformed over the centuries. In a world where news travels (arguably) faster than the speed of sound around the world, where one awkwardly placed bedazzlement could either launch careers skyward or dig a crater for their burial, where the most sensitive social issues become benchmarks with which brands try to convert new supplicants or make reparations for their previous misgivings, being a fashion professional could be compared to walking on the edge of a well-crafted katana barefoot, in a monsoon. For instance, Victoria’s Secret’s principles of catering to “industry standard” clientele has almost led to the legendary intimate wear design house’s demise in the late 2010’s, where inclusion and body positivity are the order of the day. So inadvertently, the company more or less signed its own death warrant in its adamance to maintain the culture that has worked so well for it in the past. Their niche might very well be their guillotine.
The vast variety of identities in the modern world has brought about the advent of less conforming fashion senses and stylings, some more thought provoking than others, some even teetering on the thin line between bold and controversial, and some drawing purpose from activism which has become the root system that a good number of young designers grow and nurture their craft from. And while some people take fashion as a love affair with your body through draping it in premiere textures and pedigrees, to others it is equally specific, less rigidly inclined and more exuberant. Hip Hop as a culture in itself has its own interpretations of – and relationship with – the fashion world. “Drip” is a common term in Hip Hop, a term that refers loosely to the potency of fashion within and around Hip Hop and its sub-cultures, whether it be the expensive brands, the collaborations between these brands and key figures in the culture, the individual influencer stylings or the trends that rappers and artists conjure up with their everyday outfits. With fashion, there’s never a singular main focus, or a desired impression. Even if explicitly stated or intended, the inevitable truth is that multiple opinions will stem from a certain piece or collection or styling, all with the profundity of Kant infused with the relevance and (sometimes) anonymity of Banksy. Fashion is a unique medium of artistic expression in that whatever its laden & explicit inspirations or the utterances it pours into other arte forms, sophistication is always a factor. And that’s not an understatement – whether or not that’s the desired effect, it’s the constant that prevails.
Cheers to the boundary pushing young minds and personas shifting the agenda of sophistication to their favour through their experiences, designs and intricate interpretations of what fashion means to them, and what they think fashion should mean to the masses. Cheers to the artistes that draw inspirations from this wonderful world, the artistes who drape their bodies to fuel their artistic identities, the artistes who curate as avid aficionados, the artistes whose personas exist fully and equally within and outside the world of fashion. Cheers!