Although artistically-temperamented fashion designers like to take the diva's share of credit for pushing fashion forward, in truth, they're limited by the tools at hand that allow for expression - which, in the case of fashion, is the fabric.
Take spandex. Sure, it conjures up visions of cheezy 80s aerobics enthusiasts, but it was also a revolutionary development in clothing construction. B.S. (Before Spandex), designers wanting a two-dimensional woven fabric to fit over a 3-D body had to incorporate fitting seams and darts. However, once Spandex gave woven fabrics the ability to stretch, designers were freed from mandatory fitting seams and darts, opening up wonderful new possibilities in clothing design.
The other reason that Spandex proved timely for many designers was the issue of the timing of the new technology. Which is key, regardless of endeavor. "Can you imagine how poor our world would be if Bach had been born 1,000 years before the Flemish invented the technology of the harpsichord?" asks Kevin Kelly on pp. 349-350 of his stellar book What Technology Wants. "Or if Mozart had preceded the technologies of piano and symphony? How vacant our collective imaginations would be if Vincent van Gogh had arrived 5,000 years before we invented cheap oil paint? What kind of modern world would we have if Edison, Green and Dickson had not developed cinematic technology before Hitchcock or charlie Chaplin grew up?"
In fashion, savvy trendspotters know that innovation comes from fabric, which can include changes not only in the technical makeup of the fibers themselves, but ways of considering fabric as a whole. "Flagmented is a series of works which integrate traditional fabrics from two diverse cultures, the European and the Chinese, blending them to form a single textile," explain Katia Meneghini and Thanos Zakopoulos, the Italian-Greek design duo behind CTRLZAK, a hybrid studio that integrates different disciplines and cultures. Flagmented is their attempt to surpass both the borders and creative expressions normally imposed by cultural norms by coupling Classical European embroidery and Toile de Jouy with traditional Chinese fabrics. The resulting unique pieces stitch together the two diverse realities. "The unexpected results," they add, "mark a new era of globalization becoming the flags of a new hybrid culture."
- Lesley Scott