(Photos: Scott Carthy)
"Maybe it’s our fear of death," notes Jay Michaelson, Ph.D., the author of several books on messianism, millennialism, and other end-times beliefs. "Maybe we just can’t imagine the world going on without us." Or perhaps the reason so many of us worry that the end is nigh is that it's just the way we roll. Have always rolled - since at least the year 65 AD or so. "Probably for deep-seated psychological reasons," continues Michaelson, "human beings have always believed that it’s five minutes to midnight."
Where the hands actually are on the clock is, of course, a contentious blend of scientific consensus spiked with rancorous, the-earth-is-flat flavored dissent. But problems are without doubt afoot. However, what's so interesting to me about our End Times fixation- which includes at least 15% of the world's population - is the way it seeps out of the collective unconscious and into intuition-driven realms like fashion design.
Why brilliant fashion designers, a notoriously nonanalytic breed, sometimes succeed in anticipating the shape of things to come better than professional predictors, remains one of the most obscure questions in history.
- the late Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm in The Age of Extremes
The "why" part aside, the fact is they do. "Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only, fashion is something in the air," Coco Chanel famously observed. "It's the wind that blows in the new fashion; you feel it coming, you smell it. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." And what is happening on a global scale is worldwide worry about the earth.
Aerial photographs of the earth inspired Marie Cunliffe in this collection of striking silhouettes and metal-woven fabric. "The concept is based on an alternative perspective. It explores another viewpoint," she explains. "The earth's contours, fluidity, textures and color have been translated into print." Photographs of the seas, deserts, mountains and forests inspired the muted color palette of dusty purples, greyish oranges, dark greens and concrete grays.
To create the garments, Cunliffe collaborated with textile designer Lynn Tandler on cobwebbing wool, foiling lace, crushing coral into pleats, and incorporating metal and plastic. The resulting silhouettes are robust and exaggerated, yet soft. "The relationship between the delicate and the durable creates unexpected results," she adds.
Indeed, what this collection brought to mind for me was an elegant "found" quality. If we do end up realizing a Mad Max reality, these seem like what the style-inclined folk of either sex might fashion for themselves to wear from fabrics they find or cobble together. There's also a protective quality in the oversize stiffness that, in a hostile environment, would feel comforting - cozy, even.
- Lesley Scott
The feel of this endeavor is very congruent with the vibe of the Apocalytical fashion tribe. For more of my posts and podcasts about the Apocalytical tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.