(Margiela F'15 via)
I worry that reality itself is fading like the Cheshire cat, leaving behind only a smile that grows ever more alarming.
- cultural critic Henry Allen
We live in an age of Innerspace, busily blazing new trails within to discern the secrets of our biology, perhaps even the secret of consciousness. Consciousness, according to Christof Koch of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, depends on how many connections we have and how they're wired up. While no one really knows exactly what consciousness is, we do understand what causes it to emerge: the way bits of matter are organized.
While mindboggling (so to speak), the one of the disturbing implications is that while we're each unique little snowflakes, as a whole, we collectively add up to a homogeneous morass of snowy sameness. "We are all outsiders with no inside to be outside of," continues the Pulitzer-winning Henry Allen. "The most important thing in our culture-sphere isn't change but the fact that reality itself is dwindling, fading like sunstruck wallpaper, turning into a silence of the dinner-party sort that leads to a default discussion of movies."
Which is probably why the Fall 2015 collection by John Galliano at Maison Margiela feels so in the fading, flickery flow.
For this particular runway outing, he dreamed up one Madame le Pigeon, a "faded" beauty focused on the past, her "faltering memory flickering back to happier days." Feeding the birds while daydreaming in Technicolor, albeit faded, she stands up from the park bench to discover fresh-paint marks on the back of her oversized, menswear-inflected coat. Like eccentric Little Edie of Grey Gardens fame, she holds onto pieces of clothing from a "long-vanished" lover, layering his jacket over a 50s dance dress or improvising a bodice and tucking his trousers into it.
All of which Galliano dubbed "unconscious glamour" - summing up that delightful lack of self-consciousness you typically see in the very young, the very old, and the very dotty. "Galliano has always spun a riveting narrative," enthuses Vogue's Hamish Bowles, "and this season he was inspired by forties candid street photography (by Weegee, Diane Arbus et al), of often elaborately dressed, coiffed, and made-up women whose finery on camera takes on an unconsciously eccentric surreal, tribal quality."
Mining down through pretty, but surfacey, talk of silhouettes, fabrics and hemlines, Style.com's Tim Blanks was moved by the way the collection homed in on the Madame Le Pigeon in all of us: the way we embrace opposites that often contradict - the masculine and the feminine, ugly/beautiful, caring/cruel, together/apart, chic/scruffy. And all expressed in a way that's admirably Janus-like, the two-faced Roman god of transitions (the face that looks to the past) and new beginnings, his future-directed visage.
A great example is this dress. From the front, it appears to be an artfully oversized silk frock. However, from behind, it unexpectedly morphs into coat that hangs down the model's back all the way to her ankles, billowing out as she walks. These deceptive twists and folds "created hidden places in the fabric," notes Blanks, "and meant that these were looks that harbored secrets."
Secrets are in such short (and growing shorter) supply these days, and given the pervasive influence of Social Media oversharing and Biotech sharing-sharing, their future looks positively bleak. However, maintaining some mystery could well be one of the most chic ways to navigate the path forward. Not necessarily by nostalgically longing in faded, peeling-paint Technicolor for times bygone, but by using the past as an anchor. As a firm foundation for striding onward. Just ask Hamish, who felt that Galliano's strongest statements were "the looks that folded his whimsy and invention into clothes that seemed destined for the real world, like the enchanting deconstructed fifties dance frocks and the suavely tailored pieces that seemed to be moving the house into the future with style."
- Lesley Scott
Actively embracing the future - from technology to traditional gender roles - with a desire to make it fashionable and timely is a signature of the Futurenetic Fashion Tribe. For more of my posts about this tribe, CLICK HERE. To learn more about each of fashion's four mega-tribes that I track, START HERE.