Text by Marino Bombini
In one of her few coram populi statements Rei Kawakubo said she is “neither a designer nor an artist, but a business woman who is producing something whose sole purpose is to be sold” (and it seems Madame Kawakubo does succeed in this role, as she sells unwearable pieces at stratospheric prices to a hysterical crowd, howling in eternal adoration of her liturgical collections – see the last SS15 one). It was of course a defiance (like her whole philosophical asset is), but it also had an element of truth, actually more than one.
Marketing laws started axing avant-garde since half a century. There is no place like fashion where avant-garde is nothing: except for a few geniuses who no longer exists (both literally and metaphorically), fashion production nowadays means clothing that must be sold. Amen. If not so we could not explain the unsinkable boats of fast-fashion brands and brands with no history and no style. Again, if not so we could not explain the deficit of bombastic names like Gucci and Jean Paul Gaultier (among others) from the upcoming women’s prêt-à-porter calendar, who have openly admitted that their companies biggest revenues come from accessories and cosmetics, for they prefer to just work onto the somewhat mysterious sector of high fashion. (Rightly so.)
To face articulated thoughts in order to identify the person responsible for this drift is pointless. Grievances about New York, Milan or Kathmandu fashion weeks flocked to the columns of major newspapers (fashion or not) are quite irrelevant, even by those “large caliber” pens. Spectacular fashion shows are reduced to only a few cases. The rest is fair, market like we said.
Being this so, if there is one thing that the fashion journalism can do is to be more professional and less self-show off, stop being a mere fashion whore. The fluctuating blogger phenomenon has deflated, but it is still present, so that it has now become functional to the whole machinery. If there can be an answer to all the questions about the future of fashion (which everyone seems urging to solve) is to be found in the market elusive folds (not in the market itself) by starting from “ideological” proposals, backing value to things that really have (e.g., craftsmanship) and disregarding the motto I-give-you-a-beautiful-shirt-and-you-beautifully- write-about-me. Otherwise it will end up that the fashion circus doesn’t change, but you recognize fashion journalists because they are dressed in shit.
* Any opinions expressed in this report are solely those of the author.