Man and the Machine-an Interview with Pioneering Illustrator and Digital Artist Patrick Morgan

To say that Patrick is one of the most successful illustrators of today would be an understatement. Still, how do you define the work of a multidimensional creator that took his design art to territories unexplored? A true modern-day homo Universalis, he has created a personal visual universe while creatively incorporating top-notch technology and innovation into the process. Pioneering digital innovation in his field, Morgan’s work opens up new opportunities for disruption and discussion on man and the machine. Mixing art and science, his projects are a combination of XR, AI, VR, and old school artistic craftsmanship. His clients? Tom Ford, YSL, LVMH, Christian Dior, Fendi, Schiaparelli, you name it, it’s there.

Like every true artistic soul, Morgan is also an educator. Indeed, he has been fusing relationships between industry and universities working with the RCA and Wallpaper* magazine, while giving a series of lectures at Tate Modern about future learning and critical thinking. Always pushing boundaries, he became the founder and director of the Fida Fashion Awards, the first global online awards to promote fashion illustration and drawing around the world, supported and partnered by some of the best brands and people in the fashion industry. Most recently, Fida presented the new Digital Innovation Fashion Awards in collaboration with Condé Nast and Wired Magazine and   ‘The Fashion Illustration Bible’, a book-showcase of the best illustrators around. The StyleTitle caught up with him to discuss creativity, future trends, and his ‘lifting creativity as we rise” mantra.

You have experimented with fusing traditional design with future trends. How do you envision the future of design?

Fusing, is a word I have started to use frequently, as I believe that it is imperative for artists, craftspeople, and designers to work much more, hand in hand with machines and technology.  As technology becomes more available and affordable to a non-industrial system, creatives will be able to get much closer to competing on a smaller scale with industry. Future trends are driven by art, culture, music, and life and true artists will always be immersed in tradition, so disguising their process through more technological workflows will become much more apparent. Ever since Duchamp introduced the Read-made and Jeff Koons incorporated an industrialized system to his final work, embedding a restyle or appropriated piece from the past.

You define yourself as an ‘educator’. How important is the education process for you?

Education is a major part of shared knowledge and as a creative educated through art school, I feel the need to pass on wisdom and information. This is the only way to progress and make ideas better and more progressive.

Is modern design a case of art versus the machine?

Modern design will either be a collaboration or reaction against the Machine. The creative will either choose to work alongside the technology or they will choose to embed it into their daily work. Artists and creatives have always looked for the new. This is what makes things exciting and different, creating pastiches of the past won’t inspire us to provoke new thoughts and open diverse conversations.

Do you feel that digital is the way fashion should go in a post corona era?

No, Digital and fashion, like art will always be in flux. Artists like Jonathan Anderson is reacting to digital and using and promoting a much more traditional way of working, where Iris Van Herpen is embracing the future, pushing the envelope of what the machine or technology can do to enhance her final design.

Tell us about your current book project-and your future ones.

I am currently working on a few books, firstly a book Celebrating Fida, a platform I have created for fashion artists and illustrators to celebrate this amazing field of talent. Fida will be a year old and we have worked with Peter Dundas, running a competition reflecting on his past works and Celine Dion on imagining her future through the lens of fashion illustration. The second book will be for a show I am creating with an ex-student of mine, looking as tastemakers of the past and art collecting of today. Opening the question of what art brings to your personal wellbeing and how we desire to be surrounded by beautiful things or art that makes us feel happier or more powerful

More of Patrick Morgan’s work can be found here

Politically Correct Is Boring -Is ‘Canceling Culture’ Killing Creative Inspiration?

Last week, “Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood, “Midnight’s Children” writer Salman Rushdie, literary figure Noam Chomsky and feminist Gloria Steinem were amongst 150 public figures to have signed a letter published in Harper’s Magazine condemning the practice of public shaming, or –as popularly known-‘cancel culture’.The letter openly denouncing ” a vogue for public shaming and ostracism” and “a blinding moral certainty”.This was one of the few public attempts to define what cancel culture really is and does.

‘Cancel culture’ is a true product on our social media playground and our new found freedom of expression that goes with it. Described as the desire to cancel out a person or community from social media platforms.it refers to the -by now popular -practice of un-supporting or ‘canceling’ public figures and companies after they have done or said something considered objectionable. Performed in the form of mobbing or group shaming via Instagram, Twitter or Reddit, cancel culture is also present in the fashion world in the form of “call-out culture”.

It is this very emergence of online ‘call-out culture’ a cultural phenomenon that gave a ‘platform’ to many independent voices allowing them to penetrate the rather exclusive fashion industry -and hold fashion designers marketers and editors accountable for copycat fashion products, cultural appropriations and lack of diversity and representation. Instagram watchdog account Diet Prada was the first account to call out designers copying fellow brands’ designs followed closely by Estée Laundry, a similar account that keeps a close eye on the boosting beauty industry.

Their influence-and impact-should not be underestimated. Diet Prada’s criticism over Dolce & Gabbana’s offensive 2018 China campaign resulted in an army of followers angrily shaming the brand –and was so impactful that the label shut down its Shanghai show altogether. In other words, it was ‘canceled’. Since then, the account has called out failings: lack of model diversity, toleration of abuse, and exploitation in the industry.

Canceling culture is present and powerful. A new breed of consumer watchdogs along with their millions of followers are currently forcing global fashion and beauty brands into action. Infallible? Not quite so. Emerging British designer Richard Quinn was publicly accused of knocking off Demna Gvasalia and its distinctive aesthetics when in fact, Quinn had been experimenting with similar designs since his graduate collection.

For Carolin Mair, Behavioural Psychologist and Business Consultant and author of The Psychology of Fashion, this a positive sign of the times.“Social media accounts such as Diet Prada broadcast to millions of their followers. Fashion creatives who ignore their messages, do so at their peril. As a result of these channels, current political and economic turmoil, fashion is now recognized as more than adornment, it is how we express and navigate identity. ” For the creatives themselves. this might be a new and tricky territory they can’t afford to ignore.

“Fashion creatives need to be part of the zeitgeist in their words and actions as well as their creations. adds Mair.  Authenticity, social responsibility, community, respect, and inclusion have always mattered, but these characteristics have often been ignored or sidelined by many in the industry, until recently. It is no longer enough to say and not do.”

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Image source: Instagram

This is a new type of discussion, one that takes into account values and ethics and dismisses aesthetics as irrelevant, or at best, of secondary importance. This practice may well work for the business aspect of the industry but excludes something vital-that high fashion can, and should be a form of art, a result of innovation, talent, and creative inspiration. One cannot help by bringing to mind prominent art names such as Andy Warhol, Gerhard Richter, and Picasso that operated in the often blurred intersection of copying, interpreting, and innovating. What happens when fashion creatives cross the line?

“There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible.” writes Mark Twain, in his autobiography. “We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope. We give them a turn and they make new and curious combinations. We keep on turning and making new combinations indefinitely, but they are the same old pieces of colored glass that have been in use through all the ages.”

“The desire to experiment is risky, tantamount to censorship. At the risk of sounding a little like a right-wing, middle-aged internet commenter incensed about the preservation of ‘freedom of speech,’ art does not truly thrive without the oxygen of scandal, or the occasional opportunity to be perverse.” notes Philippa Snow in a 2019 article for Indie magazine.

Basia Szkutnicka is a  Professor of Practice & Programme Leader of the MA in Fashion & Textile Design at Hong Kong Polytechnic University. For her, it’s a difficult time for creatives-and an uncertain one for all. “Fashion is changing drastically, whether that will be for the better, we don’t know right now, everything is in flux and changes daily. Now everyone is obsessed with encouraging, promoting, and celebrating diversity…we laugh at brands who unashamedly copy others, thinking no one noticed. With a need to generate income (because ultimately, fashion is a business), we may see insecurity in sales manifest as more copyists…or the opposite – a desire for the unique. Who knows right now.

Is this cultural phenomenon of excessive policing of expression killing inspiration? Are artists completely free to innovate by following their very personal inspiration, creating new images and fresh silhouettes? How can artistic inspiration flourish over excessive attention to be politically correct, unoffending? Many designers already privately comment they are so frightened of being caught out that they are completely rethinking their approach.  For Mair, the answer depends on several factors that include the actual definitions of political correctness, fashion, and art. “If the wearer/observer cares more about what is politically correct, then they may consider fashion outside of art. It depends on the perception (worldview, mindset, attitudes, experience, etc.) of the viewer. In fact, that is probably the same for other forms of art.” she notes.

There is criticism, though. “Politically correct’ for me, sounds boring. Fashion and art have been a place to voice an opinion and encourage dialogue…and let’s hope it stays that way. Without discourse, there is no progress’ comments Szkutnicka

Perhaps the last word in this discussion should come from the fashion creatives themselves. They are the ones to figure out their own answers-and to define their inspiration path. For Patrick van Ommeslaghe, art director, fashion designer, and part of the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp graduates’ circle, the authenticity of ideas is crucial for the fashion designer. “I was trained at The Royal Academy at a time when copying was still considered as the worst crime “ he points out. “And I still keep having in mind the Godard quote: It’s not where you take things from, its where to take things to”. Or in the words of  T.S. Eliot in ‘The Sacred Wood’: “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

For design duo Cunnington & Sanderson, clothes tell the stories of the soul

What do we actually define by a brand’s ethos? And just how important is that in shaping the overall aesthetic and creative practice behind a name? For Cunnington & Sanderson, their ethos is their trademark; their work, a fashion narrative with a signature style, and a fascinating fashion story to tell.

Experimenting with tailoring and volume, the designer duo uses innovating cutting and elaborate draping to form silhouettes that unexpectedly emerge through an endless dialogue with the fabric itself. Their creations are bold, sculptural pieces of extreme craftsmanship; a rare combination of traditional techniques and fashion-forward aesthetic innovation.

For the award-winning brand, the construction process works as part of a very personal fashion narrative waiting to be told. Each individual garment undertakes elaborate draping, sculpting, and is crafted according to its own unique characteristics –characteristics that eventually become its emotional symbolism, its story.

We caught up with John and Matthew to discuss creativity, sustainability, and the emotionally charged vocabulary of their clothes.

You are a design duo, how does this influence the design process

We always base our collections on a narrative. Every garment has its own characteristics and emotive symbolism. At the beginning, the heart of the story is chosen, and then as a design duo, we build a whole world around it. Working in unison we collect objects, depict music, emotions, silhouettes, words, phrases, art, sculpture, symbolisms, and begin sculpting them together. When the narrative is written we transfer this world into our draping and garment design. Excellent communication is key as well as compromise to ensure we are both on the same page with the same vision. This is always achieved because we both involved with the creative directions throughout the whole design process, from the concept, research, development, draping, editing, structure, pattern cutting, finishes, fabric choice, colorways, fittings, production, etc right until the garment is worn by one of our loyal and valued customers. Having two perspectives is really exciting. We both have different ideas but because we design in the same way by draping onto the stand to create new, original, and thought-provoking garments, the results are always complimentary.

 You have described your ‘Occupied’ collection as a certain iconography of emotions. Are we afraid to wear our emotions?

We believe that clothes can express how we are feeling or how we want to feel, either subtly or extrovertly. Clothes can make you feel confident, attractive, or more relaxed. They can heighten a mood you are already feeling or they can express the emotion you want to express. We want to inspire people to wear what they want.

Emotions are a key element that we portray in our garment designs, and we hope people make a connection to the personality of their characteristics.

For example, the “Occupied” AW1819 collection focused on breaking the stigma around Mental Health by creating awareness and giving hope and encouragement to others. In our view, the bed can be a solitary sanctuary and become an entire universe. In the collection, pillows, bed linen, and blankets are worn as everyday clothes just as emotions are worn for everyone to see and are no longer hidden. Comfort is found in the non-conformity.

 

Credits - Leeds Museums and Galleries & photography by David Lindsey
Leeds Museums and Galleries, photography by David Lindsey

 

You have been avid advocates of sustainability and ethical fashion – how do you ensure it

We aim to create and design clothes for somebody who can recognize and appreciate craftsmanship, creativity, and originality in clothes. For someone who understands the importance of sustainability. Our brand promotes slow fashion and aims our designs to people who do not follow trends but cherish quality clothes that they make a personal connection with. We design zero waste garments using luxurious & organic fabrics and we use environmentally friendly processes that are transparent. Working closely with traditional Yorkshire Mills such as Abraham Moon & Sons who show a transparent and traceable process where all processes are made in -house and in one location.

Constructing, deconstructing, editing – how do you both know when a garment is finished

We decide a garment is finished by instinct, a moment of feeling like when you get goose pimples, and we can see that the structure holds within all the credentials that inspired its own creation. We imagine the same way a sculpture or a painter knows. It is important not to overwork an idea always aiming to capture the creative process and not to look placed or forced. Allowing the fabric to breathe and drape with gravity capturing movement, shape, shadow, space, volume and to appear as though the fabric is sculpting the garment by itself.

A garment is far more than just something that is worn. It should be cherished. Hours of dedication and passion is put into the creation of one of our designs. For us, each piece is special because if it was not it would not have been created.

There is a certain symbolic element in your garments design. Tell us more about it.

From the Occupied collection, the pillow top was the first design –and it went on to inspire the whole collection. Other garments include the tailored jacket which is worn as a skirt with sleeves as pockets, a laundry dress with elasticated detailing like bedding to capture what once was and a hollow dress that appears detached as an empty unworn dress on the front of the wearer.

The symbolic elements build up the characteristics of the garment. They can be inspired by many things including personal experiences or even historical events. These elements are then expressed through fabric texture, colour, creative pattern cutting, uniques finishes and detailing. Importance is always focussed on fabric placement – how the fabric drapes naturally by its own weight and how the movement just one center-meter can change the whole mood and appearance of a design.

What are your future plans and projects?

Designing a range of zero waste garments that are made in sustainable fabrics. And of course, continue to design and create innovative garments by developing new ways of working with digital technology and sustainable processes.

Cunnington & Sanderson are very proud to have been selected by prestigious buyers and renowned stores for the Not Just A Label x Joor x 100 Project. That means that from now on, we also present our work on the international leading wholesale platform JOOR, where the whole selling process is made online.

Any comments on the current situation? How do you view the Covid19 pandemic?

We hope that after the pandemic of the Covid19 people will give independent fashion designers the credit that they deserve for their craftsmanship. Clothes should be valued and purchased for quality and originality and not for fast fashion that turns into damaging disposable waste.

 

credits - Photography Rafael Kroetz - Model Zoe Herveva - Make up & Hair Sabine Nania - art direction Cunnington & Sanderson

Credits -photograpy Rafael Kroetz - model Zoe Herveva - muah Sabine Nania - Art Direction Cunnington & Sanderson

credits - Photography Rafael Kroetz - Model Zoe Herveva - Make up & Hair Sabine Nania - Art direction, Cunnington & Sanderson

Cunnington Sanderson hollow dress & wollen pillow top
Cunnington Sanderson hollow dress & wollen pillow top

Image Credits – Photography Rafael Kroetz – Model Zoe Herveva – Make up & Hair Sabine Nania – art direction Cunnington & Sanderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Price of Futility-Say Welcome to the ‘It’ Fashion Mask

 

We live in unprecedented times. With the coronavirus epidemic creating new everyday norms and rituals, protective masks have become an accessory of necessity, practicality to protect our health-and this of others. Go past the clinical needs, though, and you’ll see a new field of fashion antagonism rising, that of the eponymous, the ‘designer mask’.

Take for example much-hyped street fashion brand Off-White. As part of the S/S ’20 collection, Virgil Abloh has released eight new face masks in a number of designs following the brand’s usual street style-meets-apocalypse aesthetics. The unexpected here isn’t the style but the price of the masks – both in the sale and resale market.

Business Insider reports on the resale phenomenon: “StockX, the resale marketplace best known as a destination for sneakers and streetwear, is selling a bevy of masks from the buzzy fashion brand Off-White’s 2019 collections, with some bids coming in at more than $200. One such design, which in previous months sold for an average of $80,  just sold for $211 on the site.” In her recent New York Times article Vanessa Friedman reports that , according to Edited, the digital retail tracking service, there has been an almost 40 percent increase in the number of masks offered by companies in the first quarter of 2020 compared to the end of 2019.

Is a mask of 200 protecting us more than one of 20? Probably not. But perhaps this is not even the right question to ask. When masks migrate into the world of fashion they become something else. They become symbols of not just health or social concern, but of identity, self-expression amidst chaos. Self-expression that oftentimes is not that democratic and inclusive as it claims to be. Today, the ‘designer’ mask is the new symbol of conspicuous consumption much like a Burberry bag and a logoed Gucci T-shirt.

‘Spending of money on and the acquiring of luxury goods and services to publicly display economic power—of the income or of the accumulated wealth of the buyer’ is the stereotypical description of conspicuous consumption. The Off-White mask buyers invest just on this public display of economic power to either attain or maintain a given social status, most often when they don’t actually have it. It’s their fantasy world where they can be what their accessories signify they are. It’s their own “philosophy of futility”.

In that context, “conspicuous consumption” hides a true behavioral addiction, an impulsive narcissistic behavior, or perhaps both. These are the exact psychological conditions induced by today’s consumerism—the urge for the gratification of hedonic expectations- as soon as possible. You can get a more accurate description of the current consumer attitude than this, and overpriced masks are just the tip of the iceberg.

The actual need is to wear a mask, any type of clinically proven, aesthetically pleasing protecting mask. Still, when you need your accessories to shout your class, money of fashion-status, this won’t satisfy you. And that is the pathogenesis of modern fashion, in a nutshell.

 

 

Yes to Paradise-Anastasia Bull’s fashion design work is an ode to personal utopias

 

How does each of us define paradise? Is something individually unique or a wishful thought for an -already- troubled mankind?  Anastasia Bull’s own personal paradise is a glittering, shinning opulent wonderland in toxic lilac tones-and a constant source of inspiration to her design work. A  2020 graduate from the Institute Of Fashion Design, Academy Of Arts And Design, FHNW University Of Applied Sciences And Arts in  Northwestern Switzerland, Bull is just embarking on a much promising fashion career-and already has the collection to prove it.

Sourcing inspiration from both historical costume design and modern glam scene, her work dives deep into the subconscious to enhance the wearer’s personal strength allowing the true personality to arise. Her approach is highly constructive and involves a very unique ‘conversation’ with the fabric itself while she intuitively drapes the pleats directly into fabric-waiting for the right shape to emerge itself. And while the process might seem heavy and tenuous, the finished work mostly expresses a truly uplifting feeling that celebrates individuality and promotes acceptance, though light shapes and paradisiac, ethereal forms. After all, isn’t paradise a place when everyone exists as the best version of themselves?

We caught up with her during a tumultuous Post-coronavirus world situation to discuss this new reality -and the artistic vision of a blissful utopia that trespasses it all.

 

Bull_anastasia_by_Camilla__Fivian
Anastasia Bull 2020 collection, photo by Camilla Fivian

 

How did you start being interested in fashion?

I got interested in fashion when I was about 12 years old. I started watching fashion shows on YouTube and started drawing clothes and little collections. I have always been very fond of beautiful things, colors, and paintings.

Your work plays with shapes and volumes –how important are those elements to you?

I love to play with volume as it can have a very powerful effect on both the wearer and the observer. It can create a strength, an opulence. I believe that clothing has a considerable influence on our society. However, I think that the way fashion is handled in our society is very limited. People are not very experimental. Everything is always the same. There’s little individuality. I wish our society was more accepting. I think it needs more colors, more glitter and yes more volume. It would be like art, like flowers in the gray streets of our world.

What are your key fashion influences?

I like to think of interesting people (fictional and real) to meet up for dinner. For example Fran Fine from the 90s series „The Nanny“, Marie Antoinette, Sherlock Holmes, Rita Hayworth, Anne Boleyn, and Elizabeth Bennet. What would they wear? What would they talk about? What would they eat? How would they influence each other in terms of art, social norms, fashion, or behavior? I always like to think of this as a paradise where time is not really relevant.

Your clothes seem to come out through an elaborate construction process-take us through it.

Usually, I start with styling on a model. Then I collage over the printed pictures. At the same time, I start to illustrate looks and create first patterns. It is always a back and forth until you have a finished look. Sometimes things change significantly at the very last moment. Research and reference images are of course always very important.

When I work with pleated fabric, it is always very intuitive. I drape the pleated pieces onto a model to create a volume. Most of the time I only have a vague image in my head. I pleat my own fabrics. The interesting thing about pleated fabric is that you never know exactly how it will behave, how it will fall, how it can be bent. So it’s always a surprise.

In your Instagram account you make several references on historical costume-and films. How do you use the past to construct the future?

Almost all my references are of historical origin. I love the victorian era, the baroque, and the Renaissance. I love the way volume and materials were handled back then. Everything was much more voluminous and opulent. I love the challenge to create something new inspired by old patterns. Often it is only small nuances that make something contemporary. Colour, material, the right volume in the right place. It’s like a puzzle.

Yes to paradise. What kind of paradise is it?

My paradise is a place full of harmony. It is a utopia. A society with total acceptance. A society that can as well question if necessary. A place where everyone can exist as the best version of themselves. It’s a colorful place. A place where people bathe in opulence.

Any upcoming plans or events you’d like to share?

I will certainly complete a master’s degree in order to further pursue and manifest my utopias and visions. I wish that my clothes will soon be worn by many people and that I have an influence on our society with my ideas, even if it is only a teeny tiny influence. I think we’re all

 

Bull_Anastasia_by_Camilla_Fivian
Anastasia Bull 2020, photo by Camilla Fivian

Bull_Anastasia_Mark_Siumin
Photo: Mark Siumin  © 2020 Institute of Fashion Design, FHNW Academy of Arts and Design

jamina_by_Mark_Siumin
Photo: Mark Siumin  © 2020 Institute of Fashion Design, FHNW Academy of Arts and Design

You can find more about Anastasia Bull on her websitehere

Clothes that say Stay Away: The new fashions of social distancing are here

“The body is a big sagacity, a plurality with one sense, a war and a peace, a flock and a shepherd. ”

~Friedrich Nietzsche

Quarantine has made us questions things we took for granted –and deal with things we never thought we will be dealing with. Enter: the importance of social distancing. Clothes have become the main venture of securing our physical personal space while out-a a physical barrier between us and the others around us.

In a world where going to the supermarket requires ritual-like preservation much like preparing for a matter of life-and-death, it feels natural to question our relationship with the rituals-accessories: our clothes. We now use clothes to cloth us and then-to primarily protect us from the others while out. In fact, as we are running out of social occasions to dress-up, we place function over fashion-at least at first. This way clothes became our physical barrier. And yet this is not the first time.

Clothing has long served as a useful way to mitigate close contact and unnecessary exposure. In this current crisis, face masks have become a fashion accessory that signals, “Stay away.” In the historical past, keeping distance especially at a sociopolitical level (between genders, races, and classes) was an interchangeable part of social life. This type of social distancing didn’t have to do with hygienic rules or personal isolation, the key focus shifted towards class distinction and preserving an etiquette for it.18th century voluminous skirts were a signifier of the upper class in the 28th century-avoiding household chores was a privilege only a few women could enjoy-and thus wear impractical clothing.

In the same sense, socially-distancing large hats with sharp metal needles as hairpins took over to protect women from potential suitors that would set female bodies into the dangerous territory of close encounters with a stranger or worse-a suitor.

So what do we wear today to signify other to keep away-or to force them? If there are social distancing fashions of now-what do they say about our perception of self-and most importantly, of the body we live in? For Henry Miller, “Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders which make no sense.”

Does avoiding the physicality of the other make, over time, sense? When the other becomes the potential enemy, physicality is detested, best avoided. Everything that comes out of a body is problematic and potentially contagious. How this will develop in terms of fashion and trends remains to be seen. One thing is certain, the fashions of the future will be seriously considering social distancing a virtue, reborn.

Fashion has long been talking about the end of the world. Have we listened?

.The Coronavirus pandemic has been a surprise to most. Many countries and governments struggled to adjust to a new reality and take whatever action was needed in those unprecedented -and turbulent -times.

And yet, post-apocalyptical times have long been the topic of fashion. In fact, fashion designers have subtly-or more boldly-been talking about a dystopian end -of the –world situation coming. For those of us who attended last season’s Paris Fashion Week, the examples were more than obvious.

In fact, there was a great part of fashion designers that were dealing with modern man’s fall from grace -offering post-apocalyptic style collections that worked like mini-warnings for all mankind. Paris fashion week 2020 had at least three thigh profile shows addressing the issue of the world coming to an end as we know it because of man’s behavior. Marine Serre, Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga and Jun Takahashi for Undercover did exactly this.

Functionality aesthetics, elaborate protection face masks, utility clothing and staging that made references to post-apocalyptic times told us we need to worry about our future. So how come we didn’t listen?

Clothes are most than a piece of fabric; and fashion tells stories as Virginia Woolf notes: “Vain trifles as they seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than merely to keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us… There is much to support the view that it is clothes that wear us and not us them; we may make them take the mould of arm or breast, but they mould our hearts, our brains, our tongues to their liking”

In that sense, fashion is a communication tool, an expression of social identity and this way one way or another it reflects the socioeconomic status quo Take it one step further, and fashion unveils the true mystery of the world, the visible, as Oscar Wilde would confirm. Fashion’s frivolity is a feast to the senses –but not only. By accurately reflecting its times, fashion in one of the semantic systems to reflect and thus predict the future.

Enter interpretation. Every system that can provide with information is always open to analysis and interpretation. The fashion critic of the past did exactly this-based in scientific knowledge, passion or insight, he would offer a lens through which we could view trends that exposed to forecasting the trends that are to come. Like every true artist, the fashion designer would consciously or subconsciously incorporate his knowledge and interpretation of the world translated into forms, shapes, embellishments.

When designers aren’t artists and fashion critics are fans, no true meaning can be extracted than this: fashion has lacked its unique ability to reflect the world. Can we hold  Millenial and Gen Z’ culture for rendering fashion synonymous with luxury and street style show off-only? Fashion criticism has long given place to relentless praise and press-release reviews that satisfy but don’t offer a view or a new meaning. It was this happy go-like side of the industry that maintained the fairytale-and the fairytale only.

This pandemic is a tragedy that holds many lessons. Let it one be the reinstallation of fashion as a tool for social discussion-and therefore-change. As an opportunity to dive into one of the greatest mysteries of this world-reality.