The meaning of many fashion processes
Fashion, like all mankind, has stopped looking back. Life has accelerated so much that the previous aesthetic forms are more and more difficult to apply. The future seems to be no less vague, so existence has focused on the present moment, a little beyond the installation post. However, the meaning of many fashion processes can be easily explained by the experience of past years, so I suggest, following the theme of the issue, to look for such an investigation in the 80s. Especially since there is a lot of incomprehension in the modern industry, any explanations will be useful.
Life is most perplexing in the absence of a single stylistic norm, which was previously provided by the authority of fashion. Separation of consumers into separate groups, games with senses and rules, multivariate – these phenomena began for fashion in the 80s.
Reason to remember diversity
News from the podium now comes marketing and social: ecology, production conditions, transitions and special projects of designers, weight and race composition of models, places and ways of display, feminist aspects of style. Consumption is haunted by ethical issues, like an old dog flea – many of the aesthetic issues have become ethical. It seems that a kind of law of balance works; the more ideas the clothes should express, the more modest the “material carrier” itself is, up to the complete rejection of design involvement. At this point, there is a reason to remember diversity, because the neutrality of fashion products makes it possible to use them by absolutely everyone, regardless of income and type.
Take a look at shots of Mark Jacobs’
Is there anything farther from the elite ideas of the 80s, demonstrative, redundant and aimed at an unattainable ideal? Rather, I remember the early 90s, when magazine covers and extensive shooting were dedicated to the white shirt on top models. At that time, this approach was quite sensational, and therefore met the expectations of the author’s fashion. From this perspective, the abundant style of Versace and Dolce Gabbana quickly began to seem anecdotal until it was supported by the anecdotes of Tom Ford. You can check the internal optics. Take a look at shots of Mark Jacobs’ grunge collection for Perry Ellis (Spring-Summer 93). As long as the cool statements are stacked in it from everyday things, the era sounds pure in them, but it is worth adding design techniques (photo below left), the falseness is felt immediately.
However, nowadays, ennobling the trivial has a very different meaning, without any sensationalism.
Marketing as an art form
The very participation of the artist in the industry is being reconsidered, and in this respect, the situation in fashion is very similar to the artistic processes of the 20s of the last century. We by the habit of the century before last expect from the author’s work complexity and expressiveness, take them for the carriers of value. In this case, a century in the art market is dominated by works with a simplified image series, often – from ready-made forms. The pissoir in the museum differs little from the rubber slippers on the podium: in both cases, it is difficult to distinguish a quack from a native speaker of a new language without a fresh system of evaluation. Consciousness is not yet ready to accept the fact that marketing has become an art form in the 21st century.
The works of many famous designers at that time
In fashion, such a change of values could be observed just in the 80s. With the external dissimilarity of stylistics, the deep connection is quite obvious. First of all, forty years ago began a revision of the relationship with the “beautiful”, which ends so dramatically before our eyes. The works of many famous designers at that time we’re reviewing the traditional tasks of clothing – to highlight, glorify and decorate – and the relevance became more important than other qualities. At the same time, artists appeared, who composed their stylistic messages in the form of a system of references, which led to the emergence of mass elements in the “high” culture. In order not to be distracted from fashion, as an example, one can recall a passion for sportswear.
An important part of the aesthetics of the 80s
You should agree that it is easy to see the connection with our time, so it is worth discussing these important 80s aesthetics in more detail. It got off to a quick start with two unequal events: the end of the economic crisis and the architectural revolution of the late 70s. The entrance to the First International Exhibition of Architecture in Venice in 1980 was decorated by Hans Hollein in the form of a colonnade, which united the entire history of architecture at once. From this portal to the streets poured outbuildings that in the hard world of Le Corbusier and Missa van der Rohe could not imagine. Their monolithic inhuman idioms were replaced by a rainbow of rival ideas. In a witty and ironic manner, the architects mixed styles, elements of elite and grassroots culture, freely used color and pattern in their projects. And the emergence of fresh money in the economy helped to extend these principles to all consumption.
The early collections of Castelbajac or Moskino
On the podiums, this transition from constipation to explosive eclecticism is clearly visible, as if the border was drawn by a mad fairy. Or the producer of magic magnesia. Magazine pictures of 81 and 82 years emotionally belong to two different epochs, and this primarily concerns the palette. Now on the documentary clothing of the mature 70s look like a plate of mushroom soup with dill inclusions of Laura Ashley. If you compare them with the early collections of Castelbajac or Moskino, the changes are striking. For them, working with color and references to pop culture was first and foremost a way to bring emotion back into fashion, to shake up rigid norms of taste, to fight against totalitarian consciousness, after all.
The protest against the strict rules of modernism
Castelbajac, commenting on the Disney characters on his colorful dresses, said that you should always hold the hand of the child you once were. And in advertisements and on Moskino T-shirts one could read the statement “There is no good taste”. How can you not remember again the events of artistic life in the early 20th century, which revised all the rules in order to return emotion to art. However, the protest against the strict rules of modernism was not only noticeable in big fashion. Its design is perfectly illustrated by the colorful works of “Memphis” group, which sought to revive originality, irony and diversity at any cost. Their furniture and objects with new shapes and materials, which made so much noise on the Salone del Mobile 81, could be safely taken to the podium, so accurately they illustrated the principles of working with “anti-taste”.
The works of Basquiat and Keith Haring
At the opposite pole of events, the protest against the totalitarian system of rules came from the ghetto. The cities, organized in the manner of factories, gave birth to large groups of people for whom the position of the screw seemed to be an unsuitable fate, and they sought to declare their existence by all available means. Of which the most accessible was the sign in the urban environment, graffiti. In art magazines, there were articles about the “new wildness”, the work of urban tribes, and in the galleries on both sides of the Atlantic the hot news was free figurativeness: spontaneous creativity that does not require special training, with clear contours, children’s naive, bright colors and logo principles. Not surprisingly, the works of Basquiat and Keith Haring instantly appeared not only in the headlines, but also in clothing collections, as in Westwood in 83.
Underground and mainstream
The ideal embodiment of such a mixed, clip consciousness was MTV. At the end of 82, “Thriller” became the main hit there, opening the way to black music and a new kind of art, combining the actual sound and visual range, the latest effects and fashion. Underground quite quickly began to turn into the mainstream, and the most advanced method of expression was sampling, composing new works from existing fragments. The more the general public got acquainted with the elements of street culture, learning the meaning of the words hip-hop, scratching, battles, mixing, the more often these techniques were part of mass culture. The main stars of those times, from Grace Jones and Klaus Nomi to Anna Piaggi and Lee Bowery, were themselves hybrid personalities, sampling fragments, gender and genres. We know them only by their public masks.
The first Parisian Japanese
No matter how hard I tried, in this place, it is already impossible to avoid the term “postmodernism”, which at that time was not yet rubbed with obscene decrepitude. This is the most convenient way to describe the ironic synthesis of techniques and genres, which declared eternal values as totalitarian, and order as a paranoid phenomenon restraining creativity. Rebellion against simplicity, work in the reference system changed the very approach to design because it was created not an object, but the whole story. This was the work that made the first “Parisian Japanese” famous: Kawakubo, Yamamoto and Koshino. Unlike Japanese designers who worked in Europe in the ’70s with new forms and aesthetics, in the displays of “Hiroshima chic” created a new attitude to clothing as an art phenomenon, outside the usual types of the mother, employee or sexual object.
The work of Miyake
The ability to appreciate “the second bottom” and the thirty-third sense in clothing has brought in fashion a completely new system of values. In 1982, the work of Miyake for the first time, and with a scandal, appears on the cover of an art publication, the magazine Art Forum. Since then, relevance and iconic systems have become increasingly important in the evaluation of things, which was greatly facilitated by the “intellectual fashion” offered since 85 by Prada and the success of Belgian designers at the end of the decade. Nowadays, the real properties of a thing have less and less influence on its value: desired hits are created from a combination of ancient standards, a pair of inscriptions, a loud name and a way of presentation. This mix, in the post-modern tradition, is valued like a text. The novelty and originality, which for centuries have been driving fashion, suddenly turned out to be unnecessary its progress.
Sportswear has penetrated everywhere
A lot of subcultures were added to this boiler of symbols, commercial use of which began in that decade. The streets were combed in a way that no colonizer had ever dreamed of. Suffice it to give an example of soccer fans, who created a style and a system of signs from clearly selected sports and charitage-related items, which are now determinant for fashion. Old-school models of sneakers, invented half a century ago, in the form of limited parties and collaborations are the most popular product in the industry, occupy in the hierarchy of prestige the same place as once the watch. Sportswear has penetrated everywhere, in it both to marry and to bury, and the most progressive marketing is based on the experience of the first street brands. Old Stussy advertisements are now studied as Scripture.
The works of the Buffalo group
Even the visual design of this mixture of authorship and mass, high and domestic, came to us from that era. In the concept of “style” with certain skills could include almost everything. The works of the Buffalo group in the magazines The Face, i-D or Blitz for a long time seemed to be the official fashion, an attack on the altars. Back in 1993, in Altman’s film “Pret-a-porter”, we are witnessing a scandal; it is worth trying to get the new owners of the French House to sneak their cowboy boots on the podium. The same snobbery led to the actual death of the couturier, who was so detached from life that to arrange a magnificent circus Galliano on his bones seemed to be the best solution. That was the moment when the merger of “big fashion” and pop culture was completed.
Only the list of phenomena important for the current view of the world will take a page. From the emergence of the concept “brand”, i.e. the skill to sell under a familiar name not products of a certain category, but “lifestyle”, to the appearance in the early 80s of cell phones, the available Internet and computers, as well as computer graphics in mass culture. These novelties have influenced the way we interact with products and reality in general: the seeming has become as essential (and often more important) as the real thing. The acceleration of the virtual offer has had a great impact not only on the modern fashion cycle, but also on the type of products – for their evaluation now there are only a few seconds on a small screen.
However, the main consequence of the ideas of the 80s, which we can see on the street every day, was the prevalence of cool and relevant over beautiful or sexy. Then, eroticism escaped from images from the horror caused by the spread of AIDS. Now the power suits, armored parodies on a man’s suit, are rightly rejected by feminists, the expressed sexuality is equated to attempts to create a commercial object out of a man, and references to “beautiful” – to a humiliating totalitarian thinking. Excesses, which now have to include author’s design and craft, have become unavailable to the majority. Fashion works with the few things that remain: new purism, poverty, and yes, the very democracy that I described at the beginning of this essay. It is good that examples of diversity and the destruction of the dictatorship of style have been worked out forty years ago.