Fashion week is now over!
I can catch-up with Samar, sharing her favorite looks and backstage stories. One story in particular caught my attention. The instagram blunder that Stella Mccartney posted on her account referring to a awfully skinny mode Just a simple communication mistake or is the fashion industry completely loosing it sense of mesures ?
To get the story straight, I spent my time watching Arteâs excellent documentaries aired during the Fashion Week such as Â«Â Pop ModelsÂ Â» or even the beautiful movie â the eye has to travelâ about Diana Vreeland. Fascinating.
Â If only the feminist saying of the 60âs â History is her Storyâ applied perfectly to this unique universe where women (models) were gaining much more then men, fashion history would then combine in a subtle and complex way with womenâs rights and aspirations.
From the 50âs till the late 60âs, mannequins where reduced to being moving objects, almost anonymous, identified with numbers â Number 25, Cocktail dressâ.
Who canât remember those thrilling images of Dior, Balmain or YSLâs fashion shows, where only a few spectators, principally composed by real clients, admiring, examining or being outraged by the designers collection, not being worried about the girls wearing it (with only a few exceptions). With fashion descending into a more street-style approach and arriving in luxury boutiques, boosted by creators such as Pierre Cardin or CourrÃ¨ges, a few mannequins found stardom: Twiggy and Marisa Bereson were the first IT girls to attract fans rivaling the rock bands of this century.
As for the creators, the catchword was liberation : Liberate the shapes, the codes, the colors; all this of course going in tandem with the movement of women liberation all around the world.
Mary Quant drew up the shocking mini-skirt, Yves-Saint Laurent came up with a stroke of genius, transforming the Smoking – a usual prerogative of the chic for men- and making it a must have in the feminine wardrobe.
Opposite movements (or complementary ones ?) where on one hand women got rid of their straitjackets and dress codes to assert their sexuality, while others stood up against the growing objectivity of their bodies influenced by the arrival of increasingly sexy attire designed to conjure masculine desire. The media – fashion or womenâs magazines- would then have an important act to play in this liberating movement: the great Diana Vreeland, then at Harperâs Bazaar would describe the Bikini as being â the most important discovery since the atomic bombâ. As provocative as the reply may be, it summed up well the conflict of opinion between the wish to unshackle themselves from outdated mannerisms on one side and a more macho, borderline sexist view of the woman, aiming to transform the house-wife into an alluring bimbo.
From the late 80â to the late 90â, a team of models lead by Naomie, Christie, StÃ©phanie, Claudia and Carla, held firm and looked to impose their rules in order to transform that part of history into the Golden Age of modeling. Through them, the outfits became harder to discern from their wearers and the fashion shows were orchestrated around these newly made icons of the fashion industry. Femmes Fatales and businesswomen, they influenced in their own ways the emancipation movement by stating: Iâm beautiful, wealthyâ¦ and screw you! (Or at least itâs what Naomie could have said). The years 2000 represented a step backwards with anonymity returning as the norm and from which the strong-minded Kate is the exception. It symbolizes a return to âskin-on-boneâ models so thin that they scare opinion polls into blaming the fashion industry of having a negative influence on the image given to the woman instead of contributing towards making it better- and of which Stellaâs gaffe on instagram is a prime example.
In the wake of the growing anonymity of models that are too skinny, it is the high profile actresses and musicians going from the voluptuous yet fit Nathalie Portman to Vanessa Paradis, which are used to represent the elegance and glamour of fashion in advertising campaigns.Â
Similarly, it is during this period that fashion becomes an industry as such and structures itself around 3 global leaders (LVHM, KERING, Richemont) ready to conquer the world and take over newly established markets.
Along with growing opportunity, models acquire a more global reach and after the trends of black, white, blue just like United colors of Benetton in the 90âs, itâs now the turn of Asia to provide legions of clothes horses and to contribute towards another kind of diversity; proof that fashion intertwined with trends, especially when there is money.
Resolutely constructive of our era, and whilst maintaining its gracious appeal, fashion has and will have the power to influence, to soften or to highlight certain trends. Letâs just hope that they are the right ones!
As Kaiser Karl would say Â« Fashion is neither moral nor immoral, but it is for rebuilding the morale Â».
So we keep calm and grab a drink at Saint-Tropez.
To be continued