N ow, as you read this, the Spring Summer 2016 collections are continuing in London, while discussions about the impact of the collections shown in New York are underway ...well...everywhere that fashion matters. There is much dialogue about the energy of the collections as, amidst the retro continuance, there was also some experimentation from some designers. These braver souls want us to move forward and have the customer base that can share similar sentiments while sustaining their existence. While the safer routes such as the dominance of 90s and it's primary retro influence, the 70s, have come into play, another aspect of the late 80s/early 90s has returned again to foster this noted creative effort: deconstruction.
Not that it ever really left. Its formal introduction in the 80s is only partially correct. The 70s punk movement was the precursor for the cut-and-paste approach while the combination of artistic recombinant chaos noticed in art via groundbreaking movements such as Dadaism and the exploration of deconstruction as philosophy by 60s Jaques Derrida (two period sources that had impact the 80s) provided inspiration for the next logical step.
Next step? Well, fashion was getting more creative and changing more frequently. It was becoming a game amongst the fashion conscious to speculate what was next. Clothes were increasingly heavily structured with a focus of cuts and detail of execution. After years of carefully measured and structured garments, one could not shake that the source had remained static in the face of changing times. Look at men's wear; in two hundred years the basic components had barely progressed; you still had a jacket, vest, shirt and pants, no matter how you dressed it up with flourishes such as a new collar or hem length. Women's wear fell along classics from the decades that preceded it and we were hungry for more.
With technology on the rise came new textiles with qualities that gave room for new possibilities. The full globalization our technology was beginning to offer combined with the encouragement of consumption the times supported to pull us out of the frugalness of the decade before. All this was a great recipe to open our minds to what was new. The future...the 21st century...was coming fast and many of us would live to be there.
The Japanese, in particular Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garcon, Yohji Yamamoto and textile genius Issey Miyake, were flush with cash and eager to make their mark. They brought new visions and ideas sorely needed in fashion to a generation hungry for change. Their groundbreaking designs challenged convention in a quest for a new form, a new silhouette, a new voice to take us into the future instead of being stuck in the 20th century. And in that play, they further inspired designers such as Jean Paul Gaultier to push forwards with new combinations of elements much like we are doing now. His protege, Martin Margiela, took this a step further, following the deconstructive philosophy of destruction in order to create. Out of the shreds and loose threads came new shapes and new ways of being. If fashion was about structure and order, deconstruction was to turn it on its head to uncover what was never even before conceived in the quest for something truly new. this meant eschewing convention in construction techniques, mixing up the order, leaving hems undone to celebrate the nature of the textile, pulling together new assembly to find new forms and throwing together any addition or absence of the process in the name of innovation. The period had provided the mindset to invite and appreciate it. The conditions were perfect. But the flaws came just as the economy tanked. The appreciation of decay was an ill fit, for it reminded of those less fortunate who were increasingly present casualties of a new economic condition, and the times just weren't mature enough for creativity on this level to be accepted in the mainstream. So it took a rest in favor of what we have relabeled (or marketed) as normcore, of grunge, of sportswear of what was widely palatable.
We know the rest. We lived the path to where we are now. We lived through deconstruction's reappearance that came, again, ill-timed when the event of 9/11 made shredded clothes an exercise of insensitivity and bad taste. But the draw of its concept as a vehicle for finding new forms and new silhouettes did not leave us, and so it continues to be part of our vocabulary of who we define ourselves. We see the world through a highly charged cacophony of information in real time at our fingertips, a mixture of everything the world offers as we become truly global. And we have drilled in the message of uniqueness as having value despite our penchant to conform. The DIY movement, 3D printing, increased customization offered online...all of it now before us...support our desire for what is new. Even the retro looks contain the details that our 21st century cannot avoid, be it in the tech intrerwoven or the innovation that comes with new concepts in textile science. Despite whatever may touch our fears, it is perhaps our desensitization of the facts we have grown accustomed to as we push forward. The future will not stop coming and ultimately we will not stop evolving.
And so, with each season closer to the 2020 mark, we find every component that takes us step by step to our impending 21st centrury identity. So we see deconstruction. It is this time polished and clean, exact in the execution as we find a way to preserve our class distinction while providing the service of throwing new ideas to see what connects and carries forward.
The issue now is not merely where we are taking this, but how. These elements all still hinge on everything that is 20th century. The collars that become cap sleeves or upended bodices may explore new forms, but the components are still assembled from the minds and parts of the 20th century. what is missing is what is 21st century: our technology. We have innovations in seamless construction and 3D printing now explored in garment construction. The new level of deconstruction will be recombinant deconstruction, made of entirely new forms not seen before, morphed as a new generation of parts created and linked to bring never-before-seen shapes and details.
So watch closely at not only what is being deconstructed now but what is sticking. These experiments and embraced changes in our personal architecture will be the foundation for what the next generation will make just as the Gibson girl hinted at what the flapper was to be a century before. We knew in the very early years of the 20th century that the hallmark was simple and about ease, but it was only as it arrived that we saw the shapeless short sporty flash of the 20s was connected to a change in the mindset of the times in a way we could not anticipate. Then again, we have technology now...exponentially growing... and it has us trained to think and see differently.
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