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Fashion’s new mantra

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In hindsight it may come across as a narcissistic saying, but ‘you do you’ also epitomises fashion’s new mantra of the moment.

With an overload of colours, fabrics and trends, never have designers (and consumers) had so much choice, so much stimulus, and so much noise around them. Which is why that in this chaotic social-media fuelled wonderland, a recognisable voice with a clear narrative is the holy grail of a fashion collection. Suddenly sticking to your guns is seen no longer as playing it safe but as an admirable fete.

The move towards individuality ran rife in some of the most recent Fall collections. There were so many labels sticking to what they know this season that even Anna Wintour coined the season as the ‘rise of individuality, musing on’ Style.com that “designers are very much staying within their own vocabulary.”

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The strongest of the voices this season was Nicolas Ghesquiere for Louis Vuitton. In previous seasons when Marc Jacobs was at the helm, the monogramed heritage label swung the visual gamut from sexy nurses to night porter chic to Kate Moss in fairy floss pastels. And while many were aloof to Nicholas’ seemingly subtle debut at the house, he’s very quickly honed in on his voice and vision for Louis Vuitton, this season building upon his modernised version of seventies masculine and mixed fabrications, a vision that has already begun to permeate throughout the industry’s veins.

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On that same note, Hedi Slimane caused much controversy when he took the ‘Yves’ out and debuted at Saint Laurent. His very expensive versions of strip mall designs causing critics to question the label’s new lack of actual design. It may have been a simple and perplexing proposition, but it ended up paying off. Slimane’s collections continue season after to season to sell out. And so the California based designer smartly ignored the critics and stuck to his rock and roll guns so to speak. This season, nothing was really knew, but it was clothes everyone will want to wear. And there in lies the strategy.

Anna Murphy in a SHOWstudio panel discussion phrased it as ‘nailing their language.’ This in reference to Valentino whose duo Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli have created an easily recognisable romantic aesthetic since they took over in 2008. So strong are their floaty dresses and embellished lace that not even a Zoolander stunt could take away from their once again, consistently strong collection.

Of course, this doesn’t mean designers need to avoid the concept of ‘new’ altogether.  Fashion always has and always will be about the new. But the ‘you do you’ mantra plays more to adding a fresh twist or new angle to an already recognisable aesthetic rather than completely reinventing the wheel.

Case in point: Dolce and Gabbana. Where once the Italian house was known for it’s overt sexiness, in 2010 the duo shifted their gaze to their Italian roots and suddenly, everything felt different. Everything felt inherently them. The twist came down to the designers seeking to be more authentic. To which Sarah Mower responded: “Simply, yet movingly, they showed their classics, and how they make them.”

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This season, the Sicilian signatures were all still there, only this time they covered the generations and presented modern motherhood. An authentic theme of family put a new and encompassing spin on the label. A label that once epitomised sex has grown to become sexy, feminine and even family friendly.

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