Embracing the Now

Article publié le 15 mars 2016

Text : Jessica Michault
Photo : Benjamin Lennox for Antidote Magazine Now Generation
Talent :  Marta Grabowska @The Face Paris

Style : Jack Borkett @MFA
Casting : Beth Dubin
Hair : Cyndia Harvey @Streeters London
Make-up : Mathias Van Hooff @Management Artist

Red cotton bra, Lacoste. Oversize jeans, Martine Rose. Leather belt, Dior Homme.

When we decided to title the eleventh issue of Antidote Magazine, “Now Generation”, the goal was to really focus on the designers, social issues and cultural phenomena that are shaping the world we are living in at this present moment. The whirlwind of the fashion world, which makes every experience feel out of date only days, hours or even minutes after it happens, has left no room to stop and reflect on where we are right now.

We are at a tipping point. What is currently happening in fashion is extremely interesting and should have a profound effect on the industry as a whole for years to come.  A paradigm shift is about to take place and the first indicators of what lies ahead can be seen today, if you know where to look.

A number of top brands have designers who are well past the average age of retirement.  Some have already gracefully stepped down, like Donna Karan, or have taken a step back, like Jean Paul Gaultier, who stopped creating ready-to-wear to focus on what makes him happy – haute couture. And soon the rest of them will be faced with putting into place a succession plan.

No one is eternal, except maybe Karl Lagerfeld.

While that succession scenario continues to unfold, we are currently seeing two major positive trends in fashion, in terms of designers.

The first is the “out from behind the curtain” designer. After spending years paying their dues at major fashion brands, they are finally getting their chance to stand in the spotlight. The most obvious example of course is Alessandro Michele at Gucci. But there is also Sara Burton at Alexander McQueen, Julie de Libran at Sonia Rykiel, Julien Dossena at Paco Rabanne, Bertrand Guyon at Elsa Schiaparelli and Barnabe Hardy at Carven. Here are designers who have put in the time, know how the fashion machine works, and have the backbone to fend off the wolves who tend to take down more inexperienced designers at the first sign of weakness.

The second positive development, after years of luxury conglomerates snapping up designers and fashion labels to add to their stables of luxury houses, is the return of the independent designers. A number of eponymous labels, including Alexander Wang, Erdem, Gareth Pugh, Roksana Ilincic and Philip Lim, recently celebrated their first decade in business. While brands like Anthony Vaccarello, J.W. Anderson, Marco de Vincenzo and Public School not only have more than five years under their belt, their designers are also proving themselves to be rather resilient by taking on double design duty, respectively creating collections for Versus, Loewe, working in-house at Fendi and DKNY, as well as running their own label.

Throughout this eleventh issue, the individuals and the topics that make up the Now Generation are laid out in front of you, as a reminder of where we are, what we currently deem important and who the people setting the fashion groundwork for the future are.

All of this is happening under the white hot glare of social media, a double-edged sword that has brands ceaselessly scrambling to keep up with the latest must-have app or platform. Right now Instagram is leading the pack in terms of impact. Designers are now deciding to create shows that are filled with buzz-worthy moments that work for the square format visual feed. This includes everything from creating brightly colored clothing that “reads well” in images, hiring models according to the size of their following and scripting showmanship touches digestible in 15-second bite-size videos.

On the other hand, Instagram should be praised for its ability to inspire through the images that are posted to the site and its ability  to facilitate connections between creative individuals via its feed. Thanks to Instagram countless artistic partnerships have been born out of the proverbial blue.
Another key shift currently building traction is the blurring of gender lines. One look at the most recent round of menswear shows is proof enough that a major transformation is underway. A fashion neophyte would be hard-pressed to know that the menswear shows were actually intended for men, with so many women now walking down the catwalk alongside their male counterparts.

In fact, it almost looked strange to see a menswear show that only had male models in the lineup. Yes, it’s an easy way to incorporate pre-collection offerings (or – in the case of Givenchy – haute couture) into a preexisting set up, but the arrival of women in menswear signifies much more than that. The emergence of genderless clothing, pieces that are beautiful in their singularity and designed with the wearer’s personality as the sole criteria, is a very modern concept.

Alexandre Mattiussi, the founder of the brand Ami, has found much success by being inclusive to women who want to wear his staple menswear designs. In his most recent show it was almost impossible to tell which models on his catwalk were men and which were women. The Mattiussi message seems to be: we are all just people. People, who want to feel good in what they wear, no fuss no muss.

It’s a philosophy department stores and ecommerce sites are also embracing. The perfect example being Selfridges and its “Agender” shopping space that spanned three of its floors and was filled with gender-neutral designs. This strategy also makes business sense in that unisex designs don’t date as quickly, thus maintaining a longer shelf life both in the stores and in the owner’s closet.

The way fashion is taught and promoted is also shifting. The assortment of fashion awards from Who Is On Next and ANDAM to the LVMH prize and the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund has been a smart new way to highlight the talents of young designers and give their fledgling fashion brands a boost by offering financial boons and hands-on mentoring. The way fashion students are educated today is also expanding radically. Courses in marketing and communication now sit alongside fashion design and history, while highly prized specialties such as pattern-making are having a much-needed comeback.

And it’s not just how fashion is seen, worn or produced that is on the cusp of change. The whole industry is currently in the middle of a fundamental and philosophical debate about how fashion is presented to the world.

Right now the CFDA is conducting a study, organized by the Boston Consulting Group, to figure out a way to fix what it perceives to be the “broken system” of fashion weeks. Does it make sense that fashion shows take place so far in advance of when the clothing actually arrives in stores? Do fashion shows still have a legitimate a role to play? And with so many auxiliary fashion weeks cropping up all over the globe, is it not time to branch out and give places like Dubai a real shot at becoming the next big capital of fashion?

Throughout this eleventh issue, the individuals and the topics that make up the Now Generation are laid out in front of you, as a reminder of where we are, what we currently deem important and who the people setting the fashion groundwork for the future are.

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