When I was 18, everyone around me wanted to be someone. No one wanted to go to uni and study “regular” stuff. My best friend wanted to become an actress, then there was the singer wannabe, a bunch of fashionistas, a couple of athletes aiming for the Olympics and a future politician.
I obviously was no less delusional and went to study fashion design.
Way before the first year was over I knew I didn’t belong there. I liked fashion, that’s true, but I didn’t like the fashion industry. I kind of forced myself to stay up to date with all the new designers, who became the new creative director of what Maison, watching all catwalks from all Haute Couture and PAP shows. You couldn’t simply show up the morning after an Alexander McQueen catwalk not knowing what had happened. God forbid!
Come on, admit it… You thought “this is complete bs” a lot of times when watching catwalk shows right? That’s what I thought. And apparently we’re not alone.
I found this article about this very topic: more than 50% of people interviewed allegedly thought that fashion shows were just freak shows, completely detached from what fashion really is in everyday life.
Although I don’t like when the word “freak” is used with negative implications (come on, my blog’s name has “bizarre” in it!), I totally get what these people feel.
On the panel of people interviewed by My Voucher Codes, an outstanding 71% said they didn’t even pay any attention to Fashion Week. Wow, now I don’t feel so weird compared to what I felt in fashion school! As if it couldn’t get more interesting, only 7% of men and 15% of women felt that Fashion Week made any difference in their clothing choice.
This is huge but it also makes me wonder: are they really not influenced by what is shown during Fashion Week, or they just don’t perceive they’re influenced but they actually are?
I turn the question to you: when was the last time you felt your purchases were influenced by what you saw on the catwalks? And what was the last time you noticed something you already saw trending around you popping up on the catwalks?
I honestly think this is much more complicated than it looks like, and that fashion doesn’t go one way, it never has gone only one way. Have you ever heard about the bubble up VS the trickle down effect?
The trickle down effect is for example what happened in French courts, where court’s designers sew clothes on dolls, showed them to the dames that had the last say on what they liked and what they would have adopted as new style. The dolls were then sent to other courts to spread the new cuts and shapes. The dolls basically had the role fashion magazines had over the following years: they suggested new clothes that someone came up with and someone else in the higher ranks of society approved, and they spread those among the population.
This was when fashion was still very “slow” and things didn’t change so fast as they begun to across 1900. That’s when the bubble up effect came to life: people were more free to express themselves coming up with new creative ways of dressing up, and some of those “movements” were so strong and popular that fashion designers started picking up on them and recreating them on catwalks.
I think it’s safe to say that today, the bubble up phenomenon is much wider than the trickle down. There’s not much to trickle down anymore, is there? It seems to me that fashion can’t possibly create something meaningful anymore, because fashion has become a way to express ourselves. Polhemus has come up with a definition for this – “styletribes” – and explains it perfectly: “What’s intriguing about this is the fact that such styletribes have blossomed and flourished at precisely that time in history when individuality and personal freedom have come to be seen as the defining features of our age” (Streetstyle: From Sidewalk to Catwalk).
So yeah, I ditched fashion. But I didn’t ditch my love for artistic expression: that’s how I now look at fashion shows. I firmly believe that what we see on catwalks has nothing to do with the clothes we wear, but it has all to do with the people who create those pieces and the message they want to get across.
If you look at the whole thing from this perspective, you’ll be free to love fashion as form of art while ditching fashion as a status symbol. Ha, what a relief!
What’s your thought about fashion as a freak show? Have your say in the comments below, who knows you could be the next Polhemus!