Truth Plus Talks: On the Issue of Newness

March 6, 2012 § 2 Comments

Is just plain pretty old news? Christian Dior Fall 2012

“The responsibility is no longer just about making a nice piece,” Elbaz said in a preview. ” you have the responsibility, on one hand, to work on the vision, so you have to bring the newness, and it also has to have a zipper. How do you work with both?” (WWD, 3/5/12)

Following along with this season’s Fashion’s Month, I’ve been struck time and time again by seeing the term “newness” in reviews and reports.Yes, what’s new and next is inherent to fashion; it’s why we look to the runways and presentations to begin with. But when newness is forced or newness produces clothing that is difficult to wear for a large swathe of potential customers, what is the implication of pushing designers to create newness in the first place?

Personally, the runway clothes I find myself reacting most positively to are made of the finest and rarest fabrics on earth, in flattering silhouettes, and in exciting new colors. The newness comes from a difference in silhouette, a slight alteration to a style that’s worked in the past and that can be refreshed now, and gorgeous craftsmanship or embellishment. In the past ten or fifteen years, designers have used technological innovations to fundamentally alter natural and synthetic fibers. In previous eras, during the textile R and D heyday of companies like DuPont, new fabrics were created to benefit the wearer, to make her warmer, slimmer, or to make garments easier for her to machine-wash. Now, the hyper-treated fabrics developed by designers are meant to mimic rubber, bondage and even parachutes. Cool, yes; helpful to the wearer, perhaps not.

This Paris Fashion Week, Bill Gaytten, who worked under John Galliano for many years, and has been at the helm of the house since Galliano was let go, was lambasted yet again for a show that did not present newness. Yet, his previous couture collection and this Fall 2012 were unquestionably lovely.  Even, dare I say, wearable. Maybe he’s not “taking the house forward” or showing us his “vision”, but he is turning out fabulously beautiful, luxurious and expensive clothes that women who can afford them can actually consider buying. I’ve seen the images from the show appear on fashion and home design blogs since the clothes went down the runway, so I know that not everyone thought the collection was a total disaster. The clothes are true to Dior’s ever-popular New Look and the the house’s romantic personality. They are more practical than fanciful, and Dior’s apparel sales are reportedly on the rise. Still, fashion cognescenti are prodding LVMH to replace him for someone more artistic or more forward-thinking. I’m not sure which makes more sense.


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