Re-invention, Fashion is Thy Name
In 2015, Dutch trend-forecaster Li Edelkoort proclaimed, “Fashion is dead!” In all the mourning (if there was any), many tiny voices emerged saying, “About time!” That tiny voice that emerges when things that should be let go of, are being held on to; that urge for renewal- is fashion. To say that fashion is dead to its very exponents who are living is an irony that’s not lost on them. Fashion as an industry imagined and shaped by the west, replete with glamour and gloss, may be dead; but fashion is not. It would’ve on the contrary, been surprising if fashion’s form had remained the same- for fashion is voice; it is a reaction- and these belong to the living, not the dead. It’s not an institution; it’s not a monolith, it doesn’t prescribe any way- it creates it, it proposes, it makes and then it leaves behind. It can often contradict itself and that’s what makes it enigmatic and frustrating at the same time. Fashion in essence, is our changing perceptions through the movement of time. It abhors imitation, adores individuality- and in that adoration, it imitates. Fashion is irony.
It provokes, it challenges, in being fiercely provocative, it provides us with agency. And just to remind everyone, our agency lies in our most fundamental power to say “no”, to reject what conformity says “yes” to. Its power ironically lies in its frivolity and fickleness. We don’t always have reckoned reasons as to why we choose one thing over another, why we prefer A over B, or why we’ve given up something and moved on. We very often move on simply because we can, and because we have an option that we can move to. Doing what we can expands us in a way. It allows us to cover more ground. Fashion allows us to move away from tediousness, even if what is now tedious is the idea of fashion itself. Fashion you see, appears frivolous but signifies to us our spirituality. Fashion is ephemeral because our existence is. Fashion is maya. Out of our creativity, we spin the yarn of a new idea. The new ideas grip us; and then over time, we come to see how small and restrictive and ugly they are. In outgrowing our ideas, we also outgrow our fashions. We start spinning new ideas…better ones, that are a truer reflection of the times and who we are in them. It syncs us to the now. It’s forever in a state of war with incoherence.
Fashion destroys and subverts order to reconstruct our image and view of ourselves. It recognizes that change originates in the individual and then extends to society. Social reforms are no match for individual transformation. It re-invents dress to energize latent attitudes; it stirs the individual heart and mind, provokes society and in this dynamic tension between sovereign individuals and suffocating social mores, society re-invents itself. The art of capturing the visceral and presenting it and promulgating it as a tangible idea- is the power of fashion. And if it’s true to its calling, it will not hold on to some outdated idea of itself- it will re-invent itself.