So I am sitting at Starbucks, biting my nails and shaking my legs frantically because I am a week over due (make that two) for submitting my piece on World MasterCard Fashion Week, that took place in Toronto at David Pecaut Square.
In All Honesty…
The only reason that I am having trouble is because I find myself torn regarding this year’s collection. Designers Mikhael Kale and Sid Niegum both presented a collection that was aesthetically pleasing to the viewers. Kale for example, opening the runway with a collection that shimmers, a combination of colour blues and coral jewel tones, mixed with metallic fabric and green feather trimmings. However, ultimately I was not so impressed with the rest of the fashion show.
Mikhael Kale F/W 2015
Hold The Tomato
Now before I get a tomato or two thrown my way, allow me to clarify my point. As models sauntered theses garments down the runway, visions of déjà vu looped in my mind. It seems that instead of moving forward, designers keep moving backward – drawing inspiration from the 60’s, 70’s up until the 90’s.
What is ‘old’ is now ‘new’ seems to have been the theme from the WMCFW presentations. As a matter of fact, fashion shows now a day only seem to be recycling and (re) appropriating styles and trends.
Critique > Compliments
Now I could have very easily complimented the designers for their hard work and could have easily picked my top ten pieces, but that is what Fashion, Elle Canada, and Lou Lou Magazine are there for. Just type World MasterCard Fashion Week in the Google engine search and you will scour through a thousand-and-one photographs and reviews. The reason that I am not writing a generic TOP 10 LOOKS FROM FASHION WEEK, is because I am not looking to write a generic Fashionista piece. Rather, I want to write about the reality of this “creative” industry and examine whether or not collections on the runway are indeed moving forward.
From a Commercial Standpoint
Brands such as Rudsak, Mackage and Pink Tartan, and even the corky Haley Esserelsa, whose demographics are commercial consumers, did an excellent job at living up to their end. The collections presented last week by these brands will indeed satisfy their niche audience. If you are looking to sport fur trimming, felt hats, knee-high boots, and dress in neutrals this fall, then look no further. But commercial brands like Rudsak, Mackage, Pink Tartan and Haley Esserelsa are brands that I am less concerned with, as they will continue to produce fairly predictable collections each season. It is the designer like Atelier Wonder, Sid Niegum and Mikael Kale that I want to focus my attention on.
These are the designers that have freedom to create, freedom of expression in design. Yet I feel that their collections were safe and if not safe fairly similar to one another. Please before the riot starts outside my door, let me say that it is not that their collections were not beautiful or that these designers should not be credited for their hard work. All I am saying is that I think that they are playing it a bit too safe.
Look at Atelier Wonder; I am sure we can admit that the cyberpunk has already been done. The collection resembled the Matrix meets Mugatu’s Derelict campaign. I know that the Valentino collection, showcasing Derrick Zoolander and handsome Hansel has everybody excited for Zoolander 2, but if you’re going to play with space age and cyberpunk, than how about trying to think of a world that doesn’t already exit? Don’t just draw on whats been done, but rather think outside the box. That’s what creativity is about, is it not?
Or take Sid Niegum for, winner of the Mercedes-Benz Startup. His collection successfully introduced the concept of 3D printing technology, playing on geometry and drawing inspiration on the art of origami. His choice of limiting his collection to black and white, for me, only reinforces the cliché of good and evil; light and darkness; hope and destitution. Once again, these are themes that have already taken centre stage at fashion shows.
Some of you reading this might think that I am being a bit harsh, but I don’t think that I am. Designers need to read an authentic critique of their work – these critiques play a major role in the growth factor or any brand or designer. Atelier Wonder: I can see that your work comes from a good place, and your direction is clear, but the sleek hair, black smudged mascara is plastic recycled look, I’m sorry to say but its been done. As for Sid Neigum: the white vs. black, good vs. evil is another example of this.
Canadian designers who call themselves ‘creative’ and ‘artistic’, really need to own up to and stop looking up to trend forecasting, movies, or other designers as their source of inspiration. How about coming up with your own inspiration? Now I know that this is almost impossible, as drawing inspiration comes naturally to us, and while some of you may argue that inspiration is a necessity for creating, I absolutely agree with you. I just don’t think that recycling the past is going to allow for innovation and revolutionary design in the present and future.
I strongly believe that for a collection to become truly successful and truly original, designers need to think of a world that does not exist. Come up with ideas that are not pulled from the past! And while I would love to name designers that are going towards this path, I think that for the most part, given that we live in a post-modern era in which anything old can be new again, that naming truly innovating designers today, might be harder to name than I originally thought.