If Proust is looking for the lost times, is fashion looking for the future.s? The rush doesn’t run at the same pace for every designers and articulates itself in the influence of a specific past for each of them: between childhood circus, greek antiquity or US soap masculinity, the menswear week opens on multiple configurations of time in fashion.
The circle form is recurring in fashion. Omnipresent. Circles surimpose and designate both the actors of the fashion space and the rhythms of its production. The metaphor is also vivid amongst magazines to describe and rewrite the trends: ordering with a few anglicized simplifications, “it’s hot“.
From a larger perspective, the circle is a major part of the western narrative. Paul Ricoeur devoted the first part of his philosophical epic thinking on semantics innovation (ways to innovate in narratives) to our relation to temporality. On the edge of this menswear week, time gets its narrative as in all good stories, it is the “new names”, those whose narrative and style remain to be built, that opens the shows. Four labels are on the official calendar: Bode, Sies Marjan, Phipps and Ludovic de Saint Sernin. Bode and Phipps presented their collection after the return (another configuration of the narrative linked to a loop) of Palomo Spain, while Alexandre Matiussi concludes the day in a mise en abyme of the cyclicity of fashion. In the nef of the Grand Palais, widely associated to Chanel for the members of the circle, the models were walking around the guests.
The circle is complete?
This cyclic configuration of fashion’s narrative seems to have been decentered. By moving the compass spade, we find that the waves of the circle diffracted at different paces according to the places, social classes, genders, access to medias… At Spanish designer Palomo Spain, the garment allows to deconstruct gendered roles, as well as the gendered western Story of fashion.
If usually the white togas serve to divinise the “antic goddesses of haute couture”, they were here the prerogative of men.
The History of a post-western culture virility infused the Sankuanz show. The Cow-Boys meet the policemen and gangsters. References to the Vegas pimps are assumed. The 70’s flared trousers mixed with fringe shirts tell a time that has settled through cinematographic fiction. A mediatization of the American story that seems to have been already seen and digested by Shangguan Zhe. Something that would have been impossible with the media configuration of the space in the 1990s.
At Bode, it is the stories transmitted by family that inspired this first collection. A gesture revealing a desire for new parentage. A parentage where personal history can be read in the scenography, in the dancing shoes or through the multicolored paintings decorating the shirts. The story is that of the “Bode Wagon Company”, company from the family of designer Emily Adams Bode, who decorated the caravans from the Barnum, Bailey and Ringling Brothers Circus during the 19th century.
To put one’s own history as narrative, rather than the common history of a fashion built in Paris is in itself an act which returns to the fundamentals of the elaboration of the style in the 19th century.
The Poiret, Vionnet, Lanvin then Dior and Coco Chanel are key figures in the narrative of the beginning of the Parisian fashion system. As they elaborated it, they did not refer to a history of modern European fashion. Today, a few choices appear: citing history to create new stories, or come back to the old method of making a clean sweep of the past. Ami by Alexandre Mattiussi showcases the myths of the great iconoclastic creators that do (did?) Parisian fashion?
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Fashion circles diffract at different speeds. Fashion is made of materializing time spaces, to borrow a concept from Karen Barad. On a smartphone, or on a computer, actualisation translates into a pictogram representing a turning circle. Actualisation is no doubt around that: circles – stories, styles that turn at different speeds. The newness from yesterday does not configure anymore in the same manner as today.
In this, fashion is nothing of an endless restart.