Seasons of Insanity
Seasons of Insanity
The start of every year sees the fashion world commence its bi-annual merry-go-round of fashion exhibition.
London Collections: Men is followed by Menswear in Paris, which proceeds Couture Week. New York, London and Milan all take their turn, before our eyes focus on Paris once again. It may sound very jet-set, but there is one fine thread that links all these occasions together. Season – AW15 in this case – is the common denominator that breathes continuity and structure into proceedings, but it has become increasingly circumspect and questionable in recent times.
High end fashion is the antithesis of throwaway fashion, so why are luxury designers intent on following seasons that render the previous outdated? Wouldn’t Fashion Weeks, in all their AW and SS glory, be better suited as the playground for high street brands like Zara, Primark and New Look, who encourage consumerism and disposable fashion?
No matter what you think about the dreaded “that is so last season” affront, no one really has a wardrobe dedicated to Autumn/Winter, soon to be replaced by a complete Spring/Summer. Designers themselves are not advocates of that school of thought either as Victoria Beckham states “I consider all of my pieces to be investment pieces. A dress shouldn’t be worn for one season, you should be able to wear it year after year,”. Whilst Mairi McDonald continues, “My ethos is that nothing becomes redundant. It doesn’t die after six months. It is limited edition, so you’re buying into the brand and the brand signature,”.
So why do these designers and their cohorts partake in Fashion Week? Of course there is the financial aspect of it, designers are not just creatives and fashion is a business after all, but more could surely be done to restructure the commerce in this $1.5 trillion dollar industry. Combining A/W and S/S in one collection perhaps or removing season’s altogether to let designers create without the limits and bounds of catering to expectation.
Fashion Week is a seemingly endless parade throughout the year if you consider the number of countries that take part and thus brings with it an onslaught of seasons that is confusing for most.
But is playing into the hands of ‘seasons’ even relevant anymore? Dare I say, is it still fashionable? We now live in a world where we spend most of our time in artificially induced temperatures thanks to air conditioning and central heating. Climate change has also granted us torrentially wet summers and balmy winters, while global markets are evolving which means while it is 4 degrees in London and Burberry are unveiling a fringed suede coat, it is 34 degrees in Saudi Arabia and Princess Ameerah probably does not fancy the latest Winter staples.
Designers are of course aware of this, and are increasingly unimpressed with the practice. Speaking previously on the issue of seasons in the fashion, designer Jonathan Saunders said: “The problem is that you look at a winter show and you want to see warm clothes. In actual fact, in the whole other half of the hemisphere it’s warm.”
While traditional seasons are static for the most part – a necessary reveal of talent and merchandise – pre-collections, as a result, have become an important outlet for most designers. Here they often take advantage of the liberalisation, to empower themselves and their creative vision in a much more wearable way. For Burberry Prorsum SS/13, Christopher Bailey turned his metallic green lace coat with voluminous sleeves into a more wearable black version for Resort. Over at Louis Vuitton, Marc Jacobs did the same, featuring embellishments on a Resort ’14 sweater that had come from an AW14 dress.
Cruise, Resort, High Summer, First Summer (it is no wonder many consumers are baffled by the various definitions for the same season) are less rigid in what is expected from the designer because of the seemingly less commercial aspect of it. However, sales of pre-collections are dramatically rising and have been described as “cash cows” by fashion journalist Alexander Fury.
Interestingly, we have recently witnessed bare legs and sleeveless tops in A/W shows, and vice-versa, signalling that designers are considering a season-less way of dressing. But this accommodation seems to be more of a nod to modern times rather than a steadfast way of revolutionising the industry’s approach to seasons.
In all this hybrid of designing for climates we cannot forget the impact and demand it has on designers. Those such as Karl Lagerfeld and Marc Jacobs juggle up to 12 collections a year considering their interests in Chanel and Fendi and Louis Vuitton respectively, as well as their own labels. Insanity indeed, considering this increasing workload in design has been critiqued as a reason for the breakdown of John Galliano some years ago. Has the speed of consumption therefore overtaken the creative abilities of designers for whom perhaps without the boundaries of seasons, despite their protests to the contrary, would not be able to direct themselves sufficiently? As collections wear thin before they even hit stores thanks to the meteoric rise of Instagram and documentation from models, stylists, designers, the FROW, as well as the increasing importance of fashion bloggers, who consistently tweet and hype collections. Content is king after all but before designers can sharpen their pencils, we want more.
Overall, whatever your opinion on seasons in fashion and their relevance or disparity, they undoubtedly play a role. Standard ready-to-wear collections show what a designer can do and demonstrate the best of their abilities. Pre-collections show us intimate creative flair, tenacity and potential previews of the following seasons’ show. Seasons in fashion are a set of guidelines, and while designers may or may not appraise them, they are rules to be followed. While fashion may pride itself on “breaking the rules”, this close to home there is an exception: seasons are the lifeblood of the industry and they’re not going anywhere.
Written by Clarissa Waldon
Images via style.com