New York Times fashion scribe Eric Wilson has some deep thoughts to share on the sartorial ramifications of the year 2007. (Let us not forget that this is the very same individual who also championed the antler, complete with allusion to "Gaston" in the Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast.) In a column today, Wilson comes to the sorry realization that 2007 shall be remembered as the year in which design meant absolutely nothing at all.
[S]cholars may conclude instead that this was the year in which designers finally succumbed to the baser desires of an overheated celebrity culture, in which the only thing that matters is fame and the only means to succeed is by screaming, "Look at me!" At least, that's what they might think after reviewing some of the year's worst fashion moments, in which actions seem so obviously calculated to provoke.
As Wilson asks, what do we remember about Valentino from the previous year? His spectacular 40th anniversary retrospective? No of course not. We remember that he repeatedly asserted that he wasn't going to retire and then, well, announced just that. What do we remember about Marc Jacobs? His rather provocative Spring 2008 collection which perverted notions of femininity and decorum? No: We remember that his Spring 2008 show started a gajillion hours late and that lots of editors got pissed and then Marc got pissier and dyed his hair blue. (And furthermore, fashion itself took a back seat to big ol' nasty hair this year: Nothing calls attention better than pairing ratty cut-offs with a giant beehive, after all. Or, um, just shaving your head.) This was, as Wilson put it, "The Year That Yelled 'Notice Me'." Which raises some interesting questions about fashion itself.
What is it that is off-putting about fashion reflecting a "Look at me!" attitude when, in fact, the very essence of the art is to control and alter the way in which people, well, look at things? What does it mean to be "disappointed" in the fashion industry for shifting its focus away from the clothes and towards the people wearing the clothes? Is this not the very same concept that created the unfortunate sensation that is reality television? Substance means nothing, branding means everything. And the most powerful brands of our time are nothing more than the names of people who have, at best, parlayed their day jobs into celebrity (read: Wilson's dismay over seeing Vera Wang make a cameo appearance on Ugly Betty) and, at worst, have parlayed a lack of a day job into celebrity (read: The Hills, which even Marc Jacobs found important enough to pay a visit to.) We live in the age of "Notice Me." We're just wondering what took fashion so long to catch up with the times.
The Year That Yelled 'Notice Me' [NY Times]