Wednesday, 21 September 2011

One of the most obscure questions in history

Fashion's ability to anticipate how the future will look is surely one of the things that makes it most magical. That 'feeling' you get, (and I cant be any more specific than that), when you see an outfit that is just fresh, new, exciting and 'on the pulse', is amazing. For example, I have recently been thinking a lot about green and silver combinations, so was thrilled to see the appearance of this dress by Christopher Kane for S/S 12. It was also eerily similar to some fabric I picked up at a market in Kyoto during the summer.

How do we explain these coincidences or rationalise this 'feeling' we get when designers seem to correctly anticipate a mood two seasons ahead. As cultural historian Eric Hobsbawm said,
'Why brilliant fashion designers, a notoriously non-analytic breed, sometimes succeed in anticipating the shape of things to come better than professional predictors, remains one of the most obscure questions in history and, for the historian of culture, one of the most central'. I was always quite pleased to read this acknowledgement from Hobsbawm of the significance of fashion theory as a method of reading culture, except that I found comment 'a notoriously non-analytic breed' rather derogatory. Then I watched this clip on the guardian website of Christopher Kane explaining his collection to Simon Chilvers:

Ok, so maybe the man was tired, and some of what he said was really interesting (I loved his comments about a look based on 'the girl you hated at school', which has been a disturbingly common trend for S/S12), but he made much of his references and inspiration for the collection appear to be totally random and coincidental. Is it all down to a short attention span and a low boredom threshold, as he would suggest? Whatever the reason, this collection was one of the most interesting and inspiring I have seen for a long time. He might not know how he does it, but Christopher Kane is a genius and yes, he can predict the future.

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