Cultural theorist Ted Polhemus captures fashion’s new role in our ever-changing society. “We’ve increasingly found that only personal appearance is capable of expressing where we as individuals are at in a kaleidoscopic and enigmatic world,” he says. In a digitally driven, social world, everything is connected. The fashion industry no longer exists in a vacuum; the doors are open for all to see and experience it as it happens, when it happens — making the runway a more powerful platform than ever before. In this new era, designers are in tune with what is going on in the world, and aren’t afraid to use the runway to say something about it.
A few seasons ago, T-shirts were reignited as the favoured cultural signposts of the times, with simple white T-shirts emblazoned with on-the-nose sociopolitical statements, such as Maria Grazia Chiuri’s “We Should All Be Feminist” T-shirts for Christian Dior, and Prabal Gurung’s “The future is female” tees taking to the runways.
Seasons on, the spirit of speaking up lives on, in myriad ways. For the Autumn/Winter 2018 collections, the message is not literally written on the clothing, but instilled in the mood of the season, as designers harness the expressive power of fashion by codifying issues, such as feminism, gender, the economy, and diversity, into the new narrative, with subtle shifts in silhouettes, subtextual motifs, and on-the-surface trends that speak to our realities.
FEMINISM | FUTURISM | GENDER