It´s funny when you realize that the decay of most of those underground and counterculture movements that popped up around the world, and specially in New York, during de 1960´s and 1970´s, had something to do with money. To be more precise, i not the lack of money, but instead the huge amounts of it that started pouring in as the art and musical industry got a boost towards the beginning of the 80´s.As the AW12 season came to an end this past march, it was hard not to think that something similar may be happening in fashion. The unexpected dismissal of designer Raf Simons from Jil Sander shocked the whole industry, evidencing once again how fragile, or better, volatile it has become. Then, came the new that Stafano Pilati was also leaving Yves Saint Laurent and a few week later more departures were announced, such as Derek Lam to leave Todd´s and other professionals giving up their jobs in other areas such as retail and publishing.
All this, just one year after Alexander McQueen took his life and after John Galliano was ousted from Dior in disgrace, cracking open the mechanics of an extremely malfunctioned industry. Nonetheless, rather than the clothes, those were the main topics being discussed in this latest season. And the question that almost no one dared to ask (and answer) was: is fashion over?
Well, if it´s indeed over or not, depends on how you look at it. For instance those crazy fabulous years of unmeasured creative input, may very well be over or, at least, during a indefinite suspension. And this isn´t a recent phenomenom. In fact, since the 90´s, when the fashion industry was dominated by the big luxury conglomerates, money _in spite of creativity and artistic expression_ became the core value of this industry. Not by coincidence, it was around that time late designer Yves Saint Laurent announced his retirement, alleging that fashion, once a métier of creative mind and artisans, had transformed itself in pure business.
What changed since then? Anxiety, lack of patience… Influenced by the fast-real-time paced life of the digital era, brands starting replacing their long term management by short terms one _and by short we mean extremely short as in a internet meme. Of course this end up reflecting on the creative front. Designers now work under extreme pressure, having to develop up to 8 collections per year, not to mention campaign concept, perfume launches and so on, plus came up with collection that prove both editorial appropriate, but most of all sellable at all costs. It comes as no surprise then, the fewer and fewer collections nowadays manage to communicate anything truly relevant or even change our perspective about clothing or even the whole fashion system.
Where once was a commercial director who fully understand the modus operandi of fashion _and the long period of time it takes for a brand and a designer to get established and understood by it´s customer base_ now there are businessmen who are used to sell all kinds of products. This is not to say fashion is not a commodity. It is indeed. But a rather special one. One that requires a whole different approach and mindset in its management, after all it´s a commodity deeply tied to forms of self, individual and cultural expression. Or can you interpret anything relevant to the current state of society from a yogurt package?