of photography’ class, and thus I work without any reference or inspiration—it forces me to find my own style.” For Saul Zanolari, it is “the ignorance of the past which is the key of my success!” Are we dealing with a spontaneous generation? Some youngsters disregard the past, despising the techniques and the work of their predecessors, (a hardliner position, which curiously contrasts with some attempts to reintroduce the past in our wardrobes). Others give history it’s respective due: “I do think it is important to study the past and there is nothing wrong with aspiring to walk in footsteps of legends, but for me, it is just as important to find your own way,” says Saroya. Still others prefer to plunge back into past decades; take, for example, Olympia Le Tan, who creates bags from ancient books. “In order to innovate, you have to know and understand the past,” defends Yiqing Yin: I’ve always admired the work of [French designers] Madame Grès and Madeleine Vionnet, who, in addition to their technical prowess, have in their own way redefined the notions of sensuality and freedom in women’s clothing. I’d much rather take inspirations from those classical grounds, and innovate from the beauty and emotions I find there, than follow any trend from prescribers today. I don’t believe in trends nor in the relevancy of inventing something absolutely new. There is much freedom and value in the past than in the present when it comes to imagining a fresh vision for the future.
Trends, or rather fads, seem to make the young designers uncomfortable. Perhaps because they are afraid to go unnoticed in this frenzy of collections, fashion weeks and daily releases. THE TEMPTATION OF ART While some famous agitators of fashion, like Galliano, are collapsing, and after the death of Alexander McQueen, two different currents of thoughts have emerged. If one encourages oddity and celebrates young designers such as Iris Van Harpen, the other begs the young generation for more seriousness and the creation of wearable garments. Some young designers get trapped in
“I DO THINK IT IS IMPORTANT TO STUDY THE PAST AND THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH ASPIRING TO WALK IN FOOTSTEPS OF LEGENDS, BUT FOR ME, IT IS JUST AS IMPORTANT TO FIND YOUR OWN WAY” SAYS SAROYA. this battle. Brazilian Pedro Lourenço, for example, confessed that he would prefer to create classical clothes, but he is only requested by his clients to do avant-garde based things. The fault of Lady Gaga? The young singer seems to irritate many young designers, because their clienthood, influenced by her provocative wardrobe, associate “youth” with “extravagance”. “Recently, I felt
that a lot of designers and artists have to go to the extremes to get noticed,” regrets Victoria. “In the future, I would like to see this changing. It would be nice to see more people appreciating true beauty again, without any ‘Gaga’ aspect.” Sara Battaglia agrees: “Being a young designer doesn’t mean that you are going to create something weird. We are just able to see fashion in a different way, but with real commercial concepts.” The commercial aspect is what cuts the eccentrics out. Gareth Pugh was reproached for the sales figures (or lack thereof) after showing his first collections, and had to fight critics in order to prove he was not just a fashion crank. Now, Pugh has shown that his brand is something more serious and sellable. But we can’t deny that his approach is closer to Art than to commercial fashion, and he is not the only one. “The future is Fashion-Art, definitely,” assures Victoria. “However, we do need commercial designs to maintain and fund that.” Admits Sara: “To survive, it is important to sell, so I had to divide my collection between a commercial and a more artistic part.” Conversely, many artists are coming to fashion, precisely for the economic aspect. New Yorker artist Darcy Miro was sculpting metal until she came out with the idea of creating jewelry. Same with Aussie designer Jordan Askill, based in London, who vacillates between jeweller and sculptor. Photography and the revival of fashion illustration
OPPOSITE: two looks from Z Mode’s F/W 2011 collection of recycled panty hoses dresses (photographed by MD Laing). THIS PAGE (L-R): the work of painter Saul Zanolari; three looks from Sara Battaglia’s F/W 2011 collection (photographed by Jiampaolo Sgura); a look from Yin’s F/W 2011 collection.