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Fashion & Fantasy: Opulence in the face of uncertainty

By Jane HaglApril 7, 2017

Runway show
Runway show

Monochromatic neutrals, normcore, 90’s nostalgia and athleisure are not disappearing anytime soon, but the buds of a sartorial change emerged in spring trends.

Designers presented current spring trends on last year's runway and the clothes have already filled stores’ racks. Alessandro Messi took Gucci in an even more deliciously baroque path of metallics, bright hues, jewels, and texture. Even Valentino’s romantic bohemian came in bright reds, fuchsia, earthy greens and yellows. Fall 2017 seems to promise more of the same thoughtful abundance in detail, color and texture. And it is trickling, slowly but surely, down to fast fashion and street wear.

 

The surge of styles dripping in baroque details, opulent fabrics, and an array of hues confirms fashion's renewed interest in revisiting individual fantasies that demand attention.

And thank goodness! Fashion and consumers’ tendency to gravitate toward the purposefully nonchalant looks got so boring it was remarkable. A utilitarian, no frills approach to dressing became more aesthetically pleasing than thoughtfully distinctive attire with a touch of imagination.

The surge of styles dripping in baroque details, opulent fabrics, and an array of hues confirms fashion's renewed interest in revisiting individual fantasies that demand attention.

A severe directional change in the tone of popular fashion is not new. The glitzy glamorous Roaring Twenties came before the hush, practical 30s and 40s until Christian Dior presented the New Look in 1947. The 50’s ladylike flaunting of femininity preceded high hemlines and straight edges of the Mod Age. The overabundant 80s replaced the organic, bohemian fare of the 70s. We recovered with the basic T-shirts and denim of the 90s. Each decade’s costume represented the current social, economic and political environment.

A sartorial decision being a display of aspirations or an opportunity to escape reality isn't new. This time, the pivot comes after a volatile campaign season, cybersecurity a growing threat, protests reminiscent of the Civil Rights era, and a deep divide. Getting dressed to face the world, whether it is the world you look forward to or one you dread, is the first act of facing uncertainty.

 

This is about dressing in a way that expresses hope and individuality rather than banal conformity.

This is more than just getting dressed by perfecting the half-tuck of a plain Calvin Klein t-shirt into a pair of jeans with raw hemlines that end about two inches above a pair of white Adidas Superstar. It is about dressing in a way that expresses hope and individuality rather than banal conformity.

Clothes often function as a transformer— turning us into anything we wish and transporting us anywhere. It can also tell everyone what our intentions and our values are. Perhaps the intentional show of nonchalance reflected the careless attitude we developed—the kind of attitude trickles into the economic, political and social decisions we make. Perhaps the return of intentionally dressing up for the every day illustrates a reinvestment into life.

Opting to select look-at-me-now bright hues, lush velvet fabrics or whimsical materials requires a certain amount of confidence—similar to the confidence of hope.

Clothes and fashion provide hope. Yes, mere cloth, buttons, and zippers threaded together can offer an opportunity to aspire and a canvas for our fantasized version of the world and us. That's not anything new, either. We already do it when we dress for the job we want rather than the one we have. Why not for the world we want?