Colour, New Roles and Ideals: Trends for May
The appointment of Virgil Abloh as Creative Director/Designer/Head of the Design Studio for Louis Vuitton menswear has produced excitement on the one hand, and accusations of street-cred outweighing true design skills on the other.
As you may have noticed, I list a range of titles for his role, indicating that exactly like many fully trained and experienced designers he will have a team. The Marc Jacobs team at Louis Vuitton was fairly large. So, he may not be sitting with pad and pencil, but I bet he’ll know what’s right and wrong as the samples appear, and what doesn’t work. His involvement in the world of fashion is, at the moment, quite intense. I went to see A Plan Application, a collection he supported that was created by German artist Anna Blessman. An accessories and fragrance installation also included Elevator Music, the new Byredo scent Abloh worked on.
Both these ventures were and are rather below the fashion hype or radar and were both interesting in totally different ways – slick, polished and supported by Karla Otto PR who don’t waste their time on weak clients. I say let’s give the man a chance and watch, after all at one point “everyone” believed Vetements was the future of fashion and look what’s happened to that: controversy and possibly nothing.
Three colours remain constant and anchor the colour palette relentlessly. Green, Blue, and Yellow. It’s simple since all three colours are reassuring, available in a range of tones, are based around nature and are seasonless. Even yellow can range from the palest icy lemon through to an intense, saturated deep sunflower tone. It can cheer us in winter, remind us of daffodils and primroses and spring, or bring the intense heat of the hottest summer beach. Blue takes us from uniform navy to brilliant tropical sea, and green from peppermint to darkest winter forest tones. These colours also work in lots of ways with other colours as accents, mixers or in tones. So, get used to it – green, blue, and yellow have become as ubiquitous as monochrome. Oh, and by the way orange is getting set to join them as a permanent extra.
A friend sent me a note about new roles in AI and it set me thinking, I’m old enough to remember a time before the role of “stylist” had been invented. When did we first feel we needed a consultant, or a creative director, or certainly HR? So, when we look to the future we need to be aware of these new roles in every area of business and in every profession. As some jobs disappear, new ones emerge and we can shift our skills to other uses, or find new expertise to support us.
Alice Though the Looking Glass
“Generally,” said the Red Queen, “you have to run a great deal faster than that just to stay where you are.” The continuing saga of designers in and out has now reached comical levels of speed. Designers in limbo such as Alber Elbaz and Phoebe Philo are generally popped into any available position by the fashion pundits, media and onlookers. Haider Ackerman barely lasted eighteen months at Berluti and poor Maria Grazia Chiuri at Dior has been the subject of rumours from practically her first collection. Gossip is cruel, and the fate of a person’s entire career discussed in the lightest of terms. Riccardo Tischi at Burberry is already fighting to demonstrate his skills before one piece of clothing seen by him had even been glimpsed. He and his CEO are both Italian and it was always clear Christopher Bailey had a deeply British aesthetic linking him to a heritage British brand. It is also not difficult to remember the previous incumbent to this role was also an Italian, Roberto Menichetti, whose fashion impact is now largely forgotten. But we should give newcomers a chance, at least for two summers and two winters before you shout, “off with his head”. Just like in Alice in Wonderland.
Local leads the way
Since everything is available everywhere, with instant delivery and total access to all information, music, movies, etc., exclusivity becomes a new luxury. Designers today don’t want to become bigger and bigger; they also don’t want to lose contact with their buyers and customers. Recently it was reported that young Japanese designers weren’t interested in selling outside Japan. Cultural integrity is local and has deep roots, so perhaps for the future we must travel and learn. Food, music, fashion, and life starts in the homeland, and perhaps the globalisation and homogenisation of products is not attractive anymore. WWD used to do a global fragrance map each season which highlighted what was selling where, and almost no scents were universal. A lesson perhaps?
I have a huge love for the classical aesthetics of this huge continent. Yet finally its beauty and impact are largely based on heritage and unconscious style choices. It’s not a modern streetwise style with edge. When watching Bollywood movies, I’m enthralled by the use of, say, ripped jeans on the hero teamed with a Pom Pom-trimmed printed shirt and many glittery details. Anyway, I’m alerting you to the elements of my India-fest this month, so you can join my delight in all things Indian – the food, fragrance, life, well-being, and intense craft.
Instagram - Rahul Mishra, Sabyasachi and Manish Arora.
Bollywood – A version of Romeo and Juliet in staggering visuals and performances. Ram-Leela, or if you want a fantastic vision of history, Bajirao Mastani.
Vogue India – Subscribe and get all their updates and news delivered daily. Recent pieces were on the best cotton saris for summer and the lipsticks of Bollywood star Deepak Padukone.
Rumours of a Vogue Africa are accompanied by requests for its appearance from African designers. Like India, many traditions across a vast continent, and centuries of heritage and history underpin creativity. Craft also finds its strengths in African design from accessories to menswear. Watch and monitor Africa during the coming months – it will be a fascinating journey.
Conde Nast Luxury Conference Lisbon
For many reasons, we cannot attend every conference or fashion summit on the calendar just as we cannot visit every fashion week as they proliferate across the globe. Yet the brilliant coverage of these events means we are not excluded. We can pick up on many bits and pieces, listen to extracts of talks and read many of the conclusions and summing-ups. At the end of this specific conference it was announced that the next one will take place in South Africa. After the teething problems with the first Arabian Fashion Week, we wish every one of the team good luck.
Anna Wintour leaving Vogue, Vetements not selling and many other stories appear daily, if not hourly. Images are doctored, and false facts are distributed and re-reported by thousands of others. A clip on social media of two oceans meeting yet remaining separate is not in fact the Atlantic and Pacific.
Check sources, check facts, and in fact, check everything today. A new biography of the great couturier Charles James is riddled with inaccuracies. Now, even print and published information may be suspect.
Ethics, sustainability, and fashion that is designed, manufactured, and sourced in the right way is not a subject that will disappear, nor would we want it too. However, it occurred to me that the subject is complex and needs updating in what it includes as part of the discussion.
It is EVERYTHING, from the way the thread is formed through the treatment of the garment workers, to the sales staff and finally the re-cycling options. At every stage we must ask the question,“Is this right?”
Ultimately “make less, make better” is the answer. Many people propose this theory as the solution, but expensive is expensive. If the initial outlay is too high for many people, won’t they just return to cheap clothing?
Tony Glenville shares his thoughts on fashion and trends in regular articles for our website. Tony is Consultant Creative Director to London College of Fashion (LCF), University of the Arts London. He is Couture Editor for Luxure magazine, and his prolific career in fashion journalism has seen him covering the major fashion scene, haute couture, and London and Paris Fashion Weeks, as well as working with NOWFASHION, Schön!, Antidote, Lash, Narcisse and Renaissance magazines. He is author of the books Top to Toe, a guide to men's grooming and New Icons of Fashion Illustration. He also works closely with Fashion Scout and is a judge at Graduate Fashion Week.