So it seems French fashion icon and ex Vogue editor, Carine Rotfield and I seem to have rather a lot in common! She likes a flat shoe (note the fashion singular there!) doesn’t buy a new ‘it’ bag every season, thinks some designer clothes are over priced, and that fashion is a matter of taste not money. Hear hear Carine, and there was I thinking she was one of those fashion eds who looks good simply because she gets lots of free designer clothes. Actually if I’m honest, I like her dress sense, but always feel I want to run a comb through her hair, but thats just me!
In a recent interview with Speigal online, Roitfeld talked about how after ten years as the editor of French Vogue, she felt businessmen had squeezed the fun out of the fashion industry. ‘Creativity needs space and a willingness to take risks, but businessmen don’t like risk. What’s more, designers are coming under more and more pressure. Today, a dress can’t just please the women in Paris; it also has to please those in Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow and New York.’
Oh Carine I could agree more, greed and the corporate world have hijacked fashion and turned it into a commodity and sadly some of the people running it, could be producing anything – nuts, bolts, houses, gold, whatever – for them its all about the bottom line and not the product. The seasons have become closer together with an almost never ending round of cruise, pre- fall and seasonal collections being presented in an attempt to persuade people to ‘buy more stuff’.
What happened to fashion being fun? I am a huge lover of street fashion and have always found the odd underground looks created by music fans, art students and sports enthusiasts more inspiring than anything I could ever find in a shop. But the relentless quest for the ‘next big thing’ sees catwalk and street trends copied and mass produced by the high street before you can say streetstyle blog!!
The sooner the High Street stops being obsessed with trends and the catwalk collections, the better for everyone. Most of all the customer. How about making a nice collection of clothes that real people actually want to wear, because at the end of the day, most women (lets exclude those who work in the fashion industry here) just want to look nice, a little bit sexy, and fashionable without standing out too much.
Isn’t the secret to creating a good brand, to know your customer, understand their lifestyle needs and create unique, appropriate product? If your customer is young and fashion forward, create young fashion forward product which taps into the trends, but still manages to have it’s own identity. If you customer is older, apply the trends that are appropriate and ignore the rest. But above all be yourself, create a brand with a story and an identity.
Last week I went to the private view of the St Martins Foundation course and spent a lot of the evening chatting to teen son and his friends about the ‘weird’ outfits some of the students were wearing. It took me back to my own days as an art student and my experimental (that’s putting it kindly) outfits. ‘It’s all about being creative and trying new things, in your work and in yourself’ I explained to them. ‘You can be anyone you want to be through your clothes,’ and it seems Carine agrees with me on this too. I’ll leave the last word to her.
‘Today’s fashions don’t let people dream as much as they used to. Twenty years ago, fashion was a promise — something that was part of your life and perhaps enriched it, something that reflected a particular era. If you look at advertisements these days, all you see are handbags. They aren’t about dreams anymore; customers are buying objects now, not dreams.’