Middleagedmum: where are all the innovators?

Innovators Bill Cunningham and André Leon Talley and great original street style from LFW

This weekend we’ve been out and about at London fashion week, which has been both inspiring and slightly irritating. When I have my work/designer/blogger/fashion head on, I love it. There is nothing like the thrill and glamour of a runway show – the models, celebrities, music and of course the clothes. Fashion still has the ability to thrill and excite me and the day I stop feeling like this, is when I give it all up to live in a bungalow in Walberswick.

Hanging out in the courtyard of Somerset House watching the fashion crowds go by, I have however had the odd Middleagedmum moment, when I seem to be developing a worrying form of fashion Tourettes!

Fashion has always been about following trends and God knows I should be last person to lament this, having made a career out of forecasting them. But occasionally, when spotting a particularly ridiculous outfit, I’ve found myself muttering “what do they they think they look like”.

Of course I’ve had to keep this to myself, as it would be fashion suicide to suggest giant moulded black wedges that look like the orthopedic shoes my Grandad used to wear for his arthritic hip, tiny mini clutch bags that couldn’t possibly hold more than a lipstick, or large Northern girls with lilac hair, wearing dresses that would really look better on My Little Pony, might in any way look ridiculous. Oh no, that would never do, as fashion is a very very serious business and one must treat this seasons clutch/wedge/dip dye hair/patterned trouser suit with the respect they deserve – after all we trend forecasters, editors and designers have fought long and hard to convince consumers they should buy into these ‘on trend, must have, looks of the season’.

My issue with these try hard girls at LFW isn’t about how extreme they look – as you know I love a ridiculous outfit – it’s more about how un original they look. Fashion forward innovators who create completely unique looks are exciting and inspiring and since I was old enough to go clubbing (around 14, but don’t tell the teens) I’ve admired individuals who stand out from the crowd and experiment with their style.

Maybe it’s me getting old, but these days it seems there are more followers than leaders – or maybe its just that we’ve seen everything, everywhere, almost as soon as it happens. As street Style has a become a commodity everyone wants to tap into, what was once unique to a music scene, city, club or even just a group of friends is instantly online for all to see. Facebook, blogs, Instagram and Tumblr encourage sharing and in many ways democratise style – as everyone is informed and aware and able to access the latest trends. – but is this a good thing?

It seems the never ending quest for the latest super high shoe/trophy trouser/designer it bag has created a generation of Grazia and Tumblr clones, head to toe in all the latest items. No-one can fault their attention to detail, level of grooming or fashion knowledge, but it feels like bought style, rather than intuitive individual style.

I can’t hand on heart state I have never ever bought something because it is the “thing” of the moment. I wouldn’t work in fashion if I wasn’t one influenced by the zeitgeist, but the liberating thing about getting older is that fashion becomes more about creating ones own style, rather than buying into a label or a look.

So come on you young uns – show us something original every now and again – we long to be shocked and inspired, but not by how high your shoes are!

Bill Cunningham sums it up in the fabulous film about his life:

“The best fashion show is definitely on the street, always has been. Always will be.”

“Everyone has taste, but they don’t have the daring to be creative.”

“We’re in the age of the cookie-cutter sameness. There are few that are rarities, someone who doesn’t look like ten million others.”


1 Comment

  • Pearl says:

    Whilst I very much see and agree with your point about the glossy magazine clones looking rather boring – yet understanding this is what our fashion industry is fueled on. I have to call you out on your quote ” large Northern girls with lilac hair, wearing dresses that would really look better on My Little Pony”.
    Firstly because I find it offensive you feel the need to take someones shape/weight into account when commenting on fashion and secondly because surely wearing such an outfit is totally going against the run of the mill trends and is actually something rather original which you are appealing for in your article?

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