21 July 2012

Day Zero

Poem by Ann Demeulemeester
(via T Magazine)

Ann Demeulemeester
Fall/Winter 2009
Backstage Photographs
(via Frillr)

The creature that is fashion dies the moment it is realized. Fashion must inherently be new and of the moment (or arguably of the moment directly after this one). Once the moment has passed, all eyes turn to the future, because fashion is always looking for the next new thing. But how does fashion move forward? Can it ever severe entirely from the past or must it continue with some common thread?

In order to understand fashion, one has to examine fashion's paradoxical relationship with the past. The fashion narrative, as with history, presents time in terms of a linear progression (or even a series of linear progressions), but fashion itself plunders the past in such a way as to render linear time entirely pointless. Fashion aims not merely to replace what went before it, but to obliterate it into the realms of bad taste, and so every season it looks to rise from the ashes like a phoenix. It replaces the moment just passed, but something very important exists beyond that moment just passed - the rich and diverse panoply of history. History is made distinct from the direct past, in that it is open for all to examine and draw inspiration from. In this sense linear time is rendered obsolete, because the designer may pick and choose ideas and images from centuries apart and combine them for their own fashionable end. There is no past and future, only resurrection or continuation.

I am always interested in how individual designers treat and understand time, not merely in terms of referencing and inspiration, but also in terms of how they view the progression of their own labels. In this small instance I thought I would look back to Ann Demeulemeester's Fall/Winter 2009 collection, which was inspired by the idea of romantic poets (what else would Ann choose?) leaving to create a new future, in a new land, on 'Day Zero'. History is for Demeulemeester realized through the poetics of memory rather than any real sense of direct historical empiricism. Whilst a designer such as Galliano would launch us full fledged into his alternate timeline, or Westwood would present a pastiche formed from meticulous historical research, Ann treats us to her own imaginings, not so much harking back to a time gone by, but rather saying that it never stopped. Ideas and emotions live on through her clothing, and these ideas and emotions are based outside of time - for her they are universal.

Soft, romantic and tinged with a slight melancholy. There is a sense of hope in this new world, inhabited by her recurring motif of the romantic poet, but also a need for protection - the chunky knitwear, the high riding boots, the high collars, the multiple layers, all of which are again common features in her work. Starting anew from scratch is not an easy idea, but I think Ann tries to remind us that there will always be some connection to the past, and no doubt the future, through these universal emotions. She does not look for a clean break, or some negation of the past, that is not what her work is about. Indeed she actually embraces this past as something that never stopped and so uses it to move forward, and to move it into her new world. "A new dream, A new hope, That's our creative duty..." - the perfect mantra for any fashion designer.



  1. Such an interesting post. Love that hat, too. I'd recently watched a short with Richard Harmon in it, and he was wearing a similar hat. Perhaps he created the character from the hat.

    I loved the last quote.

  2. Looks like historical drama's clothing. Beautiful. I love layering!
    Not only fashion designer,all artst look back history.

  3. Can boys please wear top hats always?