If you picked up a copy of the November issue of Vogue UK not long ago you would have seen ‘The return of GLAMOUR’ etched across the cover (you know it means business when it’s in caps) and even if you didn’t, it doesn’t take a sartorial savant to notice the shift in trends towards sequins, feathers, disco and evening wear.
From the exaggerated feather trims on tiny night-clubesque dresses strutted down the runway of Saint Laurent, to the slightly more conservative sequined floor length dresses seen at Marc Jacobs in New York. Party-wear and decadence seem to be the flavour of the month across the SS18 shows.
Does fashion’s focus on the good times mean that there is cause in the world to celebrate?
Historically fashion’s return to hedonistic and cultural extravagance can mean one of two things; an economic boom in which a growing number of the population have larger amounts of disposable income i.e. the Roaring 20s, or people are using it as a distraction from the cultural/ political/ economic mess that surrounds them that they are increasingly feeling helpless from. As Stefani Bay, a faculty member of The Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago’s Fashion, Marketing and Management department explains, “Fashion is a coping mechanism, we use it to make ourselves feel better when times are bad.”
Now, I don’t want to be a pessimist because if we do look at the economy (briefly – don’t go down that rabbit hole too far) it has recovered, if we are comparing it to the years directly following the last economic crash in 2008. However, are we in the clear? Probably not, considering we also have to take into account Brexit and what that could mean, particularly, for Britain’s economic future.
If this glamourous trend is just a coping mechanism for the Brexits and Trumps of the world, we can find inspiration in the fact that the fashion industry doesn’t wallow in fear and hopelessness but instead uses its influence over culture to inspire and create joy in troubled times. Dries Van Norton dedicated his heavily embellished SS18 runway collection to optimism explaining backstage, “I wanted to make a happy, optimistic collection. Such strange things are happening in the world, that I wanted to escape with fashion.”
We may not be happy with the state of the world, or even make it to the end of the year if a certain cheeto-coloured man doesn’t learn how to edit his thoughts on Twitter. Putting on a sequined dress may not change those facts but if it can change your outlook and your mood, maybe it can inspire you to make change.
When we look good, we feel good and that feeling permeates through our culture and that is where we can draw the strength to make a change. Remember that when you are purchasing that pair of Tom Ford shimmery underpants.