New York Fashion Week is here. Our streets are dotted with teenage models, as noticeable as a gazelle in a herd of wildebeest, clutching their portfolios and intently examining subway maps. Emergency haircut appointments are made, juice fasts considered and new shoes purchased. The question that I will be asked most this week is "What Are The Trends?" and in the spur of the moment I will make up something about longer length skirts or graphic detailing, but in truth I have admission: I do not believe in trends.
As somebody who spent most of her teens and twenties wearing one unbecoming getup and embracing one trend after another, I feel that I am peculiarly well equipped to comment on their horrors generally. There was the singularly unflattering silver stretch-satin pantsuit by Joe Casely-Hayford for Topshop, which I bravely wore with Adidas shell-toe sneakers sprayed silver. The vintage-girl silver lame skirts and pearl-encrusted evening tops of my first year at Central St Martins were worn with a full heavy evening face of makeup - foundation, powder, dark lipstick, eyebrow pencil as seen in Drew Barrymore's Guess Ads and Madonna's "Secret" video. There were patchwork bellbottoms were worn enthusiastically with huge platforms and hair extensions braided with flowers. I thank my lucky stars that Instagram and IPhoto were not around during to record these ill-advised style statements of my formative years.
I remember having very intent conversations with one of my colleagues when I worked at Wallpaper* about who we would be next season, as if some magical grand transformation would occur as soon as the first fall delivery hit the racks. "It's all about Military!" we gushed, planning our Military looks with military precision. It makes me laugh that in reality, Military has been in fashion in some incarnation or another (save for a blip around 9/11) since Jimi Hendrix. Colin McDowell, in his excellent tome Fashion Today concurs, "Fashion is wrongly assumed to change quickly. In reality, in its basic premises it moves very slowly, a fact disguised by the quicksilver, surface changes of mood in response to sudden fads. It is possible to say of twentieth-century fashion that there have been only two serous permanent changes: the move from long skirts to short and the adoption of trousers by women. All else has been fashion faddism."
So why do we have this pressing need to deconstruct and compartmentalize each seasons' offerings into trends? Firstly, commerce. Secondly, a need to compartmentalize and control just about everything in our lives into nuggets of information rather than the confusing chaotic jumble that it actually is. Needless to say, today I detest trends and find the idea that this season I am a completely different person than I was six months ago both preposterous and frankly rather expensive. (see 'Million Dollar Purchase') The one thing that I do know is that fashion happens for a reason. What designers design and what people wear is a reaction to current and cultural events. If you really want a preview of what we are going to be seeing on the catwalk, look at what films we are watching, what exhibitions are in the museums and galleries and what is happening on the front page of our newspaper.
So what will I say this week when I am asked what the trends are? Here are my hunches:
Dark. After all the candy sherberty colors of the summer, and the sweetness and light, get ready for smoke, shadows and the dark arts.
Roses. Thanks, Lana Del Rey. She might have a drop too much filler in her lips, but the Veronica Lake hair and the rose headdress are amazing.
Romanticism. Everybody loves a story, and everybody loves to dream. It's books rather than kindles - a reaction to the digital world. Look at Deborah Turbeville's pictures and story on Style.com - beautifully indulgent and soulful.
And just remember, as Oscar Wilde said, "Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months".