Yesterday's post began with a simple statement - "Modernity started out as a promise" - and analysed the impact and consequences of modernity in architecture. In the post we looked at how utopian modernity turned into a disturbing dystopia, but, in many ways, the same thing could be stated about modernity in fashion.
Throughout the decades, the relentless search for modernity resulted in a loss of decency, comfort, functionality, practicality, genuine innovation, basic aesthetic values and high quality materials.
Sure, comfort and function are not always high on the fashion scales, and if Miuccia says she's into "ugly chic" thousands of superficial people will follow her forgetting what the words "good taste" mean. Yet the question "what were they thinking?" naturally comes to your mind when you see useless (mind you, not "uselessly surreal", just "ugly useless") accessories like some of the ones for the Spring/Summer 2015 season.
A recent selection on WWD was particular fascinating since it could have been perfectly described by the sentence "Modernity started out as a promise...but ended up in a mess". Indeed, designers interpreting modernity offer us for the next Spring/Summer season a wide range of accessories, characterised by weird shapes, crazy angles and an anti-functionalist charm.
One main technique for a few designers consisted in taking a pair of shoes and gluing to them a terrible heel that could go from angular and squarish (but supposedly architectural; such as in Pierre Hardy's case) to Mammoth-leg like (see JW Anderson's).
Another trend is creating terribly unbalanced footwear: Prada came up with massive platform shoes in '70s style with a tiny ankle strap of the kind that will definitely break on the very first day you'll wear them; Salvatore Ferragamo took one of its most iconic shoe, the rainbow platform sandal created in the '30s for Judy Garland, and managed to turn it into a horrifying all black version with a strap that passes in-between-the-toes (is that isolating tape you put it around the toes, by the way?).
The label founder Salvatore studied orthopedics, but whoever came up with these shoes didn't as pain is guaranteed by the high platform that doesn't allow the foot to bend without causing pain in between the toes.
You can file under the "orthopedically questionable category" also Stuart Weitzeman's sandals with golden platform (though Barbarella would wear them...) and, above all, the most ugly pair of shoes I have ever seen in my life, Tom Ford's massive sandals. Their ugliness is indeed too difficult to describe. Just horrid.
Hybrid shoes are also very popular for the next Spring/Summer 2015 season: Givenchy has found the equivalent of a straitjacket for your feet and legs, a schizoid boot-cum-sandal with a wedge that ends with an aesthetically displeasing spiky metal heel (are they sold with a slave that can help you putting them on?).
A nostalgia for the late '80s probably prompted Marco De Vincenzo to glue a pastel coloured Charro boot to a pair of high heels with terribly puzzling results; Marni also had a nostalgic moment, but for the '90s when Buffalo Boots were terribly in. In the late '90s Buffalo came up with quite high platform sandals that caused more than just one accident in the streets of London. Now you can have a similar version designed by Marni, that will allow you to have/cause more accidents, albeit in an innovatively stylish yet sporty way.
One honourable mention for the hybrid category goes to Marc Jacobs's Dr Scholl's velvet sandals The good thing about Dr Scholl's wooden sandals is that, being made with wood you can cover them in water and sand and they will still dry without the wood cracking or they could be used for violently engaging fights with an annoying partner/neighbour/family member/stalker and so on.Now, the velvet material strips them of their main purposes: getting messy on the beach, in the garden or in the shower, and, above all, strips them of their violent connotation, which, allow me to say, is rather annoying. What do you throw at somebody boring you in summer, an expensive velvet imitation of a Dr Scholl's sandal? Let's face it, it just wouldn't work. What you saying? This is supposed to be filed under evening wear being velvety and covered in Swarovski? Say what you want, but this is just a glamorised Dr Scholl's sandal.
Talking about categories, how can you resist accessories that can be filed as "shoes and bags with multiple purposes"? Rochas's shoes covered in super-fluffy feathers can be used to sweep floors while walking, which saves you time if you're a busy woman (you can easily imagine Anna Wintour cleaning in them...).
Having been assembled with sneaker leftovers, Alexander Wang's bags can instead be dismantled and reconfigured again into a pair of sneakers. They should sell them with a label that says "For all your fitness needs" or "Improves your manual skills".
But the world of accessories offers endless and fun possibilities (especially if you're a comedians...): think about the gigantic necklace by Narciso Rodriguez that is unfortunately not sold with elastic therapeutic tape that could help ease pain around your neck area after wearing it; Kenzo's visor with an enhanced and elongated forehead area, ideal if you are a Klingon and have a large rigged forehead to protect from UVA rays; and Fendi's Karl Lagerfeld shrunken head - pardon - bag.
Theres is also a vast "art for art's sake" sub-category when it comes to accessories, among the various examples we can remember Sara Battaglia's (the living proof that, yes, having a relative who is also a fashion editor, does help in this industry...) manga -inspired bags, that actually make you wonder if somebody high on acid designed and coloured them in with cheap DIY materials while watching disturbing horror films.
In between colourful and fun ideas, you suddenly realise that fashion is verging towards the ridiculous, unfunctional, impractical or simply horrid while a passion for the extremes – higher and higher, smaller and smaller, gigantic and visually striking or gravity defying (like Alexander McQueen's sandals...) – is favoured.So let's go back to the beginning and the initial question "Modernity: Promise or Menace?" You can try and find your answer when you see these pieces in the stores and maybe even try them on to get a better design perspective on modernity. In the meantime, to conclude this post we can add that it is clear that the covetable and desirable is slowly turning into a design nightmare that verges towards the ridiculous. But maybe architect Frank Gehry has a better answer.
Last month, when a journalist raised some criticisms at a press conference in Spain, Gehry gave the finger and added "Ninety-eight per cent of everything that is built today is pure shit. There's no sense of design, no respect for humanity or for anything else. They are damn buildings and that's it." It's just damn fashion then, with no sense of design or proportions. In a nutshell, just pure shit.
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