It's a bad time for fashion weeks and fashion news: Milan menswear closed a couple of days ago, Paris menswear is on (while Resort lookbooks keep on being released…), Reuters revealed yesterday that, after Haute Couture Week, Dior will announce the appointment of Maria Grazia Chiuri (one half of the Valentino team with Pier Paolo Piccioli) as its new Creative Director (a piece of news that should lift the spirits in Italy as Chiuri would be the second Italian Creative Director for the French maison, 17 years after Gianfranco Ferré, and the first woman to head it).
Yet this morning fashion reviews are secondary news as the focus is definitely on the results of the Brexit, the nickname for the referendum about Britain's departure from the European Union. Britain joined the European Economic Community (the predecessor of the European Union) in 1973 and two years later in a referendum more than 67% of voters chose to remain. Yesterday instead the majority of the electorate (52%) voted to leave the Union. This morning Prime Minister David Cameron, a soft Eurosceptic who supported the "Remain" campaign, announced his decision to stand down from office and the pound slumped to the lowest level in 30 years.
Though not all British fashion designers clearly manifested their intentions of voting to "Leave" or "Remain", just ten days ago, an e-survey by the British Fashion Council showed that most of them wanted to keep on being part of the European Union.
Besides, during London Collections: Men, Sibling's Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan, Lou Dalton, Christopher Raeburn, and Patrick Grant of E. Tautz all wore "In" T-shirts when they took their bows, showing their support for the "Remain" campaign.
Daniel W. Fletcher also did an off-schedule show/demonstration with friends, family and models holding signs with slogans such as "Stay" and "Better Together" ("Stay" track tops, caps, and tees are part of Fletcher's S/S 2017 collection, though they may not be "in" anymore come next season - excuse the pun), and at Central Saint Martins B.A. collections, student Philip Ellis also addressed the issue covering his punk garments with EU flag armbands and badges reading "stay".
Days before the London menswear event Vivienne Westwood posted on her Instagram account a photo of herself wearing a T-shirt urging everyone to register to vote, while Christopher Bailey of Burberry signed a collective letter with other business leaders that was published on the opinion page of The Times of London in February.
When the vote was announced, design collective Common Market relaunched instead a sweater originally designed by a Scottish mill in 1975 for Margaret Thatcher. The jumper featured the flags of the nine countries (Belgium, France, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, West Germany, Ireland, Denmark, and the United Kingdom ) that made up the common market at the time; though she wasn't really pro-Europe, Thatcher wore it in support of the European trade agreement.
Before the referendum took place, a Creative Industries Federation Survey aslo showed that more than 96% of respondents supported the move to remain. Such results are perfectly understandable: if you work in a creative venture you know how important it is to have an open mind and collaborate together with people from different backgrounds and cultures; if you're a fashion designer, you know that there are benefits when you produce or manufacture a collection in a European country where there may have specialized companies or ateliers.
For decades students have benefited from European exchange programmes, opening new paths to other people who came after them (I was an early Erasmus student myself and paved the way for more Italians to go and study Scottish Literature at Glasgow University).
Yet it seemed the Europhobes' emphasis about losing control over immigration flows, fear, narrow mindedness or simple lack of knowledge about more practical aspects prevailed: some of the people who voted "Leave" said they felt dominated by EU laws, but EU laws also regulate trade, patent and copyright issues, in a nutshell they allow certain exchanges between European countries that generate money and jobs. And the European Union may have lost control over immigration flows, but Italy has been screaming emergency for years as the Mediterranean turned into a graveyard where migrants drowned every day, but most countries - the UK included - never cared until the situation became worse.
Cameron stated he will not immediately instigate Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon that formally notifies a country's intention to withdraw from the Union starting a two-year negotiation with the EU to decide the terms of the leave. But there are complex issues to take care of. How will the UK regulate import and exports? Will companies have to pay customs? If yes, rather than doing business with the UK some countries may decide to go elsewhere inside the European Union. Or is this the end of free trade for them? And what about Internet shopping?
What about military issues and operations? What will happen to border control (oh well, maybe people who voted "Leave" are not travellers, so they don't have a clue about longer border controls for non-EU residents…)? Will EU citizens have the right to live and work freely in Britain, and vice versa?
What about exchange programmes between universities? And uni fees? Will European students be considered as "overseas students" to make sure they pay higher fees?
What happens to all the people from the EU (and from other countries…) working in the UK? (No, I'm not just thinking about multicultural teams working for fashion designers, but doctors working for the National Health Service as well and many others in key roles). Will they all have to get visas (in which case it will be easier to move somewhere else entire British companies with teams of workers from other countries; fashion-wise don't forget that some of the most hyped up fashion designer living, working and showing their collections in the UK are not British)?
What about means of transports such as low cost airlines based in the UK but mainly flying to EU airports, tax-wise what will happen to them and to the airports where they land?
Should the UK be entitled to take part in strictly "European" events now? And what about UK companies receiving EU funds or projects launched in the UK in collaboration with other European countries that get EU grants? And tenders won by UK companies in other European countries?
As you see, some of these issues are delicate matters and may have damaging (and curently unclear...) implications and consequences (though Cameron stated there will be "no immediate changes" for the EU citizens working in the UK and the British living abroad). In a way this is a sad moment in history since it represents a victory for Nazi extremist Europhobes à la Nigel Farage and maniacs like Boris Johnson, and it is a shame that this referendum even left a victim behind, Labour MP Jo Cox, shot by a British Nazi sympathizer.
Looks like the debate that has divided friends, families and parties in the last few weeks has also widened the gap between British citizens and Europeans, showing that in 2016 there is still place for racism, nationalism, parochialism and provincialism.
Do you want to get out of Europe? Then get out also from the European Championships now and forget about your beloved Eurovision Song Contest. No man's an island, yes, that's true, but this basic statement is somehow a difficult concept to grasp for narrow minded people who claim they have never benefited from multiculturalism, even when that same multiculturalism allows them to eat foreign delicacies, dress in international brands, read another language and make money and business with another country.
The hilarity of it all? Farage & Co are now technically aliens in the EU, "extra-communitarian" people, "Europe's Others", so they will have to start a campaign against themselves now. The Brexit trends, fashion-wise? Well, Gucci's Resort 2017 collection wth its punkish theme filtered through granny style and Union Jack jumpers and loafers will (sadly) go down a storm with the "Leave" supporters.
Member of the Boxxet Network of Blogs, Videos and Photos