Fashion is essentially a social medium, because it is the product of an activity that takes place at a community level. More than in any other form of art, both its production and its consumption constitute a mass expression, a group exercise which, as the pandemic has recently demonstrated, can lose much of its meaning in the pneumatic vacuum of isolation.

Fashion as we know it today has established itself as an industry a Paris in response to the needs of a community, those of the royal court. The prestige and refinement of that milieu were at the origin of the diffusion in Europe of collections based on elements of seasonal variability. The advent of democracy and the invention of prêt-à-porter then led to its self-determination, allowing it the uninterrupted exercise of authority in its own right, while designers began to sign their works in the same way that the artists signed their canvases.

Lenny Kravitz, Haider Ackermann, designer Kim Jones, Naomi Campbell, Farida Khelfa and Kate Moss pose after the Dior Homme S / S 2019 fashion show in Paris.

© BERTRAND RINDOFF PETROFF / GETTY IMAGES

Except that, unlike the major artists, the great designers have always carried out their activity in the context of creative collaborations with numerous other people, both working alongside them and making them a source of inspiration. Designers who are truly destined to leave their mark possess a creative vision that is peculiar to them but also an open-mindedness and curiosity through which they are able to borrow from others the elements with which to express that vision. As they mature, they acquire an individual momentum and their gravitational field expands, attracting more and more collaborators and users similar to their sensitivity. And so, boom! Here a fashion community was born.

In the 1920s, and then later, Coco Chanel led the process of stripping women’s clothing of all unnecessary frills, at a time when changing social mores finally allowed women to dress more practically. Although she is rightly celebrated for being a voice of absolute originality, Mademoiselle cultivated the friendship of characters outside the fashion world whose approach was no less radical than hers: among others Igor Stravinskij, Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso is Salvador Dalí, with whom, on one occasion, he designed the costumes for a ballet.

(Keep it going)

English text at this link.

Read the full article in the April issue of Vogue Italia, on newsstands from 7 April

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