Fashion Observed

Trend observations with a sociological eye from afar...

by Darryl S. Warren  

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Happy new year to you!

We continue to interrupt the normal flow of covering 2016 Pre-fall collections to talk more about the future. But don't worry...there is more 2016 pre-fall to talk about next week.

As mentioned in last week's post, cinema is anticipated to be a continued influence in the upcoming collections. Those who have read this blog since its inception will note that this is nothing new. Designers are as moved by entertainment as is the public. They create collections that can resonate with its audience on many levels. When popular entertainment reaches far and wide, it is expected that it will play a role in the creative process.

Fashion and film are far more linked than in that regard. Successful filmmakers know that relevance is important when proposing a multimillion dollar investment to be created. The story, its setting and everything that upholds the visual aspects are carefully planned and designed. Like any creative attempt, it cannot always get the timing right but when it does and when the elements are well-chosen the connection and its impact is powerful.   

Creating costumes often means utilizing similar insights that a design team would have. Knowing the project's projected time of release, the creatives anticipate aspects that would need to line up with what is current so the audience can feel more emotionally invested via familiarity. A glance at any past successful films will show this, especially with the lead characters where clothes, hair and makeup are concerned. You can always tell when the film was made by looking at the stars as they are groomed to connect with what is now, even if its a period piece where trend inspirations line up ( e.g. Merchant Ivory vs. the 90s); its symbiotic and profitable when both areas get it.

It helps when a franchise that brings in well-known creative talent is involved to bring concepts that are in line with cultural trends. The spiritual awareness of energy connecting us all has been a mainstay since the 90s got more New Age-y; the "force" becomes something relatable in our vernacular as we seek something deeper beyond the tech-lined human condition. The ample discussions that merge metaphysics and spirituality resonate in a world where uncertainty begs for something to help us make sense of it all. This plus the embrace of tech is what helps make Star Wars more relevant. 

The costume designers certainly have put to use their connected information resources, bringing elements such as vests and capris, arm cuffs (this time layered), more technical approaches to curvature stitching and raised texture leatherwork that we saw in the early 2000s...and most likely what we will see again in the Mad Max earth tones that denote a search for detached stability that we take as an exercise in emotional poise.

The other point to note is that we are moving from influences resulting from cultural impacts like these and finding the reverse, where anticipated interest and hype make the trends before and not after the event. Our real-time supply chains and reach of social media have created environments where real time demand exhausts influences by the moment of their arrival versus in the past when we had to wait until the release to make an impact; the excitement generated in fashion does not seem to be as much after a film's release as it is in the years leading up to its arrival in theaters. This happened with Baz Luhrmann's "The Great Gatsby"; clothing lines that came after its release did not do as well an anticipated versus anything 20s related that came beforehand to ride in tandem with club music releases that built momentum (insider fashion anticipation of 2020 nonwihtstanding). The delayed release did not help regarding timing and momentum, but in this case while the sustained excitement over a few years might speak about the endurance and power of this franchise, the interest seems to have dropped off as it released once news of the films breaking records passed and that's not good for those who design merchandise to catch the waves of a trend.

Of course, that doesn't mean the film won't have made its impact when looking at the future-forward insight of the costumers, and this film will be but one of many influences because that is how our world is now. The influences come from everywhere in a world where past models no longer hold true. So we'll see what has the force to awaken our of course and not elsewhere far, far away.

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