On the Outs With Fashion Ins

According to the 2011 Trend Report, this outfit, featured in Vogue Paris (the generally acknowledged Bible of Trend), had all your bases covered… in 2002.

While I profess lots of high ideals about fashion, I admit I am often drawn to its lowest common denominator. At the drugstore I stop to look at the weekly magazines’ “Who Wore it Best” sections and, in the first months of the year, never fail to type “red carpet dresses” into my search engine. Every few weeks I browse a local fashion site to inspect their collection of fashion “winners” and “losers.” (Although it does assuage my shame to note that I tend to appreciate the “losers” more.) It was at this site that I recently noticed a link for a fashion week “Trend Report.”

The report (ooh, how official) promised to synthesize the top trends coming out of New York for fall/winter. I couldn’t resist clicking over to see what they would “forecast.” I was confronted with the following list:

Bold Patterns
Neutral Nude (as opposed to… electric nude?)
Bright Colour
Fur Finishes

The list appeared as a series of titled images — runway photos with designer names and virtually no explanations. I looked at it three times and thought to myself, “And this is why people think fashion is stupid.”

In my mind, the notion of trend was always attached to fairly specific things — even if they were interpreted in broad ways: wide-leg or narrow trousers, tight sweaters or loose, stillettoes or flats. Maybe one year would be all about recreating the military structure of the 40s only to give way in the next to a soft 1920s silhouette. You know, trends.

But this list is utter nonsense. At its best, it could be the result of sloppy reporting by people who don’t care about clothes. At its worst, an advertisers’ conspiracy, as though after consultation with manufacturers and retailers, it was decided that the best way to sell something was to push everything — and to do it as vaguely as possible. Don’t like bright colour? Well, you’re in luck because neutral is in! Don’t like graphic prints? Well have we got the stripes for you! This report isn’t telling people anything. It may as well have listed clothes as a trend — or shoes — or skin.

I want to stress, I don’t necessarily have a problem with trends. Just a few months ago I was looking for a pair of glasses frames and, quite accidentally, discovered that round frames were gathering speed. And I bought a pair and the fact that they are most definitely a trend doesn’t make me like them less. It’s good to see them come around again. As Serah-Marie said, there’s something about them that just feels fresh. That’s why things resurface and why people latch onto them. To never embrace a trend is to close your eyes to living fashion — and I like fashion too much to ever do that.

But I hate being told what I “must have.” In 2011, a trend in fashion is just an idea, floating around with a lot of other ideas. Like everything else Post Modern, fashion has lost its common narrative. And I hate that the Fashion Industry (or someone in it) thinks I’m an indiscriminate consumer monkey, and they can tell me any fool thing and I’ll pull out my wallet.

The list doesn’t include black and white, though. I guess they assumed the absurdity was clear enough.

- g.

above image from Prête à tout, Vogue Paris, June 2002
model: Natalia Vodianova
photo: Mario Testino