People used to wait around for trends. They’d wait for Vogue or Harper’s Bazaar or Women’s Wear Daily to report on the hemlines, sleeve lengths, colors or textures of the bi-annual seasons in Paris, and those accounts would inform the uniform, though decidedly fashionable, way in which women dressed. But that was then. Before the romantic concept of personal style and the subsequent bastardization of that concept began their respective reigns.
Don’t get me wrong, though, things still come in. They come in and they trend. And trend.
After all, not since Run DMC first sang “It’s Tricky” and choreographically danced along to it have sneakers been as de rigeur as they are now. And until Phoebe Philo contentiously rectified an alleged wrong about footwear, Birkenstocks were a talisman of Jam Band culture, not high fashion.
For the most part, however, the things that do come in, don’t come in how they used to. Some trends, like those mentioned, go viral (see: Stan Smith). But often times those trends are even more ephemeral than the ones that don’t. And the latter trends are simply too small-scale to be acknowledged the way fashion has heretofore known them: as a systematically consonant shift in one definitive direction, orchestrated by a talented assemblage of fashion designers subsisting relatively enigmatically overseas.
Hahahaha. Ask me if I went to The New School.
Today, trends are as plentiful as the stars that occupy the sky. They’re no longer a loaf of bread so much as they are minute slices. Sometimes they arrive pristine and heart-shaped, other times as though they’ve been crumpled, and the reason seems to be us. Us, our respective senses of personal style, and the designer reaction to it. (Was it not Marc Jacobs who cited Lynn Yaeger’s style as inspiration for his iceberg collection?)
In the 30s, storied houses like those of Vionnet and Lucien Lelong, which employed both Christian Dior and Pierre Balmain, designed on the pretense that every season had to be different — like a book of diverse essays.
There was no such thing as a novel in fashion (save, perhaps, for that of Cristobal Balenciaga’s). The novel would have been what Raf Simons or Phoebe Philo do now — progress by season while maintaining a decisive voice that speaks to (if not creates) a definitive genre of style, as opposed to accommodating many different ones.
As the timeline and essence of trends have evolved, style has been canonized, replicated, duplicated, imitated and turned essentially into a blog. And in this age of blogs and Pinterest and Instagram, who’s to say what is on trend and what is not anymore?
Yes, yes, sure, sure. We still have Vogue. We have all the time-honored magazines that drive fashion and its reportage. But we also have infinite new outlets. Some share news, some share reviews and others just share outfits. Ones that say: you do you, I do me, and whether or not we like each other’s sartorial affairs is irrelevant. Why? Because you have your platforms and I have mine, and our abiders, whoever they are, like us for that difference.
It seems great, but it also presents the larger issue of over-saturation, doesn’t it? A broad sense of stimulation that is so vast and comprehensive, it doesn’t even stimulate anymore. So where does that leave us?