It has been creeping into the wearable lexicon of fashion for at least three seasons. I am inclined to blame no-longer-in-charge-of-Céline’s Phoebe Philo because she is like the matriarch of trendsetting, but it is really the chemists who discovered neon (the chemical element responsible for curious fashion decisions made by and large through the ’80s and ’90s) who deserve foremost credit. Could they have predicted that decades — even a century — later, contemporary arbiters of taste would take their discovery, slap it onto clothes and do their part to blind the masses? One cannot know, but not since Birkenstocks caught like a wildfire to spawn a million how-to and think pieces has a trend felt so pervasive.
And pervasive it will be. Believe me when I say there is no version of reality where you will not see neon trend to such a severe extent that you may finally have an excuse to wear sunglasses at night.
My knowledge is inclined to look no further than Céline’s resort collection of 2016 that, around the same time as Balenciaga, unleashed a subversive parade of the loud color treatment. By the spring season of 2017, Alexander Wang and Jason Wu and Sies Marjan’s Sander Lak were doing their part to drive this trend home. For 2018, neon was rendered on garments in such a ubiquitous manner (Marc Jacobs and Prada and so on and so forth) that it should not have been particularly surprising to find the brash hue sauntering down the couture runways of earlier this month at Schiaparelli and Giambattista Valli and Valentino et al., and yet it was. Which is, perhaps, nothing more or less than a personal response in the vein of defeat. Here I could have promised that following the parachute snafu of my pre-adolescent years, I’d have never been able, nor wanted, to make a case for neon again, but when I saw the way Zara styled two new turtlenecks, my mind changed. Changed, I tell ya. Not the same.
So I gave it my own try. And what did I find? That if I seed the trend meditatively enough (e.g., wear bright-ass shoes with a darker dress as photographed, or take the bright-ass shorts, currently styled with more bright-ass stuff, and wear it with like, a white blouse or striped tank top), I can totally be the girl who probably wanted to look like Lisa Turtle as a youth and found a way to do it honestly 15 years later. But frankly, I could also do better. You know what I mean? Liiiike, if I’m plucking clothes from my wardrobe, I am much more excited by the prospect of taking a pair of jean shorts and making them interesting than I am by submitting myself to anything neon. Currently, I’m in such a process of evolution with my style and find that I prefer to err on the side of classic (sorry, I mean cLaSSiquE) than trendy, so maybe there’s the disconnect.
Conclusion: I enjoy the course of trying a trend to determine whether I can master it but further appreciate that sometimes, I can’t.
This one I shall leave to the experts.
Photos by Edith Young and via Zara.