I've never understood the pants-peeing anticipation and fight-to-the-death hysteria around procuring a piece from a highstreet-designer collaboration. When the latest head-scratcher of an announcement hits the media - Comme des Garcon, Alexander McQueen, Rodarte - I ask the world in general, "Why do you want a poorly made dress/jacket/top/ in fabric that looks and feels cheap and is a watered down version of fashion that truly thrills you?" That H&M tag may say Lanvin (I still cannot get my head around that one), but is it really? How is it different - the actual physical piece in your hands - how is it different from the knock-off from Primark next door? What makes it special, covetable, worth the time and energy spent online and in manic store queues, and possibly big money on Ebay a few days into the launch, trying to get it? (By the way - have you seen how many no longer loved items from past collabs are listed on Ebay, some of them key pieces from the collections, with no takers? As is the nature of thrills, they don't endure.)
I can understand losing your mind over it once; the prospect of having something beyond sunglasses and lipsticks - actual clothes! - you can afford from your favourite luxury brand is the stuff dreams are made of. But it's not them we're getting. I could go on about 'what is them', but then I'd be off on a tangent and the point of this post is to quote Miuccia Prada - probably the most critically acclaimed and revered person working in fashion today - on the issue from the second part of her recent interview with WWD. I've maintained that if Prada or Chanel ever did the dirty deed that luxury fashion would in essence be over. Can you imagine? Then again, Rei did it. (There's wiggle room there, however; although exalted, she represents something altogether different.) And this also gets covered in the interview. Whereas Karl Lagerfeld's thing is giving us our WTF? quote of the week (for which we are eternally grateful), Miuccia offers astute and honest analyses of an issue changing the face of fashion.
Before we FINALLY get to it: If you're happy with something you got, great. Happy is happy and that's the point of all it all for us, the consumer. So please don't yell at me about how awesome your Viktor & Rolf heart jumper is, you're allowed to enjoy it! Despite my rant which I've been dying to get off my chest, the issue is really about the proliferation of the fast-fashion concept.
From WWD's interview with Miuccia Prada in Beijing:
What she thinks of the 'fast fashion boom': "I have never even considered it. It’s because I don’t like the idea of a bad copy of what one does for the main brand. If I had an ingenious idea to do fashion that costs less but that wasn’t a bad copy of something else, with completely different criteria and ways of doing things, I would do it. For now, what I see more or less is the bad copy. Also with clothes that cost little, you need to ask why they cost so little. Because no one ever asks themselves that."
WWD mentions Rei Kawakubo, Miuccia asks what the thinks of this and is told that with regards to her H&M collaboration, "in the end she discovered that the worlds were too different from one another and she doesn’t think she’ll do something like that again." To which Miuccia responds: "It’s what everyone wants and I resist it because I want to be relevant in my own way.…I try to simplify my ideas and make them more simple but beyond a certain point, the simplification is not a positive thing.…So extracting the essence of a brand so that a brand is just a bow, the brand is just a heart, the brand is just black…everyone would want that. Even the customers would want that. The majority of people want to just sell and probably [Kawakubo] would have found this aspect negative. Because in the end she didn’t want to banalize what she does and almost become a caricature of herself."
Don't make it for the sake of it: "It’s clear that Chanel is known for the little jacket and Vuitton for the LV and us? Nobody really knows what we are, which is fortunate. Because I try to resist making a banal product. It’s clear that, as the world continues to get bigger, a bit of simplification is necessary but not to the point where it becomes totally useless or uninteresting."
She doesn't get it, either. And don't be a hypocrite! "I would hope that those chains would create a young fashion that’s fresh, autonomous with new ideas…and that they would do fewer bad copies. There are already bad copies around. What I don’t understand is all the admiration for this [imitation]. What’s more, the same people in the luxury industry defend the market of the things that cost little. When things cost very little, you need to ask yourself how and where they were made."
Portrait of Miuccia Prada by Guido Harari