L’Eleageance Futuriste

A story from a 1979 L’Officiel

Cardin, 1979

The world of tomorrow has forever provoked the human imagination, prospects of the future steering our dreams toward the unknown and unimaginable. Every era conceives their own version of what’s to come, but more often than not their efforts are no more than a telling read on the needs and dreams of their present. The Paris menswear collections for Fall/Winter 2010 announced a severely futurist mission in both references to past expectations of the future as well as truly directional ideas. It is the reconciling of the two that have made this season one of the most daring and convincing.

Notable trends include a raised and defined waist, fabric/color piecing, saturated neutral palettes, chintzed fabric, and a diverse range of silhouettes fabricated in sweater knits. The overall tone of the collections was tough and put an emphasis on protection.

There were so many different points of departure among the designers who showed in Paris yet they all seemed to arrive at the same destination. What is this futurist yearning? Is it a thirst for the new? Is it an attempt to merely replicate the look of a better world or is it a genuine attempt at living one? Not every concept of the future is dependent on science fiction, though it was the basis for futurism in the 60’s and 80’s when significant technological developments heightened public fascination. And certainly it has been a popular theme in futurism and retro-futurism in contemporary fashion, if only as novelty, for the last 10 years. But learning from many false prophecies, it is absurd to think that our conception of the future, full of technological beauty and fantasy, has any accuracy in predicting the way people will live and consequently dress. And so maybe this is not how the stylized Paris menswear collections should be interpreted.

Perhaps, instead of a futile attempt to address what’s to come through antiquated ideas of the future, designers have attempted to at least update the zeitgeist beyond the vintage inspirations that came about after 9/11 and deny its post-recession “Heritage” incarnation. In a world where communication and medical technology, and especially the internet have transcended every generation’s wildest dreams, it can be agreed that although we are not living in the world promised to us by Hannah-Barbera’s The Jetsons or Gene Rodenberry’s Star Trek we are however in a completely new one. It was about 10 years ago when Helmut Lang, fashion’s bastion for genuine futurist thought, made his impact on the world only to be left behind as it sought refuge in the past. His ideas, avant-garde at the time, have become seminal and invisible, fully integrated in our standard dress. And so in that sense, perhaps the Paris collections were merely an attempt to pick up right where we left off.


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