Change they say is the only constant in fashion. Trend cycles, power nexuses or aesthetics, fashion by nature is ephemeral. The recent years have brought to light pressures on creative directors to deliver not just to an audience but also the demands of the business and the growth of the larger conglomerates controlling labels.The musical chairs of creative directors raise several issues intrinsic to the fashion ecosystem.
Peter Do’s debut in New York as the creative director at Helmut Lang was the talk of the season. Eagerly anticipated by Do and Lang fans, the pressure on Do, one would imagine was be tremendous. Through the chatter, Do produced a collection reflective of his understanding of the brand codes and the direction he wished to take it forward in. However, the crowd responded tepidly to his debut lineup which incorporated a collaboration with the poet Ocean Vuong. Cathy Horyn, chief critic at The Cut and formerly of The New York Times put out a particularly harsh review post the show,“Do is going to have to find his own point of contact with Lang and then express that spirit in a contemporary way, without respect for his legacy. Otherwise, we might as well go to Uniqlo.”
Peter Do for Helmut Lang
In a world where most experience social anxiety thanks to social media and its subliminal impact on our psyche, are reviewers taking note of the impact they have on the grater ecosystem and the creative himself whose work is seen on a largely public platform? Should we be going after designers right after their primary collections? The development and shift of an aesthetic is a gradual process. Perhaps expressing utter disappointment can be saved for a few months down the line.
Meanwhile at Gucci, Alessandro Michele’s departure was followed by the appointment of Sabato De Sarno. With a conscious effort to distance itself from Michele’s brand of fantastical, floral storytelling at the Italian luxury house, Sarno’s debut at Gucci was deemed underwhelming and considered too derived and on the surface. Perhaps the public sentiment towards Michele’s departure was that of anger and accepting a new wave of ideas was too much to expect from loyalists. Sarno’s hire by Kering was closely followed by the appointment of Seán McGirr at Alexander McQueen. The replacement of a strong female creative force like Sarah Burton with a male one raised questions about Kering’s commitment to inclusivity in its operations.
Sabato De Sarno for Gucci
When Pharell Williams took the helm at Louis Vuitton, there’s no doubt his status as a global influencer outweighed his understanding of design. Vuitton’s move of trading business acumen for eyeballs was a shrewd one. The question remains, are we doing justice to our collection contribution towards design? And for fashion to thrive, could we be more welcoming of fresh talent?
Pharrell Williams for Louis Vuitton