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Fashion’s Quiet Side
March 15, 2013
Fashion’s voice has always been a loud one; dense with eccentric flourishes and dramatic screams of “Look at me now! I’m important!” It’s an industry built on being able to network your way to fame; having a voice and using it. Susan Cain’s recent book ‘Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking’ explores the nature of introversion and the importance of quiet in society and the work place. Cain’s argument highlights that the introverted approach to life can often harvest the strongest results, which seems all too applicable to fashion – the importance of understated design is growing ever more apparent as the seasons pass.
You need only mention designers such as Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood and Dolce & Gabbana to see that extroversion in fashion can go a long way. But it’s the minimalist underground that holds the future of fashion in its possession. The rise of Japanese inspired minimalism began in the 1980’s through designers such as Yohji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake. In the 90s, Calvin Klein promoted the cleanliness of an all white American look. And now it’s the turn of the European minimalists like Raf Simons, Kris Van Assche, Damir Doma and Jil Sander, who returned to her label last year after Simons moved on to Dior. Among the chaos of the fashion industry’s need for attention and eccentricity, the quieter designs always manage to shine through the brightest. The Kris Van Assche A/W 2013 collection shown in Paris in January proved this by being one of the most original and exciting menswear collections in recent years.
Fashion will always have its flamboyant characters; the likes of Etro, Cavalli, Dolce & Gabanna and Moschino are never going to opt for a minimalist aesthetic, because the world needs balance. However, the future of the fashion industry certainly points to a new minimalist design. If there’s one catwalk show that provides a foretelling eye into where fashion is headed it’s the Central Saint Martins MA show. Renowned for churning out the best in British fashion, CSM is where the prodigies of the future lay in wait, and the MA show held during London Fashion Week this February was awash with modest, low-key collections. Take, for example, the work of Hwan Sung Park, who worked with a completely white palette, all worn beneath a sheer full-body veil. Or L’Oreal Professional Award winner Eilish Macintosh’s simple full-length black tunics with rope embellishments. In fact, more than half of the MA students opted for collections that took a minimalist aesthetic; a notion rather unusual for an industry so reliant on loud personalities.
It is amongst chaos that the actions of the quiet are most prolific, and in times of flamboyant madness, minimalism has always been there to restore equilibrium. But minimalist design is slowly becoming a force of its own, promising to mute the loud voices of fashion. As Susan Cain suggests, introversion has an immense power, and it seems the fashion industry is about ready to succumb.