“Life is wasted on illusion….”
Bow Wow Wow, from Do You Want To Hold Me
Since last weekend’s Hot Couture fashion show at The Crucible in Oakland, California, I have contemplated the relationship between the music and fashion industry. Popular artists influence hairstyles. New styles of music force designer to create new outfits. A new dance craze provides a new excuse for more shoes… not that anyone needs an excuse for new shoes.
So what does Hot Couture have to do with the lyric from 1980’s band Bow Bow Wow? According to legend (or in this case, Wikipedia), Bow Wow Wow was recruited by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren to promote Westwood’s new clothing style. Westwood and McLaren used music to change fashion. Westwood’s “Pirate Collection of 1981” made punk stylish although the former school teacher probably used a different word. (I am a current school teacher so I will say “stylish.”)
I watched the old Bow Wow Wow music videos today while writing this post; I was surprised by the band’s sophistication which I probably missed when I was a young teenager. On the other hand, perhaps subtle layered attacks on popular mythology are exactly the type of messaging that informed my current world view. I suspect that the Hot Couture designers are also aware of pop culture’s many limitations.
Medium Reality designs sustainable clothing. This line probably challenged me more than any other. I do not have much fashion style, nor do I recycle clothes often. I have a few old shirts that I should probably stop wearing, but that is not recycling. At Medium Reality, they “set aside … assumptions about people, society, materials, and the way that things work….” The fashion industry has not been known for reality nor its search for the way things work. Perhaps Medium Reality will help us break free from creating more illusions that do not work for people.
The longer I watched the fashion show, the more that I realized that there was something basic about the designs. People have basic desires and the designers met the desires rather than create new illusions. People want to look good in the shadows and the spotlight. If a woman has a tattoo and she wants to wear a beautiful blue dress with big shoes, a designer can create a look for a runway. If a person wants to wear something fun and powerful (with latex), a designer can create that too… and the crowd will cheer.