With last week's news of Anna Dello Russo designing an accessories collection for H&M and revival of the brand Elsa Schiaparelli, I've been asking myself what is rotten in the fashion industry that the most exciting designers seem to be non-designers and dead designers.
Anna Dello Russo for H&M
When the press release announcing the collaboration between Anna Dello Russo and H&M landed in my inbox, my initial thought was that these collaborations are getting old. While I had anticipated a number of them in the past with curiosity and enthusiasm, they no longer feel as exclusive and special because there is no space to breathe between one collaboration and the next. Once the hype in the media and online has subsided, you just know there's going to be a new collaboration tugging at your subconscious consumerist strings very soon. This cyclic course should really be linear because the way to progress is innovation, not repetition.
Though this is of little concern to H&M as their marketing strategy is collaborating with big fashion names – not even necessarily designers – to bring in tons of money, I would be infinitely more excited about high street brands employing young, emerging designers. It would reintroduce suspense and freshness, two elements almost all previous H&M collaborations have lacked (if you're familiar with the designer's signature style, you have a good grip of what the collaboration will be like) and contribute towards a less self-obsessed fashion industry.
Elsa Schiaparelli hats
While H&M's decision to collaborate with Anna Dello Russo makes perfect sense in terms of appeasing the evergrowing online crowd of fashion bloggers, readers and commentators, the news about the revival of Schiaparelli took me by surprise. Diego Della Valle, CEO of Tod's, plans to open Maison Schiaparelli in Paris during menswear fashion week in June. His statement that "we won't be chasing the commercialism of the fashion world: this is a project that aims for the best in terms of taste and quality, and will provide all the calm necessary to achieve that" (source) indicates a possible radical shift in the brand's vision and aesthetic, much like revived Balmain. Elsa Schiaparelli was anything but toned down with her claw gloves, trompe l'oeil designs, walloping headpieces and lobster dresses. If she were alive today, her number one customer would be Anna Dello Russo!
The aim of the old-new brand is to revisit Elsa Schiaparelli's ideas in a contemporary style. Has fashion really become so dull that nobody has their own ideas? I don't think so. Besides, Schiaparelli's ideas were revolutionary in that moment in time. They would not have the same effect today, no matter how skillfully appropriated and turned inside out. It was easier to stand out in the 1930s than during reign of singers wearing raw meat to get attention.
Refusing to employ new talent and ideas in the fashion industry is an enormous and deliberate waste of creative potential. As a creative person, you can achieve a lot by self-initiative, but you improve the most when you have to meet increasing demands that do not depend entirely on yourself.
The fashion industry is increasing its demands everywhere but in creativity.