Suddenly those radical cyberpunk designs we admire from a distance on Tokyo high streets and sci-fi movies seem less of-the-moment and – to be honest – a little old hat. Should the end be nigh, what we wear won’t make a wool jumper’s worth of difference, but should we have to live through this thing, it’s worth bearing in mind others will be buying retail again, and we need to be healthy first, but ahead of that curve. Here are seven looks to take you past the post-covid world.
Looking good has frequently been synonymous with the attainment of self-actualisation – be yourself is the mantra of those who have truly made it in the beauty stakes, while the rest of us struggle to achieve that aim, thus compromising the whole endeavour. Surveillance and voice recognition software has made parading in plain sight, at least for those who value a modicum of privacy, a less desirable trait and – as if returning to the Masquerade Balls of the 15th century – millenials are keener to let their alter ego face front. This is not the first time we’ve been this route: from Kubrick’s psycho-sexuall exploration of the nature of masks in Eyes Wide Shut, V For Ventura or – without going polemic – voguing parties from the 80s to now, masks have always been darkly alluring. But never has the mask been such a conscious statement of ant-establishment values. Hiding not to hide your true self, but that that true self can be left alone.
Threads and loose bits of fabric;fusing two garments (indeed two genre silhouettes) together to make a homogenous look, patchwork and camouflage in a rainbow plethora of bright colours.All this hints at tougher times; at having to make do when resources and materials are scarce, but it’s also the starting point for every great fashion designer; Vivienne Westwood at her most iconic and irreverent/reverent and – more recently – Chitose Abe at Sacai and Jean Paul Gaultier Couture. This level of fusion applies to a dissolution of barriers too: the disruption of workwear etiquette began with the punk’s standing=down formality, while now it’s about gender stereotypes and the increased ubiquity of loungewear and athleisure. Coronavirus has brought the building of barriers (physical, economical, social), but it’s also helped us to reconnect, re-centre and consider that – even if things get worse – we can be creative wherever we are.
LAY IT ON
Lady Macbeth imagined through the lens of Kurosawa’s Throne of Blood ain’t exactly light going, but then Jun Takahashi never does light. Comme De Garcons and Toga are other Japanese labels with a real heavy feel that purposefully starts from – but quickly distances itself from – many things we come to associate with a Tokyo highstreet. So if cyberpunk really isn’t the way to go, then the 16th Century equivalent – doom and gloom through mist and fog, hubble bubble toil and trouble and all that – suggests serious, even murderous intent, except you’re letting all your negative emotions out via the clothes you wear.
The melting of the polar ice caps, the rising of the sea, the destruction of the rainforests, the threat of nuclear war, chemical warfare, 5G, and now Covid19 – who needs enemies when you’ve got enemies like these. And for such times you better be dressed for war – layered. It’s like those kids that have been living below the radar; who come to mind in every computer hacker movie or post apocalypse underground movement have finally come out from behind their skip or computer screen and feel entitled to roam around nodding ‘told you so’
We may be getting ahead of ourselves. Surely there’s nothing trendy about the fight for effective face masks to keep this virus at bay and to stop it infecting others. But what if we have to face a future where this kind of thing is a regular (if not as epoch-defining) occurrence, and where venturing outdoors is always a matter of assessing the skies and the news for virus latests. If so, you can be assured people will start incorporating the mask into their daily routine and aesthetic as readily as their i-phone and tattoos.