PaperCity Magazine

May 2019- Houston

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century what Dior did for women in the 1940s. His angular silhouettes and pointed shoulders were maximal, to be sure, taking the curves of a woman's body and making them robotic. No wonder he was often referred to as the prophet of Futurism. His new woman was not just shapely in the organic sense of the word, but she was an exaggeration of herself. Call it armor. Call it fantasy. Call it clothing's answer to the era of plastic surgery. Perhaps having a Republican in the Oval Office translates into fashionable excess (an ode to Capitalism at its peak and Wall Street's wild success), while a Democrat in that seat signals a shift to minimalism in our dress. This is fashion's own kind of left-wing activism — a near act of solidarity for the wealthy to dress in a way that can be shared with the masses. With the '90s came that abrupt kind of snap — both economically, with the recession that hit in the first year of the decade, as well as in fashion. Gone were the embellishment and look- at-me manner of the previous mode; in came a moment of minimal linearism. We had a man from Arkansas in the White House, with a wife who would become famous for her demure pant- suits. When dressing up, understated elegance was the trend of the day. Take Carolyn Bessette's Narciso Rodriguez wedding dress — a bias-cut silk sheath — that she wore in 1996 when mar- rying John F. Kennedy Jr. Its modernism could not be more emblematic of the 1990s, especially when compared to the dramatic gown worn by Princess Diana when she wed Charles, Prince of Wales, in 1981. Princess Di's cloud of a dress, designed by David and Elizabeth Emanuel, was layered with a weighty amount of silk taffeta and embroidered with lace, sequins, and at least 10,000 pearls. Such 25-foot-train level of excess would never have felt right in the '90s — a time when the perfect symbol of wealth was a simple black nylon bag, nearly logo-less but still recog- nizable as Prada. The It-designers of the period were members of the Antwerp Six. Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester were working in a silhouette of deconstructivism. Elongated and streamlined, Demeulemeester was one of the first to embrace the notion of punk rock, which was spreading like wildfire through the Northeast. Nirvana's Kurt Cobain was the heartthrob du jour, and his style of grunge made an unprecedented foray into high fashion. This was the first time androgyny and a rejection of silhouette were seen in luxury. And, like the trends that came before it, what we suddenly saw on the runways was a reaction to what was happening in the streets. The cultural and musical influences wove into fashion, with an unshowered look of faded denim, tattered tees, piercings, and combat boots. Who could forget when Marc Jacobs sent grunge down the runway for Perry Ellis in 1992. He was quickly fired for showcasing the rebellious collection — but he would ultimately have the last laugh. Not long after, Steven Meisel shot an iconic portfolio for Vogue (at the hand of creative genius Grace Coddington), under the headline "Grunge and Glory." The look would rule the decade — and Marc Jacobs would go on to become one of our modern era's greatest designers. This brings us to the cacophonous order of our day: The first two decades of the 2000s are nearly over. This noisy new millennium could be categorized as one of fear. It started with the shiver we collectively shared on December 31, 1999, when we all thought end times were upon us with the dawn of Y2K. A year later, disaster and tragedy would strike lower Manhattan — in the middle of fashion week on September 11, 2001. The War on Terror would ensue — as would a subsequent economic crash so damaging it would take more than a decade to recover. Our government would, from there, become in- creasingly disparate; even the presidency has now become emblematic of a kind of bipolar disorder, veering from the good-old-boy Texan in George W. Bush to the symbol of hope in Barack Obama to the caricature of a president in Donald Trump. Fashion, no doubt, has responded. It is Spring 2019, and volume, distorted shape, and exaggeration have flooded our visual references. Again, we see outspoken silhouettes as a response to the state of our chaotic world. Japanese designer Tomo Koizumi caused a stir in February, when he showed new and archival pieces from his body of work in the showroom of Marc Jacobs. His massive cotton-candy con- fections seemed pulled straight from a carnival midway. In the U.S., where designers are expected to create wearable garments, this work becomes the stuff of childhood dress-up games. Koizumi's organza garments are armor-like — his founda- tion of ruffles, a fantasy by which to turn away from class warfare — as ours is a world where the gap is ever-widening between the one-percenters and those living in poverty. Valentino's atelier has

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