Franco Moschino had a term for the havoc the business of fashion can wreak on the creative soul.
He called the entire industry the fashion vampiress. “Not only did his clothes question what became known as the fashion system – the ludicrous cost, ubiquitous ‘styling’, and 15-minute relevance – but his very advertising underscored his anarchic scepticism. Flicking through glossy magazines your eye would suddenly be arrested by Moschino’s black humour. A full-page advertisement depicted a vampire admonishing you, ‘Stop The Fashion System,” read in part his obituary in 1994 in The Independent.
The 15 minute relevance was Moschino’s way of describing the pressure that designers feel to produce something new and relevant every 6 months in a new collection. It is this intense pressure, which has surely heightened since the 80’s when giant conglomerates had not yet begun to dabble in the fashion business, that is the now at the center of the recent infamous dismissal of John Galliano from Dior and perhaps also yesterday of Christophe Decarnin at Balmain. Writing in The International Herald Tribune, Suzy Menkes, its chief fashion critic, noted recently
“While the vile statements seen coming from Mr. Galliano’s drunken lips on the Internet video deserved the nearly-universal condemnation they were receiving, there is pathos in the vision of one of the world’s most famous — and best paid — designers alone, clutching a glass in a bar. The pressure from fast fashion and from the instant Internet age to create new things constantly has worn down other famous names. Marc Jacobs, design director of Louis Vuitton, ended a wild streak in rehab. Calvin Klein famously rambled across a sports pitch and admitted to substance abuse. And the late Yves Saint Laurent spent a lifetime fighting his demons.”
Mr. Decarnin, who in a very short time established the once irrelevant Balmain into one of the world’s most coveted labels, seems to be the vampiress’ latest high profile victim. Cathy Horyn writes today in The New York Times that:
“Despite, or perhaps because of, a phenomenal run at Balmain, where he made ripped jeans and $5,000 motorcycle jackets seem the coolest thing since, well, Bardot and Brando, Mr. Decarnin hit some kind of personal impasse and lost control of the label.”
Surely, the entire story for Mr. Galliano and Mr. Decarnin (or Mr. McQueen for that matter) has yet to emerge. But it sure does look as if the fashion vampiress is on a feeding frenzy. Stay tuned.
Related Post: “J’adore Dior?”