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“The only certainty we have right now is that we need to rethink everything, ranging from our relationship to ourselves and each other to contemporary consumption and its impact on our planet,” says Tom Van Der Borght.
At the start of this pandemic, many of us disappeared into our own cocoons. After months of taking comfort in soft loungewear, the fashion industry is getting ready to reinvent itself for a brighter future. The Ghent-based designer Tom Van Der Borght, spends weeks putting together the most impressive and exquisitely handmade items, which feel closer to the realm of performance art and haute couture than mere commercial fashion.
We caught up with Lamine Kouyaté to evoke the positive spirit of his collections, his take on contemporary fashion and why he thinks the industry still has a long way to go before claiming to be inclusive.
“XULY.Bët has always been about hope and looking forward, offering a constructive and upbeat vision of the future,” says Kouyaté. A visionary figure since the launch of his brand, the Mali-born Paris-based designer has been one of the first to embrace upcycling methods and promote ecological awareness, as well as the dynamic and thriving energy of streetwear, making his shows uplifting experiences.
Environmentally friendly production methods are the way forward according to Pedro Lourenço who has developed a sustainable approach to fashion design with his brand ZILVER. Experimenting with cutting-edge materials, he recently introduced the first leaf leather jacket, made from the elephant ear plant.
“Future-proof habits is a wording I like because it englobes this responsibility with the resources of the environment but at the same time it has a kind of technological and forward-thinking aspect to it,” says the Brazilian designer who is based in London.
Can perfume still lift our spirits in a masked world? “I am struck by the extent to which people who lose their sense of smell and taste feel bereft. I’ve even heard that some lose their interest in life. As smell is an often overlooked sense, which we consider a bit archaic and do not insist on educating at school, we don’t realise the impact of losing it until it’s gone,” says Christine Nagel. A woman of passion and conviction, she was appointed Director of Creation and Olfactory Heritage in January 2016 and has researched, developed and signed every Hermès fragrance since then.
Fashion archives are living in a new era. Not only are luxury fashion brands investing in rebuilding their own past, but a new definition and consumption of vintage clothing is emerging. The revival of the past has become more than an expression of nostalgia. Rather, it is an answer to today’s mass production and consumption.
“When you understand fashion history, it’s easier to predict the future of fashion. We don’t expect or want people to dress head-to-toe in vintage, but we do want people to buy things and wear them for a long time and resell them only when the time is right; when a brand is at its vintage peak. It protects emotional and financial value versus the perpetual disregard of resale. It’s the most sustainable circular economy that fashion can be,” says Gill Linton, co-founder of Byronesque, the online editorial-based shop for contemporary vintage fashion.
Printed matter also plays a crucial role in the ways fashion has been disseminated and therefore constructed. When Antoine Bucher and Nicolas Montagne started Diktats in 2006, a bookstore specialising in collectable books and rare documents about fashion, they had been collecting for several years and wanted to find a sustainable way to share their discoveries and widen their collection.
“The history of fashion is a very young field and there are still many stories to be told. The garments have unfortunately not always survived, the archives of ancient houses have often been discarded, and oral history is not always an option. What we collect can help retrace practices of the fashion industry as well as collaborations between artists and fashion.”
The past few decades have moved the wearer to the centre of the fashion stage. But, in his lifetime and stellar career, Paris-based Tunisian couturier Azzedine Alaïa became the equivalent of a fashion god, revered by his peers and worshiped by an entire industry, yet not much is known about the man himself. Alaïa’s shyness was real and he fled the limelight as much as he could, avoiding public appearances and exchanges with the press. Annflor Sangan, who works as a fashion consultant in Paris and launched her creative studio six years ago, was Alaïa’s first assistant for several years. In an exclusive interview, Sangan gives us unique insight into the mind, life and passions of a designer who was exceptionally gifted and truly one of a kind.
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