what-do-we-want-from-fashion-now:-fantasy-or-reality?

WHAT DO WE WANT FROM FASHION NOW: FANTASY OR REALITY?

As we emerge back into the wider world, our emotional state will inform our fashion choices more than ever before

 

In an alternate reality where life is still normal, I would rather go to prison for a crime I didn’t commit than have my internet search history read aloud in a court of law. But since normal is currently furloughed, some of the less mortifying samples from the past few weeks: “how to look hot on Zoom”, “cookie recipe no oven”, “buy original Picasso ceramics.” The court rules that I am vain, lazy and wildly unrealistic. How charming!

Far more revealing about my own interior life during lockdown, however, are my clothes. Three months spent mostly alone in my tiny nook of north-west London have made me emotionally topsy-turvy and seen my perception of time tighten and then stretch with uncomfortable, uncontrollable unpredictability. My diary – ambitiously huge and embarrassingly empty bar for the crossed-out restaurant reservations, theatre trips and flights – now mocks me. When 2020 ends – that is, I mean, if 2020 ever ends (I really wouldn’t be surprised at this point, would you?) – we will see a year punctuated less by events as it was by moods.

If you believe, as I do, that clothes are emotional then your own approach to getting dressed these past few weeks will have been revealing. For those of us lucky enough to have lesser concerns than readily accessing PPE, our clothes have offered some connection to our expansive lives beyond our homes, and a mirror to our constantly changing interior landscape. But what is it we actually want from fashion now: unbridled escapism and fantasy, or ready-for-anything practicality and realism? And when we step into the post-lockdown world, how will we want to dress then?

 

I will remember the all-bets-are-off feeling of feral liberation, like a teenager with a free house for the first time, and will think of this time as my ‘so reality really is cancelled’ phase

In the last few months, my wardrobe has served as a chronicle of my emotional gear changes. So, while I might not remember any details about the day in early lockdown that I put on nothing but grey knickers and a scrunchie, I will remember the all-bets-are-off feeling of feral liberation, like a teenager with a free house for the first time, and will think of this time as my ‘so reality really is cancelled’ phase.

Similarly, whenever I pull on my leggings, I will recall the jubilation of running 20K for the first time in years, which marked the dawn of my self-optimisation era.

  1. I am a terrible cook, so the banana bread and sourdough moment completely bypassed me, but crisp cotton dresses represented my own age of domesticity

I am a terrible cook, so the banana bread and sourdough moment completely bypassed me, but crisp cotton dresses represented my own age of domesticity. Tailored shirts with rolled-up sleeves coincided with a short-lived “keep calm and carry on” pragmatism; a blanket worn as a shawl with a visceral, child-like craving for a hug.

Then there was the unremarkable evening I dressed up in a remarkable frock: a black lace Alessandra Rich number that has had many decadent past lives. Now I was pulling it out of my wardrobe not because there was anywhere to go or anyone to see me but, well, just because.

In an alternate reality where life is still normal, I would rather go to prison for a crime I didn’t commit than have my internet search history read aloud in a court of law. But since normal is currently furloughed, some of the less mortifying samples from the past few weeks: “how to look hot on Zoom”, “cookie recipe no oven”, “buy original Picasso ceramics.” The court rules that I am vain, lazy and wildly unrealistic. How charming!

Far more revealing about my own interior life during lockdown, however, are my clothes. Three months spent mostly alone in my tiny nook of north-west London have made me emotionally topsy-turvy and seen my perception of time tighten and then stretch with uncomfortable, uncontrollable unpredictability. My diary – ambitiously huge and embarrassingly empty bar for the crossed-out restaurant reservations, theatre trips and flights – now mocks me. When 2020 ends – that is, I mean, if 2020 ever ends (I really wouldn’t be surprised at this point, would you?) – we will see a year punctuated less by events as it was by moods.

MICA ARGAÑARAZ FOR ZARA SPRING/SUMMER 2020

If you believe, as I do, that clothes are emotional then your own approach to getting dressed these past few weeks will have been revealing. For those of us lucky enough to have lesser concerns than readily accessing PPE, our clothes have offered some connection to our expansive lives beyond our homes, and a mirror to our constantly changing interior landscape. But what is it we actually want from fashion now: unbridled escapism and fantasy, or ready-for-anything practicality and realism? And when we step into the post-lockdown world, how will we want to dress then?

I will remember the all-bets-are-off feeling of feral liberation, like a teenager with a free house for the first time, and will think of this time as my ‘so reality really is cancelled’ phaseIn the last few months, my wardrobe has served as a chronicle of my emotional gear changes. So, while I might not remember any details about the day in early lockdown that I put on nothing but grey knickers and a scrunchie, I will remember the all-bets-are-off feeling of feral liberation, like a teenager with a free house for the first time, and will think of this time as my ‘so reality really is cancelled’ phase.

Similarly, whenever I pull on my leggings, I will recall the jubilation of running 20K for the first time in years, which marked the dawn of my self-optimisation era.

I am a terrible cook, so the banana bread and sourdough moment completely bypassed me, but crisp cotton dresses represented my own age of domesticityI am a terrible cook, so the banana bread and sourdough moment completely bypassed me, but crisp cotton dresses represented my own age of domesticity. Tailored shirts with rolled-up sleeves coincided with a short-lived “keep calm and carry on” pragmatism; a blanket worn as a shawl with a visceral, child-like craving for a hug.

Then there was the unremarkable evening I dressed up in a remarkable frock: a black lace Alessandra Rich number that has had many decadent past lives. Now I was pulling it out of my wardrobe not because there was anywhere to go or anyone to see me but, well, just because.

From now on this dress isn’t the one that rolled around on the floor of a karaoke bar at my 30th birthday party, ripped from hem to bum at a wedding, or jumped in the pool at Chateau Marmont, but a totem of my era of defiance, self-reliance and optimism. It was the moment I leant into the pure fantasy of fashion.

In lockdown, two distinct fashion camps have emerged. On the one hand, you have the fantasists, those who cherish the escapism and romance that clothes can offer and are galvanised by a wild print, an extravagant collar or piece of costume jewellery. On the other, you have the realists who find happiness in familiarity, practicality and utility

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