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A Commoner's Fashion Week Reflections

I shockingly cannot remember the first time I experienced the Devil Wears Prada, but I know it was in my formative adult years; not until college or shortly after. I barely knew how to dress myself, certainly knew nothing about high fashion––I barely do now––and probably didn’t know who Anna Wintour was. Needless to say, my adult formation and fascination with higher fashion culture is likely tied to my adoration of this film and my connection with the ever-overused Female Journalist Trying to Write What She Wants in New York trope. Never fails to connect.

In watching and rewatching, the movie has graced me differently in different seasons, and I now recognize Nate as the villain (fight me on it another time) and recognize the incredible hustle it takes to make it elite journalism. I am no follower of hustle culture at this point in my life, but what I do still recognize is the prestige and complexity of an industry that is cattier than we would imagine, yet more influential than anyone would suspect. If you don’t believe that, queue Miranda’s Priestly’s legendary monologue here.

(If you’ve gotten this far and have not seen the film, stop reading. Go watch it. You’re welcome.)

As my interest in this high-brow industry has grown over the years––no less from the sidelines––I’ve found it’s not indifferent to my interest in the way art reflects culture. It’s the same reason I love learning about French art movements, the same curiosity I had walking through the Rock Hall of Fame in Cleveland, the same interest piqued by the Newseum in DC. Art, music, design, film, photography and of course journalism––they not only reflect the cultural moment, but they help define it. The same goes for fashion, and it’s a delightful study of the surrounding world of, albeit what most consider a shallow one.

Our current moment, for example, is reflected by a world emerging from a pandemic, and younger generations bringing back 90s-2000s trends in full-force. In contrast to our closed-off world, fashion is now all-or-nothing; extremely bright colors and bold patterns mixed together, monochrome, angular and edgy lines. From a work-from-home culture, the comfort of oversized comfort pieces with the structure of workwear. All in all: the classic with the unexpected (a sampling of this year’s fashion weeks in street style here).

Delightful and fascinating as fashion’s impact can be, the casualty that cannot be ignored, however, is the rampant, ugly consumerism that the fashion industry is largely guilty for fueling like a runaway train. What was once an annual event is now a quarterly occasion across four cities, all of them showing off unethically made pieces to crowds of elites who will shell out their dollars for unreasonably high price tags that will likely never benefit those that made the pieces themselves. But my word, is it alluring. In the words of my dear sweet Nigel, “...what they created was better than art, because you live your life in it.”

“Well, not you obviously, but some people.”

So I keep up, loosely. I read about the trends to see how they intertwine with culture, and our moment is an interesting one to study. And I also try to learn about what, if any, benefit there is to investing in this culture. In fact, not all, but some high-brow brands actually do boast a higher, handmade quality (Chloe, Gabriella Hearst, and Stella McCartney come to mind) that’s worth the price tag for those who can. I’ve found myself looking for more second-hand pieces recently; not only because buying secondhand is infinitely cheaper and more ethical, but because depending on the piece and brand, it maintains long-term value. It defies trends while it creates them.

So, did anyone ask for my thoughts, opinions, favorites from fashion week? Absolutely not. But I saved some of my favorite images and looks, from shows or influencers or designers or street style shots (my personal favorite!), so I'm sharing them below. I hope they inspire you, in creativity or outfits or culture, via color or texture or boldness.

And in the meantime, here's some quick simple, facts about fashion week for those who want an understanding:

  • There are four major fashion weeks: New York, Milan, Paris, London.

  • The shows are known for their theatrics, and it’s only getting bigger and wilder.

  • Since the influence of digital culture and fast fashion, the number and frequency of fashion weeks has expanded, perhaps not for the better. Some other weeks: menswear shows, “resort” shows, and haute couture (learn more from THE source).

  • Fashion weeks have faced some needed criticism, as a result, around their environmental impact, not to mention the ethics of the designers and their manufacturing themselves.

  • Some anecdotes about how fashion week has evolved, and where it’s headed.

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