February 07, 2008
Why Fashion? Paris gets clothed.

Would you wear this?



Okay, let me rephrase. Do you think you'd see anyone wearing this in public?

What you see is part of Carolina Herrera's fall 2008 collection shown Monday in New York. Here are some more moderate examples based on the same ideas. And here are some other design goodies of various wearability.

As Carolina Herrera said in a related interview, fashion week is not about every day life. For her it is about "fantasizing." Yes, mass market apparel has little resemblance to runway offerings, especially during the showcase that is fashion week. However, the experiments that occur at that high level of abstraction--those ideas--are crucial to the designs that appear in stores the following season.

High-level, abstract ideas can at first only be appreciated by niches of expertise and taste. Through analysis, imitation and reformulation, such abstract ideas can be diffused to broader and in some cases eventually mass populations.

I don't understand any of the programming that makes this blog possible. To me it's as difficult to comprehend as it would be to see a woman on her morning commute wearing Herrera's feather tweed hat. But the fact that programming-dummies like me click at the keyboard, as I'm doing now, is the sole motivator of the experts at MovableType. The consuming public doesn't think about spontaneous orders, but those abstract ideas matter to "how Paris gets fed." Cell phone users don't know the difference between a Becker-DeGroot-Marshak and a Vickery auction, but these made over 200 million cellular subscribers possible.

With fashion, we get a visual on the general relationship between the abstract and the concrete. Tracing ideas "from the catwalk to the sidewalk" offers clues for how ideas matter generally and for social change more broadly. Because fashion ideas enjoy little intellectual property protection, the imitative force is very strong. Many of the design ideas that are now appearing at fashion week will not take long to cascade down through the boutiques, department stores, and eventually big boxes. Even a modest income can afford to have a look that is both in taste and in fashion. Paris gets clothed, too.

Posted by Edward J. Lopez at 09:28 AM in Culture


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