Metal’s Spring fashion issue picks up on the sheer diversity of historic influences on this season’s collections rather than a single defining retro trend; the 20’s at Prada, the 50s at Dior, the 70s at Gucci and so on.
It underscores this observation with a powerful opening feature that locates the historic influences in various current collections chronologically. As such it offers an alternative to the more prevalent fashion position of trying to define the future by, rather, locating the present in the past, a nice bit of grounding for those grappling with what defines the ‘now’.
Taking up almost half of the issue, this gigantic fashion feature sees a large cast of hot photographic talents elaborating their vision of how the entire gamut of twentieth century fashions influence the hottest current collections. Strong photographic talents such as Giorgio Codazzi, Aingeru Zorita, Kiyotaka Hatanaka, Matteo Zini, Esperanza Moya, Greg Gex, Stefan Zschernitz, Daniel Sannwald and others work with an equally large cohort of stylists to each present a view of how one particular decade of the twentieth (and twenty-first) century can be seen as an influence in the latest styles from the world’s leading luxury fashion brands. Most get a shot at more than one decade allowing them to play with variation or shifts of gear.
Kept steady by a unifying art direction, there is naturally a lot of individuality in how each of this gang of photographers interpret the season’s hot looks though even here there is an element of cohesion: most favour a clear direct style with a minimum of trickery of elaborate locations.
Covering both menswear and the women’s collections, what ensues is a gently stylish perusal of discernible influences –and some more contentious conjecture that certain current looks relate to specific historic precedents- cropping up in the collections. What is immediately clear is that all the old mythologies about fashion coming in predictable cycles are entirely unproven. On the other hand, what is clear is that fashion does persistently look to the past for its present. If, as Metal’s fashion editorial would have us believe, we can see the strong influence of every decade of the last one hundred years equally present in this season’s collections rather than a single faddish obsession with one particular bygone era, what exactly can we take from this?
Charo Mora’s opening statement seems to hope that it might constitute some form of one final historical review before boldly moving on into the future. Pretty unlikely. If anything, what the current scenario tells us is that we have actually arrived at a manifest position of post-modernity in which all of the archived past is equal to the present or, perhaps more accurately, that all of the narratives contained in images of the past are so instantly accessible in a global visual culture that the past cannot be eradicated from how we see the present.
We now live in an age when once hard-to-access archival footage is instantly accessible on Youtube or buying a DVD of a film made some forty years ago is actually more instantaneous than buying one made a mere six months ago. Imagery that once constituted a form of focussed and intentional research confined to libraries and specialist collections of archival material now exists in vast quantities in the public domain. Even when we do not understand it as ‘the past’ the plethora of media imagery generated since the advent of the camera now surrounds us. The recorded image eventually inverts time fusing so effortlessly with history that, in effect, there is no separation between the two.
Rather than hoping that we can face the future free of ‘the past’ perhaps the greatest lesson that the wonderful feature in Metal teaches us is that we are already in that position since ‘the past’ no longer exists in our daily deluge of images. Instead of looking for what has been taken from the past in current collections, it is more interesting to see how the current collections create an image of ‘the past’ that actually never existed since it has already entirely synchronised with the present.