Fashion and Social Media in 2018: How Fashion Week Became a Spectacle

March 16, 2018

Fashion and Social Media in 2018: How Fashion Week Became a Spectacle

By Chiara Caputo Sibilla

Hotbed for new trends and crossroads for young talents, the fashion month has always been a highly awaited event both by fashion passionates and professionals. Once considered a must-go event, where designers could show their new collections and launch new trends to an audience of fashion journalists and enthusiasts, in 2018 things are radically different. The revolution that, for some time now, is impacting the fashion world as a whole has a new privileged channel that allows a level of visibility never experimented before. In this new papier-maché era, with Instagram stars and social influencers becoming the new VIPs, social networks like Facebook and Instagram are quickly becoming the new arbiter elegantiae.

An epical revolution starting from the grounds up: the anonymous crowd liking, commenting and reposting is dictating what’s trending, often without even realizing it, and even more often despite of what once would be universally regarded as elegant.

We could be talking about a democratization of fashion, today made available to undoubtedly many more people. If, as style guru Diana Vreeland said, an excess in good taste can become boring, today we are leaning in the opposite direction: In an era when style icons have Botox-filled faces, good taste seems to be a forgotten notion.

As long as they talk about it – this seems to be the new philosophy, born from the “like for like” culture. With hashtag and post now everyday words, the social media culture generated a new aesthetic, where popularity is the absolute value – the only measurement to evaluate beauty. It’s an Orwellian factory, where the voyeuristic eye of a disquieting Big Brother never leaves us, while also dictating what’s on trend. It’s a world where the ontological reality it’s enslaved to the mirrors of appearances, in which we exist only in the same measure as we appear. We are completely dependent to the new arbiter elegantiae.

But what happens when also fashion shows are totally revolutionized? We saw that in Milan, where just three weeks ago chopped heads, dragons and disturbing images walked down the runways, and then skillfully appeared on different social networks. These are the new digital fashion trends, presented to you via Instagram.

Gucci dragon fall winter 2018
Photo via @gucci

The first one to ride the wave is Alessandro Michele, Gucci creative director and bright manager of his public image. After the splendors of the Tom Ford decade and the uncertainty of the Frida Giannini era, the brand is at the top of its popularity and seeing constantly rising revenues. Michele, the golden goose, after making us dream with his initial boho-chic feat, full of erudite hints and Woodstockian flair, seems now completely OK with the digitalization of the historic Italian brand, which he transformed in a commercial phenomenon.

The designer became in just a few minutes the protagonist of Milan Fashion Week: between iconic masquerade and post-apocalyptique suggestions, the fall/winter 2018 Gucci models walked down the runway at Milan Fashion Week in a fantastic hospital hallway, immediately trending on all social media feeds. Eccentric and provoking, Michele dares to the point of grotesque: chopped heads made of silicone are carried under models’ arms, of whom they minutely reproduce the resemblance. Almost clones, the heads, created by the Makinariu lab in Rome, glorify an audacious experimentation, inspired by the Cyborg Manifesto by Donna J. Haraway, popular essay from 1984. To shock seems to be the goal. But if excess needs to be achieved at every cost, the design part will undoubtedly suffer. Michele doesn’t deliver, like it doesn’t the provoking mood at the base of the fashion show: the creative director wanted to allegorically portray the dangers of a cyborg revolution, like the loss of boundaries between human and mechanical.

Gucci head fall winter 2018
Photo via @gucci

It’s a post-atomic era, characterized by an almost Orwellian aesthetic, in which we are witnessing a general subversion of our long-standing values. As much as he tries to appear subversive and anti-technology in his subtle criticism of social media and the digital era, Michele doesn’t really sell it, considering he is the first one to use these very media to gain popularity. The spectacle always wins, and there couldn’t be one without an official hashtag: #GucciChallenge. It only seems a contradiction when fashion is constantly dissected by cameras.

Even the idea of the chopped heads seems passé: shown years ago by American fashion enfant terrible Rick Owens. And even if there are those, like Giorgio Armani, who distanced themselves from Michele’s aesthetic, the web went crazy. But there is also a big audience who is tired of following the new digital chimeras created by the totalitarian regime of social media, and hopes for the arrival of a new fashion era, where the focus will be again put on clothes.

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