The apocalypse, clowns and cows

The apocalypse, clowns and cows: an art critic on the autumn fashion campaigns

更新日 2017年08月10日

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The apocalypse, clowns and cows: an art critic on the autumn fashion campaigns

Gucci pays homage to sci-fi cinema, Kenzo is referencing the faded glamour of La Dolce Vita and Calvin Klein thinks we’re in the middle of the apocalypse. This autumn’s fashion campaign ads are a reflection of a bleak and astounded age

It’s advertising, Jim, but not as we know it. The layers of irony and cultural quotation that are the norm in fashion campaigns are so sophisticated they seem to come from another planet, far beyond mere materialism or glamour – and this autumn/winter campaign images are more bizarrely inventive than ever. Yet there is something uneasy and apocalyptic going on beyond the cleverness. In a world that has lost contact with what it thought it was, the art of high fashion may be peculiarly good at defining our numbed and astounded age.

Is it too much to see an eerie vision of the US, desolated by the Trump ascendancy, in the estranged and disjointed images that promote this autumn’s lines from an archetypally American brand? In fashion, every selling season seems a new epoch in history. Showing this year’s models against last year’s pale and spectral Calvin Klein billboards on a road to nowhere, in an empty landscape, might seem to dangerously subvert the myth of endless novelty that fashion’s very sales depend on. Yet since last summer, everything has changed. A US president now veers between dictatorial menace and possible impeachment. What is left? Hand-me-downs, it seems. One of the models who stands in melancholy disconnection, like characters in long-shot at the end of a Michelangelo Antonioni film, has wrapped a fallen stars and stripes flag around herself as she fled whatever apocalyptic event happened further down that road. Others reflect alone, wearing high white collars like doomsday preachers. The tattered remnants of Americana are gathered up, and reinvented, as the anxious costumes of a broken tomorrow.

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