The prevailing style or custom, as in dress or behavior: out of fashion. Something, such as a garment, that is in the current mode: a swimsuit that is the latest fashion. The style characteristic of the social elite: a man of fashion.
Manner or mode; way: Set the table in this fashion. A personal, often idiosyncratic manner: played the violin in his own curious fashion. Kind or variety; sort: people of all fashions. Shape or form; configuration. tr.v., -ioned, -ion·ing, -ions.
To give shape or form to; make: fashioned a table from a redwood burl. To train or influence into a particular state or character. To adapt, as to a purpose or an occasion; accommodate. Obsolete. To contrive.
What is Fashion? For centuries individuals or societies have used clothes and other body adornment as a form of nonverbal communication to indicate occupation, rank, gender, sexual availability, locality, class, wealth and group affiliation. Fashion is a form of free speech. It not only embraces clothing, but also accessories, jewelry, hairstyles, beauty and body art. What we wear and how and when we wear it, provides others with a shorthand to subtly read the surface of a social situation.
Fashion, therefore, is expression, in the same vein as art. It can be viewed either as public or private expression. As oftentimes, we may choose to wear an article of clothing in order to feel better, which brings us comfort, or we have imbued with special meaning, as I have done with my grandmother’s cameo that I wear for luck. Other times, careful selection is made of our clothing choices as we want to make a public statement. The business suit that is donned for an interview; the wedding ring that is worn to signify a person’s commitment to another, or the fur coat one throws casually over their shoulder to express wealth and status.
Fashion’s expression oftentimes extends beyond the personal scope of expression or public need for display. Fashion can be seen to mark an era, define a period in history, displayed as a sign of the times. The sign of our times….in the midst of war, bank bailouts, a dying auto industry, devastated real estate markets, high unemployment, low consumer confidence, deep recession(as no one wants to admit depression), and daily exposure of the corruption of big businesses…what is being revealed this week by American designers during the New York Fashion Week?
Many have already inked the pages and declared that American fashion reflects a more somber mood, that it is dark and conservative…or that it has stuck its head in the sand and instead of looking forward, has turned back to a happier time, the power 80s when America could celebrate its success and popularity with big hair, neon, bright colors, power suits, and ostentatious status symbols.
I don’t know…but when I review the pictures from the shows all I see is an incandescent beauty, strong lines, and rich jewel-toned colors, such as emerald greens, garnet reds, and bright true purples, innovative use of cut and form, and a fearlessness in the mix of fabric and trim…it feels mature to me,…and fresh.
It reflects an understanding of what our nation has gone through….is going through…and a belief that we, Americans, will eventually emerge from our current troubles. Yes, we will be more somber, but also stronger, wiser, and always optimistic in our belief that we can achieve our goals….and that beauty prevails even in the midst of hard times.