A few years ago, I was flipping through the September issue of Vogue, and was bored shitless. It was the "Fall" book, supposed to be a celebration of inspiration and creativity.
And yet, flipping through the front of the book, page after page, it was like Groundhog Day. Each ad followed the same formula, and it was a fairly uninspired one: there’s Cara Delevingne looking windblown in Burberry. Now, Cara Delevingne windblown in Mulberry. Oh, wait, something fresh – Cara Delevingne in Chanel, with no wind! The ads were boring and, honestly, so were the clothes.
Around the same time, Alessandro Michele at Gucci was starting an increasing amount of trouble each season. I’m going to be honest, I arrived late to this party. I remember seeing the peacocks and flamingoes he used in 2016. But it wasn’t until FW 2017, the great sci-fi campaign, that I was hooked.
The entire campaign, art directed by Christopher Simmonds and shot by Glen Luchford, was absolutely bananas. An ode to vintage sci-fi, there were ray guns, teleportation chambers, and cows in fields looking like alien bait. Sunglasses modelled by sexy ET babes in green make-up. The "creature from the black lagoon" emerging from the water, carrying a model in a velvet Gucci evening gown.This was storytelling beyond what I had seen in fashion. It felt so cool. So textured. So wild. The print shots were accompanied by a short film, with cut-downs ready for Instagram. The whole thing just demanded attention – and a big-ass smile. And it was done with gorgeous attention to detail and tonnes of flair.
I am no fashion historian, but it’s been hard to ignore the playfulness with which the entire industry is approaching things today. Each house has taken on a new refreshing life that ups the ante each season. Not unlike the ad industry awakening of the mid-2000s (mostly thanks to Crispin Porter & Bogusky), the new strategy seems engineered for PR. As if the entire fashion industry has realised: aha… breaking rules and making noise is a lot more effective, not to mention fun, than being reasonable.
And it’s democratising the whole experience. Fashion is entertainment. Fashion is news. Fashion has finally cracked social, showing up in all of our feeds in bite-size videos and memes. And everyone is invited to play along.
Viktor and Rolf with their (literal) statement dresses. Gucci’s severed heads. And, I mean, Moschino’s always been fucking nuts, but the Fall 2019 Price is Right runway show with the TV-dinner cape had me on the floor. All of them showing a total disregard for the rulebook, while still being true to their own brands – and 100% on point.
It’s worth noting the craft that goes into all of this. Each garment is truly special, and each piece of promotion and communication has been meticulously researched, designed, filmed and photographed. This isn’t cheap thrills. This is expensive thrills with a funny wig on. And, of course, then came the 2019 Met Gala, with the glorious theme of "Camp". Co-chaired and cosponsored by Michele, the star-studded event looked like the party of the century, no doubt because everyone really went for it. Even Vogue’s coverage of the event was more than tongue-in-cheek, with director Bardia Zeinali reimagining the evening as a series of B-movies, complete with their own trailers.
And what’s especially beautiful about this year’s Met Gala is that everyone – from the fashion elite to those I work with to my 11-year-old kid – could talk about it as if they were a part of it.
I guess that’s what I find so inspiring about all of this. By breaking out of the stuffiness of fashion, Michele and the rest are opening up new worlds to so many more people. Things that used to be out of reach are now asking to be played with.
The new fashion icons are literally infusing the world with more creativity, and each rainbowhued statement is begging us all to join in – and follow suit.
I desperately want my work to do this. To make the world brighter, more colourful. To encourage double- and triple-takes. To get people to snortlaugh when they sneak a peek at Instagram in the middle of a meeting, getting them into trouble. To push boundaries and to embolden others to do the same. And, most of all, to inspire creativity in other people. To say: "Hey, here’s the world as I imagine it." And then ask: "What do you see?"
Jaime Robinson is co-founder and chief creative officer at Joan Creative, New York