Fashion has always been sensitive to the global cultural climate of times. What ever it is happening at any given moment at the city, country, planet, political situation, wars or financial times play a role in creativity and how designer’s work is received. Wartimes and now terrorism or global-warming are the most powerful influences from all possible scenarios for design creativity. Following both World Wars society always reacted with honest celebration of youth with the flapper culture of the 20’s, the hippy movement of the 60’s and the focus on family values and home wear boom after the 9/11. Minimalism vs. opulence play ying-yang visual extremes in fashion following global economy and society’s collective moods.
This we know. We are cool with. We even love it.
But from all the influencers of fashion the one I find less charming to analyze is its vulnerability to media’s celebrity obsession and how it has become part of fashion’s cultural mix. Brands invest time and finances (resources they don’t even have) in seducing “it” girls to wear any item or just honor them with their presence in a show. I guess designers who need or want to be part of media’s message they must tailor their content or profile to fit in the collective tone direction. The don’t inspire masses anymore being who they are. Media needs stories, and “It Girls” bring juicy stories. But, what is an “it” girl? Is it a random girl that wears nicely and have tones of followers in social platforms?
The British novelist and scriptwriter Elinor Glyn popularized the term when in her 1923 novel The Man & the Moment she used the word “it” as an euphemism for sex appeal and sassy “moves”. It was the actress Clara Bow who starred the film based on the novel and Ms. Glyn dubbed her as the “It Girl”. Since then every country, every city and even little villages have had their own “It Girl”. Yes Mr. Warhol was pretty right when he said: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”
“It Girls” today are more famous, more influential and recognized than designers or brands. Companies are not just employing it people for media campaigns but even as product developers. Again, it is about fashion’s vulnerability to cultural climate and collectivism.
As a fashion insider and active member I have to confess I have my own “it Girl” mental list (it starts with Joan d’Arc’s military costume, Marie Curie’s maxi black dresses and ends with a lady living in my building) Yes, I know they are not “It” enough for another collective dream of fame.
I am a textile engineer with a degree in fashion branding. I work since 2003 consulting fashion & life style brands.