“Anything but a deadly digital flat screen world” Quoted from this interview with the former designer and creative director of Saint Laurent, Hedi Slimane. Famous for dropping the Yves and his heroin chic aesthetic. This quote resinates with me because the of way fashion is reported on. These days fashion is so entwined with social media and it is highly prevalent at shows, the quote has been lodged in my mind ever since I went to London Fashion Week, and witnessed the “fash-pack” out in full force. What follows is a tale of woe, and perhaps a reflection on what phones/social media means in fashion or indeed society as a whole.
We all poured in from outside, tickets in one hand, complimentary tote bag in the other. Walking in I took a quick scan of the demographic, the median age was about 20, and i’d say in a room of about 200 people most were wearing something from either Zara or Topshop, and looked like Drake was their favorite musician. Your typical spread of Gen Z fashion enthusiasts, I say this with no judgement as I am one myself. We all took our seats, on the third row, but still all very exciting. The lights go down and the music kicks in, darkness ensued and I got that excited feeling like I was about to get on a rollercoaster.
Then, as the first model walks out, almost in unison the wall went up. 80% of the room put up their hand, clutched around a phone to take a picture, snapchat, video. I was surprised at how shocked I was, considering not 1 minute later I would proceed to upload Insta-stories and Snapchats a plenty, but I think the initial shock was the joint manor in which everyone put their phone to the level of their eye to capture something going on right in front of them, deadly digital screens indeed. It reminded me of something out of Black Mirror, the almost robotic or rehearsed way we all participated in this seemingly normal thing of watching something right in front of you, but through a screen.
Not to throw shade at anyone who uses there phone in this way, but I have to make the observation that this is abnormal behavior. Is it a fashion thing? Im not sure. I certainly believe that fashion has paved the way in terms of social media use, live streaming shows, putting entire collections on Instagram and even Snap-chatting from the front row, this is all common practice now. Even though it does make the industry more accessible I don’t think that makes it right. What if Snapchat were around in the days of McQueen? I don’t know if people would people still wax lyrical about his fantastic, performance-art shows that very few were lucky enough to witness, because it will have been captured everywhere. Not to negate the genius of McQueen, but I also question if a designer so brilliant could even survive in this climate, because a board of directors decided the look was too cooky and couldn’t generate the right press, or the pieces wouldn’t sell enough online. If something is widely available via social media, does that make it superfluous and un-important to those watching? Or to flip the question does something undocumented hold a certain kind of mystery and romance these days because of how over documented everything is? The mind can only boggle what we have created for ourselves, and the effects it may have.
Its not just fashion i’m concerned about, I worry about the after effects on all of us, social media allows us to control the way we’re seen, which is a good thing, but it also allows us to embellish on what is real, and manipulate what isn’t. We’re raising a generation on fake lives, fake news perhaps even fake personalities. I know my life isn’t as cool as my Instagram may depict it to be and that is seriously fucked up. Yet its the duality of knowing this, but wanting the instant gratification that these platforms provide, and I believe thats where the danger lies. Boiling your life down to a number of likes, views or favorites is not healthy and I think this is a big problem that Gen-Z will face, the politics of an un-liked selfie or an un-viewed Snapchat, will cause more rifts than playground banter ever did.