VOGUE MOOD HOLD TRUE
We are what we choose to obsess, collect, and wear this season.
We are what we choose to obsess, collect and wear this season.
Striding and tricked out with trinkets of miniature books, keys and roses, it was as though the Prada women were so obsessed with these found objects they had strung them around their necks, off their belts, on and around their clothes. “Everything is symbolic. It is like a collage of what is happy or painful, of whether you are feeling beautiful or horrible, when you have love or no love,” says Miuccia Prada backstage at the Prada autumn/winter ’16/’17 show. “I thought of someone who has all the clothes she’s ever had on the floor in front of her in the morning, and she must choose how she’s going to assemble herself.” These vagabonds, as Miuccia calls them, might have uncovered these trinkets on their wayward travels, arranging their collections on their bodies to tell tales of their adventures.
IT IS THE ACT OF SELECTING, GATHERING AND ORGANISING THAT SEPARATES COLLECTABLES FROM THINGS
Collecting is about more than mere stuff. “The artist is a collector,” explains Austin Kleon, adding: “Hoarders collect indiscriminately, artists collect selectively.” Today, the collecting of images happens on Instagram, music on smartphone playlists. The curation says more about us than single choices. The great collectors of history include Rudolf II, the Holy Roman Emperor in the 16th century, whose Kunstkammer had archaeological relics alongside furniture and antique manuscripts (he also collected exotic plants and animals for his gardens) – a broad expanse of taste and knowledge. And collecting need not be exclusive to the aristocratic or wealthy. Dorothy and Herb Vogel – a librarian and a postal clerk – amassed one of the most important collections of modern American art in the 20th century, stored under their bed and around their one-bedroom New York apartment.
It is the act of selecting, gathering and organising that separates collectables from things. Taking a leaf from the Alessandro Michele-for-GucciMichele- book of pastiches and recontextualising (for autumn/winter ’16/’17 he looked to graffiti street art and Catherine de’ Medici, for starters), the woman this season assembles herself from her collection of objects from art and travels. There were Egyptian relics and iconography at Givenchy, translated into geometric patterns layered with the Eye of Horus, and at Loewe, models wore oversized resin cat pendants, as though they were hanging choice pieces from their sculpture collection around their necks. All the better to go with their metal and leather bustiers. Just as at Prada, Nicolas Ghesquière’s women at Louis Vuitton were also travellers inspired by finds. “We had an idea of this trip, of a woman who could be a digital heroine, like Tomb Raider, when she discovers an archaeological site,” he said after the show. Burberry’s energetic textural clash suited the label’s signature British quirk, as if Christopher Bailey had rifled through a treasure chest of old fabrics, drawing upon recollections of the past. The juxtaposition of tchotchkes that evoke the past and the present, here and away, create the complex weave of fashion today.
Mixing up what is found – fabrics and vestures – is a pastiche of symbols and recollections; it’s the meaning we imbue objects with. And having ownership of these objects is an act of remembering. As philosopher Walter Benjamin best surmises: “Every passion borders on the chaotic, but the collector’s passion borders on the chaos of memories.”
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