If we can’t tran­scend the news, we might as well wear it.

You got the slo­gan T-shirt—now it’s time to read the whole truth.

Fashion (Canada) - - Contents - By Is­abel B. Slone

T he year was 2000 when Sex and the City’s stylish anti-hero, Carrie Brad­shaw, sashayed into a restau­rant wear­ing a clingy Dior newsprint dress de­signed by John Gal­liano to apol­o­gize to Big’s ex-wife for be­ing “the other woman.” Yet some­how it was the dress, and not Carrie’s mon­u­men­tally self­ish be­hav­iour, that tri­umphed by be­ing the most mem­o­rable part of the show. Nearly two decades later, de­signer Bill Gayt­ten res­ur­rected the iconic print for Gal­liano’s Fall 2018 run­way, slap­ping it side­ways onto slip-dresses, flut­tery silk skirts and ghost­like trans­par­ent rain jack­ets. Time to wake up and smell the head­lines.

The re­turn of newsprint cloth­ing is a re­fresh­ing change from the brash slo­gan T-shirts that dom­i­nated sea­sons past. Sa­cai’s Fall 2018 menswear col­lec­tion val­orized Don­ald Trump’s favourite punch­ing bag, the “fail­ing” New York Times, by em­bla­zon­ing the pa­per’s ral­ly­ing cry on ba­sic tees, and Gabriela Hearst de­buted a silky dress fea­tur­ing “all the news that’s fit to print.” In con­trast, Dior’s “We Should All Be Fem­i­nists” and Jonathan Simkhai’s “Fem­i­nist AF” shirts have be­gun to ring hol­low with­out the ac­com­pa­ny­ing ac­tions to back them up, which sug­gests that the world aches for nu­anced anal­y­sis over scorch­ing hot takes. We get it—you’re fem­i­nist. Now read the fine print.

Newsprint cloth­ing isn’t ex­actly new, of course; it dates back to 1911, when Paul Poiret de­signed a pa­per tu­nic dec­o­rated with ads and phone book list­ings. Sur­re­al­ist de­signer Elsa Schi­a­par­elli also lent her ir­rev­er­ent eye to newsprint, over­lay­ing real-life press clip­pings of her work onto scarves, blouses and hats.

Beth Din­cuff, a fash­ion his­to­rian and pro­fes­sor at Parsons The New School in NYC, in­ter­prets Schi­a­par­elli’s ap­pro­pri­a­tion of the press as “a unique way of con­trol­ling her mes­sage.” Whereas Schi­a­par­elli used ac­tual re­views of her work, Gal­liano’s early newsprint dress was based on some­what self-ag­gran­diz­ing fake ar­ti­cles. “Gal­liano would have had more artis­tic con­trol in de­sign­ing a print than he would have in writ­ing a press re­lease,” says Din­cuff. “But both Schi­a­par­elli’s and Gal­liano’s prints act as me­dia for self-ex­pres­sion that by­pass any non-de­sign room edit­ing.”

While pre­vi­ous 20th-cen­tury it­er­a­tions of the newsprint trend were splashy and light­hearted (Franco Moschino of­fered up his own cheeky take on the pat­tern circa the ’80s), the cur­rent-day resur­gence has taken on a more se­ri­ous tone—one that pri­or­i­tizes sur­vival over aes­thet­ics. The timing and preva­lence of this trend sug­gest that fash­ion, which has typ­i­cally been rooted in as­pi­ra­tional mes­sag­ing, is com­ing down to earth. Po­lit­i­cal news has re­placed celebrity gos­sip as the main­stay of cur­rent-day con­ver­sa­tion, and even Hol­ly­wood, a place where the law of the land seem­ingly does not ap­ply, seems to be mak­ing up for lost time with the #MeToo move­ment and the Time’s Up cam­paign. Re­al­ism is re­plac­ing es­capism as the ap­pro­pri­ate re­ac­tion to what is hap­pen­ing in the world.

Since we can no longer es­cape the pul­sat­ing bad­news cy­cle—nor should we—it has be­come nat­u­ral to ap­pro­pri­ate it. With politics at the fore­front of cul­ture, the newsprint trend ap­pears to be the fash­ion world’s ac­qui­es­cence to the cul­tural con­ver­sa­tions of the day. If we can’t tran­scend the news, we might as well wear it.

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