Plastic fashion reflects modern fears

By TANYA WONGVIBULSIN | October 26, 2017


OFFICIAL LE WEB PHOTOS/CC BY 2.0 German artist Karl Lagerfeld is creative director of the fashion house Chanel.

We live in a plastic world. Many of us are surrounded by plastic wherever we go. We wake up and use plastic toothbrushes, buy food in plastic containers and shower with soap contained in plastic bottles.

In a more theoretical sense, our relationship with the internet, a platform in which we can create a virtual self and experience virtual realities, is also making our world more “plastic.”

The alarmingly large dependence we have on the internet is making our real world and the artificial world feel more intertwined than ever before, perhaps pushing us to reevaluate our everyday “reality.”

The increasing presence of the plastic world in our lives as well as its significance and impact have recently become a dialogue in the fashion world. Fashion designers are incorporating plastic into their designs, a trend that we have seen in the Autumn/Winter (A/W) 2017 Ready-to-Wear (RTW) collections and the more recent Spring/Summer (S/S) 2018 RTW collections.

During the latest three-city fashion week marathon that took place from late September to early October, plastic was all over the runway. Whether it was a cape and biker hybrid jacket from Valentino, thigh high boots from Chanel or a skirt from Toga, many designers used plastic material to construct their pieces.

Vogue Runway saw the unconventional use of plastic in Chanel’s S/S 2018 collection as a sign of an optimistic future.

Karl Lagerfeld was innovating fashion. His use of plastic showed that the fashion world has come far from the time when designers had access to only a limited range of fabrics and materials.

On the other hand, Miuccia Prada’s use of plastic in her Miu Miu A/W 2017 collection was a way for her to dress women in the face of an uncertain future.

In her interview with Vogue Runway, she said, “It’s about the madness of glamour, in front of an uncertain future, and I am getting really interested in so many kinds of beauty.”

Kinza Shenn, a writer for i-D Magazine, seems to agree with Miuccia Prada. In her article, “politics, plastic and depth: an autumn/winter 17 trend report,” she saw the use of plastic as a way of confronting the uncertainties of future world, a way people are “protecting” and “hybridizing” their body by creating a “second skin” with plastic.

Regardless of the varying messages we see behind the use of plastic in the different runway collections, there seems to be a common thread of looking to the future.

Some are optimistic and think that the current technological innovations are signs of greatness still to come. Others, however, seem to be more pessimistic, using plastic to guard the body from the impending uncertainties.

With the current political climate, the debate around global warming and the increasing dependence we have on technology, our future seems to be further out of reach. A common fear and uncertainity surrounding the years ahead is making the future progressively more bleak.

That these fears are being reflected in fashion suggests that it is time that we start reevaluating our way of life, so that we can reach a place where we feel genuinely optimistic about what’s around the corner.

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