September 14, 2018 By michael
The Future of Fashion is Now focuses on the immensely diverse range of directions that today’s designers, both new and those that are more established, are navigating into. With existing works from more than 60 designers from around the world, as well as special new commissions from six emerging talents, the exhibition runs the gamut from fashion for fun, fashion for ease of use, fashion as a challenge to design, to fashion which even challenges the very idea of fashion itself.
Conceived by José Teunissen and Han Nefkens, The Future of Fashion is Now explores the huge changes and progressions of the fashion industry in recent years. Teunissen explains that now feels like the right time for the exhibition: “We have been aware for some years that there’s a new generation, which is thinking really differently about fashion.” On the one hand, she attributes changing attitudes to advances in technology which have “emancipated people, so that more and more designers want to experiment with new kinds of material, new kinds of solutions” and on the other hand to a growing awareness that the avant-garde designers “working on the edge of fashion” have themselves become well-known pillars of the establishment. Teunissen describes people such as Rejina Pyo, Hussein Chalayan and Viktor & Rolf as “more conceptual, working fashion designers, who are constantly trying to renew fashion, experimenting with what it could be” but these are professionals who have been challenging the status quo for a long time. The Future of Fashion is therefore also “about broadening our scope, looking outside Europe and maybe seeing what’s happening in China and Peru and Australia.” The exhibition brings a truly international flavour to innovative fashion because “the world has changed; every important city or region of the world has its own fashion, fashion weeks and magazines.”
While pieces were collected by the curators with the help of international scouts and a jury, the process of selection was deliberately non-prescriptive and the range of designs on view is a natural presentation of highly eclectic global styles. They were, however, able to break down the presentation of the exhibition into four “sub-terms.” These sections focus on Materialism (transparency, organic and technology), Carnivalesque (redefining body form and identity), Reinterpretation (journeys and explorations), and Politics and Community. This thematic curation avoids placing too much physical distinction between the previously existing works and the six commissions which were especially created for the show. The newly-created works are to be placed amongst the other works in their appropriate thematic area but will be superficially set apart with more space and explanatory text around them. Although displayed alongside many other works, these new commissions are the focal point of the exhibition and they enable the curators to highlight the new directions open to and pursued by the innovators when they are released from the industry’s commercial and financial constraints.
The six successful winners were each awarded a grant from the Han Nefkens Fashion on the Edge initiative to create a piece that they felt was important to make. To identify the recipients, Teunissen and Nefkens undertook “bottom-up research” and nurtured the designers by constantly discussing their ideas and aims. The final recipients – Craig Green (UK), Digest Design (China), D&K (Australia), Iris van Herpen (The Netherlands), Lucia Cuba (Peru) and Olek (Poland) show variety and the wider trend of fashion, rather than focusing on the established fashion capitals of London, Paris, New York and Milan. The industry is looking further afield, especially to Berlin “for avant-garde, for margin, for new” and also to Antwerp for “new energy, new possibility.