Has the fashion industry finally developed a sense of humour

Fashion Week in Paris and the spring fashion season came to an end, but the reinvention of major fashion figures was still the talk of town. The real show stealer was the appearance of the two fictional fashion icons.

The Zoolander cameo in the Valentino show caused the most controversy. In the Womenswear Spring/Summer 2016, Derek Zoolander and Hansel appeared on the catwalk.

Was it a publicity stunt or an ironic fashion statement, or both?

The robotic and seemingly endless parades of androgynous models with po-faces that graced the runways in the four major fashion cities over the last month, melted away when the industry, even for a brief moment, appeared to smile and have fun.

Social media was ablaze with instant responses. Clips and messages from the show were broadcast across the world on all major channels.

Since Robert Altman’s 1994 fashion film Pret-a Porter, which featured a slew of Hollywood’s best overacting with fictitious characters, we haven’t seen fictitious personae melded with the real fashion world.

The Septembre Issue, (2009) is the film which best captures the mood of fashion in the past two decades. The documentary that followed Vogue editor-in chief Anna Wintour painted a serious, dedicated portrait of a powerful and influential industry.

Today, Prada-clad ‘Devils’ aside, it seems that the fashion industry is approaching a creative and transformative epiphany. The ateliers and studios of major fashion houses have seen an explosion of lighter, more efficient brooms.

Creative talent, hungry for innovation and younger, is transforming “super brands” such as Valentino and Gucci into something new.

Hedi Slimane, at Saint Laurent, created shockwaves throughout the industry when he changed the name of the iconic home back to Saint Laurent Paris. He removed the persona of Yves and repositioned the house as a new brand.

The Valentino brand and its clothes have also changed dramatically in the years since Valentino retired. Maria Grazia Chiuri, Pierpaolo Piccolli, the creative directors of the house and its customers, have radicalised the very identity of both. David Bailey was hired by the duo to photograph their 2014 campaign due to his punk-inspired aesthetic and attitude.

Fashion, as always, seems to be reliving the past. Grungy girls are pounding the Saint Laurent runways and Raf Simmons’, while 60s sci fi mavens are storming Dior. Fashion is always changing, but what’s new?

It may be that fashion is always a subtle pastiche. In self-imitation, there must be a sense of satire. It is a fact that was overlooked in certain quarters. Innovation, for innovation’s sake, had taken root. Fashion houses are reimagining their founders’ work in a fun and sparky way.

Moschino lights up Milan. Matteo Bazzi/EPA

It is interesting to see the blending of high fashion values and couture principles with a touch of irony. The appearance of Derek Zoolander is not the only example of this. Jeremy Scott’s work for Moschino, bringing McDonald’s and Barbie to the runway is the most blatant.

Do we see a fashion revolution taking place? The foundations of fashion are still firmly in place. What’s next? Oh, that’s right. Profits are increasing dramatically.

Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook can send targeted messages straight from the catwalks of fashion around the world in a blink of an eye. The international publicity network is powerful. The Valentino Instagram page has 2.7m subscribers and is a powerful tool in communicating the brand. We can also see that a single photo on the account received 44,792 Likes in a day.

A new era is dawning for Maison Valentino. Once a traditional Italian powerhouse and still revered today, it’s a place of tradition. Social media and the ironic link between Hollywood and high fashion show that you can create fantastic clothing, but it is okay to occasionally let your “pokerface” slip. It makes fashion more interesting.

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