We live in a world where everyone wants attention on themselves. People tweet tweets, post instagrams, upload videos, and change statuses just about every second of the day. It’s no surprise that designers are now expected to do the same. To be a designer in today’s fashion world is not as simple as it once was. It is not only about the garments that are being made. To be a designer in 2015 you have to be interesting and capture the attention of not only your customer, but, arguably, the world. That is why most designers have an instagram account where people can look at the pictures of said designers, and by doing this you feel like you somewhat know the designer. Or you at least get a better idea of who the designer is and what they like.
Designers are more than just designers now, they are brands. Being a brand is much less about the design of the clothing being sold, and more about the idea or image the clothing can make. One can’t release a collection and that’s it. A designer would have to instagram the collection, make sure there are celebrities at the fashion show (to get press), upload the fashion show to YouTube for all to see, etc. So, in the age of look-at-me, can there be a designer who simply rejects all of that?
The simple answer to this question is: Maybe, but most likely no.
But at a deeper look, there could possibly be a designer who can reject the age of narcissism in the world we live in. In the past there was Martin Margiela, the Belgium designer, who remained anonymous despite his growing popularity and praise. In the short film about Margiela entitled “The Artist is Absent” fashion journalists, writers, and historians talk about what made Marigela so different, yet so great.
The main thing that comes up repeatedly is Marigela’s ability to remain an individual and lead himself on his own path. His shows were always different and remarked on the state of fashion. “He established a vision and commented on reconfiguring an entire system of fashion,” fashion historian, Olivier Saillard said. By establishing a vision Margiela set himself apart and created an entirely new way fashion could be presented and looked at. Margiela used deconstruction and with that allowed anything to become fashion whether it was an old coat or a wig deconstructed into a coat.
Another thing that set Margiela apart from his contemporaries was that he never revealed himself. Whenever he gave an interview it was through fax and never in person. He, himself, remained unknown despite more and more designers becoming over night celebrities and personalities. “By not showing his identity there was a mystery that surrounded him,” Vogue Editor-at-Large, Suzy Menkes said. Since critics and audiences knew nothing about Marigela they only could judge him on his work and not some bias or opinion they had about him due to his personality. The mystery of Margiela ended up helping his brand, because people wanted to know more about him and the clothing he made.
So, to answer the question: Can there be a designer who rejects the look-at-me narcissism of the current generation? Yes, there can be, but of course they won’t receive fame. However, that’s ok, because the designer who is rejecting the narcissism most likely doesn’t care about fame or how many “likes” they can get on an instagram post. This new designer who is rejecting the current fashion system is quietly and diligently working at the aim of creating something new and daring. He or she must reject the state of fashion and keep working slowly and surely. Doing all of that while staying on their own path.