Since the late 20th-century, the fashion show has successfully harnessed aspects of visual culture to create a new style of performance art, seeming to transform couture into an artform in its own right, as if independent of market imperatives. The language and practice of trend-forecasting, that reflects on and anticipates trends in fashion, seems to go further in distancing fashion from its commercial motivation. Rather than focussing on the consumer, poetically inspired story-books freely associate fashion with art, philosophy, politics, and ethics.
Trend-forecasting develops the lifestyle ambitions of the Arts and Crafts movement, Bauhaus, and the futurists, while seeking to generate a new global market culture that is ethically as well as aesthetically engaging.
The site of Lydie Edelkoort’s Trend Union in Paris’ 14th arrondissment is at once a discrete marketplace for clients, a design school, education centre and exhibition space. Trend Union forecasts for fashion and various industries, and its philosophy is explored in seasonal trend books, websites, forums and fairs, and in all cases, the aim is to provide, not just a reading of visual culture but also to propose an ethical and environmentally sustainable lifestyle to accompany it. Trend Union has agents all over the world, and if, like Zola’s department store owner Octave Mouret, it knows the value of the exotic flavouring other cultures provide, it also attempts to approach them with a sense of respect.
Are art and commerce compatible after all? Or is this just a more insidious version of Zola’s enslaving ‘cathedral of commerce’?
|Keywords:||Fashion Show, Performance Art, Couture Artform, Trend Forecasting, Arts and Crafts, Bauhaus, Futurists, Lydie Edelkoort, Trend Union, Zola’s Cathedral of Commerce|
Senior Lecturer, Programme Director for French, School of Languages and Cultures, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
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