The Avant-garde


The fashion industry loves avant-garde. The weird, wonderful, and attention grabbing looks that inspire, amaze, and confuse.

No one is going to walk around with an unpractical six foot train on a dress and hair piled two foot high, so what’s the point?

We are asked day in day out by colleagues and clients why we bother with the avant-garde and the far out editorial looks that will be only worn on a catwalk and photo shoot.

For a bit of clarity let’s look elsewhere.

First we look to the world of Formula 1 racing. Formula 1 is a high octane, glamorous, and technological sport far removed from the runabouts most of us commute or use for leisure; is there a link, could this be the same as avant-garde?

The next time you get in your car and press a button to start it, you’ve just used an innovation from motor sports, the technology that can safely stop your car in an emergency was developed on a racetrack, the crumple zones that protect you when the unthinkable happens were conceived to protect a racing driver, and the performance of your engine, while still small and economical, are all a result of engine size restrictions in Formula 1.

So what are we saying?

The extreme filters into the mainstream. Look at hairdressing and fashion 30 years ago, outside of punk or a wastrel could you imagine a mans head of hair scruffy or unkempt like David Beckham? In the early 2000s could you see someone other than a new romantic wearing a Gaultier style printed shirt to work? These would be unheard of.

Wedding hair swept and piled high with twigs and flowers would be the reams of fantasy. This is the filtering down of the avant-garde.

The elements that go into these high fashion images do end up in mainstream society, they take time and it takes creative and innovative individuals to break these mounds in order to progress the industry.

So next time you see a far out image, take a step back, look at it for what it is and imagine what elements will be everyday in a few years to come.

Sarah Spiers