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Something for Everyone

by Hywel Davies .

As my mother bi-annually became exasperated in defending the necessity for new clothes, a gradual realisation registered in my psyche. I was being initiated into fashion’s key premise: the seasonal wardrobe change. The 'a change is as good a rest!' mantra signaled the beginning of shopping trips as my personal stylist (mother) would preen and direct the look that I would sport for that season. Although dressing was directed by practicality (cotton for summer and wool for winter), the segregation of seasonal clothes became an integral theme that established my personal time line. My year was defined not by birthdays or holidays, but was punctuated by the time when garments were acquired and the arrival of a new season.

Fast forward to a career in fashion and this transitional period still causes the same commotion and feeling of excitement, fear and even dread. A new season is when the fascists of fashionland discard old clothes, acquire the new and transform themselves into manifestations of the season. This summer clothes mutated into sharing and caring motifs that encompassed concepts of romanticism and empathetic sensibilities. Perhaps a sign of fashion having a social relevance, trend consumers quickly acquired the appropriate wardrobe and suggested that fashion did reflect the zeitgeist after all.

But at the beginning of a season consumers are not only bombarded with new images beamed in from international catwalk collections. We are also subjected to advertising campaigns and editorial coverage, all of which re-invent fashion on a twice-yearly basis. The consumer, at the end of this fashion chain, ultimately receives a multi-manipulated, pre-digested picture of fashion that may not be true to its original source.

Key to understanding the new imagery is appreciating the dictatorial actions of fashions very own soothsayers, the stylists. Responsible for filtering the infinite visions of international designers, the stylists prioritise key looks presented on the catwalks and share them with readers of the glossy magazine. In reality the stylists carry as much influence as the designers in kick starting and endorsing a trend. By the time their creative consciousness have dissected the international collections, and in re-representing the trends in a variety of ways, something new is created. On a simple level for example, Hussein Chalayan may have shown a deconstructed jersey dress on the catwalk, but a stylist may re-present it with a tuxedo jacket for an editorial shoot, thus creating a whole new aesthetic and different way of seeing the fashionable garment.

Trends themselves are now so measured, calculated and documented that the original essence of collections are often lost. The fashion media’s preoccupation with pigeonholing ideas means it has a tendency to stray from appreciating the original idea of a collection. Grouping themes may be a way in which we make sense of all the diversity but in reality we tend to miss the message of the initial picture.

So here, in Season’s Greetings, the ultimate power of the stylist is questioned and the idea of prescribed imagery is rebuked. Four stylists (Edward Enninful, Panos Yiapanis, Nancy Rhode and Jonathan Kaye) have chosen their favourite pieces from the Autumn/Winter 2002 collections and then the rest is left to the user.

The project allows you, the viewer, to participate in the image-making process by creating your very own fashion imagery. A selection of key themes for Autumn/Winter 2002, including gothic, metallic, ethnic, chunky knits, fur and oversized clothing are offered and the possible outcomes of different uniforms are infinite. Now a silver Helmut Lang shirt can be visualised with a pair of baggy Yohji Yamamoto trousers. An outfit is not prescribed, nor dictated. The trends no longer demand priority and there are no fashion faux pas in this process. And in the words of fashions oldest cliché (and a favourite of my mother’s), there is ‘something for everyone’.