To the average intellectual spiritualist, the entire concept of fashion, that is what we wear, how we look to others and how it affects our singular importance in the world is mere folly and frivolity. Fashion is for silly, superficial types who spend far too much time and money on the adorning of their exterior self, ignoring all the intricacies of what is happening deep below the surface.
But what is happening above the surface may be more indicative of what is happening not only in the mind, heart, and soul of the individual but also an authentic reflection of what is happening in our emerging international village.
The essence of true fashion, it’s idea, creation and design are dominated by four major hubs in the world. These are the global big four and without a doubt, they carry the greatest influence of the fashion world. If you don’t already know who they are then you could most likely guess that they are Milan, Paris, London and New York, in that order. These capitals not only enjoy the prestige of dominating what we wear and how we wear it, but they also reap most of the benefits of a 3 trillion-dollar global industry, roughly 2% of the worlds domestic product.
Is it any wonder that as the countries of the world continue to evolve and to grow their economies there is a rather exciting revolution taking place in this genre? One that represents the accession of small countries never known for their fashion savvy, suddenly appearing out of nowhere to effectively compete with all the big four.
The traditional fashion capitals have, in fact, become watered down versions of their former selves. Saturated with commercial sponsorship, bloated and overdeveloped, catering almost exclusively to wealthy investors and practically forgetting the essence, the divine art form they originally were created to be.
As a result, and with so many important social, cultural and economic forces at work, isn’t it only natural that we are now seeing a more poly-centric element emerging, one that promises to bring the exclusive but essentially non-inclusive world of fashion to its knees?
As smaller emerging nations find their voice in the world they will seek to express who they are with a distinctive proposition of style and trend exhibiting their unique culture, heritage, habits and yes, political opinions.
The purity of design shines through as these nations and the artisans who create the garments begin their inauguration into the international fashion stage bringing gleaming, glistening, original and most often unconventional garments to the catwalk exhibiting alternative style fashion. It is, in a sense, a kind of, “this is who we are” statement and the new global society is sitting up and taking notice.
The root, that very germ of a seed that defines a culture is being colorfully exposed in the most elemental manner. What place to start but by defining Who you are? Where you’ve been and Where you’re going? The fashions paraded down the runways of the world are taking pages from the societies and cultures that surround them. The cut, color, style and decorative components adorning these garments exhibit proudly to the world a new order and a newer way of living but always with a healthy respect for the historic nature of the country and its people.
In Bali, Indonesia, one of the fastest rising fashion capitals in the world, the creations of gifted local designers evoke thoughts of paradise and include glamour that could only be found in the exotica of modern temples and palaces, on forest clad beaches and in tranquil sunrises. Fashion sparkles here. Colorful and, sensuous with a Eurasian flair, there couldn’t be a woman alive anywhere in the world who wouldn’t embrace the delights the country and its fashion offerings can bring.
Moscow, Russia is a vision of Dr. Zhivago and the winter palaces of another era before Soviet dominance. A cold weather nation, coats, hats, gloves, and boots are heavily embellished with traditional embroidery of rich florals, brocade, velvet and lame’ in flattering styles befitting a Tsarina. Red is the color of the culture here, challenging the endless unforgiving grey sky days with the brilliance of crimson cabbage roses and the decadence of a gilded lily.
Melbourne, Australia has recently outstripped cousin Sydney by offering the Indigenous Peoples perspective and influence on fashion. Modern and playful fashion garments are adorned with motifs and decorative detail that mimic the colors and textures of the region. Colors are warm and natural, koala grey and kangaroo tan. Jewelry and accessories are defined by a modern and sophisticated tribal vibe. The fashion is clean, playful, approachable. The outback is everywhere.
Mumbai, India with its marvelous penchant for color-rich textile and exquisite embroidery combines the look of a modern sari with construction and styling of a garment suitable for business. Comfortable and wearable fashions for today’s woman always respecting the feminine icon, but with a healthy respect for the gentle evolution of women within their rapidly evolving culture. Rich tones reflect exotic spices, tropical flowers, and birds. Glimmering jewelry and extraordinary embellishments as could only be found here, in this place, bring the stunning world of India to the world.
Buenos Aires, Argentina offers a fashion statement which is clearly the quintessential example of Latin America heritage and culture. Simple flattering garments are designed in vibrant colors reflecting the oldest and most authentic neighborhood in the city, La Boca, an artist colony and working-class neighborhood. Here streets are lined with brightly painted zinc shacks and awe-inspiring mural filled streets, a South American tradition. Designers mimic colors and forms of a passionate and amorous mood with simply cut, flattering and ageless garments in the vibrancy that depicts life in this part of the world.
Johannesburg, South Africa, or “Joburg” as it is becoming known to residents is now the hippest city in Africa. Emerging from the ugly shadow of Apartheid the newly gathered residents are redefining the city as a place of emerging artistic talent. This is evident in the fusion of internationally inspired cuisine, art and of course, fashion. The resurrection of a distinctive South African cloth, “Shweshwe” pronounced “shway-shway” is part of a multifaceted historical matrix representing parts of the historic intercultural past including African, European and Asian dimensions. Fashions here have a distinctive urban Zulu feeling and are avant-garde in their modern take on traditional dresses and intricate tribal jewelry.
In March, Saudi Arabia held its first ever fashion week in the capital, Riyadh. Previously this event had been held in Dubai, which enjoys a more relaxed and European influenced culture. The Gulf Kingdom which has some of the world’s tightest restrictions on women requires the wearing of a loose fitting “Abaya” robe by law. The garment is designed to shroud the feminine figure in public.
Crown prince Mohammed bin Salam, powerful heir to the Saudi throne is leading a drive to reform the country’s dependence on their one-horse economy – oil. The Prince believes that empowering women is a key factor in promoting expansion to the economy, introducing tourism, hospitality, travel, and trade. The importance of fashion as a cultural and economic statement and a presentation to the world such as Fashion Week has become a key element in building a secure future order and success for the kingdom.
So, for those who believe that fashion equates to self-indulgent frivolity and mindless folly then perhaps you should think again. Fashion is an element of culture and heritage and international pride with the ability to garner attention on a truly global stage. It represents the most fascinating example of a country and it’s evolving population. Fashion, what we wear and the individual statement that we make, is a language without words and a visual definition of who we are and where we are going.
As the visual feast continues, stand up and take notice…the world is watching.