An Ode to Fashion for Being the Ultimate Art Form

Image by Jeffry Rikhotso, @jefflovesphotography

There was a time when I thought that contemporary art was the ultimate form of creative experimentation. I believed that art was at the forefront in the fight to defy the otherwise unavoidable boredom of life, and I was respecting it for the sacred role it played. Today, instead, if I’d be ask where to find the boldness I once attributed to art, I would suggest looking at the frivolous world of fashion instead. Always on the margins between high brow and mass culture, fashion seems to have anything to lose, and aware of its luck, it never stopped pushing the boundaries of its creative research.

Whether contemporary art has lost its nerve because it’s scared to upset the cautious academic eye constantly monitoring its production, or to lose its privileged place within high culture; the truth is that contemporary art has gotten lazy, and fashion just started getting traction.

I’m aware that there isn’t anything as trite as talking about the state of contemporary art in general terms, but I’ve allowed myself to do so, just this time, for argument’s sake.

Contemporary art, with few exceptions, has recently failed in giving me the tingles in the spine that make me think, “Damn, this is genius.” White walls, monochromatic installations, and politically-charged researches sold as art works bore me to death, and despite the potential of art in confronting today’s society with the right critical angle, I believe that artist’s obsession with the message, has made them forget about the importance of the outcome.

To get creatively aroused today, I delve into the evanescent world of fashion. And by fashion I don’t mean Chanel’s latest handbag or Christopher Kane’s buttoned-up coat. By fashion, I mean the whole package: the absurd garments, the innovative materials, the audacious choreographies of the runaways, the bold photography. In a few words, the amount of research and experimentation that is behind its production.

Fashion today is the result of a sampling of imagery as well as of medium, a pastiche of styles and techniques that accurately intertwines design, architecture, music, and visual arts. Fashion’s omnivorous approach towards the world enables it to produce a spectacle that never fails to entertain and fascinate. Whether it does so by staging theatrical performances as for KENZO SS18, by dismantling gender stereotypes in the most decadent way like in the case of Palomo Spain, or by reproducing the banality of life like Balenciaga’s latest men runaway set in a city park; what matters is that it manages to provoke a stimulus, a tremor of inspiring pleasure.

Undoubtedly, Fashion's seemingly unlimited freedom to play and experiment is allowed by the economic stability that its industry provides, but in that regard, we can’t say that contemporary art doesn’t share a similar foundation.

If contemporary art is reminiscent of a modest rebellion, a slogan screamed lazily not to provoke too much noise, fashion is an unapologetic, yet accurately curated, stream of creation. I understand that fashion does not hold the political answers I seek, but I respect it for its couldn’t-care-less attitude, and for continuing the creative exploration that contemporary art is currently failing to pursue.