As her fashion show came to a close this September, Miuccia Prada spoke with journalists: she said she had wondered whether launching a new collection was the right thing to do at a time when people (meaning the consumer society) already own too much and should be learning to make do with less – for the good of the planet. «We want to talk more about style than fashion, about a way of wearing things» she said, according to Alexander Fury in Another Magazine.
A debate as to the difference between fashion and style could fill books – for me, it’s quite enough to be writing the introduction to an issue looking at Manufacturing and Lampoon’s new editorial line focusing on the concept of Crafted – in Italian that would be artigianale but it really does not have the same meaning in English. Crafted means something created by hand, cleverly designed and properly made; the result of much thought and study: this makes for a challenge in production terms and not only illustrates what can be made with your hands, but the tangible results that man is able to achieve using the resources available to him – chemistry, physical, manufacturing, genius, innovation. In short, I would say the meaning of Crafted is more like Manifattura in Italian.
«In this moment where everything is excess — too much fashion, too many clothes — I tried to work it so the person is most important», continued Ms. Prada, as Tim Blanks reports in BoF: «more simple, less useless stuff». Prada emphasized how the main aim of her collection was to be simple. The word naive was even used in English. Prada intended simplicity as a message advocating the return of a more essential approach to life and to spending.
Style is about how you want garments to look and is achieved by how you wear or mix them: whether it’s a cardigan dragged out of a trunk in the attic or shorts bought at a street market. Style is how these pieces look based on a suggested attitude. The items you see first on a fashion runway almost always have the specific purpose of illustrating the basic style to follow; for Prada, this year, it was a simple woman in a white polo shirt and a knee-length skirt. By dressing her runway models in a style created by using such simple garments, it is like Ms. Prada is inviting the audience to go to Uniqlo or Zara, or any of the fast-fashion firms, grab themselves a simple bluish-white polo shirt and knee length skirt, spending 120 Euro max but ending up with a style that is simple.
The media attention attracted by runways will give fast-fashion the chance to manufacture simple items in less than a month, whereas the pieces actually presented by the fashion house will not be available in stores for another year. The reason why the textile industry plays such a critical role in the question of sustainability today is because companies are dumping huge amounts of items (made with questionable consideration as to their sustainability) on the market in a relatively brief period of time. If a fashion house presents clothes that are simple, they make life easier for the fast-fashion establishments.
Manufacturing has become a trendy topic because if a textile product is made with superior manufacturing expertise and the market itself comprehends this, fast-fashion loses ground. After making her point about simplicity, Ms. Prada conceded she was still far too much in love with fashion to sacrifice any of its complexity – meaning the intellectual and sartorial disarray that sets her brand apart, which we noted again in some of her later pieces. Meanwhile, in Paris, after the usual French girl style of black boots, miniskirt, unbuttoned white shirt, and black blazer on top, Saint Laurent filled his runway with embroidery, texture, and roughness that would drain the budget of a company with decades of experience just to make the samples – pieces that would be tricky to imitate, never mind invent. Molded shoulders, standing proud over the human body, made stronger by their shape, are the outcome of a clever cut, a twist in the yarn, fabric woven to make it firmer, seams that may be sealed using heat – these are things you encounter at Louis Vuitton, Versace, and, of course, Balenciaga.
In this issue of Lampoon, and in line with our new editorial strategy, we explore Crafted from various points of view: from considering the importance of the local district – perhaps more important than the manufacturing itself – down to the current, conceptual differences separating art, crafts, and design. Never before has manufacturing been so closely associated with the meaning of fashion, understood as an aesthetic logic immersed in the social and commercial value of industry.