The elevation of the everyday is sort of what fashion is all about – we all wear clothes, everyday. Good fashion designers manage to convince us that we need theirs, rather than other peoples.
The elevation element is most important when it comes to ideas, rather than price – although those are generally elevated too, given the materials and the workmanship in the really good stuff. Brilliant fashion designers should be able to (re)design a T-shirt and make it exciting, and interesting, and inventive. Vivienne Westwood actually did that in the Seventies, deconstructing its already simplified form, turning it inside out to expose scruffy seams. She was looking for something new, in the familiar.
Its not on the same level, but I cant help but ally that with the work of designer
Anya Hindmarch: politically Westwoods diametric opposite (she has signed photographs of Margaret Thatcher in her office; Westwood once dragged up as Maggie on an April Fool cover of Tatler), but with designs that also questions that status quo. Hindmarchs work is rooted in luxury though, not changing culture like Westwoods.
Her most successful handbags resemble a crumpled crisp packet or a box of Frosties cereal. For spring/summer 2016, shes selling a common or garden scouring pad. Except, its made of mink. Theres something wonderfully perverse about that; perhaps even obscene.
Perhaps this whole idea – of elevating the everyday – is characteristically British. It would explain the fact its preying on my mind while were are knee-deep in the final flurry of London Fashion Week, before the action moves across to Milan and everything gets far more precious.
I cant help but contrast Italian and French fashion with ours – theres a long history of them razzing things up far more jazzily than we do, and a tradition of the British drawing on working clothes for even the most formal of garments. The tailcoat, for instance, was a result of revers being cut further and further apart to facilitate riding on a horse. Its fashion born of function – although a mink scrubbing sponge is something different.
I wonder if thats why I, personally, react so violently against clothes that seem crafted just for decoration, or to reduce women (and sometimes men) to the same. Theres been plenty of that this season, ruffles and florals and flounced skirts that grip and impede movement, slithery slips that threaten to expose the models undercarriage, or make it look like theyve dressed in haste, and forgotten to put their top layer on. Stupid stuff. Stuff that gives fashion a bad name.
Maybe youd lump that lump of fur in with that notion. But at least it makes you laugh. Thats another essential component of British fashion, after all.