In an age of excess, Lucy Mortell questions if the fashion industry is simply living up to its outlandish reputation or taking things a step too far.


A WOMAN walks past you in a red velour one-piece with “Juicy” written across her bottom – no, it is not 2007 in your local shopping centre, it is, in fact, 2016 in Paris for Couture Fashion Week. Along with 18 other collaborations – including Manolo Blahnik, Church’s and Comme des Garcons – French label Vetements also partnered with tracksuit champion Juicy Couture. The all-in-one piece is just one of countless strange and bizarre pieces that have been sneaking their way onto high fashion runways in recent times.

“Has the fashion industry just become one big comical parody of itself?”

Vetements are not the only guilty ones, although repeat offenders, of using famously (for lack of a better word) naff products and making them fashion. Just recently, beloved and firm favourite British designer Christopher Kane unleashed his lavishly embellished Crocs on the London Fashion Week catwalk as part of his SS17 collection. This recent flurry of “ironic” fashion raises the question – has the fashion industry just become one big comical parody of itself?

One is reminded specifically of John Galliano’s reign at Dior and his Spring/Summer 2000 Haute Couture collection that was inspired by homeless people. Deemed “one of the most controversial fashion shows ever staged” by Women’s Wear Daily, this particular incident is said to be the inspiration behind Will Ferrell’s character Mugatu in the film Zoolander  – a satirical film poking fun at the fashion industry, which reads more like a documentary in recent years.

So, is the only way to break waves in the fashion industry to create something completely unwearable with a ridiculous price? Look at Kanye West and his Yeezy collection; an array of skin-tight skirts, vests, woolly underwear, anoraks and thigh high boots in place of trousers.  These are all available in a somewhat limited range of colours: beige to slightly darker beige. Hundreds of dollars for a t-shirt that looks as though it were eaten by moths? One could get the same effect for a lot less by heading to Penneys with a scissors.

“Could some designers be in on the joke, asking themselves how far they can push these people?”

The trend of going against the grain has gone from “oh that’s a bit funky” to “are you having a laugh?” Many followers of the fashion industry have a habit of clinging to every word of their favourite designer in a bid to stay in the know. Could some designers be in on the joke, asking themselves how far they can push these people before they realise they’ve been played?

Vetements, possibly the masters of irony (their name is literally French for “clothes”) put out a t-shirt proudly emblazoned with the logo of DHL, the delivery company, and put it on sale for €245. At the time of its runway debut, an almost identical piece could be purchased on DHL’s own website for $6.50.

This kind of ludicrous behaviour makes one wonder if Vetements are actually pulling a prank on the fashion industry. The alternative is to believe that they are genuine in believing this is en vogue, in which case they (and their legions of fans) are simply quite mad. Forget thinking outside of the box — some of these designers can’t even see the box anymore.