I'm picking this up from the "Versace" topic; we started trying to define different movements or philosophies in fashion design, which is worth talking about, but doesn't belong there. We've been tossing a lot of terms around rather loosely, so it's understandable that what we're talking about is not always clear. So, I'm going to take a stab at a "quick & dirty" (or "rough & imprecise") rundown of the historical origin of some of these terms. After we've hashed this stuff out, we may be in a better place to discuss the true significance of a pair of Prada sneakers. As a design movement, Modernism was born at the end of the 19th century, in reaction to the then-predominant philosophy of Historicism in which design slavishly emulated historical models. Modernism flourished in the early- to mid-20th century"”in particular, between the two World Wars. Some of the more familiar Modernist movements are Arts & Crafts, Art Nouveau, Bauhaus and Art Deco. Fashion design was not a major part of these Modernist movements, but the wide range of philosophies that fell under the Modernism umbrella is illustrative of the similar range of design philosophies within contemporary "Modernist" fashion design. Arts & Crafts was a reaction against industrialization, whereas post-Depression American Art Deco embraced and elevated industrialization. Art Nouveau was an explosion of curvilinear, hyper-naturalist embellishment, while Bauhaus promoted an aesthetic of geometric purity. Modernism in art was at least as divided, with movements from Post-Impressionism to the Harlem Renaissance, from Cubism to Dada. Similar stylistic diversity exists in Modernist literature, and other fields in which Modernism held sway. I'm not going to delve into the individual Modernist art & design philosophies at this point, but one key thing I want to state is that Modernism is not "modern" in the sense of being contemporary; the movement arguably ended any time from the 1940s to the 1970s. (The Dadaists would say it ended as early as 1916, but they were ahead of their time.) After Modernism came the aptly- (and vaguely-) named Post-Modernism, a mostly negative reaction to the assumptions of Modernism. Deconstructionism properly belongs under the heading of Post Modernism, not Modernism. The original targets of said deconstruction were the philosophical underpinnings of Modernism. I would also classify Minimalism as a Post-Modern movement. So, what we've been casually calling "Modernism" in fashion design is really Post-Modernism. (A real Modernist designer might be Coco Chanel.) It's a pretty safe bet that a good number of successful fashion designers are more familiar with these movements than most of us are; certainly moreso than I am. It's apparent that Modernist and Post-Modernist fashion designers are applying both ideas and methods derived from other arts. The more we know about the history of Modernism and Post-Modernism, the better we'll understand what contemporary designers are doing, or trying to do, or ripping off. OK, let the games begin...
post #1 of 17
9/30/02 at 6:55pm