We live in turbulent times, a glance at a newspaper will tell you this much on any given day but I think right now we have all felt it in our bones. The pandemic’s lockdown and its consequences have challenged us in mind, body and soul. Who we are, how we lived, how we travel, how we work, it all has been totally shaken and turned upside down. Sometimes I still can’t believe the experiences of my last few months, can you?
The big question now is: how will we move past these shakeups, this pandemic? Fashion houses, like any global company, have been disrupted maybe like never before. Distribution chains paused, stores closed, jobs lost, brands destroyed. And of course, the consumer has made changes. Have you been shopping like before? I definitely have not. In my case, it was a combination of financial caution, fear and really no motivation to shop with nowhere to go. A sort of overall winter sleep set over me and I’m just coming back to life. Now what?
The fabulous line “I shop therefore I am” in artist Barbara Kruger’s iconic artworks feels so poignant to me today. Who am I when the hamster wheel of acquiring more and more stuff, attending endless events, shows and parties is halted? Are we undergoing an exciting metamorphosis that like a dangerous predator has been eying us up for ages? I believe the industry has been bracing itself for change but too big, too fearful to actually act. Think of fast fashion, the decline of the publishing industry and ad spreads and the exhausting merry-go-round of fashion weeks and runway shows the fewest feeling relevant or sustainable. So, what will the new normal be, whatever that really means?
I want to be an optimist. I hope this time will force us all to reconsider our excessive and wasteful lifestyles. Our insatiable need for more. Always on the go. Next. A never-ending succession of scrolls, clicks, swipes. Hopping on a plane for anything and everything. In these months I have lived very differently. I have barely traveled. I have stayed home rather than just popping in to sleep and shower like before. I have reconnected with a lot of old friends on FaceTime for which I seemed to find no time before. Ironically, all that social distancing has gotten me much closer to some and definitely closer to me. Maybe designers and creatives within the industry had the opportunity to step out of the hamster wheel, to reflect on their vision, who they are, who they are designing for?
Karl Lagerfeld told me a few years ago, when I visited him before one of his legendary Chanel Couture shows, that he never looked back, only forward. He said something along the lines of looking back is a waste of time because fashion is about the now. I thought about that phrase a lot. What I understand from it is: we learn from the past, we nod back with gratitude but never with nostalgia because today is what counts.
Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis
Journalist and author
Elisabeth von Thurn und Taxis is a German born writer currently residing in Rome, Italy. She has worked as an international freelance journalist in London and New York contributing to culture, fashion and art in newspapers and magazines around the world. Most recently she worked at American Vogue as style-editor-at-large contributing amongst other things her eponymously titled monthly magazine column TNT in which she documented her adventures and observations around the globe. She has designed various fashion collaborations, produced videos and published two books in her native Germany. She has a degree from the American University of Paris in Communication, Media and Film Studies and speaks 5 languages.