Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is there a future for fashion icons?

What exactly is a fashion icon? The term may seem too conceptual, and its overuse nowadays questions its real meaning. We can see this title given to fashion stylist Catherine Baba on our favorite fashion blog and at the same time we hear someone on the radio calling Belinda the next Mexican fashion icon.
But its meaning is more complex.

One of my favorite definitions comes from the “Think Different” ad campaign created in 1977 for Apple Computers.

As you see, the TV ad does not give an academic definition but its message fully transmits the core essence of the long lasting icon in a poetic yet powerful way.

When talking about fashion icons we refer to men and women endowed with a unique sense of style that distinguishes them from their contemporaries, leaving a mark that endures throughout time. Admired and followed, these trendsetters become symbols, and their looks and personalities become a legacy for their own and the next generations.

A generous number of names that fit into this profile come to my mind. Some of them also appear in the list of the Top fashion icons of the 2Oth century made last year by the Clothes Show London. Coco Chanel, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Twiggy, David Bowie, Madonna, Kate Moss, all of these fashion icons have something in common. Yes. They are celebrities: actresses, models, first ladies and designers that had the attention of the media and so, the eyes of the whole world were turned into them. 

But today we are facing a totally new scenario. With the evolution of communication technologies and the Internet explosion everyone gets the chance to be seen. Now there’s no need to turn on the TV, buy a magazine or go to the cinemas, you just have to visit Fashion Toast, Stylebubble or Luxirare to get fashion inspiration instantly.

Thousands of bloggers are the ones creating fashion trends with their own personal style, becoming opinion leaders and getting the attention of the media. Collaborating in special projects for top designers, seating in front row at the most exclusive fashion shows and getting a place for their opinions in serious magazines, they are the fashion heroes of this generation.

But fashion bloggers are not alone. With the apparition of Jak & Jil, Facehunter, Garance Doré and The Sartorialist streetstyle boomed and everyday fashionistas, socialites and models were brought together with a new group: the until then unknown top magazine’s editorial team and their flawless sense of style. Kate Lanphear, Carine Roitfeld, Taylor Tomasi, Panos Yiapanis: the editorial crew of the most coveted publications are now the style leaders of millions of visitors that everyday seek for their new pictures to emulate their haircut, copy their poses or dream about their awesome accessories. 

Anna Dello Russo, Fashion Director of Vogue Nippon and streetstyle luminaire, acknowledges the power that lies behind each snapshot and so she treats this dynamic seriously. "Us lot were invisible; there was the model, the photographer and a whole team of people. When the camera turned to us it enabled us to start a new career…The whole streetstyle thing these days is like a job, it's all planned and thought up in advance." (Source Swide)

And we still have celebrities. Lady Gaga having fun with the wild fashion picks mastered by House of Gaga, which include Alexander McQueen, Gareth Pugh and Alex Noble; Lily Allen being invited by Karl Lagerfeld to perform at Chanel’s S/S 2O1O fashion show and now planning to do a career in fashion; Chloë Sevigny reinforcing her indie fashion godess status with numerous collaborations for Opening Ceremony; And Victoria Beckham designing her own collection with surprisingly good results tell us the link between fashion and entertainment is growing stronger.
It seems that today fashion figures arise from everywhere.

There’s no doubt: The fashion fans have switched the channel. Not the TV channel but the communication channel. The Internet today delivers us the figures that are changing the fashion scene right from their monitors to ours. 

The question is:
Are these the new fashion icons?
Can they stand out enough to endure in an environment where everyone can be a star? Or will their sudden fame fade into oblivion in a couple of years when the chic editors get fired or a super cool 12 year old appears from nowhere, leaving us with the same Grace Kellys and Audrey Hepburns our grandmothers turned for fashion tips?

Time will tell.  / Karee Estrada

Lilly Allen / Chanel /S 2O1O fashion show