I’m a sucker for taking historical themes (specifically the vintage biblical variety) and applying them to fashion. Joseph’s technicolor dreamcoat? The first recorded use of color-blocking in history. Pharaoh’s headdress? Quite arguably the inspiration for Anna Wintour’s notorious hairstyle. It's also a very viable possibility that the splitting of the Red Sea was the inspiration for a certain fashion contraption we all know and love: the zipper. Okay, maybe not but it was worth a shot.
Lately I’ve been ruminating about a more abstract bible-to-fashion reference. Passover is here and you know what that means… yes, a spike in Metamucil sales, but also the retelling of the story of Moses leading the Jews out of Egypt, from slavery to freedom.
The drastic change from a slavery mindset ingrained in the Jews for 400 years to a freedom mindset wasn’t the easiest transition. The Jews struggled with it, telling Moses that they wished that they could return to Egypt. There was a discomfort in the unknown that had them longing for familiarity even if it meant going back to being slaves. Gird your loins ladies and gents, because I am going to go out on a limb here and say the fashion industry is struggling with a similar change.
For many years, we have all been in a sense “slaves” to the mythical fashion lords who dictated the trends we had to buy, the brands we had to be loyal to and the silhouettes that were acceptable for us to wear each season. But today, we are going through our own crucial exodus from slavery to freedom in fashion history. There are no longer distinct runway trends that we must follow to look au courant. Instead there’s an emergence of freedom in the way we dress. The fewer rules you choose to follow, the more interesting your style is. Countess Louise J. Esterhazy wrote in a recent WWD piece, “Let’s be frank (and, as you know, I am never anything but that), the word “trend” has had it. There are no trends. After viewing all the collections (I am a very diligent reporter), I have concluded that fashion today is a bouillabaisse of everything.” Ya hear that? A BOUILLABAISSE.
This new era in fashion is liberating but at the same time scary, confusing and difficult to navigate. Too much choice can be paralyzing. Like the ancient Israelites, many of us are nostalgic for the days of yore when building a wardrobe and deciding what to wear was a decision that was made for us.
But the easy, comfortable, familiar way of making fashion choices isn’t necessarily the most rewarding. This new status quo in fashion is challenging us every day to make personal choices about how we want to present ourselves to the world. It’s overwhelming and intimidating but I believe we all have it in us to rise to the occasion and stake our claim as individuals! Can I get an A-MEN? With a heavy dose of bravery and a reflective evaluation of our unique personal preferences, we have the power to create a fashion landscape that is one of the most interesting forms of expression of our time.
Now that was a mouthful, although hopefully a more welcome one than the cardboard flavored crackers we like to call "Matzah".