Text by Nitiz Kaila
The term multipurpose/multifunctional in fashion has long been around. Its stark abstention has been a pivotal point of debate which goes back to the times of inception; times when high fashion has been synonymised with anti-utility by the layman. But the theory of trickle-up has applied well over time where the runways have embraced functional reality lapped with abstract dreams. We have as a matter-of-fact come a long way. A gradual but continually changing way with palpable changes in idea, execution and perception; as is in the nature of the accelerated pace at which fashion moves. The one big defining premise, just to cite a formative example, was the World War that gave ground to women wearing men’s clothing. And history has taken note and marked many alike.
Just like the term’s literal meaning, the connotations associated are varied. Off-late the way sportswear has taken over and had a pleasant intrusion into almost every possible genre of dressing, the blurring lines between seasons, between work-wear and leisure-wear & the one between gender specific clothes, are all cases in point for what is functional and multipurpose. For the now i.e. 2015 as propounded on the runways we see a surge of Utilitarian. A concept that takes on letting utility and functionality take centre stage. The numerous interpretations that can be covered under this umbrella encapsulate utility in the form of differing elements like concept, fabric, silhouette, etc. For instance military again is a derivative trend of this concept, the silhouettes have become more relaxed, the add-on components include like pockets and hoodies and the fabrics look more a constituent for daily and extended pursuits than mere occasion. Other patterns as seen on runways and reality alike are the flourishing co-existence of functional parkas and lush furs, the vertiginous heel and the platform sneakers, women back in men’s suits and boys in bombers at work and the notable moment when Victoria Beckham diversified from bodycons into pared down sexiness for Spring Summer 2015.
|Jason Wu SS15|
|Victoria Beckham SS15|
The pattern here is a big nod to acceptance on part of the artists and sculptors of high fashion and the emergence and championing of runway trends on streets and the fast fashion retailers’ shelves present a case for vice-versa. The runways stage the coinciding of inspirational and practical. If there is J.W Anderson with his not-so-androgynous but plain subversive play on menswear that got him the much-deserved light and the captain’s spot with Loewe, there also exists an Alexander Wang with his high-street tactic making Balenciaga current.
Whilst functionality and accessibility take the main stage and bring spotlight for some like Marc Jacobs' military renditions for SS15 and Raf Simmons' space suit for Dior FW14 Haute couture, there are some who have taken a blow for the same. How else would you reason the departure of Frida Giannini from Gucci on account of stagnant to no growth in the last few seasons owing to the luxury consumer's recalibration of the brand's image as a commodity offering not only exclusive but accessible fashion?
|Marc Jacobs SS15|
|Dior FW14 Haute Couture|