From the end of March to mid April the Eve offices became the hub for hundreds of porfolios. To be precise 743 of over 180 schools from 75 nationalities. Three entire weeks are devoted to reading, studying, pouring over each and every portfolio, until we are entirely satisfied that we have gotten to know eachother well enough to embark on the next stage of the preselections. From this point you can get a birds eye view of what is going on in the young fashion world. Not only is it an insightful journey through the minds and dreams of young fashion designers but it is also a cultural learning experience. We have become better acquainted with Ray Caesar, Howard Roark, Dick Brunas, Richard Serra, Claude Cahun, Sylvia Plath and had the chance to meet up again with old friends like Barbie, Audrey Hepburn, Stanley Kubrick through the collection inspirations. We saw concepts for collections based on nature-sky, sea life, birds, insects, landscapes, many rabbits and horses.
Chess, imaginary characters, twins, symmetry, Africa,protections, space, Christmas, various religious aspects, etc but what always pops up over and over again is the theme of childhood, at times nostalgic, at times disturbing, the passage from childhood to adulthood, as adults the return to childhood, often accompanied with references to Alice in Wonderland and the Little Prince. The influence of rabbits and Alice in Wonderland was not limited to fashion and accessories, we also saw this trend infiltrate photography projects. Japan has always been a favourite source for inspiration but never before have we seen such a widespread permeation of culture and costume in collections from all over the world. Dressing manga characters, reinterpretation of the kimono and the obi, origami, samurai, the geisha goes west.
In the past we have been surprised at the fashion designers' ability to surprise. This year we are surprised by the strong influence the catwalks are having on the student community. This is indeed logical but it is not something that has always occurred. We had an inkling that this might be the case from the colour boards which showed an overindulgence of grey. Grey with grey, grey with black, grey moving slowly into neutral colours, grey tones with a splash of a garish colour, grey from the city, grey from clouds, grey from age. Generally designers played it safe with colours. Plenty of black, natural shades, complimentary ton sur ton, with few exceptions of outbursts of clashing colours. Our suspicions were furthered by the ubiquitous presence of leather. A must, be it a full outfit or just trimmings we saw leather everywhere.
Confirmation came with metallic adornments. All that glitters isn't always gold but silver, copper, bronze, sprayed leather, zips (in itself more proof of inspiration from the catwalks) not just used functionally but aesthetically integrated into outfit. Curiously we found traces of Antwerp all over the world. Having recognised the Antwerpian style, we were surprised to see that the portfolio in hand was actually from the UK, or Canada but even as far as Colombia.
i-D takes its place as favourite magazine with various editions of Vogue hot on its heels. McQueen loses first place favourite fashion designer to Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga and John Galliano falls to third place. Fashion designers respond to what they like about fashion as being creativity and possibility to express oneself If they could change something about fashion it would be to have more opportunities, financial support and reasonably paid jobs.