Purple Diary

[February 29 2016]

An extract from INBEDWITH Olivier Zahm: “A dialogue in four chapters about the extreme” an interview by Jina Khayyer

Jina Khayyer — Fashion, an industry torn between creativity and consumerism.

Olivier Zahm — 2015 brought all the topics on the table. Not just in Paris and France. The ruin of Greece, the instability of the Euro, the questioning of Europe. The bitter truth of climate change, which finally reached every household. Hundreds and thousands of immigrants on the move, from Africa and the Middle East all heading towards Europe. Not just political and war refugees but also climate-fugitives and economic refugees. At the same time Europe is struggling too: unemployment and poverty in France, unemployment and poverty in Italy unemployment and poverty in Spain, the list goes on.

But the luxury and fashion industries remain unaffected, continuing their vivid paces, while the idea of fashion used to be to mirror the present.

Jina Khayyer — Is fashion blind towards reality ?

Olivier Zahm — You are right, Europe is a crambling castel. But the fashion industry should stay politically incorrect. Fashion is a dream. It is an absurd world. An absurd waste of money. That is the nature of fashion: to spend money for purely aesthetic reasons. We can’t moralise fashion. Fashion is amoral. It’s a fantasy. The desire to look good is one of the most common human desires. Even to those who might not have access to fashion. Look at me, I don’t have access to all those products, I don’t buy them. But still to me fashion is, in its absurdity, in its exaggeration and its obsession for beauty, a source of hope and pleasure. We can’t disqualify or rationalise this aspect.

Fashion has a beautiful irresponsibility. Look at David Bowie, why did people like him so much ? It wasn’t just because of his great music. It was because he was an icon of fashion. He had such an amazing sense for style. It made his pop music something extraordinary, beyond music, by constantly creating his own characters and personas. That inspired people.

Why don’t we like the Rolling Stones anymore ? Because the Rolling Stones don’t offer a dream anymore. They just offer what you pay for. The Rolling Stones are commercial, David Bowie was a dream. To deliver this dream is not superficial, it has a value. It is a necessity.

And regarding the extreme situation in fashion; it’s certainly not a very creative time. It is an extreme obsession for commerce. What is extreme today is the speed of the circulation of products. It’s a disaster. It forces the designer to create too many collections, to change their aesthetics and their idea every season, sometimes even two times a season. That’s what’s killing fashion. If you have to change your vision every season you are losing yourself, your are losing your quality, your mind, your creativity. The extreme in fashion today is the extreme forced creativity.

Read all chapters here

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