Purple Magazine
— S/S 2016 issue 25


the talent industry


Success, notoriety, and stardom are shared aspirations. There are infinite ways to achieve them: stubbornness, sexual liaisons, social networking, a good marriage. Talent, in the chosen field of action, should be the natural method. But is it, really? So the saying goes. It takes talent even to choose the right life companion, you know.

Talent is engaging and addictive — hence the proliferation of talent shows on TV. Most of the time, it is so spontaneous and intrinsically at odds with cynicism that one inevitably falls for it. Talent makes no social distinction. It elevates and turns the tables. What’s not to love?

Fashion, for instance, nourishes talent. It nourishes it to death. Why? Fashion and talent share the urgency of now — that’s why. They’re both eager to catch the moment, as quickly as possible. Talent is about exceptional dexterity, but most of all it’s about raw newness: it celebrates who’s next, in an unbreakable swirl of perpetual turnover that makes yesterday’s wunderkind old and all of a sudden not-so-talented. As for fashion, isn’t endless if sometimes pointless renewal the only dynamic principle — and the sole mathematical rule — in an otherwise plainly irrational but hugely profitable business? There you are. Hail the couple du moment, squeezed in the tightest of hugs: one fed on necessity more than unbiased attraction. Oh, you think this is not true love? Well, that’s life.

Let’s be honest. Fashion has always needed new talent to sacrifice on the altar of rebirth. It is part of its life cycle. The wheel turns because a new hemline is introduced, a new style is proposed, and a new guru has arrived to put his or her stamp on it, validating and turning it into the new law until the cycle restarts. Next season, bien sûr, or even earlier. Yet, today, fashion needs new talent even more rapidly. It needs it kind of desperately. Only fresh talent can give color to the fashionable wasteland that’s before us, made even grayer and drier by the combined forces of marketing and commerce — the deadly duo running havoc everywhere. Talents are wild, untamed, and untamable, at least until the system seduces them. They can ignite change: superficial or deep, it depends.

Such is the hunger for newness and newness. Fashionistas keep looking for talent in tiny showrooms and derelict studios, in squats and abandoned ateliers. No drive is too far from the glitzy neighborhoods if the talent worth discovering is hyped enough. Because, you know, talents need the talent to get under the right radar — there are éminences grises who decide for the rest of the flock who’s a talent and who’s not. The hunting ground is fashion schools, right where talents proliferate in productive incubation, and fashion contests. The latter are multiplying with alarming frequency all over the planet, offering to the ever-growing troop of international new talents a well-lit, media-crazed platform to show their worth. They have to do it quickly, before the lights go out and another troop storms the stage. If a talent joins a good talent contest — there are actually just a few of them left internationally, such as the Hyères fashion festival or the International Talent Support, the rest being simply publicity machines for the cities that host them or cash cows for the greedy patrons and brands who enjoy the title of young talent advocate — they are likely to make a leap, convince some investor or headhunter, and kick-start a glorious career. Otherwise, they will stay in the ranks, work in design studios at a lower level, or in the saddest cases, remain unemployed and change jobs. C’est la vie.

Fashion’s implacable hunger for talent is easy to understand, but somehow it’s also singular. Just look at the fashion pyramid. On the one end, there are the bigwigs, getting older and older and refusing to abdicate their venerated thrones. On the other, in an era of endless creative recycling, the urge for fresh vision is needed more than it ever was. Which creates a state of necessity: finding a talent, of late, is a diktat, not a genuine process of discovery. This is where the alarm starts going off. Fashionistas ask for a new genius all the time, at any cost, at the fastest speed. They’re not interested in cherishing what already exists. They want a new meal served in front of them, knowing they will only regurgitate it, as Kronos did with his offspring, before asking for a replacement.

But isn’t multiplication an enemy of talent? Talent is exceptional, not widespread. It’s a blessing of the happy few, not a possession of the masses. Talent, according to the dictionary, is “a special ability that allows someone to do something well; a person or group of people with a special ability to do something well.” In this sense, if everybody is a talent, then nobody is. In fashion, talents are ready toujours and never skip, as would be expected, a generation or more.

So, is our talent-infested fashion present talentless or chock-full of wunderkinds? Probably both. For sure, it needs a little bit of trimming, some second-guessing, more skepticism. The firm will to use that damn word, t-a-l-e-n-t, strictly when needed, or totally do without it, is mandatory. As for the people who truly possess talent, growing underground like truffles would help. So would a dash of circumspection in the people who discover them. Because talent is innate, and that’s what makes it special. It needs time and application to grow,
as well as some patience to break through. All in all, maybe it’s not the easiest path to success. If you’re in a rush, opt for hype.

[Table of contents]

S/S 2016 issue 25

Table of contents

purple EDITO

purple NEWS

purple BEST of the SEASON





purple BEAUTY

purple LOVE


purple SEX

purple NIGHT

purple STORY


Subscribe to our newsletter