If people say ‘I love fashion’ I’m always curious to know why exactly. Because, let’s be honest, fashion isn’t the same as and can’t be equated with clothes. Fashion is a world on its own, a vast universe filled with dreams and goals, but also a very real industry that sadly is becoming too much of a business where sometimes money and quantity seem to be more important than quality content. But, let’s skip the negativity here and focus on all the beautiful things that this fashion universe creates and gives.

Here is why I love fashion:

•Fashion is for a very big part a dream. It is created through dreams of designers, editors, photographers, models, stylists, and so on (the number of people involved in this industry is countless!). These initial dreams then become part of real life, of a real industry thanks to catwalk shows, editorials in magazines, fashion campaigns, retail store experience, just to name a few examples. The clothes are central of course, but there’s always a dreamy, fantastic, sometimes even mysterious story around them. And this story, this dream is what you as a consumer are actually buying. Isn’t that just lovely? You’re not buying clothes but you’re buying an idea, a marvellous one.

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Dreamy pictures of fashion photographer Tim Walker. © ilsammathews, Vogue

•Fashion is history and future combined. In my opinion you can’t fully enjoy the actual fashion world without including its history. History is repeating itself and that’s a sure thing in fashion. It seems a paradoxical idea to say about an industry that is evolving faster and faster – the whole experience of fashion is radically changing, first of all because of social media that give the consumers a whole new platform to digest fashion – but maybe now more than ever we are in desperate need of a context that makes sense, a solid foundation. You can still predict the future while looking at the history of fashion.
rivegauche2Yves Saint Laurent in front of his Saint Laurent Rive Gauche store with Betty Catroux and Loulou de la Falaise. © exhibitions.fitnyc    

Every fashion story has a historical context, whether it’s the revolutionary sixties that inspired the creation of the Saint Laurent Rive Gauche line, or the future emancipation of women in an artistic Parisian milieu in the roaring twenties around big fashion names as Madeleine Vionnet, Jeanne Lanvin, Elsa Schiaparelli and Coco Chanel. Fashion changes because the context we’re living in is changing and in that way fashion looks at the outside too, not only at a dreamy inside. Designers are influenced by a reigning culture, a particular ‘feeling’ or atmosphere that circulates through the streets where they are passing by themselves every day.

chanelshiapCoco Chanel (above) and Elsa Schiaparelli (below), fashion rivals. © littleblackdress 

•Finally, fashion is art. Designers often get inspired by art to create a new collection, whether it is music, theatre, dance, literature, or foreign cultures. The exhibition ‘Inspirations’ which was shown at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (2014) and the MoMu museum in Antwerp (2015) displayed the wide array of inspirations of Belgian designer Dries Van Noten. Inspiration is crucial in fashion, and these inspirations are not limited to everyday life – as a designer you can of course be inspired by real women you encounter on the street, but there has to be a certain dose of mental images involved, that a designer takes into consideration when starting a new creation process for a new collection. Thanks to these various inspirations fashion is so much more than just clothes.

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One of the displays at the Dries Van Noten Inspirations exhibiton. © senatus A selection of the Dries Van Noten AW 14 show. © freakdeluxe

First picture of this article: John Galliano for Christian Dior Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2011. © vk