Through social media, high fashion has acquired a veneer of accessibility. We, the general public, can see and comment on the either brilliant or absurd creations released by fashion houses. Schiaparelli’s recent Paris Fashion Week show has dominated my TikTok feed through fancams of it set to 2011 Lana del Rey songs and self-titled “fashion critics” passionately regurgitating identical takes about the looks. Kylie Jenner’s lion-head black dress by Schiaparelli and Doja Cat’s completely red, bedazzled-in-Swarovski Crystals look have both dominated my social media feeds. “Fashion” content creators praise them and meme pages mock them. I see the artistic merit in the weird and off-putting, yet do not find either of these things successfully appealing in this case.
High fashion is about the experience, whether that be touching the fabrics, or witnessing a spectacle like Coperni’s Bella Hadid’s spray-on dress stunt (or indeed the Alexander McQueen show where robots spray painted a dress, which Coperni clearly…drew inspiration from). For this reason, no matter how much I see high fashion on social media, this is art that I will never interact with without the lens of social media guiding my eye. What connects Hadid’s viral moment and Doja Cat’s look is that they are made for social media virality. These are moments that are not particularly aesthetically appealing or artistically thoughtful—Hadid’s dress was made with technology that has been around for more than a decade, and the off-putting-ness of Doja’s look is not particularly interesting (unlike her mustached appearance at the recent Viktor & Rolf show)–– but they are interesting enough to gain attention on social media.
High fashion is art, but art that only rich people can truly interact with beyond the veil of social media. Right now, it reminds me of the trend of experience museums made to be documented on social media, places like the Sex Museum, the Ice Cream Museum or the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibits. These places replace cultural and artistic value with funny props and photographable sets to take photos with. This trend has trickled to high fashion because it has appropriated the gimmick of social media appeal, but only for the very wealthy. It’s as if the rich were the only people allowed to go to a place as flimsy as the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit. Fashion has always been inaccessible, but has it ever been this boring?