By Lerman Montoya
The lights begin to dim in Whiteman Hall. Standing in front of the podium is Dana Thomas, a fashion journalist. She begins her lecture with a narrative. She introduces the topic with Alexander’s McQueen’s death. The subject set the tone for the night.
This lecture was titled “Gods and Kings, The Rise and Fall of Alexander McQueen and John Galliano.” Like the book of the same name, Thomas’ lecture focused on the death of innovation and creativity in the fashion industry. “Designers spend their days reinterpreting somebody else’s ideas, usually out of the archives. They don’t have to dream up things,” said Thomas.
Alexander McQueen and John Galliano were ahead of their time. Experts in tailoring and dressmaking, McQueen and Galliano would revolutionize the fashion industry with their avant garde haute couture. Rising to fame, Galliano and McQueen began working for famous fashion houses like Givenchy and Dior. Year after year, designers were expected to follow the growing demands of the consumer class. Designers were asked to produce perfumes, bags, wallets, clothing and shoes. To meet the market’s demand, designers would create more than 10 collections a year.
Thomas began explaining how the fashion industry has moved from a place of creativity to a “big business.” Thomas claims that this death of artistic individualism is the reason why many designers reach their breaking point. Designers like Jean Paul Gaultier have decided to stop exasperating their creativity and limit the amount of shows per year. Most famously, John Galliano’s fallout with Dior forced him to seek help in rehabilitation.
Since the rise of and accessibility to high fashion, businesses have used designers as means to give the company artistic vision. By capitalizing on their talent, companies can continue making money at the expense of the designer.