Balenciaga Shows That Great Fashion Doesn’t Have to Be Escapist

Many designers feel escapism is the right tone for the moment: think of Tom Ford, that balletic airy Hermès show, or even Celine’s Elysian Fields of TikTok. But escapism can also feel like a copout. Fashion can do so much more than make you feel good, first of all. And there is also just so much emotion, so much heaviness, in the atmosphere, which fashion is more than equipped to interpret. Look back at those tortured McQueen collections, like the “Highland Rape” in 1995, or even further back to the politically blasé Yves Saint Laurent, channeling the protests of 1968 into his now-iconic military-ish trouser suits. Martin Margiela’s spring 2000 treatise on the commercialization of fashion, and Yohji Yamamoto’s similar, though more cynical, message for fall 2007, both wrestled compellingly with the increasing influence of global capitalism on a medium they both treat as an art form. Why aren’t more

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