It is not surprising that world renowned french design star Philippe Starck, most famous for his posh hotels and slick furniture recently said “I will never be idiotic enough to do fashion.” The setting of his proclamation, however, was a bit perplexing – it was in Florence at the launch of Mr. Starck’s new eco-conscious clothing line. Say what?!
Well this is also the guy who said ‘Design is Dead‘ and announced his retirement from the world of design, while simultaneously launching a line of eco-chic mini wind turbines. We aren’t quite sure what Mr. Starck has against the f-word, but we are pretty confident that his adamantly non-fashion line made of luxurious cashmere and silk cloaks, knit dresses and jackets does indeed fall under the realm of fashion, whether he likes it or not. But you can be the judge of that.
As a design website, we are (all too) well aware that fashion is sometimes looked upon by architects, industrial designers and, well, anyone who is not a fashion lover as fleeting, disposable, superficial and generally not worth paying attention to. As a new fashion editor, I have experienced everything from subtle shifts in demeanor to snide remarks to outright eye-rolls when people look at my card and see my title. Really, guys? Really? These types of reactions often, if not always, come from trendily and impeccably dressed people who obviously pay a lot of attention to their clothing. So why, then, do they regard fashion as such an undesirable thing to be associated with?
I don’t necessarily have an answer for that question, but there is no doubt that fashion’s bad rap within the rest of the design community seems to be related to Mr. Starck’s own conflicted feelings towards fashion. The creator of the iconic Louis Ghost Chair and Salif Juicer does acknowledge that fashion is very necessary for the simple fact that unless we want to venture out of our homes in our birthday suits, we need to wear clothing. But the explanation as to why, exactly, Starck’s new line of “intelligent cashmere” garb does not fall under the umbrella of vogue is vague at best.
What makes Starck’s new line sustainable? The minimalistic nature of the clothing, produced in cahoots with legendary cashmere makers Ballantyne, is one part of the equation. The utilitarian garments are meant to stand the test of time and trend, incorporating features like hidden pockets, detachable waistcoats and multi-position collars that are adaptable to any look. Perhaps for Starck, the term “fashion” inherently connotes a tradition of disposability which he would like to distance his own line from. Yet detaching the S+arck + Ballantyne line from the f-word seems almost like a waste when others are successfully using their brands to catalyze a renaissance in fashion instead of a denial of it.
Of the clothing itself, Starck says it is “non-photogenic. But intelligent people will know to discover us.” If the clothing line does revolutionize body furnishings and calls people to end their cycle of high turnover duds the way that Mr. Starck foretellsl, we really don’t care what he calls it. “We are starting something that cannot not work, and that will be followed,” further explains Mr. Starck. Designs that we wear on our bodies in styles that are coveted and followed by the masses? Call us crazy, but that sounds a whole lot like something we like to write about on Sundays…
+ Phillipe Starck
Photo credit: S+arck With Ballantyne