Few designers today make the kind of political or ideological statement on the runway, at the risk of shocking (read scaring) potential buyers and editors away. Yet fashion isn’t only a means of escapism. The best designers often act as a litmus test, gagging the mood of the moment; absorbing a year’s worth of political, cultural and social debates; then somehow translating them into codes for dressing. (Well that is if you care about such things).
And what a year it’s been. The fashion industry has experienced its own series of velvet revolutions, with the sudden departure (and installment) of high profile editors, designers, buyers and executives at some of the industry’s most iconic brands. What this changing of the guards (read readjustment) means for the rest of the industry is too early to tell.
Despite such seismic events, any hint of fashion’s current condition (let alone world events) has yet to materialize on the Fall 2011 runways…that is until now. Enter the Portuguese Paris-based designer Felipe Oliveira Baptista (the recently appointed creative director at Lacoste), who for the last few seasons has been showing his own eponymous line (with a modernist tilt) during Paris fashion week.
Although Baptista’s razor-sharp tailoring and an innovative approach to embellishment has won him a new fan base amongst fashion insiders, the most enduring image from his fall collection may be the designer himself, who appeared at the end of his show in a t-shirt (long a trusted canvas of the political statement) emblazoned with one universal message in Arabic: Freedom.
© THE POLYGLOT/ALEX AUBRY (all rights reserved) CHICAGO-PARIS