The Importance of Nurturing Creative Dialogue - "The Force of Words" Blending Mag Feature, December 2016

Florence-based fashion and culture publication Blending Mag publishes insightful issues designed by FUA's talented attendees; each edition centred around a thought-provoking theme. December 2016's print celebrated Florentine journalist Oriana Fallaci and her championing of "The Force of Words" throughout her prolific, groundbreaking body of work. Reflecting on the ever-increasing prevalence of visuals over the written word - yet with the latter possessing greater necessary than ever - in this tech-inundated age, I wrote about the current transience of print publications across the globe, the evolution of creative analysis in Florence's enriched history and the prevailing significance of fashion forums. The resulting article, "The Importance of Nurturing Creative Dialogue", is displayed below:

The Importance of Nurturing Creative Dialogue

"There could be no doubt that the international fashion-journalism industry is in the throes of its most transient era thus far. The meteoric rise of modern-day technology and social media platforms has seen the language of images undertake an entirely new prevalence. Its initial cause for celebration certainly wasn’t unfounded: coupled with the rapid distribution prowess of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, these online visuals were a quick-fire means of breaking down multi-lingual barriers. Moreover, designers and makers of all genres could utilise the same platforms to showcase collections for free; ensuring that a potentially limitless customer base could now stumble upon their designs. A new-found impatience for unique yet quickly-produced content was instilled in digitally-savvy style enthusiasts - their eyes well-adjusted to absorbing and discarding imagery in an instant. The ramifications our shrinking attention spans have had on fashion’s critical-writing scene - particularly (if unsurprisingly) its physical-print publications - are therefore unquestionable. 

"Yet those considering this photo-centric age as the demise of the written word are undoubtedly mistaken. With our minds perpetually bombarded by ‘enticing’ online offers of an increasingly similar appearance - and the articulate Susie Bubbles of the blogging world outnumbered by visual-only weblogs - we are in greater need of authentic fashion discourse than perhaps ever before. The same goes for any creative domain: a picture may speak a thousand words, but only through analysis and exchanging of ideas can one discover its meaning from multiple, equally insightful perspectives. The briefest of glances at Florence’s culturally-rich heritage will testify this. Giorgio Vasari’s “Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects” cemented the Renaissance artist and writer as the founder of art-historical literature. Despite the fact that his biographies are clearly peppered with subjective anecdotes, Vasari’s work has proved indispensable in describing the leading figures of Florence’s Early Renaissance. In addition to this, Boccaccio’s literary masterpiece “The Decameron” offers key insights into the mindset of 14th century cittadini fiorentini - adding thought-provoking layers to their artistic depictions. Opinions and outlooks are meant to evolve over time - each new time period looks at a historical magnum opus with fresh eyes, comparing and contrasting its nuances. To eliminate this organic communication would eliminate part of human nature itself.

"With this in mind, 2016’s over-saturation of visual postings has garnered both strengths and weaknesses for designers, writers and any emerging creative entities. Most well-used social media sites have become incredibly crowded with individuals looking to project their work, making it increasingly more difficult to pinpoint your potential collaborators and to be pinpointed yourself. However, given the sameness that currently permeates the social media tribe of ‘influencers’ - alongside the brands they endorse - if you convey your creative approach in an articulate, innovative way, you’ll stand well above the swarming(e-)crowds. This is why expressing a fashion label’s core ethos beyond images alone is crucial to fully connect with consumers. A sustainable womenswear brand is just another womenswear brand until you discover its pieces were crafted from bamboo silk - its natural fibres dyed using the power of an ocean’s high tide. The debut of a new-season collection, from my personal perspective, is best enjoyed in three stages: first, during its grand catwalk unveiling, revelling in the visual details of each piece and drawing your own conclusions as to the inspiration source behind them. After this, digesting the verbal analyses of fashion journalists and critics whose work you truly relish - be it because of their unflinching, unceasing honesty, or because they innately recognise the ties between sartorial and societal evolution. Finally, discovering the designer’s real thought process behind their collection - from immediate influences to last-minute changes. The three end products may have near-identical parallels, or interesting diversities - in any case, this objective dialogue is as satisfying for fashion observers as it is for designers, giving new definitions to their work that prompt reflection.

"If any social media aficionados still question the merits of the written word over visual language, the roaring success of fashion forums will instantly quell doubts. Credited as the uninhibited predecessor of style blogging, these sartorial discussion hubs are void of images altogether - their focus centred on matter-of-fact viewpoints regarding the industry, each shared between incognito avatars. Arguably its most famous incarnation, The Fashion Spot, boasts almost 10 million postings dated from its 2001 inception onwards. In a world where little can be said or done anonymously, the unabashed attitude of its members comes as a breath of fresh air. Unsurprisingly, designers themselves are keen followers of their discussion threads. As was recently penned in a Business of Fashion article, Dries Van Noten and Joseph Altuzarra have openly stated that they read forums for genuine feedback on their work. In the same BoF piece, former editor Dirk Standen was recalled to have said: “As one PR exec told me recently, the designers he works with are more interested to hear what the anonymous commenters on have to say about their collections than the mighty critics.” It’s no wonder the same website still has a waiting list to join its coveted rankings.

"While the manner in which we write, publish and assimilate words may have noticeably altered in the last several years, our desire to do so will never diminish. Whether richly describing a brand philosophy or exploring the visionary work of a newly-discovered artist, the power of a gifted writer remains the same, regardless of what century you find yourself in: to transport readers into a scenario so evocative, they momentarily forget everything else."

La Femme Éclectique