In recent years, our visual world has been ruled by a group of designers and creatives who have come to loosely consider fanfic authors. Think of A $ AP Mob, echoing the Wu-Tang. Matthew Williams remixing Alexander McQueen. The way Safdies Scorsese rides Sandler. Olivia Rodrigo repeated the photograph of Ellen Von Unwerth on the cover of Hole’s Live through it for his own first album, which betrayed the ethics underlying all these parrots. Generation X Courtney Love Cobain think copying is not cool, but for a youngster today, that’s how you think: I loved it, so I want to embody it for myself. No ethical quagmire here, no father. Creation and fandom become one. Are our idols better than the people who work now? It’s hard to say, as none of us were there, but more importantly, nothing will ever be as pure and wonderful as something you took with fresh, youthful eyes, untouched by cynicism, even if you discover it years after its debut. .
Of course, fashion designers, operating in a world where originality is king (although rarely achieved), have a particularly anxious relationship with influence. And so, when this digitally native generation fills their collections with imitation gestures and even complete looks that feel less like a tribute and more like copies, they proclaim it as part of what they do. I think of Vaquera, who coined the term “fashion fanfic” with their heart-shaped recreations of pieces by André Walker or Miguel Adrover. And Williams at Givenchy, for whom Christophe Decarnin and Riccardo Tisci are much more real legends than Hubert de Givenchy; or Daniel Roseberry at Schiaparelli, who has just done a program enthusiastically quoting Christian Lacroix. The breadth of the aesthetics of these designers shows how ubiquitous this type of creation has become. You could say it’s nostalgic – that everything just looks back – but in reality, it’s more complicated than that. It is really a desire to create in the universe of your idol, struggling in their shadow, to approach it by imitation.
Last week, as he unveiled his spring 2022 collection, designer Kiko Kostadinov reflected on how his process differs from that of his peers, looking a bit tortured. “I struggle [with] wanting to reproduce a specific era or a specific subculture or a specific period, or a specific body of work, ”he said. “I can’t think, like, ‘I’m going to pick a photographer and I’m just going to recreate their characters in an almost identical way.’ “This way of working” is not really about clothes. But it’s about bringing light to a specific artist, and you kind of follow the characters they’ve shot, created, or painted. I struggle with this cause I’m not really close [enough] to any subculture to feel like you are part of it.
Kostadinov transcends the fanfic group. He’s a designer designer, the one who wants to show you something you never thought of, instead of doing something everyone already wants (so it’s no surprise that his clothes are all over the place. A $ AP’s circus video Rocky and Rihanna shoot this week.) Theoretically, he could easily switch into fanfic territory: he grew up blowing the fashion bulletin boards, and he’s a big head of Yohji too. Yamamoto. But like Yamamoto, Kostadinov thinks of clothes much like a conceptual artist – his references are never to other designers, but to theirs. process to create.