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CHAMBRE FASHION: Human Identity in the Digitalization Era

A controversial year ahead has been revealed in fashion’s initial yearly presentations for Fall/Winter season 2023. An anticipated season where hype-culture has developed accelerated cultural consumerism into hyperrealism, chasing the need to explore what’s turned into an almost inexistent distance between the virtual and the physical, which has thrown us into reevaluating the meaning of human identity and our position in relation to this new world ahead of us.

As we enter what might be the most transformative era of humanity, it becomes evident that it is through our creations that we find either a utopian escape or a possibility to manifest our deepest fears and desires. After all, dress has always been our most literal form of identification. By covering our basic need for shelter, its shapes, forms, textures and details, have always functioned as a reflection to our most intrinsic compositions, interests and evolution.

Whether it be with the objective to define our roles in society, or to communicate ideals and morals. Fashion has always been, and always will be the most accurate narrative on humanity’s status at a certain period in time.

2023 will probably become the year where we will lay the foundations to support our development and social structures for the upcoming decades. A new era for technological advancement through the introduction of self-programming software and quantum computing unfolds. With it, all organizational systems will continue suffering fractures that will eventually allow in a new way to conceive existence as a whole, as an interconnectedness that requires the abandonment of old structures in order to prevail, and it is only through the ruptures that newness can be let in.

This year will probably also be the year where we finally begin to immerse ourselves into understanding the catastrophic consequences climate change will progressively have in our personal lives. Social displacement and migration will be an annual $20 trillion opportunity by 2050, according to a December, 2022 report by Boston Consulting Group, compared to the $1.3 trillion it represents today. A scenario that will, apart from demanding resilience and empathy, will heighten cultural exchanges and input a stronger amount of pressure on values and forms of identity.

To quote D’Oyen Mckenna, CEO of Mercy Corps, a humanitarian aid organization, when speaking for Business of Fashion on current global adversities in current times of social and political unrest, as well as aggressive climate changes, “while none of us can fully control the forces that are shaping our world today, we do get to choose how we represent ourselves in that world.” Having said this, fashion today happens to be the clearest reflection of such representations. From artificial hybridization to biocentrism, humanity faces the construction of new paradigms to fit into the narratives that will accompany us in the future that’s to come.

In such transformative times, humankind’s need for a definition of its own limits in relation to the core of identity and purpose of existence appears represented in the overtures of a fragmented system that seems to be unable to distinguish its fears from its purpose.

The season’s runway presentations appeared drowned by the demands of the virtualization of the mundane life of its potential new customers in a desperate attempt to turn an eye from the harsh reality being experienced globally. Looking into the potential of conquering space in a new, artificial, reality, built from scratch, seems like the best choice for those who refuse to let go and transition into a different way of thought.

Maybe the first gasp came through a profoundly shocking presentation by Daniel Roseberry for Schiaparelli with the integration of hyperrealist animal heads and bodies being wrapped over models and actresses’ bodies. Whether they were real or not wasn’t at the top of the list of concerns, it was its conceptual and ideological contents, which rattled fashion’s followers. Indeed, a provocation that produced a much wanted viralization and digital media shock, although not exactly obtaining the expected effect. The new generations of promising luxury consumers have now begun openly expressing their need for radical transparency to be entwined into the values behind their purchases, their beliefs, their views and the brands with whom they have built almost human-like relationships with, by demands of the application of neuromarketing tools. This is not a generation that will migrate from one trend onto the next reinventing their ideals to match the needs of shareholders pockets, carelessly. Generation Z has gained an incredibly fast resilience for change having been pushed into holding onto firm values to accompany them through the tides of transformation encountered in the numerous digital interactions they assess on their day-to-day basis.

Schiaparelli Spring Summer 2023

Roseberry’s attempt to offer a creation under biocentric views aligning with their potential market. Following prompt to focus on the progressive views that distinguish the revolutionary way of thought of new models of social organization through younger generations.

Circular mindsets that pursue the transformation of man’s position in relation to its surroundings. A biocentric version of the program where we are slowly adopting the acceptance of diversity within us and throughout all living beings that inhabit our home, Earth.

As much as 2020 came in to absorb us into the digital universe, it simultaneously alerted us of our relationship with this planet and its inhabitants. We became aware of the high impact of our selfish systems and how all this time we had been turning a blind eye to the integral consequences of our actions. From that moment on, this dispute between our broken systems and the power of creation, as well as destruction, or nature itself, could not be forgotten, and will become a cornerstone in our choices for our future as a species.

From cultural shock to pathetic despair. Fashion begins to reveal its own dissolution into an overly accelerated system that has lost its tracks and now pulls every string to remain relevant, to make it into the next phase. Our deep transformation leads us into a reevaluation of purpose and place in a highly evolving scenario.

Louis Vuitton came right after Schiaparelli, offering a never-before-seen, full-circle campaign, for the promotion and placement of Yayoi Kusama’s most recent creative collaboration.

Filled with imagery of colorful spots and massively scaled replicas of the artist herself taking over LV’s flagship stores around the world, even displaying an identical Kusama robot painting on the glass of their NYC store windows. For the first time ever, marketing and advertisement efforts were presented in a seamless merge between the physical and the digital.

Traveling through the eyes of spectators of the events in physical realness into their devices to be shared with the world, bending the limits of perception, converting into a stamp in our minds.

An incredible glimpse into what the demands of consumers will incline to as we approach more complex forms of digitalization.

Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton

Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton

Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton

Yayoi Kusama for Louis Vuitton

Independent designers, such as Kevin Germanier create entire collections of sophisticated garments that “draw inspiration from a futuristic utopia” where upcycled fabrics and discarded beads translate into asymmetric, volume filled, colorful creations that seem to imitate the works of digital animation artists like Zolloc, who creates moving images of detailed textures that merge into bodies and develop into unexpected fluid forms. Germanier’s creations could easily be a visual representation of the images that inhabit young internaut’s minds overcoming the limits of creative possibilities once defined by the extensions and functions of the human body.

As we move forward with technological adoptions, that which used to define us as human beings through our physical limits will become obsolete. Our digital merge unfolds into a new definition of what humanness means. In an artificially created universe where no real definition of limits is required, where all concepts of information are translated in intangible ways, the consequences of digitalization could imply an abandonment of what defines us, and it is only through the perception of our limits that we have learnt forms of identification. A human who renounces its limits is unable to perceive itself as one.

The pursuit for the development of an artificial reality will increasingly drive humanity and question identity. It is fundamental, for humankind to identify its own limits in order to interact with other species; limits that appear inexistent in seamless digital scenarios. Posthumanist philosopher, Luca Valera, makes the case for identity and the definition of individuals in his paper on Posthumanism and Hybridization where “there are no relationships without individuals, and individuals take with them their own identity and history: the relationship (the me/you, for example) is always an accident, therefore it needs the substance (the me, and the you).” In this case, there is no separation between Posthumanism and Ecology, since “the future of humanity depends on ecology.”

Ecological consciousness, therefore, staples our senses as we strive to recognize ourselves in the material world where our bodies belong. In the end, it is still through inhabiting our bodies that we can experience life, and the relationship between human and nature will increasingly appear more dependent than ever as we experience our own vulnerability.

Humanity will continue to be challenged by choice, either to hold onto what has given us an idea of self or to gradually transform it in accordance to our technological evolution. Collina Strada seemed to have got these concerns on point on their Fall, ready-to-wear, 2023 runway presentation named “Please, Don’t Eat My Friends”, where a merge between animal and human models walked through the catwalk. Makeup artist Issamaya French explained that the designers felt the need to apply prosthetics that would transform the models into hybrid creatures, not necessarily animal, but not human either; not hoping to appear realistic, but absurd. The creative collective of designers who are focused on producing quirky pieces composed by waste or upcycled fabrics, was able to encompass the rawness of society’s aspirations and hopes, fears and distress into a carefully curated controversial collection that will, undoubtedly, be of inspiration for years to come.

Collina Strada, Fall 2023, Photographed by Hunter Abrams / @hunterabrams


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