What is a holiday?

Holly Moore examines how 2019 fashion trends reflect a millennial interpretation of a getaway

Though it may sound obvious, a Spring/Summer 2019 collection often alludes in some way to the idea of a getaway. Tenuous as that connection may sound, this season it seems that designers have returned with a heightened consciousness to the theme. This is illustrated in their deciding that it is time to reinvent what the term might mean in the modern, restless world. The trends of Spring/Summer 2019 explore the broad spectrum of what holidaying means to the internet generation, using definitions that purposely appeal to this demographic in the deconstruction of classic wardrobe staples, to revisiting the rave culture uniforms of the 1990s.

#OTW – For the millennial freelance workforce, who bounce passionately between work and play -or those who don’t have time to make a distinction between the two, designers such as Maryam Nassir Zadeh have created a go-between look. Pairing cycle shorts with both a bikini and office blazer, and a corporate suit with last night’s fading blue eyeshadow, Nassir Zadeh solves any previous discord between commute, leisure, and office. Likewise at fashion titan Chanel, the modern challenge of dressing for both work and pleasure was narrated with humour. Models wore variations of the brand’s classic two-piece suit, along an artificial beach inside Le Grand Palais, carrying metallic heels in their hands. The message? Wherever you are, or are not, you can begin your escapism with a look as simple as bare feet.

‘‘My collection is about the future of fashion. We’re trying to challenge the second most harmful industry in the world to the environment.”

Next is “The Trip”. For some designers, “going somewhere” meant a revival of an acid house colour palette. There are three approaches. The first is a youthful, optimistic interpretation – most suitable for the young raver. This wardrobe is all about sherbet colour, think lilac, petrol pea or yellow, worn either in full garb or upon single accessories.

Stella McCartney, in speaking backstage reminded us of the importance, in 2019, of this optimism, ‘‘My collection is about the future of fashion. We’re trying to challenge the second most harmful industry in the world to the environment. And at the same time, I don’t want it to look like it’s a kind of hemp, kind of woven, kind of organic collection, you know, I want it to feel like it stands tall and it stands absolutely proud with the rest of the collections that are in Paris for Fashion Week’’.

“The cultish brand of CALVIN KLEIN205W39NYC did send a rather frightening Jaws t-shirt down a blood red runway.”

The next interpretation of “the trip” however, is antagonistic to the first ingénue’s freshness; Michele Alessandro at Gucci and his usual cast of young romantic corduroy nerds was this season extended this season to include gothic club-goers in highlighter shades of lurex, sybaritic thigh high denim, and ostrich plumes. Sarah Mower, Chief Critic at Vogue.com, detected a fatalistic edge beneath the glitter, conceding it ‘‘perfectly apt for the hint of morbidity Michele likes to summon, and which so successfully syncs with the Gen Z/millennial taste for getting scared’’. However, those who seek more of a life-affirming summer break, should look no further than designers who showed an enthusiasm for pre-tech Californian culture; cue tie-dye, neoprene, and flip-flops. However, the cultish brand of CALVIN KLEIN205W39NYC did send a rather frightening Jaws t-shirt down a blood red runway.  

The innate character of “The Tourist” was also a touch stone for this season. The result? A lot of beige. Trench coats were a frequent sight, though notably without any feeling of their Victorian British beginning. Instead, the trench of the season has the efficient feel of American 90s minimalism – one can be assured that this kind of tourist travels light. However, as Amelia O’Mahony Brady, Fashion Editor of Totally Dublin, ventures, perhaps the fondness for caramel tones had more to do with honouring a single personality, than playing with the touristic trope: ‘‘SS19’s penchant for beige may have been bolstered by the lies of Balmain and Burberry, but I think Phoebe Philo’s departure from Céline has also been instrumental. Her post-stepping down sales have gone through the roof, with everyone wanting a slice of her legacy.’’

In returning to less specific personality references, the craze for all things “Riviera”, “breton”, and “château”, annually propagated by the French population of Instagram, will direct its enthusiasts towards Jaquemus’ straw tote, which has rough edges this season. The other accessory deemed to be essential was headwear; bonnets were kept in place by translucent veils at Erdem and Simone Rocha. The question is, if Facebook hadn’t been overtaken by Instagram, with the latter still maintaining a great degree of engagement, would headwear be having a moment? Instagram caters to performers, and headwear is unmistakably a prop. Look at artist and hat designer Maryam Keyhani, as a case in point. A hat, like a yacht/tan/sunburn/new freckle/new baby/child/children/puppy or cat, apparently, makes for a successful selfie.

Melodrama has been introduced into the realm of the holiday makers wardrobe. What is a holiday without a fuss? Rodarte’s show, held in New York City’s Marble Cemetery suggested that the fuss this season will be rather ghostly: sheeny silks, wild flounces, quaffed, wispy hair, and bouffant ribbons, conjured the kinds of spectral fears that most belonged to a Victorian and anxiously literary age. Maya Singer, of Vogue.com summarised the Rodarte models as ‘‘the risen ghosts of long-deceased party girls, those of Edith Wharton’s era’’. While at Balenciaga, the same high key of uneasy drama was created, but instead seemed to express the theatre of our own age: the internet. Demna Gvasalia, the house’s creative director, staged his show in an underground tunnel, which was supposed to be analogous to an immersive digital experience: “I always had this idea of a video tunnel, like being inside someone’s digital mind.” Down his catwalk, he sent a cast of powerfully dressed men and women inside suitings and dresses that demonstrate his ‘‘neo-tailoring’’ construction method which makes use of 3-D moulding techniques. Waists were small, shoulders large and seams mostly eliminated. The palette was of lurid digital pink, cool Facebook blue, and font black. The models seemed to carry the emotional depth of a machine. Taken altogether, it’s open to interpretation whether this was a presentation of a utopia or dystopia – but most importantly, being a tunnel, Balenciaga’s “theatre of our age” has no exit.

“The rise of Tanya and Zhenya Posternak strengthens the validity of Instagram as a fruitful platform for young creatives to cement their unique aesthetic.”

Though, for those wishing to adopt this trend in a less totalistic way, a version has been building on Instagram for some time: melodramatic phone photography. The twins Tanya and Zhenya Posternak who are responsible for the distinctive images of recent SUNNEI and Mansur Gavriel campaigns take hyper cropped images of body part, still-life arrangements of millennial-favored fruits, and the morning light, with a result that is like a modern version of the high-key Romanticist paintings of Géricault and Délacroix. As Eleanor Scott, Chairperson of TCD Fashion Soc, explains: ‘‘The Posternak-sister technique is to evoke their audience’s longing. Selective images of sand covered knees, the glistening cheeks of marble cherubs, crumpled sheets, and misty skylines create an assured image of the urban millennial good life, we ‘should’ all be striving for. This tactic has secured the pair creative and advertising influence upon major publications: Allure Magazine placed the Posternaks behind the camera for the cover of their February 2019 issue, featuring the demi-god, Serena Williams in sculpturesque Jacquemus. The rise of Tanya and Zhenya Posternak, strengthens the validity of Instagram as a fruitful platform for young creatives to cement their unique aesthetic, further proving that today, your personal online persona is a valuable currency.’’

For the season of SS19, designers returned to the season’s existential starting point in their questioning of what is “a holiday”? And through this process they thought about its most essential components, and thus, radically redefined  “a holiday”, as something that is bright, busy, barefoot, behatted – and a little theatrical.