Kitsch:something that appeals to popular or lowbrow taste and is often of poor quality
2:a tacky or lowbrow quality or condition.
For Walter Benjamin, kitsch offers “instantaneous emotional gratification without intellectual effort, without the requirement of distance, without sublimation”
What is equally common but seldom recognized is the state of a ”kitsch reaction” towards things,a basic characteristic in the perception of art and several other forms of craft nowadays as documented by Umberto Eco in his ”L’Espresso” article.That being:the appreciation and admiration of art/craft/trends just because we are told to do so by the ”expert nomenclature”,and thus to aim at acquaint them without any sense of the history behind them or even,the actual worth of today.
An overview of this season’s fashion shows and designs could be very well summarized in the antithesis produced between the Hedi Slimane perception of chic at SAINT LAURENT plus the apparel,staging,philosophy of Karl Lagerfeld in the Chanel show.Allow me to explain myself further.
In the case of the house of SAINT LAURENT,Hedi Slimane delivered a show where clothes seemed made for a particular audience,let along accessories.Ignoring the core dna of the house that Galliano has so masterly distilled into exceptional designs,Mr Slimane provided the fashion crowd with cheap-looking dresses,cigarette pants and sheer blouses all ready to be worn by 20 something’s that could afford the extravagant prices.
What is interesting here isn’t the grunge-ish collection itself.It is the way this ”experiment” was received by fashion critics that almost certainly were aware of the actual YVES SAINT LAURENT past history and of Hedi Slimane’s flop.Truth be said,sales have increased (especially in accessories) but is this enough reason to pretend they didn’t see anything cheap in it?
Funnily enough,Karl Lagerfeld’s new venture-show at Chanel provided with a… much awaited reply regarding fashion critics’ and buyers’ behavior towards fashion mega brands itself s,resuming it in a pure kitsch reaction.The Chanel fashion show was brilliantly presented as a ride to the WalMart or any other supermarket and-with the clothes being impeccable as always,Mr Lagerfeld found a path to playful expose the fashion crowd in its vanity-first the ”Chanel supermarket”,then the Chanel goodies that almost all attendees aimed to grasp a ”souvenir”,all ending in stripping them from the goodies they had ”shoplifted” by a ”Chanel security”.Genius.
The semiotics of the show were as well strong yet clear.”You treat the fashion scene as a ”brand name supermarket”,i give you one.And i expose you in your all ”kitsch reaction” when,instead of focusing in the tailoring and the design of the clothes presented as you should be,you can’t wait to reach a can of.. ”Chanel pickles”…The ultimate kitsch reaction,and the very one Karl Lagerfeld was triggering and exposing via this fashion show-semiotic performance.
Most of the fashion critics have and will continue to review shows under the prism of their own ”kitsch” approach and thus spread the issue further to those that read them and cherish their words.No wonder why fashion buyers behave as logo-followers.No wonder why we don’t recognize distinctive 21rst era trends,just some great designers-lone rangers in the…”rocky” path created by LVMH etc-well…i must admit…its all kitsch to me.