I can't be the only one who's noticed that underneath the superficial seasonal shifts in our collective sartorial consciousness, fashion's prevailing trend over the last two years has been one of unstoppable, mounting extravagance. Having more than once in 2015 complained of seemingly not being able to find a single high street clothing item that didn't swamp my very obviously female body in androgynous sacks of nondescript cotton-mix fabric, or an accessory with enough detail to communicate anything other than a dogged insistence that 'I'm just really not trying hard at all guys' - having witnessed an endless, year-long parade of identikit must have, plain white 'it' trainers, we have now pitched violenty to the other end of the spectrum.
Everything is luxe. More is more, but even more is better. Summer dresses are be-frilled, winter boots sport pearl-encrusted heels. Patches, embossing and prints abound. Have you even seen a standard white shirt - sans puffed, ruffled sleeves, embroidery and a wrapped tie waist - in the past six months? Probably not. And I love it, but I think that it comes from a dark place.
There is no doubt in my mind that a metallic green mini dress with sleeves like exploded popcorn kernels and a bedazzled velvet clutch is far more fun to wear than anything offered up by the normcore trend of 2014 or its subsequent reincarnations (when - WHEN - will 'sports luxe' just die as concept?). But there's something else at play here aside from a collective reaction against a too boring trend for minimalism which went on for way too long.
See, minimalism seemed kind of fun under Obama. It signalled an ease with oneself, a mind concerned with higher things, a focus on curation and pleasure in simple joys - an organic cotton blend, a perfectly cut coat sleeve. Back then, when things were good(ish) and seemed like they would be good(ish) for quite some time, we could always dress up later, maybe for something really special.
In 2018, not so much. It's no coincidence that it is now that the 80s and that decade's distinctive mix of aggressive sculptural silhouettes and ostentatiously frivolous textures - lace velvet, metallics, beading(!) - have made a sudden comeback. The first time these shapes seemed appealing there was massive wealth inequality, a general distrust of government and a pervasive sense that we all might be blown up at any second. In 2018, we can relate. I mean, if one 70 year old guy can end civilisation as we know it with a few flicks of his tiny thumbs then why not bring your A game every day? A perfectly cut sleeve will not cut it. And neither will somber shades of wool and cotton jersey. We need thick, unyielding denim and really really big earrings. F*ck simple pleasures, we need big complex mixed-print pleasures with diamantés and pearls and also I want a lot of volume in my hair.
It's a kind of blitz spirit. A return to fun fashion brought about by a political situation which constitutes the diametric opposite of anything enjoyable or productive. If we could go back to the days before the rise of He Who Shall Not Be Named, I would (magnanimously) be willing to for sake my pearliest clutch bag to avoid nuclear armageddon. But since we are where we are, I'm not at all sad to see minimalism die a sudden dynasty-style dramatic death. The world is ending. Put a belt over your coat. Let's wear velvet.
Also here's some 80s-a-fied Dua Lipa. It is giving me life.