Devil wears Prada in Prada F/W 2010

Don’t you ever wonder how fashion is recycled through the ages, like how your mom’s outrageously high-waisted pants back in the old day would actually take the world by storm in say… 30 years time? Or how those silly 1960s swinging retro prints and hugely framed sunglasses would actually appear in the middle of the 21st century? Or your grandad’s suspenders, your platform shoes or even those baggy pants which look like a rice sack.

Well, the truth is fashion goes through a cycle, as the fictitious ‘Runway’ editor-in-chief Miranda Priestley (acted by Meryl Streep in ‘The Devil wears Prada’) once said while she was giving her rather ignorant assistant (acted by Anne Hathaway) a dressing down when she referred the clothes in the room as “stuff”:

“This… “stuff”……? Oh, ok…. I see, you think this has nothing to do with you….You go to your closet and you select out, oh I don’t know, that lumpy blue sweater, for instance, because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back.

But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise, it’s not lapis, it’s actually cerulean. You’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar De La Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves St Laurent, … wasn’t it, who showed cerulean military jackets? And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of 8 different designers. Then it filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic casual corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin.

However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and so it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room. From a pile of stuff.

So this is the case:

Fashion usually runs through a cycle, and in the beginning, when a new style of apparels is launched, it will be listed as the new arrivals, often priced at high prices in higher-end stores, then the high street store (like Topshop, Mango & Forever 21) will follow suit and launch similar clothing at a more affordable pricing, then followed by the mass market. Once the trend wears out, and another new trend takes over, this style of apparels would naturally be dumped at the clearance area to be sold as massively discounted prices, and that’s where you have your sale (for example, that iconic ‘up to 70% discount’ phrase). After those garments are cleared up, those garments would be considered old news (or rather old fashion). Then let’s say 20 years down the road, some designer pick it up and say, “let’s have a revival of these designs”. Then he/she will launch that design all over again, so the cycle starts again.

You see, this is continuous cycle. No doubt, people have often labeled fashion as a quick and fickle industry, but at least there’s a revival, and decades later, the same style might reappear and dominate the fashion market again.

Back to the movie again, remember how bluntly Miranda referred to her assistant’s blue sweater as an item picked up at a clearance bin, and as viewers at that point of time (year 2006), we would totally agree with what she has said as the sweater looks truly ‘lumpy’ and unflattering, something we ourselves would not wear. However, proving my point about the whole fashion cycle, if you look at the current Prada’s F/W 2010 collection, you would see the blue sweater again, an uncanny resemblance to the one in the Devil wear’s Prada movie (coincidence in movie title too).  So Prada did sought inspiration from the ‘Devil wears Prada’ movie, or at least, recycled that piece of ‘blue sweater’ from the movie to the runway.

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