Faustine Steinmetz and the Fashion French Revolution

faustine“Well, I’m French,” jokingly said Faustine Steinmetz in the middle of her lecture, while explaining the headstrong fight her brand has had to put against department stores and massive fashion retailers who have struggled to understand how her point of view as a designer translates into a business. I thought that moment was a powerful metaphor, that not only summarizes the DNA of her brand and its place in the industry, but that also encompasses a great deal of the themes we have revised during the whole semester. It speaks about the awakening of consciousness within the same the fashion system and the tensions that these new actors develop with traditional power holders.

Faustine speaks with the voice of a fresh generation that sees in sustainable and responsible practices not a marketing strategy, but the natural way of doing things. Timing, production values, materiality and emotion are elements attached to her brand that bring interesting arguments to our current debates on fashion and the ruthless powers systems that it establishes. In my opinion Faustine manages to overthrow many of the rigid hierarchies by introducing herself in the core of the industry and dislocating its pre existing understandings of what clothes are supposed to stand for. Transforming jeans and tracksuits, construed in the collective imaginary as the ultimate form of the ordinary, into works of art that are worth admiring displaces our current views of fashion as disposable trends.

One of the most interesting aspects of the brand, in my opinion, is the effort they put in fostering emotional connection between the garments and their owners. The fact that the user, who is transformed from a passive consumer to an enthusiastic collector, has the opportunity to track his/her piece in every step of its production gives, I feel, a sense of agency to the wearer. Even if a past process, he is able to claim presence in the construction of a one of a kind piece, made with the hands of an individual, who has a name, a talent and the capability of imbuing the garment with symbologies that the wearer is then able to reclaim. It gives a human face to fashion and enables potent and transformative connections. As I come to this conclusion I recall our first lecture, and, in Pascale Gatzen’s voice, remember her conception of fashion as a mode of togetherness. From devastating testimonies, to enlightening new perspectives, this semester has showed us the urgency of rethinking fashion, and to use its centrality in the life of the modern man to harvest its potential for reconciliation.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

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