Sunday, June 11, 2017

BEAUTY: Clothing--KTZ SS'18

Like I said in an earlier post today, one of the jobs of artists--including fashion designers--is to hold up a mirror to society. Sometimes what is created in that mirror is beautiful, sometimes what is created is ugly. And make no mistake, this is an ugly time in our world history for many, many reasons.

So for his line KTZ, designer Marjan Pejoski looked to the novel LORD OF THE FLIES for inspiration for his Spring Summer 2018 collection shown at London Fashion Week Men's. William Golding's 1954 story about a group of young, educated British schoolboys stranded on an uninhabited island and their swift descent into a savage state serves as a metaphor for the state of our world today. For clothing, it is a strong stance to take: sometimes the art produced by holding up the proverbial mirror is a bit too close for comfort. It is one thing to read a novel like LORD OF THE FLIES or even any of the terrifying speculative fiction of Margaret Atwood, but it is another thing to actually live through it...and we are close to that threshold.

Pejoski's little scout uniforms are slashed and stapled back together, makeshift junior warrior-wear tops are made of tabs from soda cans (detritus that the boys would find on the beach?), and chain mail works its way into trousers. Some kind of narrative is scrawled onto jackets....I can make out the words "extreme noise," "end of," "evil," and "destroy you." Is it a passage from LORD OF THE FLIES?

Pejoski's KTZ brand is known for its enthusiastic use of lettering, slogans, and symbols (previously here, here, and here). In that respect, this particular collection seems toned down...but when lettering, slogans, and symbols do show up, they are small, insidious, and deadly. On black scout uniforms transformed into Fascist regimentals, tiny patches show a mummified person with lips safety pinned shut, barbed wire, the Greek letter omega which is a traditional symbol for the end of something, the title "CLUB OF NOWHERE," and most frightening of all, the slogan, "THE WORLD TO COME," also abbreviated as "T.W.T.C."

For his Fall Winter '15-'16 collection seen here, Pejoski took the film "A Clockwork Orange" as inspiration for a precursor collection of Fascist thug wear, but the source material kept it theatrical. This current collection is not theatrical. And for that very reason, it is hard to feels too real.

Just like Atwood's speculative fiction, Pejoski is saying that, given our current trajectory, and barring any course correction, this is where we are going to end up. It's a bleak outlook but understandable in the contemporary social climate. Like LORD OF THE FLIES, is it the fate of people to turn savage and authoritarian if left unchecked? Is it the default setting of our species? By extension, the next question is naturally, "Are humans basically good or basically bad?" I think we are still trying to work out the answer to that question. But sadly, the thing that we have not figured out as a species is that the answer to that question is one we decide.

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