“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.”
If so it should be, then the clothes where we live our lives can guide us into understanding the human nature. This particular feature and capacity of fashion is what professor Amanda Hallay, has devoted her last 10 years to. The elevation of fashion as mere commercial commodity, to an understanding of human development through the years. How fashion reacted to the changes in society in the past, and how should and will adapt for this new generations to come.
Tell us a little about your background?
So I was born in the midwest, in Ohio. maybe my first words were “get me out of ohio”. No offense but is no capital of fashion, which was the reason why my dad took us to England. I was a baby, so as far as I am concerned I am english and I feel very english. Then I moved to paris where I worked as a fashion editor.
How did this project or idea began?
I love teaching fashion history so much, and I get so much out of it that I actually had this thought “I would love to teach fashion history to the whole world” maybe I will start a little channel for my students, and maybe I will see if anyone watches it. I thought maybe 50 or 60 fashion students out there who would be really interested would watch it, and it would be worth it if they are. But I never imagined I would gather such a community.
How did the phrase “fashion is not an island” started?
It just came out one day, I was trying to explain a classroom that fashion is a response to politics, economics ,art and wars. So I wanted to find a motto that people would get and somehow people really reacted well to it. Then it became the thesis statement of all my videos.
How do you think people should regard fashion as a part of human civilisation?
Well, I always use this analogy. “people look at art and study it so seriously as a way to understand people of the past. and is totally acceptable, so no one doubts its veracity.
but yet in renaissance Florence less than 1 % of population of saw la primavera of Botticelli but everyone wore clothes. This is what unites us all, not everybody watches tv or votes but everyone wears clothes, why isn’t it being taken as a serious subject, is vital, everyone was born and wakes up naked.
Did your father being a trend forecaster influenced you in your vision of fashion?
Absolutely, i grew up in an environment where fashion was being analysed, always observed. A forecaster is really the analytic part of fashion. Is never what are they wearing, but why are they wearing. So that absolutely that influenced me to see fashion from an analytical side.
My dad and I talk about this all the time, but now we get older we don’t get excited any more.
The timeless dilemma, where does art and fashion divide?
I got in a big fight last time about this topic, art and fashion live in different universes. Fashion can be like art but art and fashion are different things and have different functions. Basically, there are basic needs that fashion needs to cover, the fact we have a torso and limbs and as long those be the guiding lines, that will be fashion things that people can physiologically wear.
Rei Kawakubo doesn’t blur the line, her work we can say lives in the world of art. Mcqueen used the idea of fashion to create art.
Given your background, what is your perspective about art and fashion between Europe and America?
I think that europe will always be ahead of America in terms of fashion. Europe is generally far more willing to take fashion risks, America is quite conservative. They don’t take retail risks.
They are all dressed very similar no one wants to stands out, regarding its majority and not punctual exceptions.
Is there a behavioural human patter you consider we are always bound to follow when it comes to fashion?
Talking about Biba made me realize there was a time when people used time to escape. In the time of Biba it was a dreadful period. So people used fashion to escape, also did we during the 80´s. But from the 90´s on we don’t use fashion to escape anymore. People get more excited about the new Iphone than for fashion, as they used to.
What is your vision for fashion within society in the next generations to come?
Fashion has stolen for the last 30 years, fashion changes when the silhouette changes. From 1990s. but the real athletics, didn’t change much. Maybe we got so used changing so much that we got so used to the fact that is hold change every decade but it hasn’t. Maybe there are too many changes in the world we don’t want to be challenged by fashion
I think the future won’t be about how clothes look but clothes that can have specific features. And that will be exciting, people are more excited by technology than by fashion.
Something you would like to say to anyone who says fashion is frivolous?
I don’t want to see them naked!