I can't really pinpoint the exact moment when it all started to change. Surely it must have been in stages, an industry of this magnitude couldn't have morphed into an unidentifiable stranger overnight..right? What I do know to be true, is there are very few similarities between fashion today vs. yesterday. Nothing is the same. For these tragic extinctions, I blame three sources: The media, uneducated America, and Anna Wintour.
I'll start in order of their appearances: Throughout the last decade the media has sensationalized and glorified pop culture and the stars at the center of it increasingly so as time moves forward. In the 90s, MTV gave us one of our first reality TV shows, "The Real World", catapulting regular unknowns into brief celebrities, changing television forever. TV networks and executive producers tapped heavily into this newfound obsession and within a few years, the popular network once dedicated to the best music coverage in the world was suddenly and strictly saturated with "real" teens going on dates, shopping, crying, heavily drinking, and even competing in games for money--sans a script, and very few jams. Now, I'm not going to lie. I was one of those "Laguna Beach" and "The Hills" cohorts too. Lauren Conrad was sharp though, and who can deny her ongoing fame and fortune today. She worked hard for it, and she never took her clothes off or engaged in any sort of raunch to get there. So, I respect and applaud Miss Conrad. Also, she's a rarity in this industry with a track record to prove it. Basically though, you get the jest. All of a sudden reality stars are replacing Oscar winning actors in "news" related headlines on all of the best magazines and newspapers, prompting a massive following of young "wannabes" willing to do any and everything for the same "easy" path to fame and fortune. It would only be a matter of time before these reality stars would start replacing the best supermodels on covetable magazine covers. Le sigh.
Due to the glorification of reality TV shows and their "stars" in the media, more and more kids took notice. With the rise of social media, these pseudo-celebs are able to show off all their expensive toys, cars, houses, travels, designer fashions and everything in-between with their fans. They made it look so effortless. "Dumb it down for a little MTV show and you too can have a beautiful, rich life!" Teens today are skipping college entirely to become the next Instagram star, reality TV phenom, or YouTube host. Know what happens when more and more people stop seeking a decent education entirely? Basically, a slightly better dressed zombie apocalypse. Really. Le sighhh.
Miss Wintour was the first fashion editor to ever put a celebrity other than a supermodel on the cover of her magazines. American Vogue featured The Clintons on a late 90s cover, and from there, practically everything in fashion magazines started to change. Up until this point, supermodels were the only real celebrities in fashion. They ruled the style world from top to bottom, and why shouldn't they. These were women of various ethnicities with gorgeous, hard bodies and equally beautiful minds to match. Supermodels of yesteryear stood for so much more than a pretty face. They were fierce not just in stature and pose, but in worldly issues, charities, causes and so much more. These women actually respectably worked their asses off to get to where they landed. Sure, most of them were initially discovered on the street or in a Mickey D's as a preteen, but they hit the ground running; the majority without skimping on an education in the process. Anna thought she'd shake things up by replacing them with other celebrities, actors and pop-singers, but a refreshing change is a far cry from total eradication, which is what eventually would come of the fashion magazine, as every other editor looked to her lead and followed suit. Nowadays, even the most popular new supermodels were once reality stars. Le weep.
So, yes. Fashion isn't the enigmatic muse it once was. The industry today is built around a constant need for newer styles and collections, resulting in fast-fashion (i.e. cheap, mass retailers), perpetually burnt-out designers who are all dropping like flies (Alber Elbaz, Raf Simons, possibly Hedi Slimane, etc..), pamphlet-thin, vapid magazines which were once considered coffee table-worthy bibles, and "Kardashian-everything", which is fundamentally, the nail in the coffin where fashion lies as we know it. Whyyyyyy (fists in air..)
Will fashion ever be truly great again? One can always hope. But it's time those with power actually work to salvage what's even left.