A clothing designer is, of course, aware that the product they create is something to be worn, and it therefore makes sense that the way we present our ideas to the public is on the human form.
A major factor in all this of course is the who, and what type of person is used as the mannequin and certainly over the last few years the discussion about age, body type, ethnicity has heated up. As it has been argued often and accurately that the models used do not reflect a cross section of the consumer.
Let me begin by saying that if one wants to sell any product they try to present in the best possible light. If a realtor wants to sell a house it is shown as clean and uncluttered as possible and is often even staged. Houses that are staged sell faster and for more than those that are empty. Why not present the house with dishes in the sink, clothes on the bedroom floor, etc? We all know that that is what the real house will look like when you have purchased it.
The point is if most people can’t even bring themselves to purchase a house that is presented to them in a realistic manner, what chance can fashion have?
Therefore, the type of person the clothes are presented on are also part of this “Ideal”. The fashion business at its best is a perfect marriage between commerce and creativity, which means that those decisions made are based as much on market research as they are on creative vision, they happen because it works.
You can look to works such as Wilde’s Dorian Gray written in 1890 and find the whole discussion about the envy and striving for youth, it is not a new thing so it should come as no great surprise that many designers will present their work on a young person so that I suppose, the person buying that product does not only buy for example the bag they buy the youth that comes with its imagery.
Personally. I totally understand why it happens but I don’t buy into and I don’t think I am the only one. Fashion design to me has always been most and foremost about providing people with the tools to express themselves.
The people that turn my head, so to speak, are those I see that so clearly have a style of their own, regardless of their age or size or gender. They aren’t in magazines or on red carpets .They are that elderly lady I would see walking down the street in Antwerp with her self styled extravagance. They are the ones that are comfortable in their own skin. To them one of fashion’s favourite slogans, the term “must have” has no meaning. It is for them that I try to create to be able to give them some components so that they can present themselves to the world in the way THEY want.