Who is The Consumer? We all are, of course: Everyone wears clothes, everyone shops, everyone chooses to purchase this but not that. And yet rarely, if ever, does The Consumer show up in the official record of what influences runway fashion. For as long as there have been fashion shows, there’s been a sense in the industry that acknowledging the inspiration designers take from their buying public might somehow diminish the creative process.
But that’s changing. In the new issue of Style.com/Print, we explore the shifting designer-consumer dynamic—a change nowhere better exemplified than by Nicolas Ghesquière and his ambition to create a “wardrobe” in his new role as creative director of Louis Vuitton. Our cover story, written by Nicole Phelps and photographed by Juergen Teller, is about Ghesquière and his terrific, and terrifically covetable, second Vuitton collection—shot exclusively for Style.com/Print on the grounds of the stunning new Fondation Louis Vuitton just hours after the clothes had left the runway.
But Ghesquière is far from the only designer taking a more direct approach. The same impulse is at work in Tomas Maier’s expansion of his namesake label, a down-to-earth companion to the iconoclastically luxe garments and goods he creates at Bottega Veneta. Tim Blanks profiles Maier in this issue. We go behind the scenes, meanwhile, with Jason Wu, who’s speaking to a brand-new clientele at Boss, and Marfa Journal founder Alexandra Gordienko talks to Simone Rocha, London’s latest star and a designer committed to thinking through the “real life” of her progressive, poetic clothes. The accompanying photographs by Colin Dodgson, in a shoot styled by Rocha herself, capture her new collection’s bewitching beauty.
No designer has thought harder about the “real life of clothes”—or achieved more success as a result of doing so—than Ralph Lauren. In this issue, photographer Alex Olson takes Lauren’s newest label, Polo for Women, out for a tarp-surfing spin in Santa Monica, California. Model Dree Hemingway goes along for the ride.
So, who is The Consumer? She’s everywhere. She’s a global phenomenon. And one place you’ll most definitely find her is Lagos. We sent photographer Nick Waplington to Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy, to shoot some of the sophisticated super-shoppers making this port city a consuming force to be reckoned with. And as writer Uzoamaka Maduka points out in her eye-opening story, brands worldwide would be well-advised to start paying closer attention to that Lagosian consumer—and do it fast.
In this issue, you’ll find all these features and more, including our popular Top 10 Shows rankings. Tallied by page view on Style.com, it’s the only list that shows how you, the consumer, ranked the Spring 2015 collections.
Some may complain that designers kowtow too much to The Consumer these days. And sometimes those people have a point. But there’s a real respect for women implicit in the movement to make designer clothes that offer more than an expensive, disposable thrill. There’s a due consideration of the way women use and relate to their clothes. And in a season where feminism was a hot topic, that feels like an authentically feminist development. You don’t need a placard to see the signs: The Consumer is queen. In this issue of Style.com/Print, we celebrate her.
Spectacle is well and good, but what counted this season were clothes that women want to wear.