Cara Delevigne stole the headlines with what was proclaimed to be the first ever Selfie on a fashion runway at the Giles show during London Fashion Week but on the night before, at the Drury Club in Covent Garden, the young designer had her models taking selfies, whilst modelling her Sure, Cara and her millions of followers make the story a prominent one but at Giles, the selfie was used as a publicity device – a bit of fun and froth to amplify the charm of Cara D – and bore little relation to clothes.
Therefore Edwards can indeed claim first dibs on the selfie-on-the-catwalk-thing as well as a salient bit of commentary on the way we perceive and project ourselves into the public sphere. Edwards isn’t a designer that shirks away from “deep” ideas. Having been to one of her shows, her work deliberately flits between platforms of fashion and art to investigate the idea of identity – or “society’s monster” as she puts it as she deems society to have become sheep-like consumers rather than conscious individuals. She’s someone who reads between the lines to present collections that bristle with ideas and make you think, as well as push fantastical boundaries that Edwards can truly call her own. Last season for S/S 14, Edwards explored the values of “sportsmanship”, where sportswear codes take on deeper meanings beyond the surface-driven way the fashion world has appropriated sportswear.
It’s impossible to over-read into Edwards’ loaded A/W 14 presentation where the models carried iPhones vacuum sealed in gold, to tie in with their mirrored gold ensembles, spliced with crystals and slashed lace-up detailing and cut through with bold chevron stripes. The abundance of gold was a reference to the biblical story about the worship of the Gold Calf and physically reflected the models taking pictures of themselves – just another way for them to glean at their faces. There are both grandiose silhouettes that jutted out at all angles and shapes that referenced the Islamic burka, raising questions of choice and freedom of the way we express ourselves through dress.
Full disclosure, I wasn’t physically at the show but could feel its sentiment through the resulting images. This wasn’t a #totesamaze selfie to perk editors up and give them a snazzy headline to write about. Edwards was striving to make us think about the way we take to social media today and how the abundance of images that we see on a day-to-day basis shape our 21st century vision of fashion. Just as I wrote a defense for street style imagery, which has freed our perception of fashion, at the same time, I do wonder whether the internet has also narrowed our notions of what is deemed acceptable or cool, because of the way our images are out in the public domain, open to judgement.
Edwards doesn’t merely put out a presentation as an artistic statement. She understands what fashion is – you can make cultural commentary but at the end, there’s something to desire and buy too. Her launched with the jewellery immediately available to buy alongside a core collection of tees. The product doesn’t diminish what Edwards is trying to say. They’re the physical manifestations of her messaging. Even with a teensy bijoux pair of crystal studs she has something to say. The same can’t be said of everyone.