>> There’s been a lot of “agenda” bandwagoning in fashion shows and campaigns in recent years. Statements flying at you from all angles posturing either as heartfelt pro-diversity missives or social media garnering acts of political correctness. We like Chinese women! Let’s feature them exclusively in photographs. We like black women now! Let’s put them in a campaign or on magazine covers! Old people are cool! Let’s dress them up in bat shit crazy outfits! We support transgendered people! On to the billboard they go! In fashion, when moments move so quickly, it can often feel like brands and designers are moving in waves to latch on to a cultural zeitgeist so much so it becomes difficult to tell who is genuinely getting behind these elusive ideals of “diversity” and what is just pure tokenism and box-ticking.
In one well-articulated swoop of a campaign though,Jonny Johansson from Acne has honed into a distilled message that unites those aforementioned issues of diversity – be whoever you are and wear whatever you like in however way you want it. Acne’s latest A/W 15-6 campaign, photographed by Viviane Sassen, features Johansson’s eleven year old son Frasse wearing the womenswear collection with aplomb. Oversized shades? Yes please. Nose rings? Why not? Oversized and awkward fits in stiffened wools? Hell yes. People might tut at the idea of an 11 year old boy in a high end fashion campaign but what Johansson has so adeptly communicated is that hard-to-articulate feeling of falling hard for fashion for the first time and experimenting with your style without societal constraints. That’s a feeling that isn’t necessarily connected or affected by race, gender, sexuality or social standing and is one that is curiously ignored in fashion. We label those first fumblings with fashion as “faux pas” and “mistakes” but actually for me it was a time when I really played with style without any agenda except to have fun. We miss the point when political statements overshadow the essence of what clothes are actually about – expressing your individuality and your feelings, not as a shoeboxed representative of a minority, but as your own person.