With the changing of the seasons comes a whole new slate of things to care about in fashion, food, film, and...flowers! Yes, that’s right: we’re talking about trends. What new manias and fads does the warmer weather have in store for us? Read ahead for your twisted guide to living large in Spring 2020—starting with our take on the very idea of the trend report itself.
Recently, I attended the opening of the painter Sam McKinniss’s latest show, staged at the gallery JTT and titled Jonathan Taylor Thomas (comedy gold!). I was speaking with one of the foremost geniuses of our time, who said: “Fashion is in a very insecure time. A lot of people are wearing things that, you can tell, they don’t really want to be wearing.” He said he’d felt this way since the election—the beginning of our Totally Uncommon Era—and asserted that there is a lack of confidence, or direction, in fashion.
I disagree that no one is showing clothing confidently—Rick Owens, Marine Serre, and Jonathan Anderson, to name only a few, are presenting definitive visions and directional clothing that fashion obsessives as well as the fashion curious will find appealing to the wallet and informative to the eye and mind. But he is right about this overall lack of direction in both fashion and the world, and it’s for that reason that the first trend on your Spring 2020 Trend Report is...trend reports. The world is flooded with trend reports, written by sophisticated soothsayers claiming to have a crystal ball filled with Dries Van Noten shoes and men’s scarves. Looking at culture this way is fantastically diverting, but it also prevents us from understanding what a designer is really doing or trying to say, or what a silhouette or a texture or a styling choice really means. When they tell us they are thinking about the monied middle-class of ’70s Paris—what might that say about the existence (or not!) of such a class today? It becomes our job to decide whether that intention translates or whether it fails. And I think it’s never been more important to hold our designers to the highest possible standards: if they are going to ask us to stare at Instagram and care about celebrities wearing their garms and give them $300 for a sweatshirt, all of which are things I really love doing, they have to meet us halfway!
Trend reports have become a means to make sense of what often doesn’t seem to add up. We live in an age built on a wealth of information, and yet never have we known so little. Is this presidential candidate electable? Is a global pandemic imminent? Are we about to enter an economic depression? And like, why is everyone making suits with giant shoulders? We are on the precipice of something, and googling “2020 predictions trends” will tell us absolutely nothing but will at once soothe and rile our inner spirits, giving us a sense of control and order and understanding where none, really, can exist. No one has a crystal ball, including moi.
All of that said! There are moods and vibes and inspiring energies to carry you forth into the next season, and that is all I can offer you in these troubled, too-trendy times!
From Loewe to Jil Sander to The Row, it seems most designers and shoppers agree that minimalism is the ultimate expression in luxury, at least when it comes to clothes. Perhaps it’s the hold Donald Judd has over us; perhaps it’s that being over-dressed looks so garish—and by “over-dressed” I don’t mean too formal but wearing too much fashion. What we once called the fashion victim. Think of those 2001 Lori Goldstein Versace advertisements meets the second row of attendees at a mindfulness panel at the World Economic Forum.
The problem with a lot of contemporary minimalist clothing is that it lacks soul. Sometimes I look at, you know, a longish blazer without a collar and some suit-ish pants and I just think, “Okay, doomer!” As Jerry Saltz observed of the Donald Judd retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art—which just about guarantees that minimalism is here to stay in fashion, because the rest of us may not dress to match the art but stylists, photographers, and designers certainly do—Judd’s minimalism “[produced] a platform—or a theater—onto which everyone else’s ideas about everything else could be projected.”
But the goal of minimalism in fashion is fundamentally different, I would argue, and that is to create a deep spiritual communion between your bod and your mind. Thus we observe the shift from corporate minimalism to Poignant Minimalism: Jonathan Anderson’s emotional djellabas, Yohji Yamamoto’s aching and wise fluidity, Giorgio Armani’s louche mastery, Agnona’s unserious monochromes, Prada’s long and crispy cool-dude tops and shorts. It’s just not about looking like a cult leader or buying stuff that works like fur-lined xanax anymore! A calming minimalist line is being drawn between designers who leave you cold and those who wrap you up in cashmere or an unlined blazer and seduce you!
Sprawling Banquet Dinner Parties
Carrying right along with our theme of meaningful opulence: the sprawling banquet comes home. The sprawling banquet, or an overwhelming display of foods and flowers fit for a corrupt king, is a fashion trend that began in 2018 with Raf Simons (who else!) and has since swept the industry. You’d think it would disappear now that the world has put its gluttonous mitts firmly on its high blood pressure-fueled pulse—but rather than go away completely, it will enter the domestic sphere, where piles of food will be served on impressive but perhaps mismatched dinnerware to guests who are expected to make sense (read: a meal) of it all. Flowers should (and will) smell slightly rotten. In other words, it’s fun—which is something I think we’re still allowed to have! Dinner parties, if you’re into that sort of thing, are about to become a lot more like Dutch still lifes or that crazy scene in Beauty and the Beast where she’s eating “gray stuff” while that good-looking candelabra (?) sings to her (???). But even if you’re just cooking for yourself, why not make three crazy salads and a jammy egg and two different kinds of toast with some weird piles of fruit and a shrimp cocktail?
In other expressions of Meaningful Opulence—a book I should definitely write and sell at a Starbucks checkout near you—we will see at last Edith Wharton dethrone Henry James as the the trendiest old American author, particularly as the temperatures grow warmer and audiences find an new appreciation for her critically under-appreciated Summer. (You might dip your toes in with Martin Scorsese’s adaptation of The Age of Innocence, in which several women speak for minutes at a time, if that’s your sort of thing.) Elsewhere, dance will finally be recognized as the most significant art form in America: fashion’s perennial muse, one of the most important phenomena on social media, and the only cool thing to come out of New York in the ‘70s that we haven’t overexposed to death.
Life, Laugh, Pants: Wittiness Comes For Your Wardrobe
Finally: humor returns to fashion. Once upon a time, humor meant something more in fashion than memes, bro! But we are entering a new era of Dressing Up, as Rick Owens recently helped us appreciate, with men wearing crazy and experimental outfits and even changing between events, and young women creating new rituals of putting on clothes by gravitating towards the giant Lacroix-ish shapes of Christopher John Rodgers. I would not be surprised to find designers and shoppers starting to think about getting dressed as a kind of ritual of self-respect and tenderness and maybe even therapy, which is how many of us old softies at GQ think of it now. Standing before your closet is a daily moment to marinate on your self-worth, your identity, your inner so-and-so, and play with who you are and who you want to be. Personal style is crucial, but so is playing around with those crazy Rick Owens Kiss boots or even just, you know, two shirts instead of one. It’s not about jokes but about levity. Bring joy to the water cooler in your crazy outfit today!
Originally Appeared on GQ