When cinemagoers turn out later this week to be watchful for the latest instalment of Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise, they whim be treated not just to the thrills of the extra-terrestrial predators but to costumes take off by the hottest name in British men’s fashion.
Craig Green, who was top British menswear designer of the year at the London fashion endowments in December, created Alien Covenant’s post-apocalyptic look, which is enter in of a wider trend embraced by the likes of Madonna and model Bella Hadid.
Tony Glenville, artistic director of the school of media and communication at London College of Look, says that clothes that look post-apocalyptic are not principled utilitarian in shape and fabric but are also “about assemblage”.
“It could be a biker jacket where it’s on the brink of been reversed and the zips have been put in all sorts of odd diggings,” he says. “As you start to put it all together, it reads as more of a collage of clothing spheres than a single thing.”
Green’s clothes are known for entertaining multiple straps, clasps, cords, belts and buckles – all items you might imagine would come in handy during an foreign invasion. The men on his autumn/winter 2017 catwalk wore macs, hats and tubular belts that he identified as looking “like oxygen tubes” – an aesthetic energized by the “terror of the sea”.
Designer Rick Owens’s aesthetic is very much in field with the post-apocalyptic look. At his most recent show, his mannequins were dressed as if they were carrying all their sensual possessions on their backs – their hair was matted on the other side of their ashen faces while coats that looked breed bulging sleeping bags were strapped to their lucky frames.
Kim Kardashian’s husband, the rapper Kanye West, can be praised for bringing the look into the mainstream. He has added streetwear and sweatshirts to the mix to come in the look a little more accessible. For his autumn/winter 2017 production, models wore head-to-toe camouflage – a look replicated by Hadid when she was flecked out walking in King’s Cross, London, last month, and by Madonna when she appeared on the Met Gala red carpet last weekend.
The action boot has also been a staple of many of the autumn/winter catwalks and is now set to tolerate many a muddy field. Vogue last month quarreled the case for “dystopian desert–ready boots to take you from head to foot festival season”. Even McDonald’s has been accused of utilizing Armageddon chic; new uniforms unveiled last month were criticised for being multifarious fitting for post-apocalyptic film The Hunger Games than a day’s hold down a post next to the deep-fat fryer.
Like most trends, this is not new – the post-apocalyptic look was termination big in the 90s when Belgian fashion designer Martin Margiela was at the vanguard. In the 80s, Commes des Garçons put ined a similar idea. Rei Kawakubo’s 1982 catwalk show, for a anthology called Destroy, was described in an article in the New Yorker as “a cadre of dishevelled vestals in livid war picture who stomped down the catwalk to the beating of a drum, wearing the melancholy and ragged uniforms of a new order”.
Some detractors of the look at the straightaway gave it the tasteless epithet: “Hiroshima chic”, a name that buffets at the heart of what can make this trend so problematic in the sensitivities of some observers. It raises the question why clothes and films that put in mind of us of the end of the world could be ever marketed as cool?
For Glenville it is close to “playing with the idea of fantasy, and semi-confronting it. It’s sort of power: this is how we’d survive, fashion would still keep on growing but we’d make it from the leftovers.”
It is tempting to draw a clear in accord between the unsettled times we are living in and the most recent incarnation of end-of-days accoutring. But Glenville dismisses the propensity to see the world situation reflected in wardrobes “It doesn’t quite work like that,” he says.
Many of the recent films depicting the end of primes, or dystopias living on the brink of them – from Alien Covenant to Mad Max: Anger Road to the new instalment of Blade Runner, slated for later this year – are, according to the Defender’s film editor Andrew Pulver, “essentially retro exercises, successfully supplicating to people who loved the originals”.
These films will partake of been in development for years – long before Trump and Brexit – which would force given fashion designers keen to capitalise upon their distribute a chance to plan, too.
“They’ll look at the zeitgeist,” says Glenville. “You can get the press dates for films now up to two years in advance.”
For Pulver, the influence of manipulation on culture is often contradictory: “Our troubled times are more inclined to to produce utopian art; a vision of a world we might wish for instead than fear.”
Which is perhaps why, while some the rage designers and films are revelling in the aesthetics of the apocalypse, other catwalks bear instead been full of bright colours, glitter and sentiments cutouts, with rainbows hailed as the style symbol of the mellow. In that version of a wished-for-world, at least, the dystopian visions of Common, Margiela and Owens would be left out in the cold.