For years now a similar message has been at the core of Li Edelkoort ’s seasonal trend forecasts: the more digital and less tangible our technological lives get, the more handmade and tactile our fashion and home design. This makes her latest “Vanities: The Mythologies of Self” forecast at her annual Design Indaba seminar quite the departure. Not only does it position design and fashion as following, rather than contrasting, the dominant technological trend, but it goes against the physical to elevate the ephemeral, the image, the appearance, the concept of the self.
“I felt that it was time for vanity because I saw all these people taking selfies,” Edelkoort said, after first reflecting on her previous year’s “Gathering” presentation. Those principles of bringing fabric together in interesting ways will remain with us for a while, but she calls out "Vanities" as "such a huge interesting new domain, where people narrate online their existence. They put themselves on a pedestal, making themselves super and glamorous.”
Edelkoort went on to present about 15 archetypes based on ancient mythologies from the virginal nymph girl and kidult prodigy to the twins who are empowered through a second half, and the hero who is taking physical power outside of the realm of exercise. The muse, the oracle and the legend represented inspirational figures of various ages. The courtesan, the odalisque and the amazon showed strong images of emancipated women.
“My next work will be about the emancipation of everything,” Edelkoort explained, predicting the logical extension of the selfie to its extreme. “Of the animal, of the food, of yourself, of your child, of colors, of textiles, of fashion, of everything needs to be rethought at this point, which is very exciting.”
In the trend world, Edelkoort’s in particular, fashion is generally the cart that leads the horse and the presentation did not yet offer much insight into how these archetypes would manifest in design—besides more mirrors and the return of the vanity table. There would also be more focus on less things that are better made and more closely aligned with individuals’ archetypal tastes than dominant societal fads.
The elevation of personal identity and a move to the anti-consumer also came through in Edelkoort’s launch of her 10-point manifesto of why fashion is dead. At the core is the villain of mass-production and -consumption, a dampening force that she says has not yet reached the world of design, a discipline that is still defining and distinguishing itself.