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Fashion in the days of Bitcoin, Onlyfans and conspiracies in Vetements' FW22

Flat-earther couture?

Fashion in the days of Bitcoin, Onlyfans and conspiracies in Vetements' FW22 Flat-earther couture?

Again, the best thing about Vetements' latest FW22 lookbook is the show notes. A file that simulates a Wikipedia page, in which the brand's creative team ponders about «the illusive nature of wealth» in the age of bitcoin and the Internet, where anyone can become a millionaire by chance or bet, where privacy has become so poor as to be defined «today’s true luxury» while conspiracies about aliens, 5G technologies and flat earth spread like a virus. A world that can sound, depending on the point of view, futuristic or dystopian, very far from the era in which «couturiers focused on a new type of clients - industry tycoons and their families, who made money with everything from oil & real estate to butter & chocolate bars» yet strangely similar to it, with the shift that is taking place from the old to the new millionaires and therefore from an old to a new luxury.

The brand therefore aims to create «high fashion for the era of 5G high speed internet» and therefore contemporary, observant of the most recent phenomena of global culture such as, for example, conspiracy theories, Bitcoin and OnlyFans - but also bearer of a new idea of savoir faire in which technology such as 3D pattern modification, the modularity of clothes and the fusion of different categories together as it happens with trench coats that have the inside of a down jacket. A very high purpose on paper that, however, translated into a lookbook, becomes a kind of compilation of the greatest hits of Demna Gvasalia, former creative director of the brand, not to mention a very cheeky copy of what Balenciaga has come to be this year: the quilted mega t-shirt, the "hourglass" jackets, the tight velour tights or the coats draped and open around the shoulders and the bathrobe-coat are taken straight out from the latest couture show of  Balenciaga; many of the other 72 looks, on the other hand, recall Demna's stylistics very closely – although there are exceptions.

One of the many elements that increases the confusion is the footwear: Demna Gvasalia had introduced platform shoes in the last RTW show of Balenciaga that were an almost exact replica of the famous New Rock, shoe symbol of the goth and metal scene; for this collection Vetements has collaborated with New Rock, creating a footwear that is, on the one hand, a cheeky replica of Balenciaga but, on the other, a true collaboration with the brand from which Balenciaga had taken "free inspiration". A really interesting perspective trick that still elevates the collection together with some novelties that appear instead completely original and that, while remaining faithful to the original spirit of the brand, represents a detachment from the unabashed imitation of the works of the ex-creative director. Specifically, there is a whole look including a hoodie, trousers, blazers and long coat that is entirely composed of a gray melange cotton like that of the classic gymwear that is a small gem of post-streetwear tailoring; on the level of irony, however, the decision to create the conspiracy merch was a good one, as is the multilayer jeans of another look.

What is certain is that, at the current state of affairs, Vetements has at least the merit of having remained the only brand to dialogue so openly with pop culture and the Internet culture: the references to 5G and Bitcoin and the slogans on flat earth are current, ironic, scratchy and make it seem for a moment that in reality there is still Demna to lead the brand's collections. In a perfect world, we should be able to talk about Vetements without necessarily mentioning Demna Gvasalia – yet it's almost like the brand wanted to force us to think about him, even if it's time to move on. A few months ago, when the collection of the secondary brand VTMNTS was released (which is not clear whether it is a diffusion line, a simple branding variant or a sub-label in its own right) we wondered if the brand still had something to say after its restructuring and the abandonment of Demna – and the truth is that,  with this collection, this uncertainty remains. It will remain until the creative team behind the brand finally takes a definite position and the narrative of Vetements manages to get out of the huge shadow of its first creative director and overcome his legacy; or until it turns out that Demna Gvasalia had never left and the whole story of his departure was just a very elaborate stunt.