Highlights from Vogue's Inaugural "Forces of Fashion" Conference
At 8:30, Anna Wintour gave her opening remarks talking about the first Forces of Fashion conference.
At 9:15, the "Future of Ethical Fashion" panel started with Stella McCartney. Tonne Goodman moderated the conversation. They talked about great design, ethical fashion, and McCartney's own start in the fashion industry. When McCartney started in the industry, she said, she was ridiculed for not being able to sell luxurious garments without using real fur or leather. Her goal was for consumers to purchase her products because they look luxurious but are made from eco-friendly material. From the start, McCartney’s fashion house has always been environmentally sustainable. She talked about how technology is the future of fashion.
“The fashion industry is desperate for change,” she said, noting it is the second most wasteful industry in the world. “I’m hoping in 10 years, people will look back at the fact that we killed billions of animals and cut down millions of acres of rainforest, and used water in the most inefficient way—we can't sustain this way of living.”
At 9:50 AM, the "Power of Independence" panel with Dries Van Noten, moderated by Vogue International Editor Hamish Bowles, began. During this panel, Noten discussed his fashion shows.
“I always like to tell a story through my collection...We always like to do things in a slightly different way—not just be different, but it's interesting to find a different angle," he said. "We also have to do something that puts people out of their comfort zone—not by bringing them to a dirty and strange location, but by bringing them to Hotel Georges V.”
Noten brought up the fact that he started working with fashion companies in India in 1987 doing embroidery. When Bowels brought up the subject of politics, Noten claimed that he is already politically involved with his clothes, and he doesn't need to speak on the topic directly.
At 11:10 AM, Vogue Creative Digital Director Sally Singer talked about fashion in the age of Instagram with Marc Jacobs and Kevin Systrom (the co-founder of Instagram). Last year, 50 million people watched Fashion Month on Instagram. This year, 150 people viewed Fashion Month via Instagram. During this panel, both Jacobs and Systrom discussed having “optimistic” companies.
“How can we build technology for kindness?” Systrom asked.
He and his team are working on “deleting the trolls” on the internet. When asked about how to run a successful company, Systrom said, “I learned everything about running a company on YouTube.”
Kevin wanted to know what kind of legacy Instagram can leave on the world, while Jacobs discussed how fewer people are experiencing his shows live.
“Everyone watches the show through their phone,” he said. The final question Singer asked Jacobs was if he had any regrets. He responded, “I have no regrets. You can only regret what you don't do. You can't regret what you do.”
At 11:45 AM, the "Being on First-Name Terms With the World" panel started with Virginia Smith talking with Michael Kors about his career, the time he assisted his mother with her wedding dress, and the issue of diversity on the runway.
Officially, he started his career in the 1970’s as a window dresser, but from the age of five, he had an eye for fashion. It was at this point that his mom got remarried. His mother's dress was covered in bows, and when asked for his opinion, he said the bows had to go. Once they cut them off of the dress, he said it was “timeless.”
When asked about his Spring 2018 show, which featured a diverse range of models, he said, “I’m not doing my job well if I can't dress the mosaic of woman.” When asked why other designers don't use a diverse range of models he said: "To me, the idea that models in a fashion show should be mannequins feels so impersonal.”
At 12:35 p.m, "Star Power in the 2010’s" started with Erdem Moralioglu, Simon Porte Jacquemus and Joseph Altuzarra, moderated by Mark Holgate. The panelists discussed reviews, social media, advertising, and fame as it relates to being a designer. Moralioglu feels that the idea of a "star" means somebody who is famous for fashion has a distinct style that separates them from other people.
“I think it has much do with the idea of handwriting a point of view,” he said.
Jacquemus assessed the reviews of his collections.
“For me, the only review I believe is in a ‘regram or a retweet. It's all about the amount of people sharing something—that's the real review,” he said. He also touched on the subject of social media, saying that his pictures have a deeper meaning than what people see; it might be the color inspiration, or an idea for a new look.
Altuzarra talked about his latest collection as well.
“This season, it was all about growing up in Paris. I was very, very nerdy in school, and I didn't have a lot of friends, and I a lot of bad experiences at school," he recalled. "I think that the emotion and the story that you’re bringing to the show is important—there aren't a lot of places where you have a captive audience of 400 or 500 people who are willing to share that moment with you and listen to you, especially because of how bombarded by images we all are right now.”
At 2:10, the "When Your Second Act is Fashion" panel began with Victoria Beckham, and she talked with moderator Nicole Phelps about how she felt when she first got into the fashion industry. She said she surrounded herself with the right people and was “not as scared if I was doing it right, knowing what I know now...the product spoke for itself.”
This was Beckham’s new career (post-Spice Girls) and not just a licensing job.
“I had to start very small...I wasn't trying to copy what everyone else was doing," she said, noting she wanted to continue the Spice Girls' message in her work. “I want to reach out and empower all women.”
At 2:15, the "Connecting with the Joy of Creativity" panel started with John Galliano and moderated by André Leon Talley. Galliano talked about his childhood in London, how “glamour cannot exist unless you have an audience,” and how he was obsessed with perfection until he joined the house of Maison Margiela and “discovered the joy in unfinished (garments).” Galliano also mentioned that he has only met Maison Margiela a few times and that “he’s very anonymous.” Margiela’s advice to Galliano was to “take what you will from the DNA of the house, protect yourself, and make it your own.”
At 3:30, "Can you Keep Cool...Cool?" began with Heron Preston and Off-White’s Virgil Abloh. They talked about meeting each other on the internet, how much they hate the word “cool,” and “how a whole new generation is defining what the city is to them.” Preston also talked about being inspried to collaborate with the New York Department of Sanitation when he was on a dirty beach in Ibiza.
Abloh talked about how 17-year olds are now defining luxury.
“Cool Kids want to be rich, rich kids want to be cool," Abloh said. "The friction between that is something we’ve always noticed…the luxury world wants so hard to be ‘cool’ and be in the streets, and that is something really becoming relevant."
4:40, the panel "Disrupt, Disorientate, Doing it His Way" started with Demna Gvasalia from Vetements and Balenciaga, and he talked about how he “didn't want to be the guy who just makes hoodies and ripped jeans,” so he took the job with Balenciaga. He said that the internet “formed and shaped me about fashion.” Eventually, Sarah Mower asked Gvasalia about the pant boot, and his response was “very unpractical, but looks hot.” A major part of his motivation to pursue the fashion industry was “rejection and anger.”
The final panel at 5:15 featured Rihanna and was moderated by Hamish Bowles. They discussed the Fenty x Puma collection and Fenty Beauty. The Fenty x Puma Spring 2018 collection was a “combination of surf and motocross.” Rihanna said, “I have long-term goals in fashion, but not so much with any one brand. You never know what’s going to happen.”
Her current fashion obsessions are “tailored looks that feel fresh and youthful.” Regarding Fenti Beauty, she said she had always wanted to get into the beauty industry.
“The first woman I saw put makeup on her face was a black woman—my Mom," she said. "And when I think of my customers, I want everyone to feel like they can find their color, that they are represented as a part of this new generation.”