Dramatic Turn of Events

Emotions drive us to think, live and dress in an almost tribal fashion. Welcome to our new survivalism-induced mindset that’s draped in apocalyptic chic.
producer & fashion stylist: CARLOS PARDO fashion designer: ROSITA HURTADO model: Maria TERESA Iannuzzo hair & make-up artist: FABY ROJAS photographer: natasha tabunova RETOUCHER: Limbergh Ibañez photography assistant: Flávio Iryoda SPECIAL THANKS: Enrique Cabrera
Mugatu’s “Derelicte” aesthetic has never been more prophetic. As our society leaves and reenters the shadows of the pandemic, our leaders in political, spiritual, and economic matters all cry out to be heard as they argue and coerce us in a crazed circle of confusion. These days as I try not get unnerved by all the divergent opinions and demands, I maintain a chaotic balance between an irrational optimism and my ungovernable bouts of sardonic irony. Basically, I have a big mouth with a mocking sense of humor, but I try to hide any negativity by smiling a lot. It almost works. But I'm not alone in having a confused and slightly angry attitude to contemporary society. Most of us sleep, wake up, and work with anxiety. Who can blame us if we are exasperated at the rapid, unpleasant changes to our lives over the past 18 months and look in fear to an unpredictable future where many of us may not be better off? Zoolander’s main antagonist Mugatu said it best, “I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!!!”. The general miasma of anger and our slide into tribal factionalism is not new. Political cynicism and economic chaos starting in the late 1970’s gave legitimacy to the feelings of fear and resentment that were rife among American and global populations. Remember the global energy crisis? Latin American debt crisis? Cold war? Sub-prime mortgage crisis? Hell... Throw in the pandemic and we have a real party.
So here we are, separated into tribes that demonize each other. We have become more malignantly sophisticated in determining who to sympathize with. Today we openly use gender, colorism, culture, economic disparity, ethnicity and sexuality as levers to gain advantage over each other as we stumble into an unpredictable future. Interestingly, as confused and fearful as we are? We still use clothes and fashion to highlight our deep divisions as well as identify our compatriots. From maga hats to “pussyhats” we have continued a historical tradition of using fashion to highlight our causes and to stave off fear of the unknown by signaling to each other that you are not alone. The French revolutionaries wore brightly colored red, white and blue cockades in their bicorn hats and suffragettes wore clothes in white, purple and green to signal their clan’s unity. Both groups are smiling down upon us as we mimic their zeal.
As I have observed this increased interweaving of factionalism and fashion, i also noticed my own relationship with clothes. This may be shocking to hear, but i was hooked like a meth tweeker on compliments and positive feedback for the clothes I wore. But when we entered lockdown, this social affirmation ground to an immediate shrieking stop. Although, I was praised for bathing regularly and not looking too bloated on video calls. But I digress. As we locked ourselves indoors, we also started focusing on how clothes make us feel rather than the aesthetic value. Prior to the pandemic, fashion had been used to represent the person we want to be now and the person we wish to be in the future. As much as it seems unfair, clothing impacts how we are perceived and treated by the rest of society. During the pandemic we gloried in all the clothes that helped sooth our nerves and made us feel less distraught. Slippers, sweats, pajamas, t-shirts or whatever came with a magnificently blessed elastic waistband. We reveled in closing deals and making money all while hiding in bed under unisex caftans and making zoom blur our backgrounds. Instead of coffee breaks we trolled social media in slippers and ratty shorts for like-minded strangers that re-affirmed whatever fears or paranoic contemplations we were espousing. Streaming entertainment video after video or using an anonymous username to throw tantrums online replaced getting dressed to be seen and dining out. Our fragmented society luxuriated in clothes that aligned with our version of the apocalypse.
But how does this rise in tribalism and abandonment of aesthetics affect us in a pragmatic way beyond a survivalist mentality and taunting each other via Facebook? Well, many of us are starting to go back to work and immediately asking ourselves “wait???!! What am I supposed to wear?!? Please don’t make me wear anything tight!!”. Do any of us really want to stop wearing those comfortable baggy sweats that lovingly let us forget that yes, eating that last donut does have consequences? Besides, isn’t the pre-pandemic business casual style much too formal? I mean can anyone really unsee our bosses wild-eyed, chasing their children around the cam-video dressed as flood victims and suspiciously sans-bath. Now that we’ve opened that pandora’s box, i suspect anything is possible for work, even fancy yoga pants.
As mentioned before, there’s also the dilemma of arming ourselves psychologically as we leave our cozy caves and blink into the bright golden sun to once again reengage with other humans. People use clothes as metaphysical armor to bolster our individual confidence. We don’t all react in the same manner to fear and confusion, hence we will use fashion in our own ways to ease the path moving forward. I think we will see a deluge of wildly variant clothes that will reflect our personal reaction to the past 18 months. There are many in the fashion industry that yearn for wide, predictable trends that can more easily understood and marketed. But we are still emotionally fragmented and using our individual experiences, not prefabricated fashion trends, we will choose the specific type of clothes that we will wear to ease our re-entrance into the corporate world and society. At the same time, none of us want to be judged if we start wearing bright bold colors that reemphasize our optimism. Nor should our neighbors be judged if they want to wear camouflage, a jaunty beret and a semi-automatic just in case the apocalypse happens after the 2:00 pm sales meeting. I never suggested it would be easy.
We’ve devolved into clans these past 18 months and yes most of us are anxious about the future. But as stated before I am irrationally optimistic. I hope and believe that in time our society will heal from this post-apocalyptic angst. Once we start seeing each other in person, I believe we will once again recognize each other’s humanity. We need to remember that striking balance between our fears for the future, our relationships to each other and our clothes doesn’t all have to be insanely negative.