You don’t have to be a soothsayer to predict fashion’s go-to mode in times of upheaval: crisis breeds hope, hope breeds escapism, and escapism almost always bring us futurism. It’s the word Isabel Marant used to describe her second women’s collection during the pandemic, which interpreted “the 1980s in 2030 fabrics,” as she said on a video call from Paris. Captured in a brutalist parking garage, her “défilmé” beamed her usual aesthetic into a spaceship atmosphere, giving her puff sleeves, prairie florals and Parisian party dresses a glossy coat of futurism on the way.
This critical moment, Marant said, “is giving more time to designers to experience new ways of showing clothes and expressing different styles. More and more, I feel like there’s not one trend but different ways of approaching fashion. The more diverse it is, the more interesting it is for me.” She exercised her futurism through leathers and vinyls and a skinnier silhouette, which all felt very ’80s sci-fi. Pop culture’s image of futurism hasn’t lived in vain this season, what with Prada’s bodysuits, Salvatore Ferragamo’s Star Trek extravaganza and Dolce & Gabbana’s tribute to technology.
Rather retro, Marant’s futuristic folklore and spaceship cowboys reminded her of the Walkman: the ’80s answer to the life-changing technology of the future. She sent the portable cassette players out as her show invitations. When you pressed play, Marant’s voice appeared on a tape that eventually went into the show soundtrack. During fittings, she soon came to regret presenting her young models with the device. “Most of the girls didn’t know what a Walkman was,” she laughed, mortified. “I realized I’m getting old! One of the girls said, ‘What is a… ‘Walking Man?’”
At a time when robots are landing on Mars in the middle of a pandemic, will our real-life wardrobes turn to futurism? Probably, but it’s unlikely it will stem from a Space Age idea of what that looks like. Rather, Marant’s collection ticked the box of escapism embodied by the kind of sci-fi that always comes with a soothing dose of possibility you could sum up in cinematic titles: The Force Awakens… A New Hope… For All Mankind.