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murdering the past: The modern duty

Why fashion must sever itself from memory, destroy itself, and rebuild

John Payne

We are oversaturated. Our fumbled days have been plucked from the calendar, leaving a polished, full schedule behind. Humanity has curated its regimen to rid each day of its nuance and richness, readily predicting the future because tomorrow will be exactly like today, yesterday was the same as Friday, and this is evidence—nay, proof—that we are now cleaner creatures. Sleeker. Faster. Better. 

We are fundamentally frightened by the future. This is not a new development. However, the dialectical tension between life’s ephemerality and a speeding elevator in a glass shard above Fifth Avenue, between the moody twisting of steam atop coffee and the frenetic tapping of screen and watch—that tension—is more toxic than ever.

To compensate for our fear of the unknown; easily diagnosed as a mere symptom of Millennial anxieties about the solvency of American democracy, the jobs market, the stability of the banks downtown, 2008; we indulge in nostalgia. Gosha Rubchinskiy’s Fila windbreakers are the envelopes for striding bodies born into the rich, gaseous tail of the 20th Century, forged in the heat death of the Soviet Union, molded by wars on drugs, terror.

Designers have rightly dipped their pens in the ink of the 1990s, opting for sullen synthetic looks for sullen times—the paranoia of individualism, the anonymity of the museum photograph, the surveillance of busy eyes panning through a million data points in a city of eight in one eighth of an hour at one stoplight. 2016 is a year of danger. Tomorrow is already booked. Next week is full. No good. Your iPhone is your mother and your shrink. You exhale in bliss, knowing tomorrow better than any human in history, and yet, tomorrow could never come, or present itself as a foreign dimension—recall that today, too, could have been nothing but a 24-hour screening of pure, erotic newness. There is no reason we must compare every still of our modern lives to a certain decade. However, in doing so, we diagnose and treatour modern psychology. We have managed to freeze-dry a convenient narrative of what happened to more easily digest the inevitable shock of what is yet to come. The tension of today and tomorrow, the lunacy of the election cycle, the UK scurrying from Europe day by day, your shoes are four-hundred dollars—you already know you have no time to wish for the future. Because you don’t have time not to. Time is money, and your precious time must be leveraged and maximized, hung up to dry and snipped of its wasteful margins. Zip up your anorak and get going, you yourself have converted a transient movement to a zipped file, locked into place on a desktop. History is fashionable. For the first time, history is fashion.

Esquire Magazine called Yeezy Season 4 a Total Failure. Every brick in the edifice of pop culture is a now moving variable and an instant digital blip. Murder the past after a penthouse dinner party, clutching champagne, caressing a midcentury armchair, barefaced, rye on the rocks, VHS filling your ears with the tinny, neon suds of the Atlanta Olympics—remember what it felt like when sugar was your protein shake and you bought what and when Nike said to?