Vogue has been notoriously slow at catching up with technology. Its YouTube channel, however, has had a lively past few years, with popular celebrity-based series such as ’73 Questions with…’, celebrity make-up tutorials and ‘7 Days 7
While these videos have wracked up views often in the tens of millions (‘Kylie Jenner’s Guide to Lips, Brows, Confidence’ has 40M views), Vogue has recently come under fire for steering too far into the realm of celebrity - especially with the addition of TikTok stars to their list of features - rather than High Fashion.
Vogue’s latest video idea, then, unveiled last week, was a welcome surprise. A mix of High Fashion, sustainable culture and an inside look at designers’ thought and construction processes, the video asks designers John Galliano and Tomo Koizumi to rework a piece by the other.
Galliano, creative director of Maison Margiela and previously Givenchy and Dior, is as charismatic a presence as ever, and as genius a one. His idea to transform Koizumi’s beautiful tulle wedding gown into an oversized sweater, holding ‘all the memories of the greatest day in your life’, and transforming them into a wearable, everyday piece of comfort, has all the offbeat brilliance of one of the 21st century’s most celebrated designers. But it also demonstrates his keen work ethic and absolute commitment to his creations. This piece alone, he says, took 5 people over 300 hours to unstitch the ruched tulle, wrap it into balls of yarn and knit it together. All for a Vogue YouTube video to promote recycling!
Added to this, his on-screen persona is extremely watchable. It seems he was born to be in the spotlight, a spot he is has slowly begun to regain since being fired from Dior in 2010 due to antisemitic remarks. Clearly, society - or at least High Fashion society - has accepted him back into its folds. The garment he chose to give to Koizumi, a white toile of the 2018 pope-inspired look he designed for the biggest A-lister in fashion (Rihanna) for the biggest event in fashion (the met gala), reflects this reacceptance. Koizumi’s transformation is less imaginative then Galliano’s, but equally as beautiful, adding his signature tulle ornamentation and then ‘using the dress like a canvas’ to paint on.
What makes this collaboration so special, however, is not the designers or the pieces sent and created, but the commitment to upcycling, recycling, and reusing which is finally beginning to spread its roots throughout the High Fashion industry and its biggest communicator, Vogue. Sustainability is the word on the tip of everyone’s tongue – and Vogue is not oblivious to this. Yes, this may have been a publicity stunt, and yes, it may be have no real purpose in terms of material end-product (will anyone actually use Galliano’s sweater or Koizumi’s dress?), but it does demonstrate the growing commitment to what is seen as the single most important issue in fashion. Furthermore, it shows that not only are young, up-and-coming designers, like Koizumi, engineering an eco-friendly future for fashion, they are changing the mindsets of older, seasoned designers, like Galliano.
Interesting, purposeful, highly watchable – is it too much to hope that Vogue continues in this vein?
Words by Rory Swann