Will chaos magic reign over your wardrobe?

Forget ‘normcore’, with its beige chinos and dull sweatshirts, and say hello to ‘chaos magic’ and all things spiritual

Beyond-imagination-fashion-people re-el magazine

Beyond imagination: the Mary Katrantzou ready-to-wear collection SS16 during London Fashion Week. Photograph: Nowfashion

September 2015

Tags:fashion, fashion style, women clothing, fashion for men

Once there was normcore. Normcore was the future. Normcore was the way we wore jeans like Jerry Seinfeld. It was the way we wore socks with our sandals and T-shirts borrowed from our mum. In 2013 New Yorktrend agency K-Hole used a description by science-fiction author William Gibsonin his novel Pattern Recognition to flesh out its thesis: that the new style was anti-style. “A small boy’s black Fruit of the Loom T-shirt,” Gibson wrote, “a thin gray V-neck pullover purchased by the half-dozen from a supplier to the New England prep schools, and a new and oversized pair of black 501s, every trademark carefully removed.”

“Normcore doesn’t want the freedom to become someone,” K-Hole explained in its Youth Mode report. “Normcore moves away from a coolness that relies on difference to a post-authenticity that opts into sameness.” And lo, a trend was born. Normcore, as seen on last year’s Gap billboards, in the careful blandness of high-street brands (Cos, Zara) and in the discreet luxury of Céline, spoke of our collective desire for a fashion palate cleanser. A yearning for quiet.

But fashion moves fast. And no sooner had your dad learned the term, congratulating himself on the way he was normcore before the word even existed (so proud, in his 20-year-old chinos, in the T-shirt he got free with his Nokia), than the world, and the shops, had changed. Normcore, says K-Hole co-founder Emily Segal, was the idea of wiping the fashion slate clean, but its transformation into an everywhere buzz- word undermined its effect. “Normcore itself became a kind of maxed-out signifier,” she told Vogue. “We found ourselves thinking: ‘Where do you go from here?’” Their answer? Magic.

Family guy: the definition of normcore. A model on the catwalk during the Fat Jewish show in New York.

In its new report, K-Hole (an agency of five artists the media today calls “millennial whisperers” – and one that began as an art project but developed into one of the most influential companies in an industry it first appeared to satirise) reacts to the beige storm it helped create by predicting the way we’ll be living tomorrow. And it has stars on it. “Chaos magic creates realities which are temporary and subjective. It’s not a tool for changing others – it’s a tool for changing yourself.”

The report talks about the feeling of waking up in LA, about Harry Potter role-play games, about the success of BB cream (those moisturisers that promised to smear your face into a “blurry little cloud”). “Chaos magic,” it explains, “isn’t just believing in The Secret – it’s deciding to believe in The Secret to begin with.”

It’s complicated. It isn’t just that you believe in crystals. It’s more that you choose to believe. Soon, they predict, we will believe in ourselves. We will think positively, but not overthink. We will experience the world on a deeper level. We will say “spirituality” without snickering.

‘If you are wearing something that you feel amazing in, your outlook tends to become more positive’: Mary Katrantzou SS16 catwalk show. Photograph: Guillaume Roujas/Nowfashion

“Clothes can also have a tremendous effect on confidence and to help place us where we think we want to be,” says Mary Katrantzou, whose SS16 catwalk show last Sunday was like an explosion in an asteroid belt. “If you are wearing something that you feel amazing in, your outlook tends to become more positive, which all in all, makes us more in touch with our better selves.”

In the same way, normcore was just a word until we saw it reflected back at us in the products we suddenly coveted, chaos magic will remain just a pleasing little term until we look down and realise: oh, we’re wearing crystal balls on our ankles. It’s already happening. It’s not just Mary Katrantzou – it’s the little note Gucci’s Alessandro Michele placed on every editor’s seat at his debut show musing on “time and disconnection” with quotes from Roland Barthes. Or Marina Abramovic art-directing Riccardo Tisci’s womenswear show (a woman stood under a stream of running water; a man held tree branches as a symbol of “support and life force”; there was chanting from Tibetan monks). Or theGentlewoman magazine hosting a magic show during Paris fashion week. Or JW Anderson stitching words like “orbital” and “asteroids” into knits. The mystical does appear to be seeping into the fashion mainstream.

Katrantzou rejects being part of the trend, but it’s clear that there is something in the air, or indeed space. “Cosmology was a means of ancient societies trying to make sense of the universe,” she says. “The theme of the collection this season wasn’t so much a reaction to trends, which rarely come into my development process, but a quest to solve a personal puzzle, to draw a map of my own aesthetic voyage.”

Expect, this coming year, to find yourself buying things that aren’t just things. Things that have stories behind them. Like casts of objects that mean something to you: your last cigarette or a silver cocktail stick from a memorable party. Or Anderson’s “trinket bags”, evoking collections of personal memories. Or, at the very least, a dress inspired by one of Valentino’s constellation-embroidered gowns. Fashion that sparkles with stars and promise. Something pretty that reminds you to believe.

Tags:fashion, fashion style, women clothing, fashion for men





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