BY SOSO KESTELMAN
BREAK IT TILL YOU MAKE IT
In what seemed to be the greatest fashion fail in runway history, Beate Karlsson launched what she calls a luxury streetwear line The innovative line emphasized the ultimate goal of fame, riches, and status in the cut-throat business of fashion. The Sweden-based, woman-owned company Avavav’s Winter 2023 Milan Fashion Week runway show, now anointed “Fake it till you break it”, displayed a carefully made collection of looks that fell apart in front of the audience. Fashion is all about making statements, and in a field of high competition like European fashion, it is important to stand out somehow–any attention is good attention. Karlsson’s unexpected “failures” on the runway not only made Avavav’s name one of the most talked about in Fashion Week but also showed the artist’s creative side as an innovator whose only purpose is to put her art on display in an unforgettable fashion.
Starting off with a bang, Karlsson’s first look had the model standing about 3 inches shorter by the time she walked up off catwalk. How was this done? The model had on not one, but two broken heels by the end of the runway. The runway aslo featured many looks included the phrase “Hot, Rich, Famous”, such as look 13’s sweatshirt, whose front piece completely fell off as the model strutted. To finalize her show with one last dramatic scene, Karlsson stepped on stage to thank her audience when the white backdrop crashed onto the floor–starting and truly ending with a bang.
Beate Karlsson stated that the main purpose of this show was to deliberately tell the audience that fashion is not permanent–opinions are constantly changing, trends are always emerging, and style is very subjective. For that reason, she believes it is time to cut out what we see as luxurious and bring new ideas to life. Karlsson asked, “why is luxury so serious? Is it because we strive to be perfect? Could bad quality still be luxurious?”. However, in a counter-intuitive approach to her idea, many critics view the show as a call-out of fast fashion. While this is not the case, Avavav’s collection takes away the value from luxury brands whose goods are meant to last and hold their significance foreverThe collection leaves many asking –what does it truly mean to be of luxury? Luxury brands are defined as providing high-quality, expensive goods with service and value that are rare to find, heightening their significance even further. If Karlsson lacks the major component of high quality that defines luxury, her company does not stand a chance against others making the same product, but better. Although Karlsson’s runway clearly grabbed its viewers’ attention, its interpretation completely contradicted the artist’s original intent. Yes, fashion is always changing and luxury is not defined in one single way.
Nonetheless, depicting what is supposed to be a luxury streetwear company’s newest line as destructible, short-lived, and bad quality does not present a good look at the clothes themselves. Of all things the Avavav show could have brought the company, the most important of all is recognition. The debate over the line’s true purpose only brings its name up more often, and the highly impactful moments of breakage and “failure” only make Karlsson’s creations more well-known. Her hypocrisy is clear in using their luxury name and reputation to pull this “art show” off – self-destruction cannot be the means of redefining luxury for it defeats the point of goods being long-lasting and high quality.
Luxury brands maintain status and recognition because of products that last through decades and, if anything, only increase in value. When a product dubbed as a luxury good is made to be short-lived and temporary, there is no incentive for customers to purchase the product since it will be discarded as most low-quality products are. Beate Karlsson’s influence on the fashion industry may have been impactful after the scandalous fashion week run, but recognition does not save a company from impermanent goods: if her clothes can break in an instant, they can lose all credibility instantly as well. A brand’s image is more than the impact of one show or how they present itself–the clothes must speak for themselves, and they contradicted Avavav’s essential mission: luxury is not redefinable if the products are not as permanent as the brand itself.