With the gift of hindsight, we know that nothing out of the ordinary came to pass in the first minutes of the new millennium. Planes did not fall from the sky. Still, though, those moments watching the minute-hand inch towards midnight – anticipating what might happen when it hit – were wrought with feelings of disquiet: trepidation; excitement; dread. Though perhaps irrational, this collective hysteria spoke to a general uncertainty that plagued that time. Then in the throes of a technological revolution, we’d come so far – and created so much – and yet, the future had never felt less secure. Fast forward 20 years – life today feels much like it did then. Current newsreels – a numbing blur of catastrophes pertaining to the economy, the climate and humanity – are cinematic in their scope, fuelling the anticipation of imminent social shifts.
For 23.1 1999, Creative Director Lyna Ty channels the existential precarity of such transitional periods. Perceiving them as in-between spaces characterised by both instability and possibility – offering a wardrobe that harnesses and translates this spirit of limbo, and ponders what could lie beyond today’s haze.
Plural potential narratives commingle. Fears of technological supremacy – a world populated by clones and whirring drones – sit next to ruminations on an existence guided by natural instincts. Speculative fantasies of extraterrestrial invasions blur with bucolic dreams of a life lived in communion with the earth.
Coated canvas overshirts, bias-cut satin slip dresses, and film-covered totes in xenomorph black are lifted from a dystopian fever dream. Textured knits speckle like static screens, offset by blocks of electric oranges and blues. Jacquard fabrics featuring hexagonal grid patterns and lysergic, humbug swirls are rendered in metallic nylon yarns to robotic effect. Oversized cotton tees and tanks bear propagandist slogans – “Intel”, “Nomad”, “Fiction” – while shell appliqués and ‘alien egg’- embroidered organzas conjure an unearthly air.
Sweaters are distressed and the hems of knitted vests are chewed, as if ravaged by unknown forces. Pleated canvas shirts and wide-leg trousers come in incidentally bleached-out patterns, seemingly weathered by the passage of time. They are, in fact, the result of hand-splattered dyes, imparting an essential sense of humanity and craft. This is reinforced by dusty camouflage prints and canvas vests and cargo pants with bulky 3D pockets, which suggest a grain of resistance, while square leather jackets, cotton trenches and bomber jackets have an almost vintage feel to them, evoking memories of storied sci-fi heroes.
This spirit is echoed across uniform-like coach and worker jackets in weighty veined denim and double cold-dyed jerseys in earthen tones – greys the colour of volcanic sands; verdant greens. They speak to the primordial relationship between humankind and nature, and to possibilities of building towards bright futures, no matter where on earth (or elsewhere) we stand. This relationship is further commemorated by the collection’s decorative pin sets – gemstones, aged brass insects and silver-coated astral symbols that have the air of timeless relics. Hanging from jackets, coats and trousers, hand braided ropes – crafted from polychromatic yarns and metal and glass beads – serve as apt tokens of the collection’s central logic.
The canon of iconic 90s sci-fi films like The Fifth Element, 12 Monkeys and The Matrix act as key inspiration points, and while 1999 comprises a series of distinct narratives, none are prioritised. Rather, possibilities are explored. By looking to the past, potential futures are envisaged – and, ultimately, prepared for in the here and now.