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In Defense of Maximalism

"Less is a bore," the famous architect Robert Venturi once said.
In Defense of Maximalism
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/gucci, accidentallywesanderson
"Less is a bore," the famous architect Robert Venturi once said.

The buzzword over the last few years has been minimalism. It is seen in the stark white design of Scandi-inspired rooms. It is in the rotations of a 10-piece capsule wardrobe. It even attended the Royal Wedding in the form of Meghan Markle’s dress. It is a Mari Kondo world and we are all just living in it.

Tides are Turning

But if there is anything that’s certain about fashion, it's that the pendulum swings both ways. There’s an equal but opposite reaction to every action. There are signs that maximalism—a bolder, more intricate aesthetic—is taking over.  

Perhaps one of the reasons of maximalism’s higher profile is its increased exposure. This year’s Met Gala, called “the Super Bowl of Fashion” by Andre Leon Talley and one of the most anticipated fashion events, encouraged flamboyance. Responding to the theme Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination attendees came adorned in headpieces and heavily embroidered gowns.

Last year’s theme was also a nod to maximalism. The Met Gala paid tribute to Comme des Garçons’s Rei Kawakubo, a designer known for unusual silhouettes and reinventions like clothes without armholes. For two consecutive years, the implication is that bigger is better. 

Consumer habits are also skewing towards maximalist trends as well. Gucci is the current darling of fashion. Alessandro Michelle, creative director since 2015, steered Gucci from being just another old timey brand to ostentatious freshness.

 

Gucci shows are never about restraint. The looks that go down the runways feature layers upon layers of prints, flower coats, and crystal embellishments. The efforts are paying off. Gucci’s online doubled in the first quarter of this year.

Standing Out

The concept of maximalism is more in tune with the fast-paced, look away and you’ve missed it character of fashion today. With so many trends jostling for their spot in limelight, the best way to differentiate yourself from the crowd is through colors, shine, and volume. 

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A mini dress is just a mini dress—until it comes in silver and layered over an orange turtleneck and orange tights, the way Jeremy Scott did it for his Fall 2018 RTW Collection. By then, it is more than just clothing. It is about personality. 

Maximalism is also the best way to showcase craftsmanship in garment construction. An anonymous factory can churn out a sheath dress and make it available for mass consumption with no problems. Maximalism is different. The accouterments and materials used in this style can easily look cheap if handled incorrectly. Take for instance, faux fur. Done right, it is luxurious. But, it can look like a bathmat in the wrong hands. 

This is what makes maximalism special. The attention to detail and the thought that goes into the layering of prints and textures is a way to elevate clothing into fashion. It is no coincidence that the periods that embraced maximalist styles like the renaissance are also associated with eras of great wealth and advancements. 

Of course, people like Victoria Beckham and Stella McCartney will always have a seat at the fashion table. But, let’s be honest here, wouldn’t you rather sit beside Rihanna?

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