FASHION DICTATES TO INDUSTRY The Editors think FASHION, the incalculable factor in society and consequently in industry, is like the paradox of a writer, unexpected, re freshing and, once announced, inevitable. The only rule of fashion is that it shall not be what has gone before more precisely, that in some ways it will be the opposite. The knee-high skirts of the distant fabulous 'twenties seemed at that time the only possible wear. Though they lacked not detractors (indulgent detractors whose ani mus had no sharper point than a Punch joke) they had advocates by no means frivolous who dared to discover in the ascent of the skirt, the levelling of the sexes, the universal love of sport, the final discard of antique conventions, the design of a mechanised age. Until one day the apostles of the haute couture got together and concocted frivolity. They enunciated a paradox positively breathtakingthat woman should be feminine. There was an enormous outcry at this incredible, this sinister move. Women themselves felt some qualms at the idea of a return to the dark ages, to the medieval condition of being feminine. Such critics, however, soon joined in the rush to the shops, and speedily forgot about their previous attire in the discovery of a host of new and exciting subtleties. Like other obsolete fashions the short skirt is now so ridiculous that no one would dare to wear itand the feminity of the female is passing through another intricate phase from absurdity to axiom. The perfume of fashion, invisible but 20 penetrating, wafts abroad and its strange enchantment slightly distorts the efforts of innumerable well-meaning and high-prin cipled workers. For in its own incalculable way it is the style, the period, the age. The philosopher may find his thoughts obscurely diverging from an established track, the mathematician under the spell may discover the shortest distance between two points to be a curve, even (a ne plus ultra) a member of the Design and Industries Association may waver in his belief. If this seems far-fetched let us consider the printed page. The New Typography of the last decade was a hard and severe science, a logic of measurement, a ruthless discipline which threatened to ban the serif and worship a revolutionary pedantry. Now in the latest type specimen book from Germany we have the italic creation of an American designer, a script which flows (terrible word to the drill- sergeants of print) undulating and irregular, across the former barrack-square of the page. So it seems that fashion will not let us alone. We are getting on splendidly with a systemand then comes this bombshell that explodes frills upon us, which float from the Rue de la Paix, Bond Street and Fifth Avenue into the artists' studios, the printers' work shops, the lairs of copywriters in advertising agencies, softening the asperities of design and creating subtleties not only in clothes, but in draughtsmanship, photography, letter ing, type, printing, in the approach of the advertising expert and in the direction of his arguments.

Commercial Art / Art and Industry en | 1935 | | page 290