TIM BLANKS – Q&A POLIMODA Interviews by Filep Motwary
-A bridge could be the metaphor for dialogue, between two opposite opinions, the history and the present, the young and the old. A performer can build a dialogue with an audience, the same way a fashion designer can connect with his customers through objects he/she created. What is a bridge for you?
A bridge is a shared interest, with a degree of universality that dissolves obvious differences. The most graphic illustration I can think of is music.
-Is creation a language finally, a utility? Is it a language one needs to learn?
Presumably you’re thinking creativity is the means, and creation is the end. Creativity is a genetic inheritance. It can be shaped, but not learned.
-What are the differences between an innovative designer/artist /architect compared to someone who simply serves a profession?
Someone who is engaged by innovation tends to be driven by a passion, which infuses, for better or worse, every fibre of their being. Someone who simply serves a profession isn’t.
-How in your opinion a historical city like Florence can become today what it used to be in the past: a place for innovative forms of art and expression?
The more I visit Florence, the more I am impressed by what it once was, in terms of visionary human accomplishment. That lives on in the bricks, the mortar, and the art, the LIGHT of the place. And that’s the key. It LIVES! So its past inspires the present, and future.
-Is there still some room for creation (and not repetition nor re-interpretation)?
Technology puts new faces on old forms. And everything old will always be new again to new generations. It’s impossible for any human being to take a long enough view to make a definitive comment on whether everything is just repetition. Besides, it would be rank arrogance to deny the sense of discovery that people feel when they come to something on their own for the first time.
-Now as more creatives, artists or designers capitalize on the creative value of objects crossing boundaries, they are calling into question more than they may have intended? What do you consider as a necessity?
Well, I love the notion of more questions being asked than were called for. EVERYTHING is a question. The more we know, the less we know. Everything carries the seeds of its own destruction. We are born to die. I mean, there are dozens of clichés you can draw forth. Necessity? Fresh air, clean water, caviar, dreams without limits.
-Since the ancient times, humans tend to categorize themselves depending on their clothes. Focusing on fetish, it has always been linked to sexually provocative clothes while today, behaviors linked to such manners, have evolved to something else. We are now aroused on the site of a logo, a certain designer etc. Your quotation?
Tribalism and hierarchy are radiantly primal impulses.
– How it is that a brand can pose intense passion in its consumers. What bind us with a certain look, a certain cut or a certain designer to such extent that we it becomes part of our own being?
Helmut Lang was probably the most ardently regarded label of the past 20 years. It inspired devotion by offering people something they didn’t know they wanted, and by striking an extraordinary balance between simplicity and complexity, logic and desire. Those clothes made people feel sexy AND clever. Consummately flattering on both counts.
– In ancient history, monsters were created due to lack of logical explanation, fear etc. What about today?
The politics of fear continues to dominate contemporary society. The sleep of reason breeds monsters.
-Modernism’s maiden characteristic was autonomy and one of the reasons that led to becoming a movement was humanity’s need to find answers. Somehow, monsters served the same role in ancient history. Could we suggest the purpose for creating monsters then, served what modernism does in the current society?
Modernism and autonomy? The natural human tendency is towards disorder, escape from freedom, the impossibility of autonomy. The forces that shape society tend to be a reaction against those tendencies. They reflect the fight for control. But it’s a losing battle. And that’s what modernism both reflected and projected. Ultimately, there are no answers. Just more questions.
– Can monsters become a manifesto for matters such as racism, sexuality, education, handicaps or sociological issues? And at the same time represent something artistically creative and innovative or positive?
Do you mean manifesto or manifestation? A conventional idea of monsters is that they are the unleashed id. Destructive. Uncontrollable. But nature teaches us that new life is born from destruction (forest fires, volcanic eruptions). I suppose the most important thing is never to let your ideas calcify into rigid perceptions of what constitutes negative and positive (in fashion at least).
– In your opinion, was there a period in fashion that led to monstrous results?
The global domination of sportswear (as in, casual clothing influenced by 70s-style American athleticism – t-shirts, sweat-shirts, trainers, track suits, ski-wear) has encouraged a deadly homogeneity. City streets all over the world are uniformly drab, as if there was some official edict against individuality in dress. Monstrous? Well, if fashion is one reflection of the zeitgeist, it might underscore that philosophical point about an escape from freedom.
Tim Blanks is the former host of Canadian show Fashion File, which he hosted from 1989 until 2009. Until recently, he served as the editor -at-large for Style.com, where he hosted Throwback Thursdays, a fashion retrospective. Since August 5, 2015, Blanks was named editor-at-large for "THE BUSINESS OF FASHION".