Ideas as the Instrument of Change

With the current political climate in Australia, featuring an increasingly unpopular party that says their problem is selling the message, not the message itself, I’ve been thinking about the value of ideas.  Great ideas that form a better society for everyone, not just a select few.  But who can have these great ideas, and how is it possible to achieve influence with social, political, geographical or financial disadvantage?

I’ve just finished Vivienne Westwood’s autobiography with Ian Kelly.  A leader and innovator of fashion since the 1970’s, Westwood talks about how ideas led to the invention of Punk, and how her interest in the authenticity of historical clothing and mixing it with contemporary fashion, led to a revolution in fashion design today.

Tracie O’Keefe on the cover of a Seditionaries catalog, ca 1977
Tracie O’Keefe on the cover of a Seditionaries catalog, ca 1977

Punk, according to Westwood, was about questioning authority and empowerment of the poor and disadvantaged in Britain.  Westwood talks about the importance of developing ideas and how different influences can come together through observation and experimentation.  She and Malcolm McLaren started a world wide movement on very little money and resources, a DIY attitude and ground breaking ideas.

As part of the Fashion Icons exhibition at the Art Gallery of South Australia, the Gallery ran lunchtime talks.  Associate Professor Robyn Healy, Head of Fashion and Textiles at RMIT, spoke about the Antwerp 6, or 6+ with Martin Margiela.

Walter Van Beirendonck, the debut Wild & Lethal Trash! collection

The Antwerp 6, Walter Van Beirendonck, Ann Demeulemeester, Dries Van Noten, Dirk Van Saene, Kirk Bikkembergs and Marina Yee, graduated from Antwerp’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the 1980’s.  The school focused on traditional Parisian fashion principles that applied from tailoring to colour combinations.  The Antwerp 6 rebellion was based on ideas.   Their deconstruction of fashion had international influence, and to this day Walter Beirendonck’s involvement with the fashion school makes it one of the world’s top four, despite being removed from the world centres of fashion (Paris/Milan/London/New York) and manufacturing.

Ground breaking ideas come with fearlessness.  With the development of the internet, access to information means we have more resources than ever before to develop great ideas and get them out there.  Professor Healy emphasised that geography is no longer a barrier to world wide influence in fashion.  So barriers to the creation of ideas only rests with ourselves.


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Artist in Adelaide, South Australia. I enjoy viewing and participating in street art and experimenting with photography for surface design.

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