I've always believed that fashion and society are mirror images of one another. The state of mind of a group of people at any period in time is undoubtedly reflected in the manner in which they adorn themselves. If you are to consider the fashions that have been produced and promoted in recent years, it is evident that contemporary society is obsessed with darkness, decay, protection, and death. With the plethora of wars being fought, worldwide economic meltdowns, our mounting concerns about the environment, and now the threat of illnesses like swine flu, it is understandable that pessimistic worldviews are being transferred to the fashion we wear.
The list of designers who in recent years have been promoting this dark and glamourous style is too lengthy to discuss on a blog; I will just touch on a few. Of course, Ricardo Tisci at Givenchy designs incredibly luxurious garments, but always with a sober palate and a forboding, gothic silhouette. Rodarte's fall 2008 collection was inspired by Japanese horror films, and the idea of blood mixing with water. Their handmade, hand dyed gowns were beautiful, but combined with impossibly high, studded stilettos, and pale makeup, the Rodarte look was murky, disheveled, and drowned. Finally, Iris van Herpen, a member of art + culture, has a photo of a beautifyl black gown on her profile page. Her use of ruched black, metallic fabric makes for a prickly, untouchable look to the garment. Van Herpen also arranges the ruching in a manner that recalls armour; the bodice of the dress is like the armour worn by the mythical Valkyrie warrior women.
I dont necessarily think that the plethora of dark, armoured fashion is necessarily a bad thing; I think that fashion allows individuals to express their anxieties and concerns in a creative way. As we make our way into a very uncertain future, it makes sense that we are concerned with protection and self preservation.
Take a look at http://style.com to see all the latest runway shows, and to be amazed by the amount of contemporary designers who are promoting hard-edged chic.